Has your dog or cat been diagnosed with pneumonia?
Whether your pet has a mild cough or is struggling to breathe, your vet should take thoracic radiographs (chest x-rays) to view the lungs. These images give us vital information about what is happening within the chest. It can reveal an enlarged heart, lung inflammation or infection, fluid or air in the chest where it is not supposed to be, and even masses.
In the images below you'll see the lung fields outlined in white with the major structures labeled.
In the image on the left, the normal chest x-ray, the lungs are nice and dark/black in color. You can see the heart outlined because it is denser than the surround lungs. On the image on the right, however, it is extremely difficult to see the outline of the heart and the lung fields are 'whited out'. This is what a pneumonia radiograph looks like.
Pneumonia is described as an infection that causes inflammation in the lungs. This may be in one or many of the lung lobes. Pneumonia can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungal, protozoal, or parasite infections. The air sacs, or alveoli, of the lungs fill up with fluid or pus. (Want a refresher on anatomy? Visit the respiratory page here.)
Common causes of pneumonia include:
Sometimes a pet may prescribed an antibiotic and it may not work, or it stops working. In this case it may be recommended to have a bronchoscopy and alveolar lavage to see what is in the lungs and to get a sample for cytology and culture. This procedure is done under general anesthesia. A bronchoscopy is when a scope is entered into the trachea, bronchi, and bronchioles and using video the veterinarian can see if there is inflammation, secretions, foreign bodies, and then using the scope a small amount of sterile saline is infused into the lungs and then sucked back out. This sample is then used for cytology (looking at the cells) and culture to see what type of infectious agent is causing the problems. This is a specialized procedure and your primary veterinarian may recommend a consult with a specialist.
They have pneumonia, so now what?
The most common respiratory infection in dogs is Bordetella spp., also known as kennel cough. It is a transmissible infection between dogs and can be easily acquired by dogs similar to a cold for people. For most dogs that get Bordetella they have a cough that lingers for a few weeks and then goes away with minimal treatment.
Older dogs, young puppies, or dogs with a decreased immune system can catch Bordetella and it can turn into a serious, or potentially fatal, pneumonia.
Treatment for infections include antibiotics or antifungals and sometimes cough suppressants. If the pneumonia is severe enough hospitalization on IV fluids, IV antibiotics, and sometimes oxygen supplementation is needed. Repeat chest radiographs every few days can help show the progress of the pneumonia.
After your pet is able to breath regular room air and they are taking medications orally, they will be transitioned home.
Your vet may recommend nebulization and coupage to help break up the secretions in the lungs and get them out. This can be accomplished with a nubulizer like the Omron CompAir Nebulizer System NE-C801 available from Just Nebulizers.com, or by placing your pet in the bathroom while a hot shower is running. The steam from the shower can help loosen phlegm and help your pet cough up the secretions. If you would like more information about nebulization, check out this article on Veterinary Partner.
After the nebulization or steam therapy the next step is coupage. Coupage is the act of cupping your hands and then gently percussing, or gently hitting on both sides of your pets chest. This helps to break down and loosen the secretions in the lungs and allowing your pet to cough it up. Here is a video to demonstrate how to do coupage. Your vet will recommend how frequently and for how long they recommend doing this.
It is important to keep in contact with your veterinarian to make sure the treatment plan is working for your pet. If you feel they are getting worse a follow up visit to the vet is best.
If you can not be seen at your primary vet and your pet is struggling to breathe, (gasping, their mucous membranes go from happy pink to purple, blue, or even grey, they pass out) bring your pet to the vet immediately. This may mean a trip to the emergency room if your vet is not open.
We hope this helps you understand what pneumonia is in dogs and cats. Please let us know what you think about the article in the comments below.
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Have you wondered how the lungs work? What about the different structures that are all part of the respiratory system? Has your pet been diagnosed with an upper or lower respiratory disease?
May is all about basics and diseases affecting dogs and cats breathing. We start with basic anatomy and then we'll talk about some of the common diseases we see in veterinary internal medicine.
Check out the basics in our newest section of the website: the Respiratory System. The main page includes a video explaining how dogs and cats lungs work. It's based on people, but we're all mammals and our lungs work the same way. Visit the respiratory section to see this fun video.
Then watch for each of the week's topics including:
We hope this helps. If you think someone you know might be interested in the topics we cover, we'd love if you share the website with them!
Good health starts with good nutrition.
If your dog or cat is diagnosed with an internal medicine disease such as kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, or even thyroid disease, your veterinarian may prescribe a special therapeutic diet for them. Many of these will be a therapeutic diet, meaning you will need a prescription from your veterinarian to get it and you won't be able to purchase the food at your local pet store.
Your veterinarian may recommend a premade commercially available therapeutic food, or they may recommend a nutrition consultation for a specific, tailored diet to meet the needs of your pet.
Do you love hiking with your pup?
April is Prevention of Lyme Disease in Dogs Month and to help bring awareness to the disease we're talking about ticks and Lyme Disease.
Ticks are parasites from the arachnid family that feed off of blood from mammals, birds, reptiles, and some amphibians.
Ticks live anywhere there is brush for them to hang out on, and wildlife is around to spread them. Here is how you can keep your little one safe from these parasites!
Ideally your pet is on a flea and tick preventative medication prescribed by your veterinarian. Be sure to use a veterinary approved product. Speak to your veterinarian for a prescription.
