Venomous Snakes in Maryland

This is Samantha who was bitten by a snake this morning. Her family got her to us and treatment was started within an hour of the incident, she seems to be responding well to the treatment. Here is more information about venomous snakes in our area and good recommendations –

 The copperhead, timber rattlesnake and cottonmouth (water moccasin) are venomous snakes that can be found in Maryland. During the day, the snakes are most likely to lie underneath objects to take cover from the hot summer sun. Their natural camouflage can make them difficult to detect if they are lying in leaves or brush.

copperhead[1]Timber Rattlesnakewater moccasin

Should you come across a venomous snake, zoology experts from the Cooperative Extension at North Carolina State University advise you not to take chances. Many people are bitten while trying to kill or handle the snake.

What to do in the event a snake bites your dog?
First, let me tell you what not to do. Do not take out your pocketknife and cut Xs over the fang marks! Do not attempt to suck venom through those X marks. Do not grab the snake in a fit of anger and attempt to choke it to death. You may be bitten yourself.

Instead, you should:
• Try to identify the snake by taking note of its size, color patterns and the presence or absence of a rattle at the end of the tail.
• Look the dog over carefully for fang marks, noting that there may be more than one bite wound.
• If bitten on a leg, wrap a constricting band on the affected limb snugly at a level just above the bite wound (on the body side of the wound). This band could be fashioned of a shirtsleeve or other fabric and should be snug but not excessively tight. The compression around the limb will slow the spread of the venom. The dog may lose the limb but that is better than losing his life.
• Start your journey to the nearest animal hospital while trying to keep the dog as quiet as possible.

Preventing Snake Bites
• While out walking, controlling your dog with a leash may be your best safety device.
• Do not allow your dog to explore holes in the ground or dig under logs, flat rocks or planks.
• Stay on open paths where there is an opportunity for snakes to be visible.
• Keep nighttime walks to a minimum; rattlers are nocturnal most of the year.
• If you hear a rattlesnake, keep your dog at your side until you locate the snake; then move away.
• Off-trail hiking with an unleashed dog may stir up a snake and you may be as likely a victim as your dog.
• If your dog seems unusually curious about “something” hidden in the grass, back off immediately until you know what it is.
Above all, be vigilant when walking with your dog in areas inhabited by venomous snakes. It’s not a bad idea to memorize your veterinarian’s emergency phone number, too!

Sources: Poisonous Snake Alert in Montgomery Co. | NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com/…/Poisonous-Snake-Alert-in-Mon… and
mypetMD “Snake Bites And Dogs”

Samantha’s Update

This is Samantha the next day. Samantha’s doing much better this morning. She is eating, drinking, much more alert and playful. The swelling in her foot has gone down. The plan is to send her home this afternoon, but will need close monitoring and daily vet exams. But overall, looks as good as we hoped for!! She is a very lucky girl!

Fleas, Pesky Little Creatures

 cat-with-fleas  puppy-dog-with-fleas    

Get Rid of Fleas in Your Home, Step by Step

Is your dog or cat is scratching a lot lately? Have you seen something small and black jump from the sofa onto your arm? Don’t freak out, take charge of the situation.

 

Call the Veterinarian

Is your pet on a flea control program? If they are, read the instructions again. It’s easy to miss a step. Ask your veterinarian what they recommend. You want a product that treats fleas at every stage — from egg to adult bug — and one that works well in your climate. Most flea treatments only take one regular monthly dose to keep fleas from making you and your pets itch. Just be sure to treat all of your animals so the fleas don’t simply jump from one to the other.

 flealifecycle          flea-bites-on-human-side

Crank Up the Vacuum Cleaner

If you rarely vacuum, a flea invasion should inspire a change of heart. Regular vacuuming lowers the number of fleas and flea eggs from carpet, cracks in wood floors, and on curtains and upholstered furniture. It also catches them under furniture. Don’t forget to vacuum the areas where your pet sleeps and eats. Empty and wash the vacuum cleaner canister or throw away bags in an outside garbage can right away so fleas don’t sneak back inside.

Vacuum every day in the parts of your home where you and your pets hang out the most — like the living room, kitchen, and bedrooms. Vacuum once a week everywhere else.

If you have a serious flea invasion, have your carpets steam-cleaned. The heat will kill the fleas, but it may not kill all the eggs. They may hatch later, and you may have to have your carpets cleaned again.

In really bad cases, you may want to consider treating your house with a flea “bomb” or calling in an exterminator. Just make sure you choose a product that is safe for you and your pets.

 

Wash Bedding in Hot, Soapy Water

Hot, soapy water kills fleas too, so wash your pet’s bedding once a week. And if your pets sleep in your bed or with your kids, make sure to wash everyone’s bedding, too.

