- Warn your guests if your pets will be free inside your home so they can be sure not to let them out by mistake.
- Consider leaving your pets in a closed room if they are highly reactive to people they don’t know.
- Supervise any children your pets don’t know as many children are not taught how to interact around pets and could accidentally become injured.
- Inform your guests not to give your pets any table scraps.
- Holiday decorations and plants can be very dangerous for your pets so be sure you and your guests keep them out of your pets’ reach.
- Be sure your pet’s identification tags are up-to-date and attached to your pet’s collar.
- Make sure your pet’s collar is not so loose that it can come off when you attach the leash.
- Consider microchipping your pet—most shelters and veterinarians have the microchip scanner that facilitates reuniting pets with their owners.
- A loose pet in a vehicle can be a dangerous situation if you are involved in an accident. It is best to crate your pet or buy a specifically designed pet seat belt.
- No matter how well trained your pet is do not allow him or her to be off leash in an unknown area.
- Never leave your pet alone in the vehicle, even for a very short period of time.
- If you are traveling by air, consult your veterinarian for a health certificate which is required by most airlines.
- Consider the weather at the time you will be flying and arrange flights accordingly.
- Consult your airline about allowing your pet to fly inside the cabin.
We wish you and your pet safe travels and a wonderful Thanksgiving!
- Keep holiday food out of reach of pets as any food that your pet is not used to eating can wreak havoc on your pet’s gastrointestinal system.
- Don’t give your pets foods that contain too much fat such as dark meat turkey, butter, nuts, gravies, bacon, ham, etc. as they can cause pancreatitis which is a potentially life-threatening condition.
- Never ever give your pets chocolate or any candy or desert containing Xylitol which is an artificial sweetener as chocolate and Xylitol are highly toxic to your pet.
- No garlic, onions, raisins, grapes, currants, herbs, or essential oils as they can be toxic to your pet.
- Turkey bones can puncture or become lodged in your in your pet’s gastrointestinal system so don’t give your pets access to them.
- If you deep fry your turkey—do not allow your pet anywhere near the deep fryer.
- Keep your holiday trash out of your pet’s reach.
- If you must share your holiday meal with your pet—offer a very small amount of white meat turkey without skin, a dollop of mashed potatoes, some green beans, and a little lick of pumpkin pie.
The Emergency Division of The Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia is open 24 hours a day 365 days a year to provide care for your pet when needed. You can reach our Emergency Division at 703.361.8287.
A Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) injury is one of the most common orthopedic problems in dogs and is the most common reason for hind limb lameness in dogs. In people the CCL is called the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL).
The CCL attaches the back of the femur to the front of the tibia and is responsible for stabilizing the knee joint. Dogs are susceptible to CCL injuries due to the natural slope of the knee that causes instability. CCL injuries occur in dogs of all breeds, ages, and sizes but they are especially common in Labrador Retrievers, Newfoundlands, Rottweilers, and Pit Bulls.
A CCL can be partially or completely torn. A partial CCL tear can cause symptoms that resolve over time, but the ligament can NOT repair itself. Eventually a partial CCL tear will eventually lead to a complete tear. The longer a CCL rupture is present the more arthritis forms and therefore, the pain and lameness increase. The majority of dogs who injure their CCL will also injure their meniscus that is the cartilage-like structure that is responsible for shock absorption and weight bearing. Due to the risk of degenerative changes it is advisable to seek veterinary care as early as possible.
Symptoms of a CCL injury include:
- Lameness in a hind limb
- Non-weight bearing on a hind limb
- Trouble rising from sitting or lying position
- Decreased activity
- Hopping on three legs
- Sitting with legs out to the side instead of under the body
- Loss of muscle mass
Diagnosing a CCL injury can be as simple as palpating the knee and observing the dog as it walks. X-rays are usually taken to confirm the presence of fluid in the joint which occurs with injury, the degree of arthritis, and to rule out any other injuries such as a fracture or dislocation. The CCL and meniscus cannot be seen on x-rays.
Two important steps should be taken when treating a CCL injury:
- Surgical repair
- Medical management of arthritis
Many surgeons consider the TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) surgery to be the gold standard for CCL injuries.
Follow these tips to ensure your pets have a safe and Happy Halloween.
Make sure your pets only receive pet-specific treats. Candy is unsafe for pets. There are two kinds of candy that are extremely dangerous for your pets.
Chocolate: In all forms chocolate can be toxic to your pet—dark chocolate and baking chocolate are the most potent and are the most dangerous forms for your pet. Symptoms of chocolate toxicity include, but are not limited to:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Excessive thirst and urination
- Panting and restlessness
- High heartrate
- Severe cases can include
- Muscle tremors
- Heart failure
If your pet has ingested a large amount of chocolate, especially dark and baking, take your pet to your regular vet or emergency hospital immediately.
