Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Zoonotic Diseases

In 64 million American household’s pets are a source of joy and perhaps even the key to longer, healthier lives. However, pet-owning households with young children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems need to be aware that their animals can play host to disease-causing microorganisms.
Humans are not likely to catch a disease through their pets, but in very rare cases it can happen. Fortunately, most of these diseases rarely occur in healthy individuals, are mild and can be easily treated. Others, like toxoplasmosis, can be far more serious. Diseases transmitted from animals to humans are called zoonotic diseases. Zoonotic diseases usually live out their complex life cycles in animals, but sometimes cross into human bodies. Usually contracting a pet-borne disease requires very close contact with animals or their excretions, so zoonotic diseases can be avoided with common sense, cleanliness and regular pet examinations and vaccinations.
Children often put their hands in their mouths, providing an easy route for bacteria to travel into their bodies. For example, children who eat dirt are more susceptible to contracting zoonotic diseases. Children also are more susceptible to pet-borne illness because they carry fewer antibodies than adults do. The same holds true for puppies and kittens, making them more likely to carry disease than older dogs and cats.
Although the chances of getting a zoonotic disease from your pet are slim, these are some common pet-borne illnesses that can make people sick:


This bacteria generally makes its way into human bodies through contaminated food. The bacteria can be passed through animal feces and may cause symptoms like fever, vomiting, diarrhea and exhaustion.


Roundworm eggs and microscopic adult worms can be excreted in the feces of dogs and cats infected by the worms. Children may be at a higher risk for contracting roundworms because they play near pets or touch infected feces and put their hands into their mouths. Because of the risk to children, all cats and dogs should be taken to their veterinarians for regular fecal examinations. Also remember to cover all sandboxes when not in use to prevent children from contacting contaminated feces. Symptoms can include fever, cough, loss of appetite, weakness and lung congestion.

Cat Scratch Fever

This bacteria is usually transmitted from cats to humans through scratches. The bacteria is found on nails or claws and can cause high fever, loss of appetite, weakness and swollen lymph nodes. In otherwise healthy people, Cat Scratch Fever is usually mild and resolves itself. However, the bacteria caused by Cat Scratch Fever can be extremely dangerous or even fatal if left untreated in immune-compromised individuals. It’s important for these pet owners to tell their doctors they own a cat. Young children should be sure to wash scratches thoroughly with soap and water.

Strep Throat

Though your pet is probably not the culprit bringing strep into your household each year, the possibility does exist. Recently, researchers have found that it’s more likely that people are infecting their pets. In any case, keep your children from kissing, licking or exchanging food by mouth with their pets.

A fungal infection of the skin, hair or nails, ringworm starts as a rapidly spreading hairless, circular lesion. Humans can be infected through use of contaminated objects like hair brushes, towels or clothing or by contact with infected animals like cats, dogs, mice, rats and guinea pigs.


Also called sarcoptic mange, scabies is a skin disease caused by itch mites which burrow under the skin. Scabies cause intense itching and scratching that can result in severe eczema. Humans can be infected through contact with infected animals.
The most effective way to prevent zoonotic diseases and ensure your good health is to ensure good health for your pets. This means taking your pet to the veterinarian for regular exams and vaccinations. Most pet owners find that by following their veterinarian’s nutritional and health recommendations, their pets will lead happy, healthy lives with little risk of zoonotic infections.

Vaccinations: What you need to know!

The recent media coverage reporting a local pet that appears to have suffered severe reactions to vaccinations may have you asking questions. Questions are good!

Every vaccine protocol is in place for the health of ourselves and our pets has been established because of a proven need to prevent life threatening diseases and have tremendous amounts of research and proven success behind them. With that said, every pet is different.

At VCA Hollywood Animal Hospital, we select vaccine protocols i.e.-frequency of vaccination and specific vaccination given, based on individual pet breed, age, and lifestyle.

Please consider this information when discussing vaccination for your pet with your Vet.

The single most important event in an annual or semi- annual exam for your pet is a Physical Exam. Each examination that takes place is comparative to about 5-10 years in your pet’s life. The annual examination is much more than just a cursory check-up.  It is most often during these veterinary exams that a veterinarian can pick up the early warning signs of a serious problem that will affect your pet in the future.  Your veterinarian has special training and experience in detecting subtle illness in pets. For instance, listening to the heart can detect murmurs. Increased lung sounds may indicate early illness. Abdominal palpitation may reveal pain in certain areas, abnormal size and shape of various organs or even tumors. Checking out eyes can detect early signs of cataract or other ocular problems. Dental disease may be detected as well as signs of allergies or skin problems. It’s easier for someone who does not see your pet every day to detect lumps and bumps that you may not have noticed. Comparing annual weights can determine if your pet is heading down the path to obesity or is slowly losing weight.

