Liver Shunts in Pets

A portosystemic shunt (PSS), also known as a liver shunt, is a bypass of the liver by the body’s circulatory system. It can be either a congenital (present at birth) or acquired condition.

Congenital PSS is a hereditary condition in dogs and cats, its frequency varying depending on the breed. The shunts found mainly in small dog breeds such as Miniature Schnauzers and Yorkshire Terriers, and in cats such as Persians, Himalayans, and mix breeds are usually extrahepatic (outside the liver), while the shunts found in large dog breeds such as Irish Wolfhounds and Labrador Retrievers tend to be intrahepatic.

Acquired PSS is uncommon and is found in dogs and cats with liver disease such as cirrhosis causing portal hypertension, which is high blood pressure in the portal vein.

Congenital PSS is caused by the failure of the fetal circulatory system of the liver to change. Normally, the blood from the placenta bypasses the liver and goes into circulation via the ductus venosus, a blood vessel found in the fetus. A failure of the ductus venosus to close causes an intrahepatic shunt, while extrahepatic shunts are usually a developmental abnormality of the vitelline veins, which connect the portal vein to the caudal vena cava. Thus in the juvenile and adult animal with PSS, blood from the intestines only partly goes through the liver, and the rest mixes into general circulation. Toxins such as ammonia are not cleared by the liver. Most commonly, extrahepatic shunts are found connecting the portal vein or left gastric vein to the caudal vena cava.

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Important Information for California Residents with Pets!

Please pass this along. With these horrible fires, any help and information is so important! This comes from For the Love of the Dog

VCA Animal Hospitals Offers Free Boarding for Pets Affected by Southern California Fires

VCA Animal Hospitals announced that local SOUTHERN California VCA
facilities are offering free boarding for companion animals whose families have
been evacuated or displaced as a result of the current firestorms.

Conveniently located VCA animal hospitals will provide a safe environment for
pets that have been affected by the fires through November 5, 2007, on a space available basis.

As thousands of families are being evacuated to shelters or facing the loss of
their homes, VCA hopes to ease their burden by offering free boarding for pets
so they can focus on the critical issues with their families and homes, said
Art Antin, Chief Operating Officer of VCA Animal Hospitals.

Boarding assistance for pets is based on space availability at individual VCA
Animal Hospitals throughout Southern California.

Pet owners can Call the following VCA facilities that currently have space

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Don’t Let Halloween Be a ‘Fright Nitght’ for Your Pets!

Most people don’t realize how scary and actually dangerous Halloween can be for our pets. They tend to think of it as just a mostly fun filled entree to Fall for children and adults alike but what about our furry companions?

It can actually be quite frightening for them, the constant knocking or door bell ringing, strange looking people showing up at the door making sounds, sometimes in sizable groups. This is especially noticeable in pets that are more accustomed to a relatively quiet routine.

You need to really watch for frightened or excited pets darting out an open door and racing into the street. Incidences of animals being hit by vehicles sadly tend to escalate due to this. You may see evidence of fear based aggression triggered by territorial or fear responses to all the ghouls and goblins, the laughter, the noise, the yelling and excitement.

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Skin Allergies in Dogs

When it comes to canine skin problems, dog allergies are by far the common cause but unfortunately are extremely hard to diagnose effectively because dog allergy symptoms bear a striking resemblance to those of other aliments and illnesses. Skin allergies can manifest themselves in dogs in a number of ways, anything from dermatitis to ear infections, but they will always tend to affect the whole body in some way.

Dog skin allergies are commonly caused by an adverse reaction to an allergen. An allergen is a substance given off by certain elements of the world around us, including vegetation pollen and food for example. When these elements come into contact with a living being and cannot be neutralized by the body, it provokes an allergic reaction.

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Destructive Chewing

The act of chewing seems to be a matter of individual preference among dogs: some have an innate desire to chew as a pleasurable activity in itself, and some seem to have no need to chew whatsoever unless they’re driven to it out of sheer boredom.

The phrase “destructive chewing” may sound redundant, because – by its very nature! – all chewing is destructive. Your dog has strong jaws full of sharp, pointy teeth: just about anything she starts to chew on is probably going to show the effects of it inside of a minute. So just to clarify, when I use the phrase “destructive chewing”, I’m referring to inappropriate chewing: the kind of chewing that’s focused on your own possessions and household items, instead of on your dog’s own designated toys and chews.

The three main reasons why dogs chew:

– Most dogs have a natural desire to chew. It’s fun, it passes the time, and it’s a self-rewarding, self-reinforcing activity (for example, if she’s chewing on something that tastes good.)

