After cleaning several kennels, I was in consults again today. A poorly rough collie was brought in who had a knee joint disease. After lots of tests being done at Kingsnorth and no results being found, it had been referred. However, this had found that the dog had lung disease. Its legs had become worse and it was struggling to walk despite the medication including steroids it was on. Therefore, the owners had asked for another blood test to be taken to see if anything had changed to trigger this period of worsening. We took the dog out to the kennels where I held it with its held tilted upwards to try and reveal a vein. However, at least ten minutes past and neither the vet nor the nurse could find a vein from which blood could be taken whilst the dog was becoming agitated. Eventually, enough dripped into the syringe to run test for and I took the relieved dog back to his owners. Afterwards, I asked the vet about steroids because I have seen many cases in which they have been used but I was unsure about why they were so effective for such a wide range of problems. The vet told me that they were used for any kind of inflammation. They were extremely effective with very few side effects. Furthermore, unlike many drugs including antibiotics, which many anti inflammatories have an element of, they do not need to be taken in a course. However, they can suppress the immune system so should not be used chronically. ‘Steroids’ actually refers to the class of chemicals corticosteroids. These are completely different from anabolic steroids apart from the fact that they are both based on steroid hormones produced in the adrenal gland. Anabolic steroids are used occasionally in veterinary medicine to boost muscle growth.
Two Staffordshire Bull Terriers were brought in for their booster vaccinations. However, whilst they were in the owner wanted to query one of the dogs scratching. It was likely that it had had an allergic reaction to flea bites, but when combed through, there were no signs of fleas. The vet proceeded to check the other dog for fleas as well because if there are fleas in a two dog household, it is likely that both will have them and the itching dog may have managed to scratch all of his off. However, there were still no signs of fleas so a steroid spray was prescribed to reduce the inflammation of the skin causing the itching. The vet discussed with the owner that they could consider changing the food in the long term and explore factors triggering the dog’s known allergies to red meat and dust mites.
A rabbit was brought in needing approval for travelling into Europe with its owner. Unlike cats and dogs, rabbits do not need passports but do need consensus from a vet to agree that they are in good health and vaccinated so won’t take or bring back any diseases. The owner thought that it had been scratching more than usual so the vet brushed some dandruff out of its fur and placed them on a slide. She then looked at them under the microscope and concluded that there was nothing serious although the scratching was most likely to be caused by Cheyletiella, a mite commonly known as ‘walking dandruff’.
Another rabbit was brought in because one of its eyes had been watering more than usual, making its face wet. The eye did not look inflamed or sore and was tested fluorescein negative. However, the fluorescein ran across the face rather than coming out of the nose as it normally would. This suggested that the rabbit had blocked tear ducts as the tear ducts connect the eyes and the nose. Very little could be done about this but the vet prescribed some eye drops to try and unblock them and told the owners to bring the rabbit back in if its eye became sore.
An 8 week old puppy was brought in to have a health check and immediately it became apparent that something was having an effect on its skin. It was very itchy and the skin was scaly, coming away with large clumps of fur. There were no signs of fleas but after taking a sample on a slide, the vet looked at them under the microscope. The vet let me look through the microscope and I immediately saw mites. These were Cheyletiella, as we had expected to see on the rabbit. However this was a much more severe case with the small amount of skin on the slide crawling with them. Cheyletiella are most commonly found in rabbits and although they affect dogs as well, they are very rarely found on adult dogs because the developed immune system of the dog means they have little effect. Unlike fleas which feed on blood, Cheyletiella burrow into the surface of the skin. Therefore, they are treated using a spray rather than a drop on. A spray is sufficient because they are not deep burrowers. If they were it would be expected to see thick crusty skin. After the owners had left, the vet and I watched the dandruff left on the consulting table to see if we could see any movement for Cheyletiella are often called ‘walking dandruff’. This is because they are visible to the eye only as moving pieces of dandruff.
The third rabbit of the day was brought in for its booster vaccination and also wanted to query mites, but this time it was clear that they were affecting its ears. The vet wanted to prescribe a mite treatment, however, the rabbit had recently been given flea treatment although the owners could not remember the brand they had used. This was a problem because if the mite and flea treatments contained the same substances the rabbit could be given a potentially harmful overdose. The owners would contact the vet when they found out the brand of the flea treatment so a suitable mite treatment could be prescribed.
A young collie with irritable bowel syndrome was brought in. It had always had problems with bowel movement and had been constipated so the owner had fed the dog liver to act a laxative which had resulted in diarrhoea. It had a sensitive anus and was very uncomfortable. The vet prescribed liquid paraffin to soften the stools and aid movement. If this did not solve the problem, it was suggested that the dog was brought back for an enema. It was likely that this had been triggered by two sudden changes in food. The owner also talked to the vet about suitable weights for rough collies, for often they can become too thin without the owner realising because of their thick fur.
Finally, a 13 year old whippet was brought in. Its lower canine was digging into the upper gum causing soreness and inflammation. The only way to treat it would be to operate, however, this dog had a grade 6 heart murmur with a loud ‘whoosh’ being heard down the stethoscope with every heart beat. This ruled out many medications and made anaesthetic an extremely dangerous option. Furthermore, when removing canines a surgical flap would have to be created making the procedure more complicated than other dentals. The owner chose to go ahead with the surgery, knowing that although her dog may not make it through it was the only option to make him better.