How Vaccinations Work:
Vaccines contain small quantities of altered or "killed" viruses, bacteria or other disease-causing organism. When administered, they stimulate your dog's immune system to produce disease-fighting calls and proteins-or antibodies-to protect against disease.

Specific Vaccine Information:

Canine Distemper- Vaccination against this often fatal, hard-to-treat disease is absolutely essential. Highly contagious, it is spread by discharges from the nose and eyes of infected dogs. The distemper virus attacks many organs, including the nervous system, which may be permanently damaged, even if the dog recovers.

Canine Parvovirus- Very contagious, debilitating and widespread, the disease caused by this virus emerged in many parts of the world in 1978. Spread through infected feces, this highly resistant virus can remain in the environment for many months. Vaccination is the only certain method of preventing this potentially fatal disease, which is most severe in young pups and elderly dogs.

Canine Hepatitis-Caused by Canine Adenovirus Type I or Type II, this disease is transmitted among dogs by contact with secretions, such as saliva, infected urine or feces. Causing liver failure, eye damage and breathing problems, the course of this disease can range from mild to fatal.

Canine Tracheobronchitis (Canine Cough)- Just as with the human common cold, this respiratory-tract infection is easily transmitted from one dog to another, so vaccination is imperative if your pet will come in contact with many other dogs in such situations as obedience training or boarding at a kennel. Caused by various airborne bacteria and viruses, including Canine Parainfluenza virus, Canine Adenovirus Type II, and Bordetella Bronchiseptica.

Rabies- This incurable viral disease affects the central nervous system of almost all mammals, including humans. It is spread through contact with the salvia of infected animals through bites or any break in the skin. Vaccination will provide your pet with much greater resistance to Rabies if he/she is exposed to the disease, but you must be aware that there is no cure once it occurs. For this reason, many municipalities (including Broward, Miami-Dade, & Palm Beach County) absolutely require that all dogs receive Rabies Vaccinations on a regular basis.

Canine Influenza (Dog Flu)- Canine influenza is highly contagious and easily transmitted by direct contact, cough, or sneeze and via contaminated surfaces. Usually mild in 80% of the cases, some dogs exhibit more severe symptoms, and a small number of dogs have died from complications associated with this disease.

Leptospirosis- A bacterial disease which attacks the kidneys and liver. This disease is zoonotic, which means it can be transmitted to humans.

Lyme Disease-Transmitted by ticks to dogs, other animals, and humans. Lyme disease if left untreated could have serious consequences to a dog's health. This disease is most uncommon in the northern parts of the United States.

Intestinal Parasite Examination (Fecal)-Fecal examinations are recommended on an annual basis. A fecal examination is the microscopic evaluation of feces. Fecal examinations are preformed to detect microscopic gastrointestinal parasites. These parasites can cause your pet to become ill. Some parasites can be transmitted to people.

"Heartworm" test- simple screening test to check if your pet has been exposed to Heartworm Disease, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, & Lyme Disease.   Dogs get Heartworm Disease from mosquitoes.  Your dog can get Heartworm Disease even if he/she stays inside most of the time. Heartworms can grow to as long as 14 inches and cause significant damage to the heart, lungs, and other vital organs. If left untreated, Heartworm Disease can result in death. Ehrlichiosis is caused from a bacteria carrying Brown Dog Tick, Untreated the disease can cause permanent blindness, autoimmune disease, bleeding complications, and death. Anaplasmosis and Lyme Disease are caused from a bacteria caring Deer Tick. Anaplasmosis can cause platelets and white blood cells to drop to very low numbers, cause chronic joint pain, and neurological signs. Lyme Disease, when left untreated causes damaged joints, and fatal kidney disease. 

VCA Hollywood Animal Hospital selects vaccine protocol (frequency/what's given) based on breed, age, and lifestyle. Below is a list of general vaccinations both core and lifestyle.

The DA2PP (Canine Distemper, Canine Parvo Virus, Canine Hepatitis, & Parainfluenza) Vaccines-               1 or 3 year inoculation
The Canine Tracheobronchitis (Canine Cough) Vaccine- Annual inoculation
The Rabies Vaccine - 1 or 3 year inoculation
The Leptospirosis Vaccine -Annual inoculation
The Canine Influenza Vaccine - Annual inoculation (when necessary)
The Intestinal Parasite Examination (Fecal Exam)

The Test for Heartworm Disease, Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis, & Anaplasmosis)
If you live in Broward County, it is required by law for your pet to receive a county Rabies Tag.
A Rabies tag is $25.00 for dogs that are spayed/neutered. For patients that have not been fixed, the Rabies tag is $55.00

Friday, September 18, 2015

September Team Member of the Month- Kris!!!!!

