Glaucoma In Horses. And Dogs!

glaucomainhSymptoms of glaucoma include red, cloudy, and/or painful eyes. The redness usually occurs on the sclera (white part of the eye) and the conjunctiva (the mucous membrane covering the sclera). Cloudiness occurs in the cornea and inner part of the eye. Pain usually manifests as squinting and tearing.

The only sure test of whether a horse is suffering from glaucoma is to measure his intraocular pressure (the pressure within his eyeball) with a tonometer; in the case of glaucoma, the pressure will be unusually high. But not all veterinarians have a tonometer–and without it, glaucoma is easy to mistake for equine recurrent uveitis, which is much more common in horses and the leading cause of equine blindness; the symptoms of the two are very similar. Yet because treatments for the two conditions are different-and because glaucoma is harder to treat-an incorrect diagnosis can be very dangerous.

Glaucoma in horses tends to be chronic, but it can be cured if treated early enough. Treatments are similar to those for people: oral and topical medications, and even laser surgery. (Laser surgery for equine glaucoma has been around for more than five years; it costs about $600, depending on the area of the country. Success is related to the individual case and the clinical signs associated with it.)

If your horse’s seeing eye shows any of the above symptoms, have your veterinarian examine it. Both equine recurrent uveitis and glaucoma (primary or secondary) can lead to blindness, so proper diagnosis and treatment is crucial.

Not all veterinarians are comfortable diagnosing eye conditions. If, together, you and your vet have any doubts about his performing a diagnosis, consult a specialist. Your local veterinary school probably has at least one ophthalmologist on staff. Another way to find board-certified ophthalmologists in your area is to go to the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists’ Web site at www.acvo.com.

Is His Eye Infected?

Q. I sometimes find my horse’s eye discharging mucus. When I wipe the corner of his eye, I can see mucus filming his eyeball. He likes to shove his face into his pile of hay, so I wonder whether debris is irritating his eye or he’s picked up an infection-and what I should do about it.

A. Some daily discharge from horses’ eyes is not unusual. But if you need to wipe your horse’s eye more than once a day, have your veterinarian examine him. Debris and other matter may be getting into his eye from his hay. Or he may be suffering from something more serious, such as an ulcer (abrasion) or conjunctivitis (infection). Without treatment, these problems can become further infected and may possibly even result in blindness.

If he’s suffering from an ulcer, you’re most likely to notice the discharge in only one eye, and the discharge is probably clear and watery. If he has conjunctivitis, both eyes are likely to be affected, and the discharge is usually thicker and more mucus-like (although none of these characteristics is exclusive to one condition). Whatever the specifics, they warrant a check by your veterinarian.

Symptoms of conjunctivitis in a horse are like those in any animal: The conjunctiva (the mucous membrane around the eyeball) is red and/or puffy, and it usually itches. Your horse may try rubbing his face to relieve the itching, and/or he may squint or tear in obvious discomfort.

Both eye ulcers and conjunctivitis may be treated with antibiotics. Conjunctivitis is also often treated with anti-inflammatories such as corticosteroids. But corticosteroids make ulcers worse–so it’s very important that an ulcer be ruled out before treatment decisions are made.

If you’re concerned that your horse’s eye looks infected and is not improving with treatment–or if your veterinarian is not comfortable diagnosing and treating eyes–ask him or her about consulting a specialist. See the information I gave with the glaucoma question above for how to find board-certified ophthalmologists.

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Removing Those Pesky Skin Tags

retpstsIf you’re like most people, you will discover you have a skin tag somewhere on your body at some point in your life. Skin tags are a normal thing: my friend’s new born baby had a skin tag in between his eyes, my grandmother used to have one on her neck.
Skin tags won’t hurt you and they are removable. There are a few ways to remove these pesky little things, affectionately called “teeny floppy bits” by my children.

