Not only are eyes the window to the soul, they’re also a strong indicator of our dog’s overall health. Dog’s just like humans, suffer from degenarative vision. As dogs grow older, they may suffer from nuclear sclerosis, macular degeneration or cataracts. All of these diseases contribute to vision loss in dogs and therefore a lesser quality of life. Fortunately a preventative health regimen can increase dog’s ocular health even into their golden years.
By including Merrick’s Vision Elements in your dog’s daily diet you are providing supportive nutrients. Primarily made from rice, sweet potato, carrot and marigold, Merrick’s Vision Elements are naturally orange in color and provide a large does of antioxidants, beta-carotene and lutein.
Healthy Vision is related to the individual parts of the eye - the cornea, iris, macula, lens, optic nerve, pupil, retina and vitreous humor. And daily nutrition that includes antioxidants, beta-carotene and lutein supports healthy vision. Marigolds are an abundant source of lutein while carrots are an excellent source of antioxidant compounds, as well as the richest source of pro-vitamin A carotenes. This combination supports the health of the individual parts of your dogs eye.
Joint Health - Merrick
Like humans, as our dogs age, their joints and ligaments age too. They become stiff and painful, hampering your dog’s way of life. However, with preventative treatment, these symptoms can be alleviated and your pet will retain strength and mobility. Including a Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate rich supplement will do just that.
Merrick Joint Elements™ are made primarily from rice, white potato and apples and are naturally white in color. Through the addition of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate, Merrick Joint Elements are part of a preventative health diet for dogs.
Cartilage, the tissue found at the ends of the bones and along the joints, is a sponge-like mass of cells that acts like a cushion to the joints. Most joint pain can be attributed to a reduction of cartilage. Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate combine to support healthy joints, slowing or stopping the loss of cartilage.
ECP: What You Should Know About Pet Glaucoma
INTRODUCTION OF ENDOSCOPIC CYCLOPHOTOCOAGULATION (ECP): WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW FOR YOUR PET WITH GLAUCOMA
Glaucoma: Increase in intraocular pressure that causes damage to the optic nerve and to the retina.
Endoscopic: Intraocular Visualization.
Cyclo: Ciliary Body (where the intraocular fluid is produced)
Photocoagulation: Tissue destruction using laser energy.
Glaucoma, or an increase in intraocular pressure, is one of the leading causes of blindness in dogs and cats. The fluid within the eye, called the aqueous humor, is produced by the ciliary body and exits the eye through specialized drainage areas. Glaucoma is associated with a blockage to the exit of the fluid out of the eye and can be caused by a number of factors such as a malformed drainage area (very common in Cocker Spaniels, Basset Hounds, Chow Chow, Shar Pei, and other purebred dogs), debris obstructing the drain holes, as well as tumors cells or a dislocated lens blocking the fluid’s exit from the eye. Glaucoma can result in sudden vision loss. Therefore, early diagnosis and treatment are imperative for successful therapy. Equally important, the treatment of the other clinically normal eye is many times necessary in purebred dogs, as glaucoma is often a bilateral condition in these predisposed breeds.
