Pets

Dogs and Cats

CANINE PARVOVIRAL INFECTION (PARVO)

CANINE PARVOVIRAL INFECTION (PARVO) 1080 1080 Ekua Esuon Thompson

CANINE PARVOVIRAL INFECTION (PARVO)

Ever gone to get a new puppy and it suddenly died? Or realised that your puppy is continually vomiting with diarrhoea? It could be suffering from the disease known as Canine Parvoviral Infection. This disease has become a major distress to breeders and pet owners. 

As the name suggests, Parvo is a viral infection. It is one of the most stable viruses in the environment. It is heat stable and can resist cold temperatures as well. The virus is also resistant to several disinfectants available and can therefore survive for several months in a contaminated environment. The canine parvovirus targets animals from the Canidae family such as wolves, dogs and coyotes. Among dogs, puppies and unvaccinated adults are most susceptible.  

Transmission can be direct through contact with an infected dog or indirect through contact with objects contaminated usually with faeces of an infected dog. The virus has a preference for rapidly developing cells so it mostly targets the bone marrow and the walls of the small intestines. It  damages the intestinal lining leading to bloody diarrhoea. Damage to the intestines allow other bacteria to enter the bloodstream and cause other secondary infections.

Signs of the disease include vomiting, pungent smelling diarrhoea (bloody), loss of appetite, general weakness (lethargy). Diagnosis is based on clinical signs and history. Confirmation of the disease is through laboratory tests such as PCR, ELISA and Electron Microscopy.

Survival from infection is unpredictable and death is usually due to dehydration or septic shock. There is no particular or specific treatment regime to this disease. Usually, dogs recover after giving supportive care such as replacing lost fluids and treating secondary bacterial infection. It is recommended to feed your pet with bland diets during that period until recovery. Alert your vet when your pet starts showing signs of the disease. 

Vaccinate your pet between 5-6 weeks of age. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendation for parvovirus vaccination to protect your pet. 

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RINGWORM IN PETS

RINGWORM IN PETS 494 363 Ekua Esuon Thompson

Photo Credit: © 2022 Merck & Co., Inc.

The name Ringworm may suggest an infection caused by a worm; however, this condition isn’t caused by a worm at all, but a fungus, “Microsporum canis” which can cause a generalized skin infection.  It is often associated with severe hair or fur loss and creates a ‘worm-like’ or circular rash at the site of infection, hence the name Ringworm. This highly contagious disease easily spreads to other animals and humans as well.

CAUSE AND SOURCE OF INFECTION

Most often, the source of infection is through direct contact with an infected pet or through the sharing of contaminated bedding, kennels (especially in shelters and breeding houses where dogs comingle and crowd together), toys, rugs, feeding bowls, etc. The fungal spores can remain dormant and only grow under favourable environmental conditions. Animals that like digging and playing in the soil also expose themselves to the fungus.  It is worth noting that, dogs (especially puppies less than a year old) are more prone to ringworm infection. Similarly, malnourished, immunocompromised, and stressed dogs are also at a greater risk of infection.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

Key symptoms of ringworm in dogs include:

  • Skin lesions that typically appear on the head, ears, paws and limbs.
  • Patchy, crusted, scaly and circular bald spots that sometimes look red in the center and may be itchy.
  • In mild cases, there may be just a few broken hairs, whilst in severe cases it spreads over most of a dog’s body.
  • Toenails may be brittle and easily broken.

NB: It’s also possible for a pet to carry the fungus and not show any symptoms whatsoever.

DIAGNOSING RINGWORM

It is necessary that you see your vet for an accurate diagnosis if your pet is showing any signs of a skin problem as the infection can potentially spread over your pet’s body and infect other animals and people. Diagnostic options available to a veterinarian may include using an ultraviolet light (Wood Lamp examination) to see the extent of the infection, or examining a fungal culture taken from the affected area.

