Vet Tails' mission is to provide veterinary care to organizations and communities that need it, while sharing our adventures with the world. We aim to improve the standards of veterinary care and animal welfare in the places we travel while raising awareness through social media.
Our Mission began after visiting the beautiful islands of the Las Perlas (Pearl) Archipelago in June. Some of the islands are completely uninhabited, where others have small villages scattered along the coast. We quickly realized that the animals and people in the islands were in desperate need of a veterinarian – the closest clinic being located a 40 nautical mile journey by sea. We also saw that the local people live with very little and could not afford the high costs of city veterinary care, but many of them cared for the local animals and did not want the population increasing further.
Our original mission was to spay and neuter 75 animals at three different Islands – Isla del Rey, Pedro Gonzales and Viveros. But like many best laid plans ours were about to change!
Dogs arrived on boats from other islands and areas.
Our first stop was Isla Viveros where we had hoped to catch and desex the wild cats that were rumoured to wander the island. We set up our clinic on the first day bright eyed and bushy tailed ready for our first patients! We had one patient that day… a fighting rooster with a neck wound! Two days later with no cats in our traps and no other patients I was feeling a bit disheartened that perhaps the locals were not as interested in our clinic as we had hoped… at 7am the next morning we heard a boat arriving and looked out the window to see six dogs and their owners climbing out ready for surgery! It had taken some time for the word to spread but we were kept nice and busy from then on.
Friday was one of our two cat patients. He had a condition called cryptorchidism, which means only one testicle had descended to the scrotum. Luckily we found the other hiding near his bladder!
During our 10 days and nights trying to catch cats we managed to only wrangle two… both young males that had been found on the island and have since become much loved pets. We never saw or caught another cat during our time there, despite trying tuna, chicken, dog food and even fresh caught fish! Either the cats are not as numerous as we had heard or they only frequent the densest jungle of the island. But we still managed to spay all of the female dogs living on island, with a beautiful ocean backdrop and a sea breeze it was a surgery clinic to be remembered!
The local kids loved watching surgeries in San Miguel... and teasing my Spanish!
Next we were off to San Miguel, the largest village in the Las Perlas located on Isla del Rey. San Miguel was not originally on our list of villages to visit but the locals had heard we were in the area and were desperate for help with their dog population problem. The village of San Miguel has around 1,500-2000 people living there, and we estimate just over 100 dogs! The dogs in these villages live around people’s houses, but many are not owned or treated as pets. It was difficult work in San Miguel – we had children crowding the surgery area, reggaetón music blasting our eardrums and many difficult cases – dogs with deformities, severe infections and even a case where a dog had been completely paralysed for over a week after being hit by a car. But it was also extremely rewarding – with 90 animals treated in this location alone it was amazing to know we made a true and lasting difference to the animals of this region. We heard from the villages that we had spayed every female dog, except those with very young puppies or who were heavily pregnant.
We continued our journey around Isla del Rey and were planning on spending a few days relaxing on a tiny uninhabited island – Espiritu Santos (Holy Spirit). This island is rumoured to hold special spiritual significance to the locals, with small religious idols hidden amongst the trees. Exploring the beautiful beach Joel suddenly exclaimed “I think I found a turtle!”. Our friend from White Spot Pirates was travelling with us, and with her knife we managed to cut a juvenile turtle free from a tangled mess of fishing line and rope.
Performing surgery on the boat was a first, with rolling waves and minimal equipment, but we made it work!
Billie is a hawksbill turtle, they are critically endangered and so we knew we had to do everything we could to save her life. Billie had a huge cut into her neck, a cut down to the bone of her right front flipper and an open fracture of both the tibia and fibula in the right hind flipper. We performed emergency surgery on the boat, Joel monitoring the anaesthesia; Nike helping with filming and turtle positioning; and me performing the most make shift fracture repair of my career! Using a needle I managed to pin the tibia back into place, before cleaning and suturing her injuries closed. Billie is now on day 14 of her recovery and is at a special turtle facility in Panama City where she can start practising her swimming. Having a turtle on board was an experience in itself and we will write a special blog post on Billie and her recovery soon. Learn more about Billie’s recue in Episode 28.