Because glaucoma presents in a sudden and aggressive fashion, the prognosis for affected patients is always guarded. However, many medications (in the form of drops, ointments, and tablets) are available in our fight against glaucoma. Surgery will be recommended in addition to medical therapy because glaucoma is rarely controlled with medications alone in our patients. Surgery is currently considered an imperative step in the therapy of glaucoma in both animals and humans. Available surgeries include: laser glaucoma therapy (endolaser, transscleral), glaucoma implants, cryotherapy (freezing procedure), and those procedures to re-route the exit of aqueous humor from the eye. The overall success rate of surgery depends on the specialty center’s available equipment and the expertise and experience of the ophthalmic surgeon. Due to the difficulty in selection of the appropriate technique for all types of glaucoma seen in clinical practice (primary, secondary, congenital, acute versus chronic, canine, feline or equine), many procedures have evolved over the years for our armamentarium in the fight against this truly vision-threatening disease. In order to preserve vision, such procedures as laser cyclophotocoagulation, glaucoma implants (or gonioimplants), iridencleisis, sclerotomy, and cryotherapy have been used commonly in veterinary ophthalmology. Our hospital in collaboration with the AMC published the most extensive results of a combined transscleral diode laser glaucoma therapy with a glaucoma shunt (gonioimplant). Our results were quite favorable in that good control of the intraocular pressure (IOP) was achieved in 76% of the eyes with 41% of the eyes visual after 12 months.1 Although I have been very happy with this combined laser-glaucoma shunt technique, and this procedure has served our mutual patients very well over the years, a newer technique called endoscopic photocoagulation (ECP) is now available for veterinary ophthalmology. This ECP technique has been in use in human ophthalmology for many years. ECP is a surgical approach to glaucoma management that employs a light endoscope with direct laser application (Figure 1). One can look inside the eye through a small incision to directly visualize the ciliary processes. In the previously published transscleral approach, we are estimating the position of the ciliary processes, whereas with the ECP technique direct visualization of the targeted ciliary processes offers a great advantage. The result is a selective and direct destruction of the ciliary processes with a minimal laser energy and minimal impact to the surrounding, non-targeted cells (Figure 2). All forms of glaucoma can be treated with ECP (primary, secondary cases). Furthermore, the amount of energy used in the ECP procedure is much less (1/5) than other external (transscleral) laser glaucoma procedures. There is resultant less damage to surrounding tissues with the ECP unit. All species of animals can be treated, including dogs, cats, horses, and even exotic animals. Currently, there are less than 20 units available in the United States, and we have the only ECP unit in New York State. In an unpublished retrospective study, a group from a private practice in Ohio has used the ECP procedure in addition to lens removal to control the IOP in primary glaucoma cases. Although the postoperative therapy regime is intense, the overall results were quite impressive with 93% of the eyes treated demonstrating good IOP control one year after surgery. In addition, many of the ECP patients were controlled with minimal to no long-term medications. Our ophthalmology department at Long Island Veterinary Specialists presented a retrospective study at the 2008 annual conference of the American Veterinary Ophthalmologists on the use of ECP for secondary glaucoma in dogs, and we reported that >90% control of the intraocular pressure with a mean reduction in medications to only one medication!
In addition to endoscopic laser ablation of the ciliary processes, the endoscopic laser can also be utilized to treat iris and ciliary tumors, to perform an iridectomy (creation of a hole in the iris to relieve acute spikes of glaucoma), to image and to treat retinal lesions, and to evaluate previous cataract and intraocular surgeries. The disadvantages of the ECP technique are the possible recurrences of the glaucoma, potential need to repeat the procedure, expense of the equipment (approximately $40,000.), and the typical learning curve associated with a newer therapy. We look forward to providing this new technique to our Long Island patients, and are committed to provide further information for our ophthalmology colleagues and the Tri-State veterinary community with this state-of-the-art modality.
Figure 1: The endoscopic photocoagulation unit. Combination of endoscope with light source, laser energy, and video-camera adaptor.
Figure 2: Treatment of the ciliary processes where aqueous humor is produced through a small incision in the cornea or via an incision through the sclera.
OTHER INDICATIONS FOR THE ECP procedure:
Laser of iris tumors
Laser of ciliary body tumors
Iridectomy: removal of iris masses or creation of flow holes in the iris to improve aqueous humor circulation.
Laser retinal therapy
Retinal or vitreal fine needle aspiration
Intraocular inspection for tumors, retained lens fragments, and intraocular lens implants
John S. Sapienza, DVM Diplomate, ACVO Long Island Veterinary Specialists, Plainview, New York 516-501-1700
Sapienza JS and van der Woerdt, A. Combined transscleral diode laser cyclophotocoagulation and Ahmed gonioimplantation in digs with primary glaucoma: 51 cases (1996-2004). Veterinary Ophthalmology 2005; 8:121-127.