It may seem old school, but a flea comb with tiny teeth does a good job of removing these pests. Do it outside, and concentrate on the neck area and the base of the tail. Keep a cup of soapy water beside you. Use it to dip the comb so you can drown the fleas. Once the house is vacuumed and the bedding is washed, give your dog a bath. Bathing your pet regularly will also help get rid of fleas in your home. Make sure that the soap you use is made for animals.

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Thank you to WebMD Medical Reference for some of the content in this blog.

FOXTAILS

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I admit I cringed when I was asked to write a blog. Writing for me can be a joy, but only if I am inspired. Inspiration does not come on demand. I was fairly confident it would not be visiting me too often, then, I thought of foxtails. Suddenly, the idea of a blog did not seem such drudgery after all.

 

Recently, foxtails have become the subject of intense interest for us. These only started appearing as an issue in our practice 2 years ago. I remember learning about foxtails in veterinary school 22 years ago. At that time, foxtails were very common in California, where dogs would frequently develop abscesses secondary to the small grass awns which get caught into the pet’s fur and then burrowed into their skin. Having practiced in Virginia, and now Maryland, I never expected to see this disease. Then suddenly, a few years ago, we began to see dogs with mysterious abscesses on their feet and found the grass awns within the wounds.

 

What has changed? I did some research on the internet, and discovered that foxtail is a common name for several grasses which produce a “spikelet or spikelet cluster to disperse its seeds”. These seeds are soft in the spring, but when the seeds mature, they become harder and sharper, which explains the sudden explosion of cases we have seen this fall. But what it does not explain is why we are now seeing them in this area.

 

I wonder if landscapers might be using these perennial grasses more frequently in recent years. While I found many posts regarding foxtails from California veterinarians, according to the USDA, these plants are found throughout the US, except in the gulf coast states. Horbeum jubatum, foxtail barley, is considered a weed, which does not fit my theory that they are the hot new trend in landscaping.

 

If planting foxtails are a conscious choice of homeowners, a public relations campaign directed at informing owners of the risks of their choice might resolve the problem. However, if they are ubiquitous, then educating pet owners about the plant and its hazards is the better route. Either way, word needs to get out to the public.

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I discovered four recommendations for prevention among the contributors to the Veterinary Information Network:

  1. Keep your lawn trimmed.
  2. Keep pets out of areas with foxtails.
  3. Inspect your pet’s body, feet, face and ears daily if they have been roaming outside.
  4. Keep their fur trimmed short. – This one makes a lot of sense to me, especially since I feel that the long-haired dogs have been overrepresented among the cases we have seen.

I also found a link to an interesting product called Outfox (www.outfoxfordogs.com). I have had no experience with this product, but it looks like it is worth trying.

 

In terms of treatment of the pets, we will usually begin with antibiotics and try to find and remove the foxtail if we can. This can prove to be a challenge. Many cases develop lesions on their feet, but foxtails can penetrate the skin anywhere on the body and migrate a remarkable distance. The latter quality makes them dangerous.

 

If you suspect your dog has a foxtail wound, please call our office to arrange an appointment so we can address the problem promptly.

 

Dr. Patricia Ainsworth, DVM

Snake Bite Risks To Dogs!

Do you know much about your dog’s risk of getting a snake bite? We generally think of poisonous snakes in the jungles of Africa or South America,Snake Bite Risk To Dogs but poisonous are common in North America, especially in the southeast and southwest United States. Although the northeast has less poisonous snakes to deal with in the area they are still here and a concern for pet owners. Coral snakes have short fangs and tend to “chew” venom into the wound.  Vipers have longer fangs that they use to inject venom deeply into the underlying tissues.  In general, poisonous snakes can be identified by their pointy, triangular- or arrow-shaped head.

Dogs are especially at risk of snake bites because of their curious nature and because of the relatively small size of some breeds compared with the amount of venom injected.  In fact, fatal snake bites are more common in dogs than in any other domestic animal.

Timely diagnosis is usually based on an owner having witnessed the bite.  A snake bite is a true emergency that requires immediate treatment by a veterinarian.  The first 2 hours are key, with most deaths occurring during this time.  Animals need to be hospitalized for supportive care, antibiotics, and possible treatment with antivenin, an antidote for the snake venom.  Pets that are doing well after 24 hours usually survive, so long as secondary infection can be effectively controlled.  However, even with long-term antibiotic therapy, widespread tissue damage and scarring can remain at the site of infection.  Tissue damage can sometimes be so severe as to claim an entire leg.

What should I do if I see my pet bitten by a snake? A snake bite is a true emergency, so take your pet immediately to your veterinarian or a veterinary emergency center.  Emergency treatment involves supportive therapy for shock and administration of antivenin.