Mancha had surgery in San Miguel, but we saw her again in Ensenada and her spay site had healed beautifully, she was also very excited to see us!
Our final stop was the beautiful village of Ensenada. With a population of only 50 people there is almost half a dog for every human! The locals were beyond excited about having the first ever veterinarian come to their village. It was also wonderful to see some of the dogs we had already spayed in San Miguel – their owners travelling the 8 mile journey in a small boat when they had heard there was a vet visiting. We gave all of the dogs injections for parasite control and spayed the remaining 4 females, and two young males, which will prevent any further puppies being born in this village.
It was at this point we started running out of supplies! Although we had calculated for over 75 animals we were expecting a mix of dogs and cats, and more castrations. In general cats take less time and weigh a lot less, meaning less medication is used and castrations also take less time then spays. So in the end, although our surgery numbers were not as high as expected, we managed to spay every female dog in three different locations which will not have a lasting effect on the number of dogs in the village but also help reduce future disease prevalence, help save local wildlife and put less strain on the community.
But we did not want to leave the island of Pedro Gonzales without veterinary care, so we are very happy to inform you all Spay Panama will be going to the village later this year to ensure all of the animals are desexed.
All in all it was a chaotic roller coaster of a time in the Perlas! We swam with whales, saved a turtle and changed the lives of over 100 animals.
We did not achieve this on our own – the incredible work we have done has been supported by so many and we would like to thank all of our patrons and donators for this mission, as well as Family Member Vet and Spay Panama for their ongoing support.
If you would like to see the episodes from our amazing time in Las Perlas check them out:
Many behaviourists will request a veterinary consult with your pet before beginning a training program. This might seem silly but it is in fact a very important part of the process because in some cases your pet behaving badly may be related to a medical condition.
When an animal is in pain their stress hormones, such as cortisol, are at a high level and this can induce a flight or fight response. In addition to this, chronic pain can lead to hypersensitisation of nerves, meaning areas and activities that should not be painful become unbearable for the animal.
It is no surprise this really hurts!!!
An example is a dog with a chronically infected ear that has gone unnoticed. We all know how painful an ear infection can be, now imagine it has been going on for over a month, the whole side of your head hurts and you are feeling very stressed. Now a friend of yours goes and rubs the side of your face vigorously. What would you do? Well we can talk to our friends so we would perhaps just tell them to leave us alone, but a dog can't talk and perhaps has been trying to tell you not to touch that area in their doggy way for the last few weeks and you keep ignoring them. SO this time they growl or snap. And you decide they are a 'bad dog'.
This is not a made up story - I have seen dogs and cats with ear infections, rotten teeth and severe arthritis that have started acting aggressively with their owners. But it does not mean you have an aggressive pet - it is simply that they do not know how else to tell you they are in pain and can not be touched in that way.
Illness can also induce chronic stress, pain and just generally makes animals feel unwell. Cancer very commonly changes the behaviour of pets - some animals don't want to play as much and start eating less, but for others the constant discomfort can lead to aggression.
A common disorder in cats, that is often mistaken as them being spiteful or naughty, is urine marking around the house. In some cases this is a behavioural issue but in a vast majority there is an underlying urinary infection or disorder. The cat is simply trying to tell their owner that something is wrong and they can no longer control their bladder normally.
Parrots can also have many behavioural disorders, including feather plucking. In many cases this is anxiety related but it can also be related to ectoparasites such as lice and internal disorders like liver disease.
Harry always looks hard done by... but its only because he knows he gets so many pats with that look on his face!
True Behavioural Issue
Once an unwanted behaviour has been identified as truly a behavioural issue training programs and behavioural modification plans can be put in place to help improve it. But it is still important to remember that animals aren't 'bad' because they want to be, behavioural issues are always a manifestation of something deeper; whether that be anxiety, poor training or a simple misunderstanding of human-animal body language.
SO next time your pet does something you deem naughty, first ask yourself could they be trying to tell you something? And if the behaviour continues seek veterinary and behavioural advice.