Shedding is a natural loss of hair in dogs that allows the new coat to come in. All dogs shed; some more then others. There is no such thing as a non-shedding dog, unless you have a completely hairless dog however shedding varies greatly from breed to breed.
The majority of breeds that are considered light shedders are usually the breeds that need to be clipped, stripped and/or scissored. Because their hair falls out at a much slower rate, if they are not properly groomed they are prone to matting.
Some breeds have a seasonal shedding season in the spring, as their winter coats are lost. But if your dog is an indoor dog it may not be outside enough for the dog's body to register the change of season, so he may shed all year round. Today dogs are bred mostly as companions and some breeds are not meant to live outdoors, so do not start leaving your dog outside all day long in hopes to stop the shedding. Longhaired dogs may appear to shed more, but it is really just the length of their hair that gives that illusion.
What can you do to reduce shedding? Some dogs shed a lot. What can you do to help get the hair loss under control? Grooming is the key. Keeping in mind that the hair is going to fall out either way and it is best to remove it yourself and throw it in the trash, then to let the hair fall out naturally all over your house. The more hair YOU remove the less you will see it all over your house. Brushing your dog once a day will greatly reduce the unwanted hair all over your clothes, carpet and furniture, especially during shedding season.
Managing Sarcoptic Mites
Sarcoptic Mange Mites Microscopic sarcoptic mange mites cause sarcoptic mange, also known as scabies. Sarcoptic mange mites affect dogs of all ages, during any time of the year. Sarcoptic mange mites are highly contagious to other dogs and may be passed by close contact with infested animals, bedding, or grooming tools.
Risks and Consequences Sarcoptic mange mites burrow through the top layer of the dog's skin and cause intense itching. Clinical signs include generalized hair loss, a skin rash, and crusting. Skin infections may develop secondary to the intense irritation. People who come in close contact with an affected dog may develop a skin rash and should see their physician.
Treatment and Control Dogs with sarcoptic mange require medication to kill the mites and additional treatment to soothe the skin and resolve related infections. Cleaning and treatment of the dog's environment is also necessary.
Demodectic Mange Mites Demodectic mange caused by demodectic mange mites is mainly a problem in dogs. Demodectic mange mites are microscopic, cigar-shaped, and not highly contagious. A mother dog, however, may pass the mites to her puppies.
Risks and Consequences Localized demodectic mange tends to appear in young dogs as patches of scaly skin and redness around the eyes and mouth and, perhaps, the legs and trunk. Unlike other types of mange, demodectic mange may signal an underlying medical condition, and your pet's overall health should be carefully evaluated. Less commonly, young and old dogs experience a generalized form of demodectic mange and can exhibit widespread patches of redness, hair loss, and scaly, thickened skin.
Treatment and Control Your veterinarian will discuss treatment options with you. Treatment of dogs with localized demodectic mange generally results in favorable outcomes. Generalized demodectic mange (demodecosis), however, may be difficult to treat, and treatment may only control the condition, rather than cure it.
Dental Health - Nature's Variety
PROPER FEEDING FOR DENTAL HEALTH Teeth are considered a carnivore’s most valuable anatomical part. Teeth are necessary to shred, tear, and chew food; digestion actually begins in the mouth. Since food nourishes the body, providing vital energy and nutrients for strong bones, healthy skin, and proper physiological balance, it is important that pets can actually chew their food. Ideally, dogs and cats should have their teeth brushed daily along with a yearly professional cleaning. However, plaque buildup (and frequency of cleanings) may be reduced by feeding a nourishing diet that promotes natural tooth cleaning.
Dental Disease Progression Dental disease is a series of progressively damaging stages that begins when plaque, a soft coating (comprised of food, saliva, and bacteria) coats the tooth surface. Within 72 hours after eating, dissolved calcium salts naturally present in saliva combine with plaque to form a hard matrix. Hardened plaque is called tartar.
