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  • Dr. Carsen, DVM
    the periodic thoracic radiographs Unfortunately even the radiographs aren t a foolproof method of detecting pulmonary metastasis We can t see lung tumors on radiographs until they ve reached a certain size If they re very tiny they won t show up on a radiograph This is is another reason why it s important to take a series of these radiographs over time to catch any mets as soon as they can be detected Regarding metastatic lung cancer usually the primary malignant tumor in another part of the body is discovered before the secondary one s in the lungs However on occasion a radiograph of the thorax taken for other reasons reveals mass es in the lungs Then a search needs to be made to find the primary tumor In most cases it s in an obvious place found either visually or by palpation feeling with the fingers If it can t be found by these methods then more radiographs of other parts of the body and possible ultrasound can be utilized to locate the primary tumor If no tumors can found in other parts of the body even when the above methods have been used your veterinarian may also get a sample of the lung tumors to see what kind of cells they contain He she would be looking for cells which either look like malignant lung cells in which case the tumor would be a primary one or cells which look like malignant cells from another part of the body like mammary gland breast cells or bone cells In the latter case the lung tumors would be known to be metastatic Collecting the sample s of the lung tumor s can be done in several ways If the lung tumor s is fairly close to the chest wall your veterinarian may be able to collect a sample by inserting a needle or larger bored instrument through the chest wall to collect the sample This would be done under sedation and your veterinarian would use ultrasound to guide him her to the area of the lung where the tumor is Sometimes the tumor causes fluid to be exuded into the chest cavity if this is so a sample of the fluid can also be tapped off and examined for cancer cells If the tumor is deeper within the lung tissue then surgery would be necessary to collect a piece for biopsy Of course you and your veterinarian would discuss beforehand whether your animal is in good enough shape to tolerate such a procedure If it is determined that your animal has a primary lung tumor which is found only in one lobe on X rays then surgery also would be considered as part of the treatment for this tumor Again your animal s overall condition would be factored in to the decision as to whether or not the surgery will be performed On the other hand if your animal s lung tumors are determined to be secondary metastatic lesions

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/2005june/drcarson.html (2016-02-13)
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  • Dr. Carsen, DVM
    the dilated CM DCM Cats types include hypertrophic HCM this is usually the type which is inherited it also is associated with hyperthyroidism and hypertension dilated DCM rarely seen these days since extra taurine has been added to catfoods restrictive most common type in middle aged to older cats mixed unclassified and a rare type called arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy Congestive heart failure CHF a very serious condition in which fluid builds up in one or more parts of the body We saw last month that CHF can result from valvular insufficiency It also can develop in a dog or cat with CM In cardiomyopathy CHF develops when the heart muscle is so diseased and weak that it can t pump the blood through the body with sufficient force Also many animals with CM have heartbeat irregularities arrhythmias When the heart is beating in an aberrant fashion because of an arrhythmia blood is pumped from the heart in fits and starts Both the weak muscle and arrhythmias cause a backup of blood into the body leading to fluid buildup in the lungs left sided failure and or abdomen and lower hind limbs right sided failure As mentioned in last month s article a few cats have valvular disease along with CM If both conditions are present CHF becomes even more likely As with the CHF of valvular disease CM patients have left sided heart failure more often than right Even though left sided failure predominates though right sided failure occurs with greater frequency in CM than in valvular disease CHF is a serious potentially fatal condition It can come on slowly or seemingly at least all at once It needs immediate medical care What signs would you see if your dog or cat has CHF from CM In dogs you d see some or all of the following exercise intolerance can t go very far without pooping out dyspnea difficulties in breathing coughing cyanosis a bluish tinge to the gums decreased appetite and weight loss and possible syncope fainting Less frequently you d see vomiting ascites swollen belly from fluid gathered inside and swelling of lower hind limbs and feet Unfortunately sometimes there is sudden death Signs in cats can be more vague lethargy decreased appetite hiding Cats with CHF usually don t cough CHF cats are dyspneic have breathing difficulties seemingly with a sudden onset In actuality the dyspnea has probably come on more gradually but early dyspnea in a cat is difficult to detect for an untrained person As the CHF progresses the dyspnea becomes more pronounced until it s obvious they re struggling to breathe A dyspneic cat also has an increased respiratory rate If you note your cat taking 30 or more breaths per minute this calls for medical attention Warning a dyspneic cat must not be stressed Handle him her very gently and make every effort not to upset thim her for this can lead to sudden death Occasionally a cat with CHF will go