Want to learn more about medical conditions or pain in pets? Check out the other Pet Care articles.
Many people get a pet parrot with the idea it's an easy pet compared to a dog or cat. Nothing could be further from the truth! Let's discuss the five things you NEED to know before getting a pet parrot!
1. Not all Parrots are created equal
So first things first - it's important to remember that different types of parrots are actually different species. This may sound obvious, but it means when considering parrot species you have to remember comparing a cockatiel and a macaw is like comparing a dog and a monkey!
My little budgerigar and cockatiel provided a lot of love and fun, but were also very happy with their large cage, toys and food when I went to work for the day.
So which parrot is right for you? Well that's a tough question and depends on many factors such as time, space, other family members and money. As a general rule smaller parrots like cockatiels are 'easier'; they can be left to their own devices for longer periods, are more easily entertained and have less specific dietary requirements. A larger parrot, such as a macaw, will need new toys every day, a special home made diet to supplement bought food and will need A LOT of attention. That being said smaller parrots still need time with the family and require considerable effort to be well looked after pets.
2. Parrots have wings
Once again sounds obvious, but so many people clip their birds flight feathers taking away a huge aspect of their birds life. Imagine if I put your legs in casts and told you it was for your own safety? Not nice right?
Birds need to fly, it is instinctual and not only do they enjoy it but it's a great form of exercise. Larger parrots need more space to fly. Inside bird cages should provide enough room for your bird to flap their wings easily, turn around in a full circle with out their tails touching the edges and climb around the cage for fun. But this cage is not enough! Parrots also need a larger flight aviary or outside of cage time to truely allow them to stretch their wings!
How often should they be able to fly? Ideally when ever they want, but that's not always possible so it is important to ensure they have flight time at least once a day.
3. Parrots have species specific dietary needs
Did you know in the wild eclectus parrots are predominantly frugivorous (fruit eaters) while black cockatoos feed predominantly on palm nuts and pine tree cones? This means a store bought "bird seed" can not adequately satisfy the nutritional needs of every parrot any more than a "mammal feed" could safely feed all mammals!
Parrots main diet should consist of a formulated pellet made specifically for their species or natural diet type. Depending on the species this should be supplemented (sometimes by up to 80%) with fruits and vegetables. Nuts and seeds should only make up a small portion of the diet.
4. Parrot behaviour is complicated
Just like humans, parrot body language is complicated but having a good understanding of what your parrot is trying to tell you will ultimately make their life and yours a lot happier!
Feather plucking is a common disorder that can stem from psychological stress in birds. this macaw used to receive a lot of attention in love, then when a new baby came along was always locked in his cage and this is the result. I am working closely with him at a local zoo in Panama.
So bird body language 101. First let's look at the eyes. When you birds is very excited, fearful, angry or interested in something they will rapidly dilate and constrict their pupils - this is known as pinning. To be able to interpret if they are excited to see you or about to attack we need to interpret he remainder of the visual cues. If your bird is pinning his or her eyes, with a flaired tail, wings slightly out, low body position and is hissing it means they are scared or angry. If they are pinning their eyes with a very erect posture they are interested in what you have or what you are doing. If they are pinning their eyes, bobbing from side to side a little or are fluffing up it likely means they are excited to see you or what ever you have.
But just like people different birds will display different body languages - I highly advise spending some time with the species you intend on getting before hand so you can learn to interpret their visual cues.
As we have already mentioned birds are extremely intelligent. This makes them very fun pets, but also means they need a lot of toys, puzzles, family time, attention and can be a lot of work! It also means problem behaviours can get out of hand very quickly!
Let's focus on the example of the screeching parrot. You bird starts screaming, you run into the room to see what's going on and your bird thinks hhhmmm I scream and mum comes running... interesting.... the next time it happens you wait a little while but it's pretty annoying and eventually you go in. This just reinforces for your bird that screaming means you come. This is a common behaviour that escalates very quickly and there is only one way around it. First ignore the screaming. Second reward the times your bird is quite - even if it is only ten seconds with out a sound get your bum in there and give them some attention and a treat. As we have already discussed birds are intelligent and will learn quickly what gets them the outcome they desire.
