Arthritis

Your Best Friend Could Be in Pain but Can’t Tell You.

In many ways, cats and dogs are like their owners. As they get older, they start to suffer from aches and pains they never experienced when they were young – no wonder they start to slow down!

As with humans, the cause of aches and pains in senior cats or dogs is often arthritis. But unlike their owners, senior pets can’t call their doctor and make an appointment when they start to “feel their age”.

Possible signs of arthritis:

               Changes in routine:

  • Unwilling to climb stairs
    • Hesitant to play/initiate play
    • Increased time sleeping
    • Unwilling to go out

               Changes in hygiene:

  • Poor grooming/matted hair in cats
    • Inappropriate urination or cats not using litter tray

               Changes in character:

  • Biting/vocalisation when stroked
    • Anxiety/aggression
    • Reduced interest in people and their environment
    • Just not themselves

That’s why we recommend regular health checks for your senior pets. A simple consultation could save your pet from unnecessary pain. We’ll look for early signs of stiff joints and recommend a suitable treatment program. This could include some diet changes, exercises for dogs and suitable medication aimed at reducing pain and inflammation.

Arthritis is an extremely common condition that affects up to 1 in 3 cats(3) and 1 in 4 dogs(1,2). It can affect not only your pet’s mobility, but also their quality of life. Fortunately, arthritis can be managed.

So, give us a call to make an appointment and to discuss the simple, effective treatments that are available. With on-going treatment your cat or dog doesn’t have to needlessly suffer from the pain of arthritis and has the best chance of doing all the things they love.

  1. Johnston L, Narbe R. Preferential accumulation of meloxicam in inflamed synovial joints of dogs. Vet Rec. 2012;170:207.
  2. Bland SD. Canine osteoarthritis and treatments: a review. Vet Sci Dev. 2015;5:84–89.
  3. Arthritis in cat. Cats with arthritis. http://catswitharthritis.com/ Accessed 26 February 2019.

Managing Age and Arthritis the natural Way

Arthritis is a condition that literally means inflammation of the joint. The actual causes of arthritis are many, however, in older pets the most common is osteoarthritis. This is a chronically progressive disease that is most commonly caused by a long-term injury or possibly even conformational faults that have been present since birth. Certain diseases can also lead to chronic arthritis. Age is not an actual disease, but dogs that run heavy on their joints throughout life can wear them out early or strain them leading to the problem as they get older. Feel free to fill out our pain quiz to help assess your dog’s discomfort.

Advanced Hip Disease
Normal Hip

Signs of arthritis:

  • Decrease in willingness to exercise
  • Persistent or intermittent lameness
  • Unwillingness to jump 
  • Less grooming (cats)
  • Muscle wastage
  • Joint thickening

Your vet will diagnose arthritis via a range of techniques, including physical examination, x-rays, test therapeutic medication among other things.Once diagnosed typical mainstream treatments involve anti-inflammatory medication that includes pain relief. Human products are not appropriate for dogs. The medications listed below are natural therapies that can reduce or remove dependency on mainstream or “western” medications that while very effective in treatment can have unintended side effects.

Natural Therapies

Disease modifying osteoarthritis drugs (Pentosan polysulfate)

These medications are given as a series of injections: one injection a week for four weeks and the course of 4 injections usually needs to be repeated every 6-12 months. They act to stabilize joint membranes, help joint cartilage repair and improve joint lubrication. They provide significant improvement in a high percentage of arthritis patients with minimal (if any) side effects.

Glucosamine / Green Lipped Mussel / Shark / Bovine Cartilage Supplement

Glucosamine, a naturally occurring compound, is one of the more popular over-the-counter arthritis remedies. It is one of several natural substances, or nutraceuticals, that are known as chondroprotective agents, used in the treatment of arthritis in humans, dogs, horses, and other animals.