TREATMENT AND PREVENTION

Treatment of ringworm depends on the severity of the infection. A veterinarian may prescribe a medicated shampoo or ointment that kills fungi. In some cases, oral medications are necessary, but usually for long periods. It is important to treat your dog for as long as recommended by your veterinarian. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that reinfection won’t occur.

If your veterinarian has diagnosed your dog with ringworm, he or she will explain what you must do to prevent the fungus from spreading to other pets and human members of the household. But keep in mind that if you have other pets, it’s likely that most of them have been exposed as well. Your veterinarian may recommend that you do the following:

  • Bathe all pets in the household with a medicated rinse or shampoo.
  • Wash the infected animals’ bedding and toys with a disinfectant that kills ringworm spores.
  • Discard items that are impossible to thoroughly disinfect (e.g., carpeted cat trees)
  • Frequently vacuum to rid the house of infected hairs and skin cells as the fungus can survive on hair and skin that your dog sheds.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands after you bathe or touch your pet.
="canine ehrlichiosis"

CANINE EHRLICHIOSIS

CANINE EHRLICHIOSIS 2560 1700 Ekua Esuon Thompson

Canine Ehrlichiosis is bacterial disease which occurs worldwide, especially in tropical countries. The disease is transmitted via the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus). There have been few reports of transmission through blood transfusion. Several species of Ehrlichia are known to infect dogs including Ehrlichia ewigii, Ehrlichia equi and Ehrlichia platys. However, Ehrlichia canis causes the most common and severe form of disease in dogs.

TRANSMISSION

An infected brown dog tick transmits the adult stage or nymphs of Ehrlichia to a new host during feeding (blood meal). The bacterium invades and multiplies in the hosts’ monocytes, lymphocytes and reticuloendothelial cells (immune response cells). The infection could be acute, beginning after an incubation period of averagely two weeks. The disease becomes chronic after the organism persists, for more than three months.

CLINICAL SIGNS

Signs of disease include fever, weight loss, anemia, abdominal pain, shifting lameness and seizures.

DIAGNOSIS, PREVENTION & CONTROL

Laboratory blood tests are usually used to confirm Ehrlichiosis. Your pet will most likely be placed on a long-term therapy, usually of about four weeks.

It is important to seek medical care as soon as you notice your pet exhibiting similar signs as mentioned above. The most effective way to prevent this disease is the effective control of ticks.  Discuss with your Vet the available tick control options, and the one that is best suited for your pet.

="image of ecto-parasites in pets: ticks & fleas".

ECTO-PARASITES IN PETS: TICKS &FLEAS

ECTO-PARASITES IN PETS: TICKS &FLEAS 466 269 Ekua Esuon Thompson

Photo Credit: © 2022 by Advanced Care Veterinary

It is our desire to see our cherished pets always healthy and happy. One of the most worrying issues in taking care of our pets are ectoparasites. They just seem to always be around no matter what we do. Sometimes we resort to desperate measures in our quest to kill these irritating organisms. These parasites are more powerful than they look.

Below are some facts about ticks and fleas.

  1. Fleas are dark brown, wingless insects, with laterally compressed bodies which have a glossy surface, allowing easy movement through hairs and feathers of their host. The third pair of legs are much longer than the others, an adaptation for leaping on and off their hosts.
  2. In fleas, both sexes are blood suckers but only the adults are parasitic and the life span for fleas is averagely 1-2 years.
  • The flea spp in Dogs and Cats act as an intermediate host for tapeworm infection in dogs. This tapeworm known as Dipylidium caninum is zoonotic (i.e., can infect humans).
  • Ticks belong to a group called Arachnids (eight-legged organisms). There are generally two kinds of ticks, the hard tick (because they have a hard or rigid covering on the dorsal surface of the tick, called the scutum) and the soft tick (they lack the hard chitinous scutum).
  • All stages of the life cycle of the tick suck blood, especially the female tick. One female tick lays an average of 2500-3000 eggs at a time.
  • Ticks cannot jump or fly so they use the blades of grasses and other vegetation to elevate themselves and grasp onto moving animals (this is known as questing).
  • Ticks aside feeding on blood also transmit diseases to both animals and humans such as Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis and Lyme disease.