While they may be strange to look at science is developing more and more ways to remove these unwanted pieces of epidermis.
Some of your options, if you find yourself dealing with these things are:

•    Compound W® now has a skin tag removal system much like what they have for removing warts that involves freezing the skin tag.
•    Revitol® has a cream that attacks the root of the skin tag and removes it from within.
•    Directly cutting the skin tag off is a method not many people opt for due to the cost and concerns involved.
•    You can also ‘thread’ the skin tag: tie a thread around the base of the skin tag and it will eventually kill the cells and nerves and the tag will fall off.

Which option is best for you? That depends on how comfortable you are using a scalpel or how much money you can afford for this.
Some of the pros with the above methods are as follows:

•    Compound W® uses liquid nitrogen to freeze and kill the skin tag. This can be done from the comfort of your own home. Depending on where the skin tag is located, you may need help with this. You might feel a mild burning sensation but after you treat the affected area it will be around 2 weeks before the skin tag falls off on its own.

•    Revitol® uses homeopathic and natural ingredients in their solution. This skin tag removal cream is designed to work within days and does not compromise your body by exposing it to chemicals.

•    Cutting the skin tag can be quick, efficient and allow you to remove the offending floppy bi t right away. You may need to request surgery to have this done in a safe environment or book a special appointment with your doctor to have this done.
•    ‘Threading’ the skin tag is also a safe method that involves wrapping a thread or piece of dental floss around the base of the tag which doesn’t involve sharp objects or any liquids. The tag should fall off within weeks.

So the real question becomes what you, as a person, are comfortable with. Are you able to afford a special doctor appointment to get this skin tag removed? Depending on where you live in the world it may cost too much money for you to have that done. Are you comfortable applying a freezing solution to your skin to remove the skin tag and hope it doesn’t turn a strange colour while you’re waiting for it to fall off? Depending on what your job is and where the skin tag is located, this may not be a viable option for you. Are you comfortable with having a piece of minty-fresh floss tied tightly around the base of the skin tag and hope it doesn’t fall off unexpectedly into your lunch? Again, this option may depend on where your tag is located.

If you’re like me and you prefer to not draw attention to something like this, good skin tag removal creams may be the better option. It’s not attention grabbing, it shouldn’t have you suffer any discomfort and it appears to be a safe discrete way to discard this Continue reading

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Bringing A Pet Into The Home

petinhomeMore than 10 million cats and dogs will be looking for new homes this year–animals now living in shelters, on the streets, and in homes that can no longer keep them. So if you have an animal that you are certain you cannot keep, you will need to market that animal with care and vigor.

In addition to allergies and asthma, reasons people frequently cite for relinquishing pets include behavior problems, moving, and family changes. Dealing with these situations does require commitment–it may mean attending obedience classes, compromising on relocation (as you would for a child’s school zone), or spending extra time with a pet when there’s the excitement of a new baby or partner in your life. In a pinch, maybe a friend could provide temporary housing for your animal while you make adjustments to life’s changes.

When in doubt, ask yourself, What is in the best interest of this animal? A large dog, for example, would much rather move with you to a tiny apartment than be kept in a large yard without you. You’ll just have to rake it for longer walks. But there are cases when a per is better off in another home. If you have as many pets as you can manage, or if your pet is old or especially demanding, adding a newcomer that has landed on your doorstep might be unfair to the existing family–and to the new arrival, who needs both time and attention as well. If someone in the household is abusive to an animal, then find it another home, and make sure the person receives counseling. (Ask the Humane Society of the United Stares about its First Strike Campaign: 888-213-0956.)

Whatever the reason, once you’ve made the decision, don’t procrastinate. “One of the biggest mistakes people make is waiting until the last minute and then doing something rash,” says Vickie Rassa, an adoption coordinator and the Web master at Animal Rescue, a pet-placement organization in New Freedom, Pa.