Dental disease affects the whole body. Mouth bacteria can enter the blood stream through inflamed and bleeding gums, possibly causing secondary infections in the liver, heart, and kidneys. Likewise, gingivitis causes considerable discomfort when the animal chews. Many pets with dental disease actually stop eating or playing with toys because of the severe pain. Inadequate food intake, no matter how nutritious the food may be, has profound whole body consequences.
Products with Dental Claims…do they work? Dental treats, diets, and other products are not always as effective as the packaging proclaims. Synthetic additives or coatings may prevent bad breath, but not always tartar build-up. Likewise, rawhide coated with enzymes or rope toys marketed as “floss” have not been shown to be effective dental aids. In fact, studies evaluating the effectiveness of biscuits, food style (dry or moist), and dental additives are inconclusive.
In humans, high-carb diets promote cavities. It has always been thought that cavities are rare in dogs and cats due to the shape of their teeth. Yet, new evidence suggests carbohydrate-rich diets or treats may actually speed up the progression of dental disease. Bacteria that become trapped in the tartar matrix rely on carbohydrates as their food source. These bacteria ferment carbohydrates into by-products that promote enamel erosion, tooth decay, tooth discoloration and bad breath. Moreover, the bacteria constantly stimulate the immune system; gum inflammation (gingivitis), infection, and lesions.
Mechanical Action & Low-Carb Diets…these work! Mechanical abrasion is the only scientifically proven factor that prevents plaque and tartar build-up between dental cleanings. Daily brushing, as well as select bones, jerkies, and low-carbohydrate treats, help accomplish the necessary abrasion. Raw bones, either whole or part of a Raw Frozen Diet, are considered the best dental aids available; they provide effective abrasion without the danger of splintering or impaction common to rawhide and improperly cooked bones.
The impact of food form (wet or dry) on dental health is less clear. With regard to the debate of kibble vs. canned, scientific evidence is conflicting because texture, shape, size, and ingredient selection act synergistically to affect a food’s functionality. Selecting low-carbohydrate foods is perhaps more important to dental health than texture of the food form.
The Bottom Line With all the confusion and conflict surrounding food form, feeding for dental health becomes a lifestyle change. For holistic dental care, scientific evidence supports the claim that raw bones reduce plaque and tartar naturally through mechanical abrasion, and that high meat, low-carbohydrate diets reduce the amount of carbohydrates available to mouth bacteria. Dogs and cats should be fed a rotation diet composed of raw and grain-free, low-carbohydrate food. Nature’s Variety Raw Frozen Diets and bones, and Instinct kibble and canned diets are all grain-free, low-carbohydrate food choices. Yet, each pet is unique, so it is best to check with a veterinarian before dramatically altering your pet’s diet
Dr. Laura Duclos Director of Research and Development Nature's Variety
Laura M. Duclos, Ph.D., earned her Bachelor’s degree in Veterinary Technology and Biology from Quinnipiac University and her Doctoral degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Her research has focused primarily on animal physiology and nutritional biochemistry. Laura and her husband reside in Lincoln, NE with their two cats, Psyche and Goober.
Ear Mites Ear mites are common in young cats and dogs, and generally confine themselves to the ears and surrounding area. Mites are tiny and individual mites may be seen only with the aid of a microscope. Your pet can pick up ear mites by close contact with an infested pet or its bedding.
Risks and Consequences Ear mites can cause intense irritation of the ear canal. Signs of ear mite infestation include excessive head shaking and scratching of the ears. Your pet may scratch to the point that it creates bleeding sores around its ears. A brown or black ear discharge is common with ear mite infections.
Treatment and Control Treatment of ear mites involves thorough ear cleaning and medication. Your veterinarian or pet professional can recommend an effective treatment plan.