Our Team Member of the Month for September will likely ‘hate’ this award. Always preferring to stay behind the scenes, Kris L is far from out of the spotlight. As the Supervisor of arguable the most well run team in the hospital, Kris simply gets the job done. She takes great pride in her work and she cares about her staff. 

As our Kennel Supervisor, Kris is well known for her commitment to care. While she may not be able to name every owner’s face she certainly knows their pet and makes it a point to keep the staff up to date on pet’s changing diets, dispositions and desires.

Kris is one of select team members that work directly with our K9 Police Departments. She is a trusted member of their team and her no nonsense attitude makes her the perfect match for these no non-sense officers.

In addition to her Supervisor duties, Kris has her plate full assisting with the hospitals purchasing and is a go to for all stock when in need of just about anything!

Kris is always willing to help no matter how full her plate is and I will assure you- it is plenty full. 
For all of her efforts behind the scenes that make us run so smoothly, for the treats she cooks up to share with us all and simple for the incredible role of support she plays for this practice, we are happy to highlight Kris L as our September Team Member of the Month!

September Patient of the Month- Bentley!!!!!!

Bentley Potts, as he is formally addressed, is an 11 year old Pekinese mix that has been a part of the VCAHAH family most of his life. Adopted at four, his forever family has trusted us with all of their baby’s healthcare needs and overall Bentley’s health history was very routine- regular dental cleanings, vaccinations -an occasional cough. The best kind of patient!

Then, earlier this year, Bentley had what appeared to be a seizure followed by a loss of consciousness. As a patient of Dr. Patterson, Bentley had the very best care and an exam and blood work was preformed. His report card came in- Bentley’s kidney values were high. He had all the signs of chronic renal disease or- kidney failure.

The job of the Kidneys is to regulate, among other things, blood pressure, blood sugars, blood volume, water composition in the blood, and pH levels. Bentley’s episodes of ‘seizing and passing out’ were more likely syncope-the temporary loss of consciousness due to a fall in blood pressure.

While pets of any age can be diagnosed with chronic renal disease it is most common in older dogs. 9 in every 1000 dogs examined suffer from failure of the kidneys. This deterioration of the kidneys takes place slowly and is often not obvious until it is too late to treat. Curing or reversing kidney failure is not possible. Once it starts, managing it to reduce the causal factors and symptom will help to slow down its progression.
Mike and Bentley after his daily treatment.
Fortunately for Bentley Potts this was not his parent’s first experience with a CKD (chronic kidney disease) diagnosis. Earlier this year, their 13+yr old Tibetan Spaniel Gigi passed after over two years of managing this disease with medication and daily fluids.  Bentley had a good team.

After a few hospitalization stays for Bentley to get his kidneys as healthy as possible he was sent home with medications and the same order for daily subcutaneous fluids.

If anyone has had to give fluids to their own pet or knows anyone that has had to, you know that it is not always so easy to perform on your fur-baby. So for the past four months Bentley’s owner (our dear client Mrs.Sosnick) brings Bentley in everyday for fluid administration under the skin.  They are regulars. A patient and parent pair we all enjoy seeing.

Under the care of both Dr. Patterson & Dr. Shapiro, the careful hand of Veterinary Technician Mike and the entire patient support team at VCA HAH Bentley is feeling fine and enjoying life today- even with a daily trips to the Vet!

We are please to recognize this family for their dedication to all of their four-legged babies. We are grateful for the sheer joy they bring each day to our practice when they visit and we are happy to recognize Bentley as our September Team Member of the Month!
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How do I know if my pet is having kidney issues?
Bentley & brother-Cappicino

Bloodwork is the only definitive way to tell what is happening with your pet’s kidney’s. A fair indicator of chronic kidney disease is urine that is either concentrated or dilute, thus indicating the kidney's inability to process the urine correctly.

Other symptoms that can be signs of Kidney Failure are:

Weight loss
Increased thirst
Lack of appetite (anorexia)
Acute blindness
Seizures and comas
Blood in the urine (hematuria)
An increase in the frequency and amount of urination

For tips and techniques to give fluids to your pet, visit our Youtube Channel for How to videos.