Michael Kaufmann, former director of educational programs at the American Humane Assn., in Englewood, Colo., recommends starting close to home. “Ask people you know first. If that doesn’t work, cast a wider net, and make it a true adoption process.” Start with local postings, an ad in the newspaper, or even one on the Internet. Among the many Web sites are petfinder.org, petsville.com, petwork.com, pets4you.com, thepoop.com, united petnet.com, and ArfDigita.org. Never advertise an animal as “free to a good home.” It’s an open invitation to the wrong people–dealers who sell to laboratories or dog-fight groups, or misguided animal collectors–and it implies that the animal has no value. A fee, perhaps based on what shelters charge, will attract people ready to make a commitment; you can waive it later.

“Interview potential adopters carefully, write up a simple adoption agreement that you both can sign, and always check all references,” urges Kaufmann. Offer to take the animal back if the fit is wrong, and to avoid that situation, be honest about your pet’s shortcomings. What you consider a hyperactive dog, for example, may be the athletic companion someone else is looking for. If a cat doesn’t get along with other cats, let a potential one-cat family adopt it.

Throughout the interview, advises Rassa, watch for signs that reveal an applicant’s true feelings. “It’s an emotional time for owners. They often miss subtle, but important, clues. Don’t rush into an adoption just because someone is there.” If it doesn’t feel right, tell the person you’ll get back to him later. And don’t be afraid to back our of an agreement–people should understand that your main concern is the pet’s wellbeing. (To receive a free copy of the Friends of Animals’ guide to the adoption process, send an SASE to FOA, 777 Post Rd., Darien, CT 06820, or call (203) 656-1522 to request one.)

You may feel more comfortable working with professionals at shelters and rescue groups. But you’ll need to research these, too, before surrendering an animal. While privately run shelters are usually more popular than municipal ones, don’t be automatically swayed by “no-kill” policies. Some shelters house so many animals that they receive little individual attention. Check facilities and policies, and if you like a shelter, provide the staff with as much information about your animal as possible to help them find the most appropriate adopter. Fear of raking an animal to a shelter should never lead to abandoning an animal outside: A reputable shelter offers food, protection, and medical care and screens potential adopters.

Shelters, trainers, and veterinarians can refer owners of purebred animals to breed-specific rescue organizations. If you find a rescue group through the telephone book or on the Internet, ask questions to make sure it is a professionally run organization.

Finally, ask yourself the hardest question: Can my animal companion endure the stress of a shelter or foster home in addition to adjusting to a new family? “For a geriatric animal, one that is extremely dependent, or one with difficult-to-manage special needs,” asks Michael Kaufmann, “would it be kinder to have the animal peacefully euthanized?”

Accepting a pet into your home should be for better or worse, and for the pet’s lifetime. Perhaps when we realize the effort required to find a suitable new home for a pet, we’ll understand that there’s no place like our own.

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Reader Question: Hip Problems In Golden Retrievers

hipproblemsOur 13-year-old golden retriever has had trouble with her hips. I’m worried she’ll have difficulty getting around this winter. Any suggestions?

Many medium-size to large dogs have osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease in their hips, elbows, shoulders or knees. This starts because of joint instability, which gradually leads to changes within the joint and inflammation of the surrounding tissue and will worsen as the dog ages, causing increased pain and loss of mobility. Some of the ways your dog may tell you “It hurts!” include: a reluctance to go for walks or to play favourite games, sudden yelping, a decrease in appetite or difficulty getting up. You may think your dog’s character has changed if she’s less eager to interact with family members or shows aggression when startled.

In older dogs with an underlying problem (such as a torn knee ligament) that can be corrected, surgery will increase the dog’s comfort and slow further degeneration. The cost will vary anywhere from approximately $800 for knee ligament repair to $2,500 for a total hip replacement.

For many older dogs who have a physical condition that increases the risks of surgery, it may not be worth it — for the dog or for you — to put them through a surgical procedure. In these cases, it’s a matter of making the dog as comfortable as possible in her remaining time.