Ticks Hosting a tick is the price dogs or, less commonly, cats may pay for investigating shrubbery, brush, or wild undergrowth. Ticks have a four-stage life cycle, and immature ticks often feed on small, wild animals found in forests, prairies, and brush. Adult ticks seek larger hosts like dogs and cats who venture into these habitats. Tick exposure may be seasonal, depending on geographic location.
Risks and Consequences Ticks are most often found around your dog's neck, in the ears, in the folds between the legs and the body, and between the toes. Cats may have ticks on their neck or face. Tick bites can cause skin irritation and heavy infestations can cause anemia in pets. Ticks are also capable of spreading serious infectious diseases (such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and others) to the pets and the people on which they feed. Disease risk varies by geographic area and tick species.
Treatment and Control Prompt removal of ticks is very important because it lessens the chance of disease transmission from the tick to your pet. Remove ticks by carefully using tweezers to firmly grip the tick as close to the pet's skin as possible and gently pulling the tick free without twisting it. After removing the tick, crush it while avoiding contact with tick fluids that can carry disease. Do not attempt to smother the tick with alcohol or petroleum jelly, or apply a hot match to it, as this may cause the tick to regurgitate saliva into the wound, increasing the risk of disease.Pets at risk for ticks should be treated during the tick season with an appropriate tick preventative. Your pet professional can recommend a product best suited to your pet's needs. Owners who take their pets to tick-prone areas during camping, sporting, or hiking trips should examine their pets for ticks immediately upon returning home and remove them from their pets. If your pet picks up ticks in your backyard, trimming bushes and removing brush may reduce your pet's exposure to tick habitats.
Fleas thrive when the weather is warm and humid. Depending on your climate, fleas may be a seasonal or year-round problem. Your pet can pick up fleas wherever an infestation exists, often in areas frequented by other cats and dogs. Adult fleas are dark brown, no bigger than a sesame seed, and able to move rapidly over your pet's skin. Female fleas begin laying eggs within 24 hours of selecting your pet as a host, producing up to 50 eggs each day. These eggs fall from your pet onto the floor or furniture, including your pet's bed, or onto any other indoor or outdoor area where your pet happens to go. Tiny, worm-like larvae hatch from the eggs and burrow into carpets, under furniture, or into soil before spinning a cocoon. The cocooned flea pupae can lie dormant (inactive) for weeks before emerging as adults that are ready to infest (or reinfest) your pet. The result is a flea life cycle of anywhere from 12 days to 6 months.
Risks and Consequences You may not know that your pet has fleas until their number increases to the point that your pet is obviously uncomfortable. Signs of flea problems range from mild redness to severe scratching that can lead to open sores and skin infections. One of the first things you may notice on a pet with fleas is "flea dirt" — the black flea droppings left on your pet's coat. Fleas bite animals and suck their blood; young or small pets with heavy flea infestations may become anemic. Some pets can develop an allergy to flea saliva that may result in more severe irritation and scratching. Also, pets can become infected with certain types of tapeworms if they ingest fleas carrying tapeworm eggs. In areas with moderate to severe flea infestations, people may also be bitten by fleas. While fleas are capable of transmitting several other infectious diseases to pets and people, this is rare.
Treatment and Control Your pet professional will recommend an appropriate flea control plan for your pet based upon your needs and the severity of the flea infestation. Fleas spend a lot of their time off of your pet and in the environment. In addition to treating your pet, reduce the flea population in your house by thoroughly cleaning your pet's sleeping quarters and vacuuming floors and furniture that your pet comes in contact with frequently. Careful and regular vacuuming/cleaning of the pet's living area helps to remove and kill flea eggs, larvae, and pupae. You may also have to treat your house with insecticides to kill the fleas; consult with your pet professional about products safe for use around pets and children. With moderate and severe flea infestations, you may be advised to treat your yard in addition to treating the inside of your home. Your pet professional can recommend an appropriate course of action and suggest ways to prevent future flea infestations.