It's important to have social time with your parrot - training them to wear a harness means they can accompany you every where, even for some garden planning!
Last but not least if you want a happy bird you must provid Enrichment. So what is an enrichment? Enrichment is any activity you provide that helps make you birds life more interesting. In the wild parrots spend up to 80% of their day foraging for food, when we place all of their food for the day in an easy to reach bowl that takes five minutes to eat what are they meant to do with all of that extra time!? So increasing eating time by feeding your birds multiple times a day, hiding food around the cage and in toys and providing a small amount of food outside of the cage is an easy and successful way to provide enrichment. Environmental enrichment is also very important and includes the cage set up, toys and outside of cage areas. People often ask how big of a cage should I Get? The truth is as big as can fit in your house! A bigger cage means more areas for perches, toys, natural branches, food trays and over all more fun for your parrot! You can also provide outside of cage environmental enrichment in the form of swings, ropes and branches around the house. Finally you also need to provide social enrichment for your bird - the means quality family time with their flock. The flock can be made of any species including humans, birds and in so,e cases other family pets like dogs. For some great enrichment ideas check out "The Parrot Enrichment Activity Book".
5. Parrots live a long time
Parrot lifespans vary amongst the species, but even our small cockatiel friends can live for twenty years! Then looking at larger species like cockatoos we are talking up to seventy years of age! This means if you get a large parrot in your thirties you are potentially making a life long commitment.
So now you know the Top 5 things people need to know before getting a parrot. Have you ever owned a parrot? If so what else do you wish you knew? Let us know in the comments so even more people can learn about being good Parrot Parents.
If you love animals check out the Chuffed Adventures episode where we head out to for an enrichment workshop at a zoo in panama!
Chuffed Adventures 8: Animal Enrichment Special - YouTube
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One month after Joel's balcony accident... so young and fresh!
I (Dr Sheddy) was born in Queensland, Australia, in a rural beach town. I have ALWAYS loved animals and even as a little girl would rescue frogs from the rain, hand reared baby birds and kept insisting we needed more pets.
Joel was born in the USA and moved to Australia in 2006 to complete his degree in Marine Biology and Aquaculture. I was in my second year of veterinary school when he moved in to the infamous 'Uni Hall' of James Cook University, where I had been living.
Ten years on we are more in love than ever!
Our love story is typical of people our age... some one at the clubs put a date-rape drug into Joel's drink and he fell off the 2nd floor balcony of our campus... the next day EVERY BODY was talking about American Joel, and although I had seen him around I felt I needed to know more about this character. Funnily enough that same day he came strolling into my friends room, all dazed and confused, and left after saying not a word. I was intrigued... with in weeks our love affair had bloomed and we rarely left each others side.
10 years on we decided we should move into a tiny aluminium box and spend every waking moment together...
One of my first patients as a vet student...
I have been so lucky in my career to have worked with an amazing array of animals all over the world. I started my career as a cat and dog vet, and quickly became the towns exotic pet vet and specialized in Birdy medicine. I then became the head wildlife vet for a busy koala hospital in South Australia before moving to China to help rescue bears! It has been an absolute whirl wind, and Joel was always there to support me every step of the way.
Joel has enjoyed a career working with algae, corals and fish but although he was passionate about marine life boats kept calling his name on the wind! So he worked as a ship-wright's assistant in the year leading up to getting Chuffed.
Joel's always been better on sea than land!
Now I get to save animals and Joel gets to sail (and fix a boat constantly!) so we are both as Chuffed as can be!!!
THE STORY OF CHUFFED
SV Chuffed was built in 1990 in the Gamelin ship yards of France. She is a 37ft Aluminium Hull sail boat and her previous owner had run out of time for her in his older age. Joel watched Chuffed online for 11 months as the price slowly dropped from $90,000 USD, to $60K and finally to $45K at which point he jumped on a plane to Panama to check her out in person (you can see why I say Chuffed is his mistress... they basically online dated). As he was flying through the air I saw online that she had been sold! Joel was rightfully devastated but figured he would stick around in Panama and see what happened.