Glucosamine joint supplements are said to alleviate the symptoms of joint damage by boosting the repair of damaged cartilage, specifically articular cartilage, or the moist, spongy material that forms a cushion between joints. Joint supplements like Glyde Mobility Chews are often used as an early intervention and throughout the progression of arthritis, as they are safe for long-term use in most patients. Read more here

The best known components of green lipped mussels are Omega-3 fatty acids, including the fatty acids EPA and DHA, explains Petty. “Omega-3s work by reducing the level of inflammation associated with diseases such as osteoarthritis,” Petty says. Although this is the same compound found in fish oil, in the case of green lipped mussels, this is combined with other compounds that also fight joint inflammation and pain.

A good example of these compounds is eicosatetraenoic acid, or ETA. “The ETA is found only in green lipped mussels and binds cyclooxygenase, which is an enzyme that causes inflammation,” according to Dr. Judy Morgan, DVM, a certified and accredited veterinary acupuncturist and food therapist who combines holistic medicine with traditional Western techniques in her practice. “They also contain glucosamine, chondroitin, zinc, and magnesium, which are beneficial for joint metabolism.” Read More Here

You can also read about shark and bovine cartilage supplements here

We stock Glyde at Kalinga park which covers much of these products.

Fish oil

Fish Oil (salmon or menhaden body oil) appears to have antiproliferative activity in some tumor cell lines, antimetastatic activity in laboratory animals, and anti-cachectic activity in human patients.11,12 The benefits for patients with cancer are linked with the ability to attenuate systemic inflammation.13 It is frequently recommended for canine and feline cancer patients at a rate of 1 extra strength capsule (500-600 mg of DHA and EPA) per 5-10kg of body weight.  Preliminary findings suggest fish oil supplementation increases chemotherapy efficacy, improves survival, and helps to maintain weight and muscle mass in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).7,8 An EPA-enriched oral supplement improved tolerability of chemotherapy in patients with advanced colorectal cancer and when combined with chemotherapy, fish oil supplementation may delay tumor progression in patients with colorectal cancer.9 Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to have anticoagulant effects, however, results from clinical studies are mixed.

Kalinga Park has a Omega supplement available.

Turmeric

Turmeric has been shown to be anti- angiogenic, induces apoptosis and is anti-inflammatory. The dose
for dogs is one teaspoon per 25kg daily. The dose for cats when they will accept it is 1⁄4 teaspoon twice
daily. It is has been shown to be of more benefit when combined with black pepper and oil (golden
paste). (Credit Steve Denley – Balanced Veterinary Care)

1 cup water, ½ cup organic turmeric powder, ¼ cup coconut oil or bone broth, ½ tablespoon organic ground black pepper, 1 tablespoon Ceylon cinnamon. Simmer turmeric and water over low heat, stirring for 7 to 8 minutes until it forms a paste. Remove from heat and add oil or bone broth, pepper, and cinnamon. Feed 1 teaspoon/20 lb twice daily.

Cannabis

The flowers, leaves and stems of the Cannabis sativa plant have been used in herbal remedies for centuries as well as in more modern culture recreationally and therapeutically. Scientists have identified many biologically active components in cannabis, with the two best-studied components being delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (often referred to as THC), and cannabidiol (CBD). Other cannabinoids are being studied for their medicinal and therapeutic effects.

We have access to pharmaceutical graded products both cannabidiol isolates as well as full spectrum low THC products. Ask us about using CBD for arthritis.

Studies conducted in the 1970s found that dogs have the highest number of THC receptors in their brains, more than any other animal studied, including humans. For this reason, dogs are very sensitive to cannabis products that contain THC, and pet guardians need to be very careful about giving THC to their dogs, so as to not create this adverse neurologic reaction. Very low THC cannabis, also known as “hemp” does not contain enough THC to create these adverse reactions. They are a better bet for pets, due to their increased safety. Some experts believe that THC is important to give along with CBD to address certain difficult to treat conditions such as cancer. With further research we will learn more about whether this is true. Hemp-based CBD extracts have been anecdotally reported to help dogs with epilepsy. For treating cancer, it is still unknown whether CBDs can work effectively as a single therapy without THC or other anti-cancer drugs. At this time, there are no published reports utilizing cannabis for pets with cancer.