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/2005May/drcarson.html (2016-02-13)
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  • Dr. Carsen, DVM
    large vein called the vena cava which empties the blood back into the right atrium of the heart The returning blood is very low in oxygen which has been taken up by the body s tissues and organs so after the blood goes from the right atrium upper chamber of the heart into the right ventricle lower chamber it is pumped to the lungs through the pulmonary artery In the lungs it receives oxygen again and this oxygenated blood then flows back through the pulmonary vein into the heart s left atrium upper chamber and then into the left ventricle lower chamber The heart then pumps this oxygenated blood from the left ventricle out to the body starting the process all over again This is where the valves are in the heart there is a valve separating the right atrium from the right ventricle it is called the tricuspid valve The valve separating the left atrium from the left ventricle is called the mitral valve There also is a valve between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery it is called the pulmonic valve Lastly there is a valve between the left ventricle and the aorta it is called the aortic valve The animals most likely to have valvular disease insufficiency are the small and medium breeds of dogs especially the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Dachshund Poodle Yorkshire Terrier Schnauzer and Cocker Spaniel It is less common in large dogs and fairly rare in cats As the affected dogs age fibrous deposits form on their heart valve s These deposits don t allow the valve to completely close After blood is pumped through a valve with fibrous deposits part swirls backward instead of going forward This makes a noise which we call a heart murmur Animals with a heart murmur from valvular disease can live for years without obvious problems in fact in some it never causes a problem However in others it eventually causes a life threatening condition called congestive heart failure or CHF What is CHF It is a serious condition in which the heart fails in its job of pumping all the blood around the body resulting in congestion or fluid buildup in one or more parts of the body How does CHF come about As discussed above in an animal with valvular insufficiency not all the blood is pumped forward as the heart contracts Some of it washes backward because one or more of the valves can t close properly As the condition progresses less and less blood is pumped out of the heart with each stroke and more and more washes backward This leads to fluid buildup in the organs and tissues from which the blood was pumped Most of the time the valve which is diseased is the mitral valve the one dividing the left atrium from the left ventricle As we saw above blood comes into the left atrium from the lungs Thus when the mitral valve doesn t close properly fluid buildup

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/2005March/drcarson.html (2016-02-13)
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  • Dr. Carsen, DVM
    are more prone to having these problems than the larger breeds This is also true of certain breeds of cats like Siamese Burmese and Abyssinians The signs you should look for are bad breath red raw edges to the gum near the tooth gum recession the gum edge has shrunken exposing part of the tooth s root and the brownish hard deposits on the teeth which is the tartar or dental calculus Animals seem to be able to eat with horrible looking mouths so you usually don t see them acting as if eating is uncomfortable Dental disease is not only unpleasant and ugly to look at but it poses a real health threat to your dog or cat The inflammed tissues of the gum and tooth roots are a wonderful breeding ground for bacteria With worsening disease the infection gets into the blood stream where it settles in the heart lungs kidneys and other organs This can lead to serious even fatal disease If you notice any of the above signs it s time for a trip to your veterinarian Most dental problems can be taken care of by your regular veterinarian However if more expert care is needed a veterinary dental specialist can now fill cavities do root canals and fashion crowns or bridges for their furry patients Older animals are also more prone to cancer and one of the places this can strike is in the mouth You should check your dog or cat s mouth regularly for any growths or lumps Other signs of an oral tumor are difficulty eating you may notice your animal making strange mouth movements when he she eats weight loss drooling bad breath and rarely blood from the mouth If you notice any or these or anything unusual about your animal s mouth your veterinarian is the person to see While we re talking about your animal s head problems of the brain are also seen in geriatric dogs and cats The most common one is called Cognitive Disorder ie senility Geriatric dogs and cats can t forget where they put their car keys but they certainly can suffer from memory loss unfortunately including forgetting their housebreaking lessons accidents in the house can occur for the first time since puppyhood or kittenhood They also can act confused or disoriented stare into space or wander aimlessly They may get stuck in a corner seemingly unable to figure out how to turn around and get out They may seem to not recognize familiar people and or do not respond to familiar commands Their sleep patterns may also be disturbed They usually sleep more than usual during the day but seem to suffer from insomnia at night pacing aimlessly around the house If you see these or other unusual behavioral signs in your geriatric animal a trip to your veterinarian is called for If Cognitive Disorder is diagnosed it now can be treated with medication and special diets If your vet is holistic he