With in days Joel had received a phone call to say the sale and fallen through and she was now on offer for $25K and so we bought her!!!
Chuffed is an older lady and in need of some minor repairs. She is in shape to sail, but small jobs like wiring, plumbing, cleaning and all the rest need fixing. The truth is a sail boat is always in need of repairs and most old cruisers tell you it's a bucket in the water to throw your money into, but we are loving doing her up and giving her the TLC she deserves.
You might also be wondering what Chuffed means - its Aussie/English slang very pleased or content... which is exactly what we are!!!
SV Chuffed in Panama... doesn't she have some fine lines!
The beauty of Chuffed is that Joel and I can combine our passion of travel, sailing and animal care into an amazing adventure that we hope can help inspire people and change the world one community at a time! We are offering free veterinary care and education to the communities and animals that need it most as we travel. For now we are travelling around Central America and the Caribbean, taking our time so we can really help these animals. We hope to continue our journey through the Pacific to Australia and hopefully beyond!!!
So how do we live with out working?
Well Joel and I have always enjoyed the simple things and never really spent our money on anything but travel. So we saved up in preparation for this big day and have enough to keep us going for now. But we hope as time goes on our Documentary Series on our adventures will help keep our dream alive, and if necessary I will get some paid work at veterinary clinics along the way.
Don't be afraid to follow your dreams...
We have also found the 'if you scratch my back I will scratch yours' system is working well for us so far! We get so much free food, rides and beer through the work we do for animals which also helps keep us going for longer.
If you have any questions please let us know in the comments.
Mange is used to describe a dog with mite infestation that has lead to skin disease. There are two (primary) types of mites that can cause mange in dogs, Sarcoptes and Demodex. Both live in different areas of the skin and there for have different symptoms and diagnostic methods.
The sarcoptes mite lives on the superficial layers of the skin and causes crusting, scaling and intense itching. Many dogs then develop secondary bacterial infections that can cause pustules and even bleeding. Sarcoptes can affect any area of the body but is commonly seen as crusting on the ear margins.
A case of severe Sarcoptes Infection I saw in China that had gone untreated for months, luckily she responded quickly to treatment.
Demodex mites borrow into the gland and fur follicles of the skin, so the primary symptom is fur loss and they are rarely itchy. Demodecosis often presents as circular patches of hair loss that eventually become thickened and infected as secondary bacteria invades the skin. All dogs carry low numbers of demodex on their skin and in dogs with lowered immunity they multiply and cause disease.
Sarcoptes mites can often be found by scraping the upper most layers of the skin and investigating the crusts under a microscope. Demodex mites on the other hand require deep skin scrapings, hair plucks or even biopsies to find the mites buried in the follicles. Skin scrapes can often be negative even when infection is present so veterinarians will also use the clinical signs classic to these diseases to make a diagnosis.
Both mites can be treated using a antiparasitic medication called ivermectin. Generally Sarcoptes mange is easier to control and takes around four weeks to resolve. Demodex mites on the other hand can spontaneously resolve in puppies as their immune system develops. But in older dogs or severe cases treatment has to continue until at least two negative skin scrapes are performed two weeks apart. This can take many months to resolve, and if the symptoms return it almost certainly means treatment was not continued long enough.
Ivermectin can have side effects including seizures, and should never be used in Colliebreeds as they lack the enzyme to convert the drug. other antiparasitic medication can be used to treat both kinds of mange but many are even more toxic than ivermectin, or have very mixed results. ivermectin can be given orally or as an injection once a week for the duration of treatment.
Have you tried other treatments successfully in your dog? If so leave a comment to tell us what you used!
Check out our veterinary adventure VLOG on YouTube
Chuffed Adventures 6: Jungle Frogs/Drowning in Boat Work - YouTube
Atopic Dermatis is a form of chronic skin disease caused by allergies.