Rabies Vaccination and Export

Nobivac Rabies Vaccines

Kalinga Park Vet in Brisbane maintains a large stock of rabies vaccinations that we are authorized to use for animals that are leaving the country. Rabies Vaccines are not widely available as there are expensive to stock.

All animals that receive a rabies vaccination must be microchipped with an ISO-approved microchip. We carry an advanced microchip that also monitors and reports your dog’s body temperature when read with an appropriate reader.

Biotherm Microchip

Give us a call or book online if your pet is traveling and needs a rabies vaccine. In general, you want to make sure that your pet has the vaccine at least 30 days before they are due to travel.

Kalinga Park can also perform Rabies Titre testing that can be required for certain countries or if a pet is potentially returning to Australia at a later date.

We provide 2 copies of the internationaly recognized rabies vaccination certificate. We just ask you to give us accurate contact information prior to your appointment to avoid errors on these certificates.

We are also qualified to administer Rabies vaccines to pets that have potential ABLV exposure. These pets also need to be microchipped.

Expert advice for Pet Obesity & weight loss

Obesity is one of the most common nutritional disorders seen in both cats and dogs. Animals that are overweight are predisposed to a range of health problems, including:

  • Diabetes. 
  • Cardiovascular disease (heart disease).
  • Degenerative joint and orthopedic disease (including arthritis).
  • Joint stress or musculoskeletal pain.
  • Respiratory problems.
  • Cancer and tumours.
  • Skin problems.
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Reproductive disorders.
  • Decreased quality of life.
  • Shorter life expectancy.
Overweight Pug
Funnily enough we don’t actually get that many overweight pugs at Kalinga…

So, what causes obesity? 

We love our pets a lot, but sometimes we can love them too much. By giving in to those adorable begging eyes and giving them extra treats, we are potentially causing them harm. Overeating and lack of exercise are the leading causes of obesity and ones that we luckily have control over. 

There can also be medical factors that could contribute to your furry friend weight issues; it is therefore important to talk to one of our vets before you embark on your pet’s weight loss journey. 

How do I know if my pet is overweight?

There are a few signs that your pet might be overweight, these can include:

  • Difficulty feeling your pet’s ribs.
  • Little to no waist.
  • A reluctance to exercise. 
  • A waddle to their walk.

Oh no! I think my pet is overweight. What do I do now?

If you have been a client of the clinic you will know that one of the first things we do at each visit it take a weight – its recorded on your pets file.  We can look back at this weight profile and make some informed decisions about whether weight is an issue.

There are also significant medical issues that can directly cause weight gain in dogs. Blood tests to rule out these conditions are an important part of the weight loss journey. Medications may be able to be used to speed up weight loss.

Finally, the staff have experience with a range of specifically tailored diets to help make the weight loss journey easier.

Separation Anxiety -Stress in the Post COVID World.

Separation anxiety is one of the most common, yet most underdiagnosed behavioural problems in dogs. The clinical signs of excessive barking, whining, howling, destruction, self-mutilation, urination and defecation can take a significant toll on both dogs and owners. Luckily, veterinarians now widely understand separation anxiety, and there are treatment options available to manage this condition and improve quality of life.

A dog with chewed up towels and shoes looking sad or embarrassed
The Anxious Dog

Separation anxiety is distress experienced on separation from you as the owner(s).

Anxiety is the “anticipation of future danger or misfortune”

– Dr K Seksel.

As dogs are social animals, it is normal for a puppy to become attached to their litter and then subsequently to the human family that becomes their home. Some dogs do not habituate to being without their owners and can develop significant separation distress. Some dogs may become destructive or vocalise if under stimulated and not provided with opportunities to exercise physically and mentally. However, signs of separation anxiety become apparent when they are linked to the owner(s)’ departures or absences, when they cannot gain access to them and when they cannot habituate to their absences over time. These dogs are anxious and are not “acting out” or trying to spite their owners, they are having a hard time.

Some possible signs of separation anxiety can include:

• A dug-up garden.
• A torn-up house.
• Neighbours reporting loud, repetitive barking, whining or howling.

