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A Hookworm Invasion

We have noted over the past year or two an alarming increase in intestinal parasites in our area, and particularly in Hookworms. We're not entirely sure why this is happening. It may be due to milder winters, an increased resistance of the worms to the medications used to kill them, or maybe the higher number of pets being adopted into our state from Southern states. 
Here is a quick review of the lifestyle of this parasite:
 Hookworms live in the small intestine of the host, but unlike other parasites who consume the host's own food by absorbing it through their skin, hookworms attach to the intestinal wall with six sharp teeth, and feed on the host's blood. This is particularly detrimental to young puppies who can become anemic and die from a severe infestation. 
 The adult worms feed and mate inside the small intestines, and the resulting eggs pass into the world through feces. Once outside, the eggs undergo a transformation into infective larvae and make their way into a new host either by penetrating their skin, or more commonly by being ingested, usually through self grooming. 

Redirected Aggression


Redirected aggression is when your cat is frightened or upset about something and then takes it on an innocent party.  This commonly can happen if your cat sees another cat or animal outside a window and then gets upset and ready to fight.  The other cat in the household just walks into the room, and the angry cat attacks him.  This can set up a scenario that whenever the two cats see each other they fight, even though they were best friends before.



Do not go near the upset cat. He can also become very aggressive with you and people have ended up in the emergency room when their cat attacks them.  If two cats are fighting do not get your hands or feet near them. You can try throwing a blanket on them, or using a broom. Thick gloves may be needed to separate them.  Use extreme caution. After an episode like this happens, sometimes the cats will continue to attack each other whenever they see each other.

Canine Pancreatitis

The pancreas is a “L” shaped organ that lies along the stomach and first section of the small intestines (the duodenum).  It purpose is to produce digestive enzymes and hormones to control how we utilize what we eat (insulin and glucagon).  There is a small duct that leads from the pancreas into the duodenum for the digestive enzymes to mix with food to aid in digestion.  


Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas.  Normally, the digestive enzymes produced in the pancreas are inactive until they are released.  In pancreatitis, the enzymes become activated while still in the pancreas, causing digestion of the pancreas itself.  This causes pain, inflammation and often vomiting.  Inflammation from the pancreas causes inflammation of the liver and stomach and toxins from that inflammation can cause systemic inflammation.  If enough damage is done to the pancreas itself, its ability to produce insulin can be compromised and diabetes mellitus can result.  Most cases of pancreatitis do not cause systemic disease or diabetes, especially if managed promptly.


Often, a specific cause of pancreatitis is never identified, but there are risk factors.  Fat appears to play a major role in the development of pancreatitis.  A recent high fat meal, or ingestion of food from the garbage containing high amounts of fat is the classic precursor to pancreatitis.  Some diseases that alter fat metabolism can also predispose dogs to pancreatitis.  The most common diseases are diabetes mellitus and hypothyroidism. Obesity can also alter fat metabolism.  A rare cause of pancreatitis is a tumor of the pancreas.  


Not surprisingly, signs of pancreatitis are typically gastrointestinal in origin.  Vomiting, anorexia, diarrhea and painful abdomen are classic signs of pancreatitis.  Some dogs have a fever. Signs of mild pancreatitis can be as simple as lethargy.  


Diagnosis of pancreatitis can be challenging.  In the past, seeing elevated digestive enzymes on a blood chemistry panel (amylase and lipase) was considered evidence of pancreatitis.  We now know that isn’t the case since other organ system abnormalities can also cause increases in these enzymes.  A lipase test specific for lipase released from the pancreas is available (PLI) and can be run at the time of an appointment to diagnose pancreatitis.  This test can stay positive for a period of time, so determining resolution of pancreatitis can be difficult.  Radiographs (x-rays) of the abdomen will sometimes show loss of detail or haziness in the area of the pancreas, but it is not a sensitive test for diagnosing pancreatitis.  Ultrasound can identify tumors or abscesses of the pancreas and can reveal suspicion for inflammation of the pancreas.  


There is no specific treatment for pancreatitis.  The most important aspect of management of dogs with pancreatitis is rehydration with fluid therapy.  Improving circulation of the pancreas aids in healing of the pancreas itself and the rest of the body.  With most cases of pancreatitis, hospitalization and intravenous fluid therapy is required.  Often, additional medication to control pain and nausea are needed.  


