Dr. Mark and our ER staff delivered some beautiful puppies by cesarian section last night.
After a short period of renovation, our Yuen Long clinic has been renovated and expanded to accommodate our furry patients and staff during our busy periods.
With an extended waiting room, a new third consult room, expansive windows letting in the sunlight, and an upper floor office space (with a great view) for our vets, the clinic has become a more relaxing and comfortable space for everyone.
Dr Ken and all the staff are very proud of the extensions to our Yuen Long Hospital.
Living with an itchy pet can be an extremely frustrating experience for you, and cause discomfort for your dog. Scratching and chewing by the pet can also result in self-trauma and open wounds. The following information is intended to provide you with a basic understanding of the most common underlying causes of itching and allergies in the small animal.
What are Allergies?
Allergy is a state of super skin sensitivity in which exposure to a normally harmless substance known as an allergen causes the body’s immune system to overreact. The incidence of allergies is increasing in both humans and their pets. People with allergies usually have “hay fever” (watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing) or asthma. While dogs can rarely also have respiratory allergies, more commonly they experience the effects of allergic hypersensitivities as skin problems. Though there are a variety of presentations, this can often be seen as redness, itching, hair loss , foot licking /face rubbing and recurring skin or ear infections.
What are the Major Types of Allergies in Dogs?
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is an inherited predisposition to develop skin problems from exposure to variety of commonplace and otherwise harmless substances including the pollens of weeds, grasses and trees, as well as house dust mites and mold spores. Diagnosis of AD is made based on the results of intradermal skin testing or by blood testing. Evaluating the results of these tests helps us compile a list of allergens for a vaccine that is made to decrease the pet’s sensitivity.
Flea allergic dermatitis is relatively common skin disease in Hong Kong. For the flea allergic patient, 100% flea control is essential for the pet to remain symptom-free. But doctor, I never see fleas on my pet. You may not see them, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. The allergy is caused by the flea’s saliva, and it only takes a few bites to induce the problem. Also, the itchy pet often scratches so much that adult fleas are removed, making them hard to find. Because flea allergy is so common, we recommend that complete flea control be instituted before proceeding with diagnostics for other allergies and that year-round flea control be maintained for all allergy patients.
Some pets develop specific hypersensitivities to components of their diets. The allergen usually is a major protein or carbohydrate ingredient such as beef, chicken, pork, corn, wheat, or soy. Minor ingredients such as preservatives or dyes are also potential allergens. The diagnosis of food allergy requires that we test your pet by feeding special strict diets that contain only ingredients that he has never eaten before. This is often achieved by feeding a prescription diet for a period of 12 to 16 weeks. If the signs resolve, a challenge is performed by feeding the former diet and watching for a return of the itching. If this occurs, a diagnosis of food allergy is confirmed.
Allergies are often the underlying cause of recurring skin and/or ear infections. Bacterial and yeast infections, though secondary to the allergy, can cause an increase in your pet’s level of itching. Long-term treatment with antibiotics and anti-yeast medications is commonly required along with medicated bathing programs.
Can Allergies be Cured?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for allergy and it is usually a life-long problem. We seek to control allergy and improve the quality of life for both you and your pet. We will formulate the best program of management that suits all involved with your pet’s care.
Can I Have the Itching Treated Without the Expense of Diagnostic Testing?
Symptomatic drug therapy can help to reduce itching. Steroids, such as prednisone, are often employed to stop the itch. However, without addressing the underlying cause, the itching will return. Long-term use of steroids can result in many health problems. This is the reason that we encourage diagnosis of the underlying cause of the allergy and more specific or less potentially harmful treatments.
What is Heartworm disease?
Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) is a very common parasitic disease of dogs in Hong Kong, especially the New Territories. The worm lives in the major blood vessels in the lungs and heart.
How does my dog get infected?
The Life cycle starts with a mosquito biting an infected dog and sucking up baby heartworm (microfilaria). The baby heartworm develops in the mosquito salivary glands for a period of time before being transferred to another dog. The developing heartworm will eventually migrate to the heart and lung blood vessels where they affect the circulation and heart function. It is not uncommon for pet’s to have 30 – 40 adult worms present.
What are the symptoms?
Heartworm is dangerous because the disease is often advanced before symptoms develop. Your dog may have heartworm and appear completely normal until it is too late.
Symptoms include coughing, difficulty breathing, poor appetite, weight loss, exercise intolerance and sometimes an enlarged abdomen.
How is it diagnosed?