BAD PRACTICES TO AVOID WHEN YOU SEE THESE PARASITES ON YOUR PET

  1. Picking ticks with your bare hands and squashing or crushing them. This is because ticks can habour several zoonotic pathogens and squashing them release these pathogens into the environment.
  2. Forcefully picking ticks off pets can lead to some of the mouth parts of the parasites remaining buried in the skin of your pet. This can cause irritation and inflammation of the skin.
  3. Using unknown products and chemicals with the aim of killing ticks and fleas. Some of these products may be harmful to your pet, your household, and the environment.

PREVENTION/CONTROL

  1. Bath your pet regularly
  • Clean your pet’s kennel or cage as frequently as possible
  • Mow your lawn frequently
  • Use of flea combs where applicable
  • There are various products and chemicals available, both topical and oral, which can be used to kill the parasites. Talk to your vet or visit a pet shop available in your area and be assisted in choosing the best product suitable for your pet
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KENNEL COUGH

KENNEL COUGH 555 396 Ekua Esuon Thompson

Photo Credit: Copyright © 2022 · Top Notch Pet Care

Kennel cough is a term loosely used to describe a complex of respiratory infections (both viral and bacterial), that cause inflammation of a dog’s larynx (voice box) and trachea (windpipe). It’s a form of bronchitis (inflammation of the bronchi) and is similar to a chest cold in humans. Dogs are more prone to Kennel Cough.  Though it usually clears up on its own, kennel cough is highly contagious and a source of worry to many owners.

Cause

As Kennel Cough is a respiratory infection, it is spread mainly via aerosols in the air. Dogs prone to this condition are those:

  • In breeding homes. The spread is more rapid when the area is enclosed with poor air circulation.
  • Who have frequent contact with other dogs, in open environments especially where the environment is wet and humid.
  • Who have contact with contaminated materials such as eating and drinking bowls, etc.
  • Who have not been vaccinated against Parainfluenza and Bordetella which are two of the main causes of kennel cough.

Symptoms/Signs

  • A persistent dry cough with a “honking” sound. In most cases, pets appear healthy except for the cough.
  • Gagging, Coughing up white foamy phlegm
  • Fever normally accompanied with nasal discharge

Treatment and Prevention

  • Dogs with kennel cough should be isolated from other dogs. A humidifier, vaporizer or steam from a shower can provide relief for irritated breathing passages.
  • Avoid exposing your dog to cigarette smoke or other noxious irritating fumes.
  • A cough suppressant and antibiotics may be prescribed. Consult your veterinarian for the right drug suited for your pet.
  • If your dog pulls against her collar while being walked, replace it with a harness until the coughing subsides.
  • Supportive care is very important. Be sure your dog is eating, drinking and in a stress-free environment.
  • Vaccinations are also available for several of the agents known to be involved in kennel cough including parainfluenza, bordetella and adenovirus 2.  Consult your veterinarian on which ones are recommended for the environment you find yourself in and how often.
  • Vaccinations aren’t useful if a dog has already caught the infection.

Kennel Cough Recovery

In most cases, the signs gradually decrease and disappear after three weeks. Young puppies, elderly dogs and other immunocompromised animals may take up to six weeks or more to recover. Animals may remain infectious for long periods of time even after the symptoms have cleared up.

When to Consult Your Veterinarian

If your dog has nasal discharge, is breathing rapidly, refuses to eat or seems lethargic, take it to the veterinarian right away and immediately isolate it from all other dogs. Serious cases of this disease can lead to pneumonia if left untreated.

="image of ferocious dog. Help Save a life, Vaccinate your pet. Rabies

HELP SAVE A LIFE, VACCINATE YOUR PET

HELP SAVE A LIFE, VACCINATE YOUR PET 589 399 Ekua Esuon Thompson

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dgoomany/6338142380

Rabies is the most common zoonotic disease spoken of when issues relating to pet health comes up. This disease has killed thousands and continues to do so every year. In Africa alone, on average about 59,000 people die annually because of this disease. Ghana is no exception, records of several dog bites with confirmed rabies cases have been realized in many regions of the country. The sad thing is that these deaths could easily have been prevented by vaccinating our pets.