You may also notice some signs of distress as you prepare to leave the house. Your dog sees cues that you are leaving (like picking up keys, putting on shoes or applying make-up) and begins to        bark, scratch, pant, freeze or show other signs of being distressed.

If you notice any of these signs of separation anxiety, please speak to your veterinarian. Depending on the case they may refer you to a veterinarian with further qualifications in behaviour or a veterinary behaviour specialist.

Part of the treatment plan may include:

• Medication and/or supplements to address the underlying anxiety.
• Encouraging independence using positive reinforcement exercises.
• Structured departures and arrivals which are low-key (calmly speaking to your dog, but not ignoring them completely).
• Offering your dog long-lasting chews, food puzzles and feeding devices for your times away (if they will eat in your absence).
• Continuing a program of physical and mental exercise and stimulation.
• A program of desensitisation and counterconditioning to cues that hint that you may leave the home.

Grass Seeds

Dogs running in grass

Queensland grasses are quite woody in comparison to southern grass types,  as a result, when the whether gets dry after we have had some rain. Grass’s go to “seed” – these seeds are often covered in small spines that allow them to stick to people and pets as they walk in our parks.   Without good preventative care  grass seeds can sneak their way into your pet’s paws, ears, nostrils, or eyes, and can cause some complicated health problems.

The best cure of course in prevention – after each walk hose brush your pet down with a comb to remove loose seeds and burrs.  Then rinse them off with plain old water.  

If grass seeds are not removed and are left untreated, they can cause some irritating issues. These can include:-

  • ear infections
  • abscess formation
  • ruptured eardrums
  • loss of an eye
  • or even an Aural Hematoma.

 

The most common presentation is an interdigital abscess

Treatment for grass seeds can be extremely complicated and often require an anesthetic.
Prevention is the key! To minimise the risk to your pet, we recommend t
he following;

  • Keep an eye on the length of your grass. Shorter grass is the best way to minimise the risk of grass seeds.
  • Check your pet daily for grass seeds. They could be hiding in their coat, toes, eyes, and ears!
  • Regularly groom your dog.
  • Avoid dry grass areas when taking your dog out.

If you suspect a grass seed might be bothering your pet, it is essential to see a vet as soon as possible to avoid further complications.

Call us on (07) 3357 1588. or book online today.

When should our Pet be desexed? and is it Spay or Spey.

Many things changed this year, the way we work, how we socialise and our ability to travel.   For veterinary clinics, the "Covid Puppy" has created a large influx of new pet owners and new puppies, with all the questions that entails.  I hope to cover why we desex, when should we desex and whether its truly necessary.   Click here for the Short Answer

What is desexing

Desexing is a medical procedure which we perform on male and female pets that remove the ability of that pet to reproduce.    There are a number of different ways this has been performed historically but now the accepted method of female dogs and cats is :

  • Female Pets
    • Ovariohysterectomy - which involves the removal of both ovaries and the uterus to the level of the cervix.  In general the cervix is not removed.  In Europe Ovariectomy is actually more common which leaves the uterus intact.
  • Male Pets
    • Castration - which involves the remove of both testicles, the epididymis and a small length of vas deferens and associated vasculature.

This is performed under general anaesthesia.

Why do we desex?

The obvious answer here is we don't want puppies or kittens, but there are other reasons to consider.

Behaviour

Intact male dogs and to a lessor extent female dogs - when they are "in season" have a basic physiological drive to reproduce.  This leads them to do some pretty silly stuff - jump fences, run across busy roads, get into fights.  ( I will point out humans are no different - just head into the city on any Saturday night).  This behaviours have a significant risk factor for death or severe injury.

Disease

There are certain diseases which I don't think there is any doubt that desexing removes or drops that risk to zero.