Your vet will suspect Heartworm based on the pet’s history, physical exam and symptoms. A simple blood test is used to confirm heartworm presence.
Can it be treated?
This depends on the stage of the disease. The best chance of survival is if the disease is detected before symptoms develop. In advanced cases there can be serious damage to the heart, lungs and other organs such as the liver and kidneys.
Our clinic uses a combination of drugs to treat the disease.
PREVENTION IS BEST!
The best way to keep your dog safe from Heartworm is to use one of the preventative treatments available. We suggest your puppy starts heartworm prevention from the second or third vaccination.
- A monthly oral chewable (Heartgard plus)
- Revolution – a monthly spot on product
- Proheart – SR12 a yearly injection
Our staff will be pleased to advise you on the most suitable product for your pet’s needs.
Pet rabbits sold in Hong Kong are descendants of the wild European rabbit, which live in fields and forests and eat grass and leaves. Rabbits are unique in that their teeth constantly grow throughout their life. They need to chew a very high fibre diet to balance this tooth growth and maintain a healthy condition. Fibre in their food is also important for healthy digestion, and several disease conditions can occur if their diet is not balanced.
- Grass Hay – Grass hay such as Timothy hay should be available at all times. It is sold in a dried form, it should smell fresh and should not be dusty. Apart from maintaining dental and intestinal health, eating adequate grass hay will decrease the chewing of inappropriate objects such as furniture, wiring, wallpaper etc. Nb. Alfalfa hay has a higher energy and calcium content than Timothy hay. It is ok for growing rabbits (until 6 months old) but should not be fed to adult animals.
- Green foods – Equally important as hay in a rabbits diet. Remember rabbits are designed to eat grasses and leaves; green foods are the “leaf” part of the diet. They have the same benefits as hay but also give a wider supply of vitamins, nutrients and water. Even though you provide water in the cage, rabbits often do not drink as much as they should. If you have not fed green food in the past, introduce them slowly.
- Wash any green foods first
- Feed at least three types of greens per day
- Feed a minimum of one packed cup of greens per Kg bodyweight per day.
List of Green food:
- Broccolli (leaf and top)
- Brussel sprouts
- Bok Choy
- Celery tops
- Mixed salad leaf
- Carrot tops
- fresh cut Grass
Fruit and other Vegetables (treats)
The following foods should only be fed in limited quantities, especially because some rabbits “love” this type of food and will eat them rather than all others crating a possible health problem. Offer no more than one tablespoon per Kg per day of:
- Kiwi fruit
- Bean sprouts
Dried fruit can be fed but, because it is concentrated, feed half the allowed amount. Avoid banana and grapes as they can become “addictive”.
The above foods are all that your rabbit needs. Please avoid any other starchy or fat foods for your pet, for example:
There are many commercial treats available in pet shops – do not feed these.
Water should always be available, and change fresh daily.
It may seem odd that pellets are last on our diet list. This is because commercial pellets DO NOT need to be part of a healthy house rabbit diet.
Rabbit pellets were originally developed for the rabbit in the meat, fur and laboratory animal industries. They are overloaded with energy to provide rapid growth. Rabbits in these industries have a short lifespan, unlike the house rabbit. Pellets cause obesity, intestinal disease, dental problems, promotes chewing of furniture etc.
If you decide to include pellets please use a high quality product (Oxbow) and limit pellets to one teaspoon per Kg per day.
Never leave pellets available to eat at any time.
Cats are very unique animals each with their very individual personality. Cats are very suitable to be kept as indoor pets but they do have certain requirements that have to be met. Fulfillment of their needs goes a long way towards making a happy and healthy pet.
Cats are very clean animals and are very particular about their toileting. They also use urination as a way of marking their territory. It is therefore very important that your cat is happy with his choice of litter box. This is especially important in preventing future bladder disease.
- Provide 1 litter box per cat plus 1 extra
- In a multi level house, place a litter box in every level
- Place the box in a quiet part of the house to ensure privacy for your cat during elimination. Make sure your cat has 24-hour access to the box.
- The box should be large enough for your cat to move in
- Whether the box is covered or not is a matter of personal preference for you and your cat
- Unscented litter materials tend to be preferred by most cats. As far as possible stick to the same type of litter.
- The faeces and urine should be removed from the box as frequently as possible and at least once a day.
- The whole box should be cleaned weekly with water. Do not use ammonia based or other strong smelling compounds.
- If your litter box smells, it is an indication that it is not getting emptied often enough.
Cat Scratch Poles
Cats scratch to strengthen their muscles, sharpen their cuticles and mark their territory.