Transition to low fat food, typically for life, is advised to try to prevent future episodes of pancreatitis.  7% or less fat on a dry matter basis is ideal.  Often, prescription diets are needed to achieve this goal.


Chronic pancreatitis or multiple episodes of acute pancreatitis can damage the insulin-producing islet cells in the pancreas to the point that diabetes mellitus develops.  If, or when, that occurs, the dog may require insulin injections to regulate the blood sugar.  

The Basket Muzzle…Sometimes the Best Friend for Your Best Friend!

  • Some of us go through life with canine companions that are calm, cool, and collected--about anything that comes their way in life.  Others of us might end up in a different situation where one or more of our canine buddies might deal with some sort of fearful anxious behavior over various things they encounter in life, which might be other dogs, human strangers, small children, thunder, loud noises, territory, rollerblades—the list could go on and on.  When fearful anxiety results in aggressive signs such as growling, raised hackles, nipping or biting, it is important to discuss your concerns with a veterinarian.   They will help you decide what plan of action is best to try keep pets and people safe.  Often at Westgate Pet Clinic we will refer clients with concerns over anxiety that results in fearful aggression to a veterinary behaviorist.  Because it often can take a long time to get in for a behavioral referral, one of the most important things we can recommend to our clients with concerns that their pet may potentially bite is a basket muzzle.Cavalier

  • There are many situations in which a basket muzzle might be useful.  One situation is the classic family conundrum...crawling baby or toddler presents threat to family canine companion.  Unfortunately I was in this situation myself the moment my firstborn began crawling, and for years before I realized that a plastic basket muzzle would do the trick, my family played the game of children in separate room from anxious dog, dog behind baby gate, or dog in kennel; it was a stressful game to play and we weren’t always the best at it.  We never had any serious incidents, but we had some close encounters.  Even with humane positive reinforcement methods of desensitization and counter-conditioning, even with anti-anxiety medication for our family dog, we still found that our older elementary school children, and now their friends that were running in and out of the house to play, represented a source of anxiety that prompted aggression from our dog. He was an older middle-aged dog at this point, we were his third adoptive family, and we loved and wanted to keep him.  With the birth of our third child, I finally made the trip to the U of M Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s Behavior Clinic to purchase a plastic basket muzzle.  It was the best purchase we ever made for my border collie/springer spaniel mix.  He no longer had to deal with separation from the rest of the family when we could not ensure the situation was safe for our kids or kids coming and going through our house.  Our kids and kids that came to the house were safe.  Our dog even seemed more relaxed, maybe because he sensed we were finally relaxed.  It was a win-win for all of us.  I wish I had invested in his basket muzzle a long time before I did, but better late than never.

Brachycephalic Breeds: They are awfully cute but boy do they have a lot of problems!

I finally did it.  After enjoying from a far, I finally took the plunge and purchased a French Bulldog!  As a veterinarian I thought this was somewhat crazy, brachycephalic breeds have a whole host of problems.  But from an animal lover’s standpoint, I wanted one of these funny looking, clown-like dogs to share my life!  I did my research, asked a lot of pointed questions to a lot of Frenchie breeders and selected one that I thought bred problem free dogs.  So I purchased a puppy and got a puppy with - wait for it - brachycephalic syndrome! white bulldog


What exactly is Brachycephalic Syndrome and what problems are associated with this condition?  Brachycephalic means short head.  Dogs with short, pushed in faces are brachycephalics.  This includes not only all types of bulldogs but Pugs, Boston Terriers, Shih Tzus, Pekingese and Boxers.  There are even brachycephalic cats - think Himalayan and Persian.  These breeds have been bred so that the lower jaw is normal but the upper jaw is compressed leading to the smushed face appearance.  This cosmetic appearance can lead to issues with the respiratory system, eyes and cause dental issues.

Our Mission:

We provide the quality care our clients expect and their pets deserve, by relying on the expertise and
compassion of each team member.


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Westgate Pet Clinic
4345 France Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55410
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(612)925-6297 Fax
(612)568-1405 Pharmacy

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