TRANSMISSION

Rabies is a viral infection that affects mammals (warm blooded animals whose females have milk secreting glands to feed their young); both domesticated and wild. Dogs, cats, bats, and rats are examples of animals prone to this disease. Humans are also mammals and therefore can be infected with the virus. The disease is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal usually by bites or scratches from the animal. In special conditions such as experimental laboratories and bat caves with high concentrations of the virus, one can get infected by inhalation.

The virus then travels to the brain which is its main site of replication (predilection site). The virus multiplies and is released in high concentrations in the salivary gland. How long the virus takes to get to the brain and for replication to take place is dependent on the proximity of the wound to the brain. Duration can be as short as 3-4 days to as long as months or even years. For the disease to manifest itself, it is also dependent on the amount of virus transmitted, viral strain, site of bite, nature of the wound and host immunity.

In animals, two forms of rabies are observed depending on the site of brain affected by the virus. There is the furious form which is the most popular and widely observed and the dumb/paralytic form.

SIGNS OF RABIES IN ANIMALS

– Inability to swallow or severe drooling

– Facial paralysis

– Highly aggressive

– Fear of exposure to light

– Difficulty in breathing

– Lameness

SIGNS OF RABIES IN HUMANS

– Headaches

– Fear of water

– Fear of light

– Difficulty in swallowing and drinking

– Hallucinations

– Anxiety

The danger with this disease is that once signs begin to show, there is nothing that can be done to treat the disease. Death comes knocking on the door of the victim.

Rabies is diagnosed in the laboratory by taking brain tissues from infected animals. Recent studies have identified other samples aside from the brain to test for the virus. Tests include RT-PCR, ELISA and immunofluorescent tests. 

WHAT TO DO WHEN BITTEN BY A DOG

– Wash the site of bite with running water and soap for a minimum of 15 minutes

– Disinfect the wound with alcohol or iodine

– Go to the nearest hospital immediately

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE DOG THAT BIT AN INDIVIDUAL

– Report the case of dog bite to the veterinarian in your vicinity. The Veterinarian will quarantine the dog and examine it to ensure that it is not a threat to you and to everyone in the town.

– Don’t make an attempt to harm or kill the dog.

PREVENTION

– Vaccinate your dog or cat at 3 months of age at the veterinary hospital close to you

– Avoid letting your pets stray around

– Provide your pet with food and water daily – Keep your pet on a leash always when going out for walks

="image of heart infested with worms. Canine heartworm disease"

CANINE HEARTWORM DISEASE

CANINE HEARTWORM DISEASE 1933 1363 Ekua Esuon Thompson

Photo Credit: https://journals.asm.org/doi/10.1128/CMR.00012-12

Canine heartworm disease is a potentially deadly disease caused by the worm Dirofilaria immitis. This parasitic worm lives in the heart and lungs (pulmonary arteries) of an infected dog. The worm travels through the bloodstream, harming arteries and vital organs as they go. Ultimately, it completes its journey to the vessels of the lung and the heart chamber about six months after the initial infection. Several hundred worms can live in one dog for as long as five to seven years. Dogs are natural hosts for heartworm infection however, other animals can be infected such as cats, ferrets and even humans (though it has not been recognized to be a major health issue). The disease is fatal but also preventable.