    • Testicular Cancer - you cant get it if you don't have them - same goes for Ovarian Cancer in female dogs.
    • Mammary Cancer - ie Breast Cancer - there was a study done comparing dogs in the UK and dogs in Sweden.  The study from Sweden looked at causes of mortality in 80,000 dogs and found that their population had an incidence rate 7.7 times higher than the incidence rate of female dogs in the UK.
    • Pyometra ( Uterus Infection ) -  A study of approximately 200,000 Swedish dogs (a country with a low overall sterilization rate) reported an overall incidence of pyometra at 2%, and also found that approximately 24% of female dogs experienced pyometra by 10 years of age.  The incidence in desexed dogs is 0%.
    • Prostate Disease -Benign prostatic hypertrophy-hyperplasia is a common disorder in sexually intact male dogs. 95-100% of entire male dogs will have prostatic enlargement once they reach 9 years of age.   In addition, BPH predisposes dogs to prostatitis.  Neither BPH nor prostatitis is commonly associated with substantial morbidity, and castration is an integral part of the treatment of both conditions.

When should my Pet be desexed

Short Answer

  1. If you are looking to avoid behaviour problems and keep your life simple - 5-6 mths of age.
  2. If you want to ensure your pets full development potential 12 mths + of age.

There are benefits to each of these view points such that nether is wrong but if you are looking for a more in depth answer read on.

Long Answer

History

Historically desexing became common about 50 years ago - when it was recognised that a large number of unwanted and stray dogs where causing problems around large cities.  At that time the recommendation was to perform the procedure at or around 6 months of age.    A  number of factors weighed into this timing but by far the most overwhelming was that  female dogs will generally experience a season before 7 months of age.  Female dogs are entirely capable of falling pregnant on this first cycle so the view was desex before this could happen as far as male dogs went - they got dragged along for the ride.

In the 90's, pet ownership and the stray dog problem persisted and Animal Protection Societies became involved in the care of many puppies and kittens.  The policies at this time lead to a push to introduce early age desexing - where the procedure was performed as young as 8 weeks of age.  People felt it was more important the get the pets desexed that rely on owner's returning an older pet and desex them later.  Smaller animals were also easier to manage in terms of size and also the inherent costs involved where lower.

Moving into the 21 century, new ideas emerged that became more focused on what was best for the individual dog, we had more data from the previous 50 year which we could uses to gauge the positives and negatives of our various choices.  Now some vets are recommending a late age desexing - which allows the pet to mature with its natural hormone balance intact.

In summary there is not a straight forward answer or a 1 size fits all solution.  Different people have different goals and targets.

Where are we now?

We now understand the puppies and kittens have a lot of development to do after they are born, various organs mature at different speeds.  The skeletal and muscular growth can take as long as 2 years in large breed dogs and as short as 8mths in small breed dogs.   Kidneys also mature at a different rate - kidney maturity we think is pretty much complete at about 200 days of age thats about 6.5mths.  The majority is completed in the first 4 months - you can see this as your pets toilet training pretty much improves dramatically at this age.  They can hold it for the night!  The same applies to the liver development - while no specific animal studies could be found.  In humans, full maturity can take up to 2 years following birth.  Given this knowledge, the advice has to be that we should try and avoid anaesthesia until these vital organs are mature.

Your vet will probably suggest a blood test prior to anaesthesia to confirm healthy and optimal function of these organs at bare minimum its important to realize the test doesn't tell you they are fully mature only that they are not diseased.

The previously mentioned disease risks means we should still desex but perhaps we need to show more consideration for age.

For Male Dogs - these guys can probably wait until 12 months of age  - this will allow a stronger skeletal structure and more robust physical appearance -  for the larger breeds - it may also reduce the incidence of bone cancer.

Fore female dogs - I would probably desex them at 5-6 mths of age - dealing with a dog on heat is often a lot to handle in a busy family with an inside dog - but you are welcome to delay until around 10 months of age - after the first season.  This may reduce the risk of incontinence later in life.  However the risk of mammary cancer is still higher after even 1 season.

I will categorically say I don't believe in early age desexing - I see no benefit to the individual dog or the dog's life long owner.

Spay or Spey

The correct term is spay and it means to remove the ovaries and uterus in a female dog.  That being said as with all language the alternative spelling spey does get used here in Australia.  You wont find either term common to the lay person in the USA.