Drugs

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ASA, acetaminophen and ibuprofen are the standbys for treatment of degenerative joint disease. Consult your veterinarian, since long-term use in dogs often causes side-effects such as stomach ulcers or bleeding abnormalities. Meloxicam is a relatively new NSAID that decreases the inflammation and pain associated with conditions such as osteoarthritis. An advantage of meloxicam is that it has a low incidence of relatively mild side-effects, such as decreased appetite or transient diarrhea.

Acupuncture

This treatment is really not new, although its acceptance in western veterinary medicine is recent. Acupuncturists use needles, electricity or low-power lasers to stimulate the appropriate acupuncture points. There appears to be little or no discomfort and, once the needles are in place, most animals are relaxed or even sleepy.

I know of several older dogs with severe osteoarthritis who had become increasingly lame despite the use of painkillers. The use of meloxicam and/or acupuncture has made them much more comfortable.

Diet and exercise

Being overweight increases the stress on your dog’s joints so reduce her rations or switch to a good-quality reducing diet. Your veterinarian may recommend dietary supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, which are thought to protect the joint cartilage from further deterioration. Moderate low-impact exercise will help to control her weight and maintain her flexibility.

Speak to your veterinarian about these options. It may be that you can achieve some dramatic improvement in your companion’s quality of life — this winter and for some time to come.

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No Thanks To The Kiddies

kiddiesKids are too much work. Too much crying. We certainly appreciate our dog more.Don’t get me wrong. Given the choice between hanging out with adults or with kids, I’ll often choose the kids. At the last staff picnic, I spent most of the afternoon picking blackberries with the production manager’s six-year-old daughter, Emily. We were having so much fun looking at spiderwebs and dragonflies that I missed the staff picture. Even though she wasn’t mine, picking berries with Emily still came before the politics of work.

I don’t mind that the women I work with talk about their kids, a lot. They have cute stories, a lot of them. Recently, two of my colleagues were discussing their young sons’ temper tantrums. I listened and laughed and added tantrums to my list of reasons not to have kids. A dog doesn’t lie down in the aisle at Wal-Mart and scream.

I feel bad for my parents and my in-laws. They all would make wonderful grandparents. Thanks to them, my husband and I do have things to offer: healthy bodies, a love of books and animals, artistic inclinations, a sense of humour, a belief we should do more to keep the children of this country safe and healthy and strong. My husband and I will try to do that without having our own offspring.

My own mother actually contributed to my lack of interest in child- rearing. I grew up hearing the story about my birth in 1970, how my mother sat up on the table and told the doctor to “put it back in. I’m going home.” Imagine, those were the first words I ever heard! I’ve also witnessed the reaction of my small cousins when they’re threatened with having to sit next to their Aunt Lynda, my mother, if they don’t behave. They go into hiding faster than an earwig facing a large shoe. I guess my mom just saved her cuddling and patience for her own children. She may not be your typical mothering role model, but I wouldn’t trade her for another. I credit her for making me the happy, well-adjusted woman I am today.

I will make the perfect aunt. I recently visited my colleague, Kim, and her two children. She left me outside playing with her son while she went in to make lunch. It took her almost an hour. I think she was reading another chapter in her book. I was pleased to give her a few quiet minutes to herself. It’s the best of both worlds: my friends get time to themselves whether for reading or going out and I get the chance to influence someone in their formative years. When that child starts to fuss — or demand new clothes — I simply hand her back to her folks and close the door. Then curl up on the couch with my husband and the dog and a good, thick book.

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Animals More Prone To Allergies Than You’d Think

We all know people whose allergies flare up in the presence of cats or dogs, but did you know that animals suffer from allergies of their own? Veterinarians say that the number of cats and dogs with allergies has grown to epidemic proportions in recent years. Experts suggest that one out of seven dogs and nearly as many cats display allergy symptoms. Certain breeds of dogs, in fact, have become so allergy-prone that nearly half of them suffer from a hypersensitivity to something they touch, inhale, or ingest.