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/2004dec/drcarson.html (2016-02-13)
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  • Dr. Carsen, DVM
    knowledge about what to look for as an animal ages so help can be sought in time to make a difference if when a problem develops First of all when does a dog or cat enter the geriatric years Of course there is individual variation just as there is for humans Some animals age more quickly than others of the same chronological age However rough guidelines can be drawn In animals size makes a significant impact on lifespan The larger the animal the shorter the lifespan A giant breed dog like a Great Dane or St Bernard lives an average of 9 10 years A toy breed dog like a Chihuahua or a cat can live into the late teens or longer Keeping the above facts in mind it can still be stated that for most dogs and cats the geriatric years start around 8 years of age obviously earlier for giant breed dogs and later for toy breeds It is at this point that bodily changes associated with aging begin to show up in most Regular checkups by your veterinarian are important throughout your animal s life but they are especially important in the geriatric years Since a dog or cat s lifespan is shorter than ours problems associated with aging come on more rapidly Yearly checkups are a good idea for a healthy young animal When a dog or cat reaches his geriatric years checkups at least twice a year are recommended More frequent checkups are needed if certain problems develop However you live with your animal on a day to day basis and it s important that you be aware of things to look for in your geriatric dog or cat The rest of this article and one s on the subject in the future will give you information about what these are To do this in an organized way I decided to start at the front and work back One of the most obvious changes that comes about with age is in the eyes The lens which sits behind the pupil thickens with age In humans this is what causes us to have problems with seeing things close up as we get older necessitating reading glasses or bifocals In dogs and cats it causes both pupils to look bluish grey rather than black This condition is called nuclear sclerosis or lenticular sclerosis It is a benign process and does not interfere with vision For a lay person however it is often confused with cataracts Both affect the lens behind the pupil However with cataracts the pupil looks white often in a star shaped pattern and only one eye may be affected rather than both The intensity of the white increases with time until the entire pupil is white The opacity of cataracts does lead to blindness partial at first then complete as the condition progresses If you re not sure about what you see in your geriatric dog or cat s eyes especially if he she

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/2004nov/drcarson.html (2016-02-13)
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  • Dr. Carsen, DVM
    or the use of an underwater treadmill at least for dogs cats don t take to water nearly so easily as dogs When a dysplastic animal s body is supported by water the pressure of gravity is substantially lessened and movement is significantly easier A swimming pool used for humans can be used ideally indoors and heated It s a good idea to use a canine life jacket for your dog especially if he she is especially weak or stiff There also are an increasing number of canine rehabilitation centers opening up in which a pool and or underwater treadmill is are available When starting hydrotherapy initial sessions are short As time goes by the time can be lengthened Always consult your veterinarian before starting hydrotherapy for your dysplastic dog especially if he she has a heart or lung condition or other serious medical condition If hydrotherapy is impossible for your dog then regularly exercise him or her with gentle slow exercises such as walking Your dog will let you know his her limits by sitting down or not wanting to go on at a certain point With time you may be able to slowly increase time and distance If your dog has always been very active and is finding it hard to accept limitations you will need to monitor your dog s level of stiffness lameness and or pain following exercise and increase or decrease the time distance and level of exertion accordingly Your veterinarian can give you helpful suggestions regarding exercise for your dysplastic dog You should always consult your veterinarian before starting an exercise program for your dysplatic dog A third alternative treatment for HD is the category of supplements called glycoaminoglycosides or GAGs These have gained increasing popularity in recent years and for good reason GAGs can reduce much of the stiffness and pain associated with hip dysplasia They cause far fewer side effects than NSAIDs or corticosteroids an occasional animal will go off his her feed or develop diarrhea GAGs also can interfere with clotting although not to the extent of NSAIDs like aspirin so consult with your veterinarian if your animal is on GAGs and you are considering surgery for him her Also GAGs help heal the arthritic joint unlike drugs which can break the joint down further especially with long term use Examples of GAGs are glucosamine chondroitin and perna They can come in oral forms or injectable It can take a few weeks to notice improvement with GAGs so don t stop giving them if you don t notice immediate improvement However many patients respond within a few days The efficacy of GAGs is pretty well established by now so many non holistic conventional veterinarians use them for their HD patients However if your regular veterinarian doesn t have any consult a holistic veterinarian in your area You can also purchase them yourself in many pet stores grooming salons and or online Be forewarned however if your animal is already on a