Xylitol: This is an ingredient in sugar-free candy. Dogs and cats can’t process Xylitol like we can—even a small amount can be very toxic. If you think your pet has ingested Xylitol it is important to get them to your veterinarian or emergency hospital right away. Symptoms of Xylitol poisoning include, but are not limited to:
• Vomiting and/or black tarry stools
• Tremors and seizures
• Loss of consciousness/coma
Safety: It is best to bring your pets inside before the trick or treating starts. The chaos, costumes, and surrounding activity can be overwhelming for them. Sadly some people take Halloween as an opportunity to do aggressive and mean things to pets. If your pet becomes agitated from repeated knocking on the door you can set up outside to pass out candy.
Decorations: Pumpkins, corn, hay, candles, and candy make for festive decorations. Be careful where you place them around the house. Pumpkins, although non- toxic, can cause upset stomachs if eaten in large volumes. Large chunks of pumpkin and especially corn can get lodged in the stomach or intestines making for an extremely dangerous blockage which would require immediate surgery. Don’t leave lit candles in places that could be easily knocked over. If you have particularly adventurous or playful pets it may be best to use outside decorations only.
Our Licensed Veterinary Technicians (LVTs) play an essential role in the exceptional care we provide to our patients. They provide excellent nursing care, treatments, patient monitoring, and diagnostic assistance. They intubate patients, place IV catheters, draw blood, assist with ultrasounds, x-rays, and endoscopic exams, and provide laser therapy. Our LVTs assist in surgery and monitor anesthesia. They provide behavior medicine services. During National Veterinary Technician Week—we extend our sincere thanks to each and every one of our LVTs for all they do for our patients and our practice!
The iliopsoas muscles are the major hip flexor muscles located in the groin. Strains of these muscles in dogs are an easily overlooked diagnosis. Agility dogs or dogs with knee injuries often have iliopsoas strains. Also, they are not uncommon in dogs that recently had orthopedic surgery.
Iliopsoas strains can present as a knee injury due to a one-sided limb lameness. Patients can be toe touching like a dog with a cruciate ligament injury. X-rays are not usually diagnostic for this condition. Diagnosis can usually be made by direct palpation of the area.
The following treatment protocols are used:
- Rest is indicated to prevent further injury to the muscle.
- Gabapentin and/or NSAIDS may help with the pain and inflammation.
- Laser therapy has been shown to promote healing of iliopsoas strains.
- Itchy skin which results in constant scratching, head shaking, and chewing at paws.
- This can cause pink or red discoloration of the fur at chronically licked areas, especially paws, because of the saliva.
- Constant scratching can also cause hair loss and open wounds. The soft hairless belly is a great way to check for lesions—red crusty spots on the stomach often are signs of a skin infection.
- Reoccurring ear infections.
- Red eyes and chronic watery discharge.
- Anti-itch shampoos
- Ear medicine
- Eye drops
- Allergy shots (Allergy shots are provided for severe cases following extensive allergy work ups—allergy testing and a pet dermatologist are available if needed)
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that travels through the blood and can affect joints, organs, or give an overall feeling of illness. Ticks, particularly deer ticks, are carriers of Lyme Disease.
The tick needs to be attached to your pet for 24 to 48 hours before the disease can be transferred. Adult ticks are not killed off by frost and will often just lie dormant for a warmer day. Therefore, ticks present a health concern year round.
Symptoms for Lyme Disease include but are not limited to:
- Loss of Appetite
- Lameness—which can be intermittent, reoccurring, or shifting from joint to joint
- Stiffness, Discomfort, and Pain
- Swelling of Joints
There are two different blood tests that can be used to check for Lyme Disease. There is an in-house blood test available with results in ten minutes. There are more in-depth blood panels that can be sent out if Lyme Disease or other tick-borne diseases are suspected.
If discovered early, Lyme Disease can be treated with a short dose of antibiotics. More difficult cases, which have affected the organs, may require more extensive treatments. Lyme Disease may also lay dormant for a while and occasionally reoccur and need another course of antibiotics.
There are simple ways you can help prevent Lyme Disease in your pet:
- Year round flea and tick prevention is available through your veterinarian, online or local participating retailer. It is best to administer your pet’s flea and tick prevention year round since adult ticks are active almost all year.
- Check your pet after playing outside and immediately remove any ticks found.
- Avoid letting your pets play in higher grasses and thickly wooded areas.
- You can do treatments for your own yard to protect against ticks.
- Yearly blood tests are recommended to catch any possible positive results that are asymptomatic.
- Lyme Disease vaccines are available through your veterinarian as well. They can be started at any age. An initial injection is followed up with a booster two weeks later with a yearly vaccine recommended.