- The scratch pole should be made of a coarse material. It should have a horizontal and a vertical surface to scratch. The best option is a multi level pole, but where these are impractical, the pole should be at least taller than a cat standing on its hind limbs.
- The pole should be located in the most active part of the house as this is where cats like to indulge in their scratching and marking behaviour the most.
- The poles also double up as perches for the cats. Cats love sitting up high and observing the world, so its ideal if the pole is located close to a window.
It is very important to play with your cat for at least 5 minutes twice a day. This increases activity and prevents obesity and boredom. Use a variety of toys to avoid boredom.
A universal favourite for most cats is a furry mouse that cats can chase and swipe. Cats also love toys that squeak or jingle. Anything with catnip on it is usually a winner. Balls are also a much loved toy, especially those filled with treats. Toys that dangle from a string are another great favourite. Cats also like chasing a red laser light on walls.
Food and Water
Use a good quality diet and only feed once or twice a day. Leaving food out all day for your cat to graze on encourages obesity. There should always be fresh water available to your cat. Water bowls need to be cleaned daily as cats don’t like drinking from a dirty bowl.
If your cat doesn’t drink much water, you may need to encourage it to do so. Try using a water fountain. Try flavouring the water by adding a little chicken broth or tuna water.
A happy cat is a healthy cat and a long living cat!
Summer is definitely here in Hong Kong with scorching temperatures and with that the danger of heatstroke in your pets.
Heatstroke is where the body temperature remains abnormally high (> 41c) for an extended period of time – and the higher the temperature, the faster the damage to vital organs and the higher the risk of permanent damage to organs such as kidneys, liver and brain.
Signs of heatstroke include collapse, weakness, dark red gums/tongue, drooling saliva and sometimes seizures.
Dogs normally release heat from the body by both evaporation and conduction. If they have a thick hair coat then conduction is difficult.
Dogs mainly get rid of excessive body heat by panting; unlike humans they do not have sweat glands all over their body, only in their feet and these are not used for heat loss.
Dogs make use evaporative cooling just like some air conditioners. Their tongue hangs out and dilated blood vessels on the tongue surface exchange heat with the air. This process, however, does require a lot of moisture which needs to be replaced by drinking, so it is vitally important that dogs also have ample supply of fresh water on hot days.
Snub nosed dogs such a Pekinese, Shih Tzu’s, Bulldogs and Boston Terriers have additional anatomical problems (small nasal openings, narrow upper airways and wind pipe) which make these breed at an even higher risk of heatstroke. These breeds can even suffer heatstroke indoors, even at rest.
This is a preventable disease and we do have some tips to follow to reduce the risks of heatstroke.
- Wherever possible try to avoid strenuous exercise in the full heat of the day. Try to choose a shaded path, rather than full direct sun.
- When travelling by car, make sure it is either air-conditioned or at least fresh air flowing through the cabin.
- NEVER leave a pet unattended in a parked car, or locked out on a small balcony in the sun.
- Make sure there is plenty of fresh water to drink on a long walk, its also a good idea to have a spray water bottle to cool the body. Use the convenient collapsible water bowls.
If you suspect your dog has heatstroke, we suggest the following measures:
- Get them away from the heat; find a shady, ventilated area immediately.
- Immerse the dog into cool water if available or pour water over their body.
- Get them to a Vet as soon as possible – time is critical, Our Victoria Veterinary clinic at Yuen Long has a 24 – hour Emergency care service.
- At the clinic our Vets will continue the cooling process, as well as commencing Intravenous fluids and medical treatment with the hope of protecting or minimizing damage to vital organs.
Please remember prevention is always better than cure, do your best to make it safe for your pets over the enjoyable summer period.
In July 2011 Oscar the Labrador was given a new lease on life after Dr. Ken Thorley and Dr. Matthew Field gave him a heart pacemaker in the first such operations in Hong Kong. Oscar’s owner, Anna Lee was a part time nurse at our Yuen Long clinic.
Victoria Veterinary Clinics opened in October 1992 and in 2012 we celebrated 20 years of continuous service to the pet owners of the New Territories.
During that time we have grown to become one of Hong Kong’s most prominent veterinary practices, offering consultations 24-hours a day, full hospital services, performing complex surgery and medical work-ups using advanced equipment. We are proud that many of our veterinary surgeons have been recognised with post-graduate qualifications and awards, and several have gone on to employment in universities.
Dr Gerry Pahl and Dr Ken Thorley wish to thank all our clients for their continued patronage over the last 20+ years.