TRANSMISSION OF HEARTWORM DISEASE

  • The source of this disease is a mosquito bite transmitting larvae of the worm Dirofilaria immitis. It has been reported that there are at least 70 species of mosquitoes that can transmit the disease including Aedes, Anopheles and Mansonia species. Humans and other mammals are accidental hosts of the worm. You do not get infected by having contact with your pet.
  • An animal must carry at least two heartworms (a male and a female) in order for female heartworms to reproduce.
  • Females produce “babies” called “microfilaria” which are shed into an animal’s bloodstream but are not capable of directly causing the heartworm disease as they need further development in the mosquito. The microfilariae must be taken up by biting mosquitoes and get transformed into infective larvae over a two-week period inside the mosquito.
  • When a mosquito next bites a susceptible animal, the infective larvae enter the tissues and begin a migration into the blood vessels.
  • Heartworms enter an animal’s bloodstream as tiny, invisible larvae, but can reach lengths of more than twelve inches at maturity.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

Severity of signs is dependent on the worm load, the immune status of the animal and the duration of the infection. Some dogs exhibit no symptoms at all until late stages of infection while others may show signs such as: labored breathing, coughing, vomiting, weight loss, listlessness, and fatigue after even a moderate exercise.

DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT

Heartworm disease is diagnosed by examination, radiographs or ultrasound, and a blood test. After diagnosis, a thorough examination of the infected dog should be conducted to evaluate the best course of treatment and the potential risks involved. There are various drugs, both topical and intravenous to cater for the infection.  All treatment protocols will require at least several weeks of exercise restriction during and after treatment. All dogs should be routinely screened with a blood test for heartworm either annually or before being placed on a new prescription for the prevention of heartworm.

PREVENTING HEARTWORM

Heartworm is easily preventable with an inexpensive, chewable pill or topical medication available at a vet’s prescription. The drugs are usually administered monthly and can be given to dogs under 6 months of age without a blood test. Older animals must be screened for the disease prior to starting medication. Keep your dog on preventive medication all year long. Many of these medications also prevent other intestinal parasites. The use of adulticides to also kill adult mosquitoes that spread and transmit these worms is also recommended. If you notice that your dog’s energy has decreased, he seems ill, or he’s exhibiting any of the general symptoms described above, contact your veterinarian immediately.

alt="happy pet life"

Happy Pet Life

Happy Pet Life 450 365 Ekua Esuon Thompson

Photo Credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/OMRNOvJIEXE

It’s pleasant seeing people walk their dogs in the early hours of the day or admiring how some dogs guard their master’s home with all diligence. It’s nice to come home and be greeted by your pet displaying all its antics that make you laugh and feel amused, and you can’t wait to get home again the following day knowing that your pet will be home, ready to display her/his affection towards you. Pets have become a part of our society and a part of our lives for whatever reason you choose to have one.

However, did you ever take time to know which pet is a best fit for your lifestyle? Did you actually consider the responsibilities attached to owning a pet before acquiring one? Or have you recently acquired a pet and have no idea of what to do next? What do I need to do to ensure that my pet is happy?

A pet is a domesticated animal usually kept for companionship. Some owners have other reasons for keeping pets including, security and sometimes for hunting. Pets do not only include dogs and cats even though they form the greater population. They also include birds such as parrots and peacocks, monkeys and even snakes. This article will be focusing more on dogs and cats. The first key to having a Happy Pet Life is to get the right kind of pet to suit your lifestyle and purpose.

Dogs are more social animals requiring a lot of attention as compared to cats. Some breeds of dogs are known to be very sociable whilst others tend to be more protective of their owners. For individuals with very busy lifestyles or have small apartments, you could opt for a cat if you are a cat lover or breeds of dogs such as Bullmastiff or even a Dachshund. If you don’t mind having pets full of energy, you could consider getting a terrier or a golden retriever. There are a number of local breeds (mongrel) with very active personalities.

Having knowledge of the temperament of the parents of your pet enables you have an idea of what to expect from your pet. All pets require proper care and attention. They need a sleeping place, sheltered from the rains and sun. They also need to be provided with containers for eating and drinking. These need to be washed regularly and kept clean.

Your pets would need bathing periodically to get rid of dirt and bad body odor. How often you bathe your pet depends on how frequent your pet gets dirty. However, too frequent a bath can cause skin irritations and loss of fur. Therefore, bathing twice a month is ideal for your pet especially in the tropics.