References

Egenvall A, Bonnett BN, Öhagen P, Olson P, Hedhammar Å, Von Euler H. Incidence of and survival after mammary tumors in a population of over 80,000 insured female dogs in Sweden from 1995 to 2002. Prev Vet Med. 2005;69(1–2):109–127.

Beath SV. Hepatic function and physiology in the newborn. Semin Neonatol. 2003 Oct;8(5):337-46. doi: 10.1016/S1084-2756(03)00066-6. PMID: 15001122.

Dorfman M, Barsanti JDiseases of the canine prostate glandCompend Contin Educ Pract Vet 1995;17:791810[Google Scholar]

Cowan LA, Barsanti JA, Crowell W, et al. Effects of castration on chronic bacterial prostatitis in dogsJ Am Vet Med Assoc 1991;199:346350[Medline] [Google Scholar]

Johnston SD, Root Kustritz MV, Olson PNDisorders of the canine prostate. In: Johnston SD, Root Kustritz MV, Olson PN, eds. Canine and feline theriogenologyPhiladelphiaWB Saunders Co, 2001;340[Google Scholar]

Scratching in dogs

Is the cause an Allergy?

The scratching dog is a complicated problem that involves many factors, there are other causes and signs but the starting point is almost always an allergy.

What are allergies?

An allergy is an abnormal reaction to common substances such as dust, pollen, fleas, grasses and plants, or certain foods.  The allergic reaction in dogs is triggered by exposure to these agents through inhalation. contact with the skin or via ingestion.  After becoming sensitized to an offending allergen, the dog is likely to remain so for the rest of its life.  Thus allergy control is the answer rather than a cure.

Do all dogs develop allergies?

It is possible for all dogs to exhibit allergies.  Statistics show that 15-20% of dogs experience allergy disorders.  Certain breeds, however, have been reported to be more likely to develop them.

What are the signs?

Dogs rarely experience the sneezing and watery eyes associated with allergies in humans.  Instead, the most common allergic signs in dogs include repetitive scratching, licking or biting of a localized area of the body.  This may lead to hair loss, scaly skin and even open sores.

What types of treatment are available?

A variety of treatments are available to control allergy. The most obvious of these is avoidance of the allergen. That's easy to say but often very hard to do because either we don't know what the dogs are allergic to, or it is actually impossible to avoid completely what they are allergic to. i.e. the grass or plants in the backyard or the neighbours flowering tree.  The use of anti-allergy drugs can also be useful. In humans, antihistamines are commonly used and very effective for allergy relief. in dogs, unfortunately, they are much less effective with only about 1/3 of dogs getting any relief at all.   The most effective treatment used to be corticosteroids such as prednisolone and these can be in the form of topical cream, tablets or injections which give immediate relief but have side effects if used long term.

Good quality diets, low allergenic diets, regular bathing in medicated shampoos, control of secondary bacterial and fungal infections of the skin and 100% flea control are important measures that will reduce the effects of allergies in your dog by keeping their skin healthier.

New Treatment Options

We now have a number of newer targeted treatment options available that have significantly less side effects than the therapies mentioned above! These treatments need to formulated and discussed on an individual pet basis. Make an appointment today to have you buddy checked out!

We have a questionnaire that helps assess response here.

APOQUEL inhibits the function of a variety of pruritogenic and proinflammatory cytokines.

APOQUEL inhibits the function of a variety of pruritogenic and proinflammatory cytokines.

Diet

I dont think it can be underestimated how important diet is to dogs skin health.    While true food allergy is quite rare, there is no doubt diet plays a major role in managing skin disease.

What is Immunotherapy?

This type of therapy inhibits the ability of antibodies to cause an allergic reaction.  The principal mechanism involves lowering the patient's sensitivity to offending allergens by injecting the patient routinely with a series of a low dose of an allergenic extract, much like a vaccine.  First the patient is allergy tested and then the vaccine is formulated specifically for those particular allergies.  The prescription dose is gradually increased over a period of time until a maintenance level is attained and symptoms are relieved.

Each dogs response to immunotherapy is unique, and the length of time necessary for improvement and the amount of improvement varies accordingly.