Since the best exploring is done outside, we must protect our pets as well as ourselves. After returning from exploring, take some time to carefully look through your pets fur to make sure they have not picked up any ticks. Remember to check near ears, between paw pads, and all the little nooks including the groin areas. Ticks like to hide in warm, dark, places.
They are small and can appear to look like a 'skin tag' so be sure it's a tick and not a small skin mass/lesion. You can tell the difference by looking for the small legs sticking out around the body. The head will be lodged into your pets skin and the body of the tick will swell as it dines on your pets blood. Ticks will naturally fall off once they are fully engorged with blood, but it is best to remove them as soon as possible to decrease the chance of them spreading a disease.
Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is an essential vitamin absorbed in the guts of mammals. Dogs and cats with gastrointestinal disease such as inflammatory bowel disease or gastrointestinal lymphoma, can have low levels of B12 because their guts are not absorbing the nutrients as they should. It's an important marker for normal gut health.
If your veterinarian suspects GI disease they may check the level of Vitamin B12 in your pets blood. If the levels are low your vet will recommend supplementing to help your pet feel better.
Check out the new page about Vitamin B12 and learn more about what it is, why it's important, and how to increase the Vitamin B12 levels in your pet.
DCM is Dilated Cardiomyopathy. It is a disease that causes the heart muscle to gradually get weaker and weaker. The inability of the heart to squeeze blood out well causes problems as the disease progresses.
How does this happen?
True DCM seems to be coded in the genetics of our beloved pets. The breeds that are diagnosed most commonly with DCM are large breeds including, Great Danes, Newfoundlands, and Irish wolfhounds. The top two however, are Boxers and Dobermans.
DCM shows itself in two phases
Check out the new page we added about pet's abdomens under our 'Diseases - Gastrointestinal' page. We discuss the difference between bloat, or GDV, abdominal swelling, and distention of the abdomen in dogs and cats.
We hope you take a look around the website as we're working hard on keeping it up to date and creating more pages just for you!
Let us know in the comments if there's something specific you're looking for and it just might be the next thing we work on.
No matter what you call it: Poop, Feces, Stool, Bowel Movement, Number 2, Defecation, Boom-Boom, Turd, or even Trots; it all refers to a very important part of your dog and cat's overall health.
So, what is normal when it comes to your pet's bathroom habits?
It's a common question when you take your dog or cat to the vet: "Is Fluffy having normal bowel movements?" Well, after thinking about it you answer a resounding "Yes!" After all, Fluffy's stools have been normal; normal for her.
We may ask you for a description of the stool. (And don't worry if you take a picture of it to show us. I know it sounds gross to have a picture of poop in your phone, but it really can help us understand what you are seeing!)
The Shapes and Colors of Poop
When discussing a pet's feces, it helps to know what's normal, and what is not. Let's check out the things we look for in good GI health.
This weekend is the SAGE Symposium and not only will Yvonne be speaking, but IMFPP will have a table at the event!
We'll be bringing the the Pet Health Journal and we're hoping to have copies of the One Month Journal that we just launched this week. (The journal's are ordered and printing, we're hoping the shipment arrives before Sunday.)
One Month Pet Health Journal
The One Month Pet Health Journal: Track Medications, Treatments, and Your Cat's and Dog's Health is the newest member of the Internal Medicine For Pet Parents Series. We're excited to announce it was published this week on Amazon.
So, what is the One Month Journal?
The One Month Journal is the baby brother to the Pet Health Journal. It has 5 weeks, a one month calendar, and is perfect for pets after a surgery or hospitalization that just need some extra attention for a few weeks.
If you'd like a copy of your own you can purchase the One Month Journal from us directly, at SAGE Symposium, or got to Amazon and order your copy today!
SAGE Symposium 2019
The SAGE Symposium is a leader in continuing education in the San Francisco Bay Area. There are 6 tracks and the day will provide 7 RACE approved CE credits for both veterinarians and technicians.
The Symposium outgrew the location on the peninsula and was moved to a larger venue at the Oakland Marriot. Because of the larger location, registration is still open and if you haven't snagged your ticket you still can. Register for SAGE Symposium here and make sure to listen to Yvonne's lectures and stop by the table and say hello and check out the new One Month Pet Health Journal.
Oakland, California 94607
Or get there by BART
Hope to see you on Sunday!
There is a lot of hype right now about grain free foods and heart disease in pets. We reached out to Ann, our nutrition and internal medicine small animal VTS author, for her prospective and she gave us the low down.
In July 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a bulletin regarding a potential connection between diet and cases of canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). Veterinary cardiologists had alerted the FDA of an increase in cases of DCM in breeds not typically genetically prone to this condition (1, 2).
Dilated cardiomyopathy has been genetically linked to a number of breeds of dogs including Great Danes, Boxers, Newfoundland’s, Irish Wolfhounds, St. Bernard’s, and Doberman pinschers. Cardiologists were seeing an increase in non-typically breeds including mix-breed dogs and smaller dogs. (1)
Veterinary cardiologists were recently surveyed about cases of possible diet-associated DCM in dogs examined in the past 2 years. Information was provided for over 240 dogs. For dogs in which the breed was specified:
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This website is NOT a substitute for veterinary care with a veterinarian. We recommend you follow the advice and treatment plan as prescribed by your veterinarian, and only after discussing anything found on this website with your veterinarian, with their approval, implementing advice found here.
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