When your dog (or cat) comes into contact with an ALLERGEN their immune system reacts to it releasing a number of inflammatory molecules, including histamines, which lead to redness, itchiness and general inflammation. Allergens can include pollen, grass particles, dust mites and much more.
Check out this video to help understand the complex process of allergic reactions in less than two minutes.
Vet Tails Explains: Allergies - YouTube
SO why do these animals react to allergens? This is not completely understood but dogs with atopic dermatitis seem to have a genetic predisposition to reacting, as well as an impairment in the skins natural immune system.
Dogs with atopic dermatitis are pruritic (itchy) and often this itchiness can be very intense. The dogs also develop lesions associated with the inflammatory reaction including red spots which often affect the face, ears, paws and underside of the body. As the itching continues the dogs start showing secondary signs such as alopecia (fur loss), sores, infection, hyperpigmentation (dark skin) and saliva staining.
Diagnosis of atopic dermatitis can be challenging. Presenting signs are one way of diagnosing the disease. For example a two year old dog that has become itchy every summer since it was a puppy, but then the itching resolves in winter, is displaying signs of a seasonal allergy so atopic dermatitis would be suspected. How ever some cases aren't this black and white - some dogs can be allergic to things like cockroach poop! Which means it is no longer seasonal and they can react all year long.
The most common clinical features of atopic dermatitis are that the dogs present before three years of age, are responsive to steroid (glucocorticoids such as prednisolone) treatments and show the clinical signs described.
The reaction to the injections can be measured to identify allergens.
The best way to diagnose atopic dermatitis is through serological or skin allergy testing. Serological testing involves sending blood away for antibody testing in a laboratory. Skin testing can be done in the clinic and involves injecting small amount of allergens, such as grass and pollen molecules, under the skin and measuring the reaction. This allows us to identify the most common cause of your dogs allergy which may help avoid it and aid treatment.
.Treatment for atopic dermatitis can be costly, long term and sometimes unrewarding. Just like people who suffer from asthma or allergies - once you have it, it is there for life, and not every treatment work for every person.
The first, and seemingly most simple, option is to avoid the allergen. Easy enough if your dog is only allergic to pine trees, but what if, like many, he is allergic to dust mites, six types of grasses and the mould found in most houses? Bit harder...
The second option is helping to modulate the immune system to stop the itching. Anti-histamines can work for around 15% of dogs, and have little side effects. This are a great option IF they work for your dog. Prednisolone, and other glucocorticoids such as triamcinolone, are also commonly used to down-play the immune response and stop itching. The problem with glucocorticoids is they have side effects including increased thirst and hunger, lethargy and although we use them to modulate the immune system this too can have undesired affects such as increased risk for infections. A newer drug on the market with fewer side effects is Apoquel. Aopoquel also modulates the immune system and seems to work well for many dogs.
For mild flare-ups topical glucocorticoid creams, such as cortisone cream, can be used to help reduce the inflammation. These creams have fewer long term side effects than oral or injected glucocorticoids but they can cause thin skin over time and shouldn't be used every day long term.
Finally it is VERY important to treat secondary infections. If your dog has primary atopy but now has big sores all over his body he needs antibiotics. Glucocorticoids alone may help reduce the itching but the infection will just worsen and the skin disease will not heal.
The good news is there is a treatment option available that can actually help prevent the signs and treat your pet long-term. This treatment is known as IMMUNOTHERAPY. Immunotherapy involves a series of injections that have been specifically developed for your dogs allergies. This injections help expose the immune system to the allergens in a controlled way, eventually preventing or minimising the reaction. The down side to these injections are they can be costly and a year long commitment must be made to see real improvements.
In terms of other preventatives - as always a good diet will help improve the immune system and coat/skin condition. Fish oil tablets have been shown to help improve the immune system and skin condition, I generally give a 1000mg tablet per 15kg dog.
Medicated shampoos can also help reduce secondary infections, I like shampoos that contain chlorhexidine and miconazole such as Malaseb. These shampoos MUST BE LEFT ON for 10 minutes for them to work. Although oatmeal shampoos have not been scientifically shown to reduce symptoms a nice soothing bath will reduce the surface allergens on your dogs skin and help reduce mild inflammation. I generally recommend once weekly or fortnightly bathing for allergic dogs.