What is the prognosis after a snake bite? Treatment within the first 2 hours is an important part of successful therapy, and dogs that do well after 24 hours usually survive.  However, long-term therapy with antibiotics is often needed to prevent life-threatening secondary infection.  Snake bites are often slow to heal and produce scarring.

Please be aware of aware of what your pets are doing especially when outdoors! Please feel free to contact us here at Falls Road Veterinary Hospital with any questions or concerns. (301) 874-8880. http://www.fallsroadvet.com

Practice Basic Pet Summer Safety

 

 

Practice Basic Pet Summer Safety

The weather has finally started to warm up. Here are some basic safety tips to help keep your pets safe this spring and summer:

Never leave your pets in a parked car

Not even for a minute. Not even with the car running and air conditioner on. On a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly to dangerous levels. On an 85-degree day, for example, Falls Road Veterinary Hospitalthe temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees. Your pet may suffer irreversible organ damage or die. If you see an animal in distress in a parked car, contact the nearest animal shelter or police.

Watch the humidity

It’s important to remember that it’s not just the ambient temperature but also the humidity that can affect your pet. Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels—very quickly. Taking a dog’s temperature will quickly tell you if there is a serious problem. Dogs’ temperatures should not be allowed to get over 104 degrees. If your dog’s temperature does, contact your veterinarian immediately!

Limit exercise on hot days

Take care when exercising your pet. Adjust intensity and duration of exercise in accordance with the temperature. On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours, and be especially careful with short-nosed pets, who typically have difficulty breathing. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible. Always carry water with you to keep your dog from dehydrating.

Provide ample shade and water

Any time your pet is outside, make sure he or she has protection from heat and sun and plenty of fresh, cold water. In heat waves, add ice to water when possible. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they don’t obstruct air flow. A doghouse does not provide relief from heat—in fact, it makes it worse.

Watch for signs of heat stroke

Extreme temperatures can cause heat stroke. Some signs of heat stroke are heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness.

Animals are at particular risk for heat stroke if they are very old, very young, overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise, or have heart or respiratory disease. Some breeds of dogs—like boxers, pugs, shih tzus, and other dogs and cats with short muzzles—will have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat.

How to treat a pet suffering from heat stroke

Move your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to her head, neck, and chest or run cool (not cold) water over her. Let your pet drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. Take your pet directly to a veterinarian.

Prepare for power outages

Before a summer storm takes out the power in your home, create a disaster plan to keep your pets safe from heat stroke and other temperature-related trouble.

Please feel free to contact here at Falls Road Veterinary Hospital with any questions or concerns. (301) 983-8400. http://www.greenbriarpets.com

 

The Danger of Chocolate To Pets

For a human, a few too many Easter eggs can be seen as a bit indulgent and lead to an afternoon on the sofa in a self-inflicted Danger of chocolate to dogs Falls Road Veterinary Hospitalchocolate coma.

But for a dog it can be potentially life-threatening and, in the most extreme cases, result in death.

Dog owners are warned to be on high alert this Easter and ensure the chocolate is hidden away to ensure dogs are not harmed as a result of chocolate poisoning.

With more instances of discarded Easter Eggs or half-eaten Crème Eggs lying around at Easter than at other times of the year, it is a potential minefield for canines all over the country, and can result in many becoming ill – or even die.

The reason for this toxicity is due to a natural chemical in the cocoa bean called theobromine. Easily digestible by humans, theobromine cannot be broke down by the dog’s digestive system and becomes toxic to dogs, having a serious effect on their nervous system and heart.

As the Easter weekend approaches and people have more chocolate in the home than usual, we’re reminding those with dogs and cats to keep it well out of their reach.

Like with most poisons the toxic impact is dependent on the size of the dog.

Heavier dogs are far less likely to be affected by the same amount of chocolate than those of a smaller size.

For example, it would take just one tablespoon of dark chocolate to severely damage a small Yorkshire Terrier, while 5 tablespoons would lead to a Lab becoming seriously ill.

Yet, it is not only the amount of chocolate that can have effect on how badly a dog reacts. The level of cocoa and the darkness of the chocolate can also have an effect. With darker chocolate containing more of the toxic theobromine than milk chocolate, less is needed to have an adverse effect.

Symptoms of concern for owners can be anything from vomiting, to rapid breathing, to seizures and need to be acted on to ensure that there are not more fatal consequences.

The effects of chocolate poisoning in dogs usually appear within a few hours of eating, and can last as long as 24 hours.

Initial signs can include excessive thirst, vomiting, a sore stomach and restlessness.

These symptoms can then progress to tremors, an abnormal heart rhythm, raised body temperature and rapid breathing.

In severe cases dogs can experience fits, kidney failure and can even die.

