• Are you winking at me? Or is that just Horner’s Syndrome?

    04082015blogpic1We have all seen our dogs “wink” at us, whether one eye is avoiding dust, or has some crusties in it. But when your pet’s eye seems to disappear back into its head, the time for concern has come. Horner’s Syndrome is a neurological disorder of the eye and face, and often comes on suddenly. It can be found in many mammals, including cats and humans, but is often seen in dogs, especially golden retrievers or cocker spaniels.

    The nervous system has two branches: the sympathetic (“fight or flight” response) system and parasympathetic (“rest and digest” response) system. Horner’s Syndrome is a dysfunction of the sympathetic nerves of the eyes and surrounding facial muscles, causing the parasympathetic nerves to take over. It can be caused by an injury, tumor, spinal cord or brain disease, or inner ear problems. Sometimes Horner’s can also be idiopathic, meaning the cause is unknown. Symptoms of Horner’s Syndrome include the following on the affected side: droop of eyelid (ptosis), constricted pupil (miosis), sunken eye appearance, red and raised third eyelid (on bottom of eye), red and/or warm ear or face. Other diseases and problems can also cause protrusion of the third eyelid, so look for multiple symptoms. Sometimes an animal’s eating can also be affected, if they are having trouble with their facial muscles as well.

    If you observe any of those symptoms in your pet, see your veterinarian. To diagnose Horner’s Syndrome,04082015blog they will perform a couple of tests. X-rays and blood draws are most common, but other imaging (CT or MRI) may be necessary, as well as urine and spinal fluid samples. The treatment of Horner’s is really the treatment of the underlying cause or disease. For example, a severe ear infection disturbing the sympathetic nerves would be treated with antibiotics, while a tumor may require surgery. Horner’s symptoms often resolve spontaneously on their own, but can take up to several weeks. Sometimes eye drops are given in the affected eye 1-2 times a day, which helps the pupil return to normal. Horner’s Syndrome in itself is not fatal to your pet, but it can be a sign of a larger problem in their nervous system. So when your dog’s eyeball seems to have shrank into his brain, don’t panic, just make an appointment with the vet. And wink back at them!J

    Sources: VCA Hospitals, Healthy Pets/Mercola, PetMD,


  • Holidays with a pet

    holidaydogsThere is nothing like spending the holidays with the ones you love. And that definitely includes any animal family members as well. As I am finishing up the Christmas season, I have realized how great it is to have a pet around for it, or whatever holiday celebrations you may partake in.

    At first thought, sometimes having a pet during the holidays can be a lot of work. We often think about how we will have to find care for our pets while we are away, which can be stressful and costly (hint: just use Pet-Agree!). We also worry while apart from them, or when traveling with them. Long trips to see family have to stop to take the dog out potty, or parties have to end early so we can get home to feed the furry clan. We decorate our trees carefully, and still lose ornaments when the cat decides to climb it, or a wagging dog tail goes by. Beautifully wrapped presents get torn open early, and the stockings have to be hung just right so Fido doesn’t eat any of that chocolate. Cats play with dangling lights and knock down decorations. All the candles have to be flameless, or at least very carefully and sturdily placed. For us in the not-so-tropical states, taking the dog out in the snow can be the dreaded event of the night. It is bitterly cold, they don’t want to wear their coat, and the snow is up to your knees. Doesn’t sound like too much fun, right?

    Well, try not to think about these things. Instead remember how your dog races into the first snow with excitement over something so simple. Be grateful for the kitties that keep you warm on those cold winter nights. Bundle up and take the pups out for their walks and enjoy how the snowflakes stick to their cute little faces. Notice how truly happy your pets are for that small $5 gift (okay, well some of us spend more) you got them at the pet store, and how few people would be the same. And those pictures you took of your dog in a Santa suit or your cat with a bow on will make you laugh for years to come! In a season filled with the rush of buying gifts, cooking dinners, and traveling to family, take the time to spend with your furry friends. And be thankful that they are a part of your life, because their years with us are short.


  • That Poo Germ

    the poo germClostridium is a strain of bacteria, which can sometimes be harmful. The two most common strains are clostridium perfingens, and clostridium difficile (also known as C-Diff). These bacteria can be found in raw meats, rotten foods, feces, marine sediment (like standing water), decaying vegetation, and trash. They are also both found in humans as well as animals, and are often present in the body without symptoms. The immune system passes them and combats any ill effects on its own, and no harm is done. However, sometimes the bacteria can lodge in the intestine, where they produce large amounts of endospores. When levels become too high, clostridial enterotoxicosis can occur, causing illness and other problems.

    When a pet suffers from clostridial enterotoxicosis (sometimes just referred to as clostridium), the symptoms and severity can vary widely. In dogs, the most common signs are repeated diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps (seen by aversion to food, contact or movement), fever, blood in the stool, lethargy, and gas. It is less common in cats, but can be seen in diarrhea with mucus (will be shiny), or vomiting. Clostridium symptoms can be acute, and over in less than a week, or recur frequently, appearing for a few days every few weeks. Often it is harder for cats to get rid of, due to litter and their frequent grooming (licking feet, etc). These symptoms however, can mimic that of a parasite or other health problem, so your pet will need to be tested at a vet. They are usually diagnosed with a fecal sample, and blood tests may be done to check for other problems (immune system problems, vitamin deficiencies, etc). Clostridium is treated with antibiotics, and sometimes a high-fiber or probiotic diet. In animals that have other health problems, or severe cases, more aggressive therapy may be needed (IV fluids, vet stay, etc). While a pet is being treated, they should be isolated from public areas, and their feces handled with caution. The bacteria can be transmitted to humans, and can cause illness in the young, elderly, immune-compromised, or ill. Bag and dispose of all bowel movements immediately, and then wash your hands. Use appropriate sanitizing agents on litter boxes and area where feces has been (some antibacterial wipes do not kill C-Diff, so check the label).

    The best way to deal with clostridial enterotoxicosis is to take steps to prevent it. Provide your animal with a consistent routine and feeding schedule. Sometimes a change in diet or daily activities can cause stress on a pet, which reduces their ability to fight off bacteria on their own. Keep them away from other sick animals. Keep their food and water indoors, and if it must be outside, put it on a raised surface (not the ground). Do not allow your dog or cat to drink from puddles, lakes, ponds, etc, and keep them supervised in such an environment. Clean up feces properly, do not let them eat it (this includes the dog finding a snack in the cat’s litter box)! And most importantly, take your pets in for regular checkups. If they are healthy in other areas, they will be more likely to pass the clostridia on their own without any symptoms.

    A simple little bacterium can be passed out of the body without any problems, or can cause severe illness and gastrointestinal distress in an animal. Always monitor your pet for signs of illness, and contact your vet if you suspect clostridial enterotoxicosis or another problem.

    Sources: VetInfo, PetMD