– Chewing provides a nervous, bored, or lonely dog with an outlet for her emotions. To an anxious dog, the repetitive act of chewing is soothing – it’s the doggie equivalent of comfort food.

– Underexercised dogs often use chewing as a way of burning up nervous energy and giving themselves something to do.

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Natural Health for Pets – Holistic Veterinary

Holistic Veterinary Medicine does not differ much from the human version of the approach. It is likewise concerned with the whole picture, rather than a mere part of it.

It is not just concerned with diagnosing and treatment of a particular disease. It covers every aspect of the pet’s life, and utilizes both the holistic and conventional methods in administering the treatment.

In fact, there are situations wherein surgery and other medical procedures have to be done together with the alternative methods so that an effective treatment may be achieved. Treatment of a particular disease is not the only purpose of the various holistic methods. The hidden causes of such disease have to be determined and addresses to, so that a better level of health is within reach.

Going for the holistic approach does not mean you’re supposed to be trashing the conventional means. To be holistic means being aware of the real needs of your pet. Practices that involve all facets of your pet’s existence must be followed. Ask yourself questions like, “Am I feeding him the right food in the right amount, at the right time?” or “Am I being a master or a friend?” After all, holistic veterinary does not only exist to treat diseases, rather, their greatest aim is to prevent the onset of all types of diseases and to make optimal health within reach.

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Pet Emergency – What Do I Do Now?

Pet emergencies are scary just because they are emergencies and in general they happen with no warning. Even worse is when they happen at night or on the weekend when your regular vet is often not easily available. Or if you live too far away to make a trip to the vet’s office easily and quickly enough. What do you do then?

Do you have a pet first aid kit and know how to use it? Do you know the basics about pet first aid? Poisonings, cuts, abscesses, wounds, bites, etc. Will you have the time to look it up online and hope you come across the right information quickly enough?

Like I said, scary!

This is something we all hope we never have the need to know but what if you do? Do you have a comprehensive manual on pet first aid at home that you can access quickly? It can make a difference.

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Your Dog Just Ate WHAT? Some Common Household Substances that are a Danger!

Dogs and pets are very curious animals and natural scavengers. They can get into and eat just about anything. However, there are many toxic substances found in your home that could potentially kill your pet. The following is a list of ten common household substances that you should make sure to keep out of your dog’s reach. For a more specific and complete list, please see – Poisonous or Toxic to our Dogs and Pets

1) Antifreeze: Many people do not realize it, but common antifreeze kills many pets each year. It smells and tastes very sweet to your dog and is very appealing to him. Ethylene glycol is toxic however, and each winter, many animals are killed by it. Symptoms of toxicity include seizures, vomiting, stumbling and lethargy leading to kidney failure. Make sure to keep your antifreeze out of your dog’s reach. If you suspect that your dog has ingested antifreeze, take your dog to the veterinarian immediately.

2) Chocolate: Chocolate contains a substance called the obromine which is toxic to dogs. Baking chocolate and dark chocolate is especially dangerous. While it usually takes a somewhat large amount of chocolate to kill a dog, poisoning and death does occur with smaller amounts ingested. Signs of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, increased urination, and increased activity. This can progress to seizures and unusual heart rhythms. Call your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate.

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A Touching Dog Story

Mary and her husband Jim had a dog named ‘Lucky.’ Lucky was a real character. Whenever Mary and Jim had company come for a weekend visit they would warn their friends to not leave their luggage open because Lucky would help himself to whatever struck his fancy. Inevitably, someone would forget and something would come up missing.Mary or Jim would go to Lucky’s toy box in the basement and there the treasure would be, amid all of Lucky’s other favorite toys.

Lucky always stashed his finds in his toy box and he was very particular that his toys stay in the box.

It happened that Mary found out she had breast cancer. Something told her she was going to die of this disease….in fact, she was just sure it was fatal.

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Heartworm In Dogs

Heartworms in Dogs – What They Are & What to Do

Heartworms (Latin name Dirofilaria immitis) are parasitic worms that are common in bothHeartworm dogs and cats. Like their name suggests, they live in the dog’s heart, normally free-floating in the right ventricle and nearby blood vessels. The worms are transmitted from dog to dog by mosquitoes which pass the worm larvae through their saliva. The presence of heartworms can be very dangerous to the dog’s health. Although the dog will not display signs of infection until it has progressed considerably, heartworms can be life threatening and are sometimes difficult to detect and diagnose.Read more