If you have tried tried other methods that have worked well for your pup please comment below!
In the following weeks I will try to cover all there is to know about the diseases that cause skin issues in our doggies.
Pyoderma is a commonly treated skin condition in dogs. Pyoderma literally means pus in the skin, and is characterised by a bacterial infection of the epidermis (skin) and hair follicles.
Your dogs skin will always have a low level of staphylococcus and other bacteria on its surface, and in normal situations the skins defence system prevents the bacteria entering the epidermis and hair follicles. When these natural defences are broken it allows the bacteria, often staphylococcus, to enter the epidermis and cause infection.
Example of pustules/papules that can occur when the skin is infected.
The skins defence system can be broken in many ways including a disrupted immune system, small abrasions in the skin and moist skin. The immune system plays a large role in this disease so dogs with hormonal imbalances (thyroid issues or Cushing disease), allergies and other systemic diseases can end up with severe pyoderma.
Pyoderma is rarely a primary disease, meaning there is another disease process that has lead to the skin infection. This can be something as small as a missile bite the that causes some itching, breaking the skin barrier and allowing bacteria in. Or it can be much more complex - like cushings disease which leads to a lowered immune system and subsequent infections.
The symptoms of pyoderma reflect what is happening in the skin. The hair follicles are infected, which often causes the hair to fall out resulting in spots of alopecia (missing fur). Because the epidermis is also infected dogs with pyoderma often have small pimples, pustules, papules, rashes and sores on their skin. It is generally the skin of the sides, belly armpits and inner things that is affected.
The first step of diagnosing pyoderma is assessing the dog clinically and physically for symptoms of the disease. Your veterinarian should then take a skin tape, scrape or impression smear to identify the types of microbes involved in your dogs skin infection. Many dogs will have an overgrowth of staphylococcus bacteria, but some will also have concurrent yeast infections and takin akin samples helps rule out primary causes of pyoderma like mites.
if your dog gets recurring infections your vet may recommend blood testing to detect hormone diseases or even further skin testing to idenfitfy the type of bacteria involved. Methilin-resistant staphylococcus is becoming more common in pyoderma infections and will not respond to traditional treatments.
Generally pyoderma is treated with oral and topical antibiotics. I usually start with a cephalosporin-family antibiotic and treat for a minimum of four weeks. Often a two week course is not enough to clear the infections from the skin, and with in weeks the dog is back at the vet again with same condition, and this can lead to resistant bacteria hat is even harder to kill.
I also like to use a medicated shampoo. If it is a primary bacterial infection I will use a chlorhexidine based shampoo, if there is also yeast I will use a shampoo with an antifungal such as miconazole as well as chlorhexidine. The most important thing with the shampoos is that they are used twice weekly in the early stages of infection and left on for ten minutes. With out ten minutes contact time they will not work!
If your dog has received treatment and not responded it may be because there is another underlying cause that needs to be addressed. Further testing and treatment of the underlying cause will help resolve the pyoderma. It can also be because they are infected with a more resistant bacterial strain, performing a culture of the skin can help identify the bacteria and which antibiotic will kill it.
There is no sure fire way to prevent pyoderma but a great start is ensuring your pet has a good diet. A diet high in omega oils and with good nutritional value will make a big difference in helping the skins immune system fight infection. I highly recommend looking into specially formulated skin diets to try increase the fatty oil content, or alternatively consider supplementing your dog with fish oil tablets (I usually give a 1000mg human tablet per 15kg of dog but the dose range varies hugely).
I also recommend using a medicated shampoo long term for susceptible dogs. These shampoos are harsh on the skin so once infection is under control I recommend using it once a fortnight just to maintain lower bacterial loads on the skin.
Controlling the underlying cause for pyoderma is the most important step in preventing its recurrence, I highly recommend doing further testing such as skin biopsies, blood tests and allergy tests if your dog gets repeated infections. Although it may seem costly and time consuming it may save you money in the long run when you get a diagnosis for WHY your dog is getting pyoderma. Not too mention it will keep your pooch happier and healthier!