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/2004oct/drcarson.html (2016-02-13)
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  • Dr. Carsen, DVM
    given first The types of drugs used most commonly are anti inflammatory drugs either non steroidal or steroidal Non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs NSAIDs are the usual drug of choice NSAIDs used for dogs with HD include aspirin preferrably buffered like Ascriptin or Ecotrin Rimadyl carprofen EtoGesic etodolac Feldene piroxicam Butazolidin phenylbutazone and Metacam meloxicam These drugs can be very helpful even miraculous in relieving the signs of HD Most animals with HD benefit from NSAIDs However some animals are sensitive to these drugs especially if they take them over an extended period of time The side effects seen in these animal include bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract and liver and or kidney damage as well as further damage to joints Because of the possibility of these side effects in some patients careful monitoring including periodic blood tests should be done if these drugs are used for anything other than short term use Your veterinarian can advise you about this monitoring if long term use is anticipated NSAIDs need to be used more cautiously in cats than in dogs Some of the NSAIDs which dogs can take are toxic or even fatal in cats Others can be used but at a reduced dose or frequency Always check with your veterinarian before using any NSAID in a cat Some NSAIDs which can be used safely in humans like ibuprofen are toxic fatal not only to cats but to dogs as well Always consult your veterinarian before giving any human NSAID to your dog or cat Never combine NSAIDs or increase the recommended dose without your veterinarian s advice unwanted side effects are much more likely if this is done and could prove to be fatal Steroidal anti inflammatory drugs are those related to cortisone they are called corticosteroids These usually are reserved for very severe symptoms and should be used for a short time only They include prednisone or prednisolone Azium dexamethasone and Vetalog triamcinolone If drugs aren t doing an adequate job or if the symptoms are very severe the other conventional treatment method is surgery There are several types of surgery used for HD Two are used in the young dog and are meant to change the shape of the pelvis so that the relationship of the pelvis and the femur is more normal This reduces the likelihood of secondary degenerative arthritic changes and their symptoms of pain stiffness etc Surgeries done in young HD patients are the triple pelvic osteotomy TPO in which the pelvis is cut in multiple places and re assembled and the newer juvenile pubic symphysiodesis JPS in which the fibrocartilage which is in place between the two halves of the pubic bone of the pelvis is cauterized stopping further growth of the pubis while other parts of the pelvis continue to grow Age is an important factor in the success of these two surgeries especially the JPS in which a candidate must be younger than 20 weeks The jury is out on the success

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/2004sept/drcarson.html (2016-02-13)
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  • Dr. Carsen, DVM
    this socket In a dysplastic hip joint the pelvic socket is shallow and so the head of the femur rides in and out of the socket The constant movement of the femoral head in and out of the hip joint wears down the cartilage that normally overlies the bony surfaces of the joint sooner or later causing bone to rub on bone This excess movement also causes inflammation within the joint and this as well as other factors lead to a decrease in joint fluid and a drier joint further interfering with smooth and pain free movement of the hip joint The body reacts to the excessive joint movement and wear and tear by altering the contours of the femoral head and neck thickening the neck and flattening the head Extra bone is laid down around the edges of the pelvic socket in an attempt to keep the femoral head in place Even though the intent of these bony changes is to stabilize the joint the changes further interfere with smooth movement An animal with these changes would be said to have degenerative joint disease DJD or osteoarthritis OA in the hips What causes hip dysplasia We don t yet have all the answers to this question We do know there is an inherited tendency genetic predisposition in certain breeds of dogs and cats and in certain lines within these breeds The exact way hip dysplasia is transmitted genetically is still being investigated Very roughly speaking if both parents of a puppy or kitten have HD the pup kitten will almost certainly have it as well Even in only one parent has HD the puppy kitten probably will have it However a pup kitten from two parents without HD can still develop it this is because the parents even though free of the symptoms themselves still can transmit the tendency or predisposition for HD to that offspring Among the breeds currently most likely to have HD are the Golden Retriever Labrador Retriever and Rottweiler in dogs and Maine Coons and Persians in cats The first two dog breeds are among the most popular breeds in this country today so it s not surprising that wesee so much of this condition in those dogs Other large breeds of dogs and some not so large also have tendencies toward HD Other theories such as nutritional deficiencies and or imbalances muscular abnormalities spinal problems etc also have been put forth to explain how HD comes about I personally believe that HD is probably caused by multiple factors of which genetic inheritance is just a part However since we know the most about the latter I will concentrate on that cause in this article How do I know if my dog or cat has hip dysplasia You might suspect HD in your animal if he she is a member of one of the above mentioned breeds and or if you notice him her being slow in getting up or down being reluctant to jump

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/2004august/drcarson.html (2016-02-13)
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