The good news about allergies is that newer, gentler treatments are beginning to show results for many cats and dogs. The bad news is you may have to go to a specialist to learn about them, and treatments for severe allergies can cost thousands of dollars. Worst of all, for some pets nothing seems to work.

“An allergy can be very debilitating for a cat or dog,” says Michele Rosenbaum, V.M.D., a veterinary dermatologist at the Veterinary Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, and diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Dermatology. Some people don’t think of an allergy as serious, but a pet that is constantly scratching and miserable – the hallmark of pet allergies – often becomes irritable, snappish, Continue reading

A Bloodbank For Hounds?

As an intravenous needle slides into Rowdy’s jugular vein and begins to draw blood, W. Jean Dodds, D.V.M., hugs him tightly and whispers a few soothing words. But if the happy-go-lucky grey-hound is fazed by the four-minute procedure, he doesn’t show it. “He knows a treat is coming,” says Dodds, laughing. And judging by the frantic action of his tail as he scares down the canine cookie, his reward was well worth the donation.

Rowdy is one of about 135 greyhounds–all former racing dogs,–living at Hemopet blood bank in Irvine, CA, while donating blood to help sick canines. “This is more or less a Red Cross for dogs,” explains Dodds, who opened Hemopet in 1991. Thanks to her initiative, countless canines in need of hip replacement, bypass surgery, and other lifesaving procedures can count on healthy, compatible blood transfusions. Shipments are sent out daily around the United States and as far away as Japan.

Dodds, 57, recalls being struck with the idea for Hemopet: “It dawned on me: Dogs have accidents and illnesses the same way people do, and to be properly treated, they also need a safe supply of blood.” Within five years, armed with $250,000 from grants, individual donations, and money Dodds earned from lecturing, Hemopet became a reality. It’s now one of four animal blood banks in the United States, and the only one that’s nonprofit.

But Dodds’s mission goes beyond safe transfusions. The adoption branch of Hemopet, called Pet Life-Line, finds loving homes for greyhound donors who would otherwise have been euthanized after their racing days were over. “Once they can no longer win, they’re out of luck,” Dodds explains. “It’s tragic.”

She’s screened Continue reading

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Pets Offer True Security To Owners

At this time of year there are nights when the air is still and there’s nothing more peaceful than a quiet stroll in the moonlight – especially if you’re lucky enough to have a dog to accompany you. I find that going for a walk after dark is a very different experience with a dog by my side. For one thing, I relax and breathe more deeply than when I’m alone, which allows me to appreciate the fragrance of new-mown grass or whatever is blooming. Without an animal companion, I find myself walking with my arms crossed and my antennae on full alert. With a dog – whose “antennae,” I’m sure, are a hundred times more sensitive than mine – my arms swing freely and I take in whatever scents and sounds the summer breeze carries my way.

It doesn’t really matter if I’m walking down a country road or on a city street. And it doesn’t really matter if the dog I’m walking is a German shepherd or a poodle. In fact, when we had no dog Continue reading

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Want To Know How To Start Blogging? Read This!

sbHave you acquired the skills you need to start blogging? If yes, do you know how to start blogging and start using this skill to earn or maybe use it as a sideline? But if no, then you have clicked on the right article that will help you learn how to start blogging. First of all, you need to be grammatically prepared to use blogging as a sideline. How can you tell if you are ready? One way is by using Microsoft Word then try typing a sample. It can be about anything and everything under the sun. Maybe something about the current news about your country or something trending in the news. Try writing it on Microsoft Word and see if there are lines under some words.

Each color of the line has a meaning that corresponds to it. The red line under a word means the underlined word has a wrong spelling. The blue means it has a wrong punctuation mark while the green means the structure or arrangement of the words is incorrect. If most of your article is colored by these lines, especially green, then you are not ready to blog. Before you can be ready to start blogging, you need to have less than half of the correction underline.

Need Help With How To Create Your Own Blog? Here Is Where To Get Help!

We all know that if you need help with how to create your own blog, you will always Continue reading