If you have tried tried other methods that have worked well for your pup please comment below!
In the following weeks I will try to cover all there is to know about the diseases that cause skin issues in our doggies.
If you love adventure and dogs check out our VLOGs. This episode we go sailing to a nearby island in Panama and I assist with a complex fracture repair in an old dog.
Chuffed Adventures Episode 4: Finally Sailing Chuffed/Helping an Old Dog Get Back on Her Feet - YouTube
Have you ever wondered if your dog, cat or any other pet dreams? Well many of us, including me, believe they do and it would seem science will back us up!
I wonder what Perosocina dreams about when she is sleeping...
Scientists actually stumbled upon the findings that animals almost certainly dream back in 1965 when a researcher, Michel Jouvet, deliberately caused lesions in the area of the brain that helps keep animals (and our) bodies paralyzed when we sleep. When this area was damaged cats displayed behaviour such as walking, pouncing and even eating while completely asleep! This research was done to gain more information on human sleeping disorders, but potentially paved the way for further research into animal sleep patterns and dreams.
Many years on in the 90’s and 2000’s further research showed most animals have both REM and non-REM sleep cycles, just like people, and all animals (us included) displayed similar neuron activity when asleep. One exception to this rule is dolphins who have some very strange brain activity, but that’s something for another post!
So what do animals dream about? Well there is no way to know for sure but a study performed in 2001 by Wilson and colleagues at MIT suggests they dream about their daily life, just like humans. The researchers put rats through a maze, while watching their neuronal activity. Then when the rats were asleep they had some twitching and movement, while displaying the same neuronal activity as when they had done the maze. This suggested the rats were acting out the same behaviour again.
This theory is easily supported by our own observations of our pets. It is not unusual to see cats pawing in their sleep, or dogs running and even whimpering. It is important though to not wake sleeping animals if your concerned they are having a nightmare, just like some people they may lash out even though they don’t mean too!
We may never know for sure if animals dream like people, or what they dream about, but I certainly believe they are doing a lot more than we might give them credit for.
Dirofilaria Immitis, commonly known as heart worm, is a nasty parasite that can cause some serious damage to your pets health!
How is it spread?
Heart worm is spread when a mosquito bites an infected dog and ingests the microfilaria (baby heart worms). The microfilaria then develop into little larva which are injected into the next dog (or cat/ferret) when the mosquito feeds again.
These little larvae are circulated all over the body in the blood vessels, and eventually mature into adult worms in the heart or lungs. The adult worms begin to reproduce more microfilaria which can then go on to infect more animals. This whole process takes around 6 months.
Why is it bad?
Adult worms can lodge in the vessels of the heart causing fatal blockages.
The adult worms lodged in the lungs cause a severe inflammatory reaction which can lead to narrowing of the airways and blood vessels of the lungs. They also grow in the heart which can eventually cause fatal blockages of the major blood vessels.
The symptoms of heart worm reflect this, with a reduced exercise tolerance, weakness and severe cough being the most common symptoms. Some animals will also lose weight and begin to have signs of poor health such as a dull coat.
How can we prevent it?
There are many options for heart worm preventions including daily tablets, monthly tablets, monthly spot on treatments and an annual injection. I personally like the Proheart annual injection because it can be given with your dogs vaccinations and ensures you will not forget. I know how forgetful I can be with monthly tasks!
If my dog gets heart worm can it be treated?
There is treatment available for dogs, it usually involves injections at the vet clinic with close monitoring. As the adult worms are killed there is some risk that they can dislodge and cause fatal blood vessel blockages, and even the dead worms can cause inflammatory reactions. Ultimately prevention is much easier than the cure!!! In very severe cases the worms may even need to be removed from the heart surgically.
How do I know if my dog has heart worm?
A simple blood test can be performed at the clinic with only a few drops of blood, and results are obtained in minutes! If your dog has not been receiving preventative treatment it is important to test them for heart worm first to ensure you wont kill any adult worms with the treatment, and to prevent them self infecting further.
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