The kind of food you give your pet is also important. You may decide to provide an already formulated feed for your pet or provide homemade meals. Puppies may be fed twice to three times a day whilst adults are ideally fed once a day to prevent obesity. Avoid giving spices in homemade meals as it has adverse effects on your pet. Lastly, make an appointment with a veterinarian in your vicinity for routine checkups and required vaccinations. These will ensure that your pet is kept healthy and happy always.

alt="fly strike myiasis in pets"

Fly Strike ‘Myiasis’

Fly Strike ‘Myiasis’ 600 359 Ekua Esuon Thompson

Photo Credit: © animalwised.com 2022

This is a painful, sometimes deadly condition caused by infestation of the body of a living animal by the larvae (maggot) of flies.

These flies belong to the Order Diptera and examples of flies under this Order causing this condition include bot fly, tumbu fly and blow fly.

The flies lay their eggs on another animal or are carried to other animals by other insects such as mosquitoes. The eggs hatch into larvae (maggots) which digest and feed on the host’s flesh, causing wounds and irritations by their moving and feeding activity. Finally, they pupate and emerge into the environment as a fly.

This condition is common in the tropics and where flies are abundant. All living beings are susceptible to myiasis; humans, pets (usually dogs) and livestock.

HOW DOES MY PET GET THIS CONDITION?

  • Pets with open wounds
  • Sick pets usually stained with urine and diarrhoea. Pets in such conditions are smelly and have damp fur which attract these flies.
  • Pets that do not clean themselves properly.

Generally, animals that are outdoors are more prone to getting this condition. However, hygiene plays a key role in preventing your pet from getting this condition.

TREATMENT & PREVENTION

The condition is treated by removing the larvae by a professional (your vet) and the wounds treated accordingly.

It is important to keep your pet in dry and airy environments. Treat any wound on your pet to avoid other complications and invitation of flies.

alt="Cataract in Pets"

Cataracts In Pets

Cataracts In Pets 602 400 Ekua Esuon Thompson

Photo Credit: SmugMug+Flickr.2011

The eye is one of the most sensitive and vital organs of the body. With it, we see and admire the beauty of the world around us. As important as this organ is, several conditions affect and ultimately destroy its function, which is sight. One of the most common conditions affecting the eye in pets is cataract.

Unlike nuclear sclerosis, a similar condition which occurs in ageing animals and rarely affect vision, cataract ultimately lead to blindness. Cataract is an eye disorder, which affects the lens a vital component of the eye. The lens helps focus images on the retina (a sensitive membrane of the eye that receives images and sends them to the brain for visual recognition) for a clear vision.

Causal Factors

The lens, which contains proteins and water, has a balance which keeps it clear and functioning. Over time, however, various factors trigger the proteins to clamp together, giving the lens a cloudy appearance and affecting its normal functions. When left to deteriorate, it can progress to blindness.

Though cataract usually affect older animals, some species of animals particularly dogs  of breeds such as cocker spaniels, boston terriers and basset hounds, are more prone to this condition. Other factors including diabetes, physical injury to the eye, nutritional imbalance especially at young ages, exposure to ultraviolet radiations and prolonged intake of corticosteroid drugs predispose your pets to the disease. 

Signs

Signs of the disease include cloudiness in the pupil(s), watery eyes, clumsiness in gait, bumping into objects, reluctance to jump or climb, scratching of eyes, difficult vision in dark or dim environments.

Prevention & Control

If you notice your pet exhibiting any of these signs, pay a visit to your vet for further examination. Therapy consists of further tests to diagnose the eye condition, managing underlying conditions and possibly surgery. For cases which can only be managed, eye drops with anti-inflammatory components are given. Such pets have enhanced senses which make up for the defect. With guidance, they eventually adapt to their situation.

It is important to take your pet to the vet for regular eye check-ups. Keeping your pet on a healthy diet helps sustain the longevity of the eyes. Having an idea of your pet’s breed as well as parent history on cataract helps you prepare yourself for any eventualities which may occur. Most importantly, provide all the love, warmth and care your pet needs.

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