If your pet ingest chocolate you should contact your vet for immediately. Please feel free to contact us here at Falls Road Veterinary Hospital with any questions or concerns. (301) 983-8400. http://www.fallsroadvet.com,

Taking the bite out of Fleas & Ticks

TAKING THE BITE OUT OF FLEAS AND TICKS

Fleas are truly devoted to their work. In one day, a single flea can bite your cat or dog more than 400 times. During that same Flea Control Falls Road Veterinary Hospitalday, the flea can consume more than its body weight of your pet’s blood. And before it’s through, a female flea can lay hundreds of eggs on your pet, ensuring that its work will be carried on by generations to come.

Flea bites may be merely a nuisance to some pets, but to others, they can be dangerous. They can cause flea allergy dermatitis—an allergic reaction to proteins in flea saliva. A pet’s constant scratching to rid itself of fleas can cause permanent hair loss and other skin problems. A pet can get a tapeworm if it eats a flea that has one. And flea feasts on your pet’s blood can lead to anemia and, in rare cases, death.

But fleas are not your pet’s only nemesis. Tick bites can give your pet such infections as Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. And ticks can give those same infections to you.

In years past, veterinarians recommended getting rid of fleas by simultaneously “bombing” the house with insecticide, spraying the yard, and dipping the dog or cat. Today, treating only the pet often takes care of the problem. But if there is a severe flea infestation or if the problem persists, you may still need to treat the pet’s environment,

Types of Flea and Tick Products

Hundreds of pesticides, repellents, and growth inhibitors are approved or licensed to control fleas and ticks on cats and dogs or in their environment. Products range from oral medications that require a veterinarian’s prescription to collars, sprays, dips, shampoos, and powders that are available at retail stores. Some products kill only ticks or adult fleas—others break the flea life cycle by preventing flea eggs from developing into adult fleas.

Some flea and tick products are not prescription drugs, yet are available only through veterinarians. This is because the manufacturer chooses to sell its products through vets, so that the vet can provide important safety information to the client.

The Preventic collar is one such product. The collar kills ticks by interfering with a tick’s ability to feed on dogs. It contains the insecticide amitraz, which paralyzes the tick’s mouthparts. Amitraz should not be used on dogs that are sickly, pregnant, or nursing, or with certain drugs that may interact with the insecticide. The manufacturer, Virbac Corp., Fort Worth, Texas, sells the collar through veterinarians, who can ensure that a dog is healthy and can use the collar safely.

When to Treat

It’s best to treat your pet year round. The severity and length of the flea season vary depending on which part of the country you live in. It can last four months in some places, but in other places, like Florida, fleas can live all year long. Fleas can also  live inside a warm house year-round.

In many areas, September is often the worst month for flea infestation. In most parts of the United States, the greatest chance of infection by a tick bite is May through September, the period of greatest tick activity by “nymphs.” Nymphs are the stage of tick development that occurs after they have had their first blood meal and molt, and before they become adults.

Lyme Disease

About 200 species of ticks live in the United States. Some of these can transmit infectious diseases, such as Lyme disease, to pets and humans. Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium transmitted through the bite of the deer tick, also called the black-legged tick, which is no larger than the head of a pin.

Typical symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs include joint soreness and lameness, fever, and loss of appetite. Symptoms in humans include fatigue, chills and fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, swollen lymph nodes, and a red, circular skin rash.

Read the Label, Talk to Your Vet

When buying a flea or tick product, it’s important for pet owners to read the label and follow the directions carefully. There can be serious problems with the misuse of dog flea and tick control products containing the insecticide permethrin. Dogs can tolerate concentrated permethrin, but it can be lethal to cats. Never use products on cats that are labeled for use on dogs only.

If the label states that the product is for animals of a certain age or older, don’t use the product on pets that are younger. Flea combs, which can pick up fleas, flea eggs, and ticks, may be useful on puppies and kittens that are too young for flea and tick products.

Talk to your vet about the flea and tick product most appropriate for your pet. The product you use will depend on your pet’s health and age, whether your pet is a cat or a dog, and whether it’s an indoor or outdoor pet. Also check with your vet to determine whether the Lyme vaccine is right for your dog.

Using Flea and Tick Products Safely

  • Read the label carefully before use. If you don’t understand the wording, ask your veterinarian or call the manufacturer.
  • Follow directions exactly. If the product is for dogs, don’t use it on cats or other pets. If the label says use weekly, don’t use it daily. If the product is for the house or yard, don’t put it directly on your pet.
  • After applying the product, wash your hands immediately with soap and water. Use protective gloves if possible.
  • If your pet shows symptoms of illness after treatment, call your veterinarian. Symptoms of poisoning may include poor appetite, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive salivation.
  • Store products away from food and out of children’s reach.

Please feel free to contact us here at Falls Road Veterinary Hospital with any questions or concerns. (301) 983-8400. http://www.fallsroadvet.com