Does My Dog Need a Tracheal Stent?
Tracheal collapse is a common problem in small-breed dogs, and can lead to severe respiratory distress without appropriate treatment. In some cases, surgery is necessary to correct the problem and ensure the affected dog can breathe properly. Our team of internationally recognized veterinary surgical experts at Long Island Veterinary Specialists is able to perform this technically demanding procedure necessary for your dog with tracheal collapse.
What is tracheal collapse in dogs?
The trachea (i.e., windpipe) is the fairly rigid tube made up of C-shaped cartilaginous rings that connects the nose, mouth, and throat to the lungs, spanning the neck and extending into the chest. The open end of each C (i.e., the tracheal membrane) faces the dog’s back and is composed of the trachealis muscle and connective tissue. Factors that contribute to tracheal collapse include:
- Tracheomalacia — Tracheomalacia causes the cartilage rings to weaken and become soft and spongy, causing the tracheal membrane to loosen and be sucked into the airway during breathing. Tracheal collapse can affect the trachea at any point in the neck or chest. When the neck portion is affected, the dog experiences problems during inspiration, and when the chest portion is affected, they experience exhalation problems. The underlying cause of this distressing disease is not fully understood, but is likely multifactorial, involving genetic, nutritional, and allergic triggers.
- Inflammation — When the trachea collapses, inflammation occurs, causing increased tracheal secretions, which promotes more coughing, which generates more inflammation. The inflammation produces enzymes that further soften the tracheal cartilage, exacerbating the tracheal collapse.
What dogs are at risk?
Small-breed dogs are most commonly affected, and poodles, Yorkshire terriers, Pomeranians, and Chihuahuas are at highest risk. Dogs can be affected at any age, but the condition typically manifests in middle-aged and older dogs. Other risk factors include:
- Obesity — Carrying excess weight can exacerbate breathing difficulties in affected dogs.
- Respiratory disease — Respiratory infections, such as kennel cough, can complicate the condition.
- Respiratory irritants — Dogs who live in a household with a smoker are more likely to exhibit signs.
- Heart enlargement — The enlarged heart of a dog with a heart condition can press on the trachea, exacerbating the problem.
Diagnosis of tracheal collapse in dogs
The most common tracheal collapse sign is a persistent, dry hacking cough sometimes described as a goose honk cough. The cough may worsen when the dog is excited, during hot or humid weather, after eating or drinking, or when the trachea is pressured (e.g., from a collar). Affected dogs may also experience exercise intolerance, noisy or difficulty breathing, and fainting. When tracheal collapse is suspected, common diagnostics include:
- Blood work — Our veterinary team may perform a complete blood count and a biochemistry profile to rule out an infectious agent and assess your dog’s overall health. In addition, we will assess your dog’s liver function, since many dogs with a collapsing trachea have concurrent liver disease.
- X-rays — We can evaluate tracheal collapse on neck and chest X-rays, although the condition is not always visible.
- Fluoroscopy — Fluoroscopy is an imaging technique that allows our veterinary team to dynamically assess your dog’s trachea during inhalation and exhalation, and to document the location and severity of collapse.
- Computed tomography (CT) — CT is another imaging modality that can be used to document tracheal collapse.
- Endoscopy — Endoscopy allows our veterinary team to look inside your dog’s trachea. During the exam, we may also take samples for culture and analysis.
- Echocardiogram — In some cases, our veterinary team may recommend an ultrasound of your dog’s heart to assess the situation.
Medical management for tracheal collapse in dogs
Many dogs affected by tracheal collapse respond well to medical management, particularly those with a mild collapse. Treatment, which is typically multi-faceted, involves:
- Weight control — If the dog is overweight, losing the excess pounds can significantly improve their condition.
- Removing irritants — If the dog’s household includes a smoker, the dog’s condition will improve if the smoker quits.
- Antibiotics — Dogs who have a collapsed trachea are at higher risk for infection, since they can’t efficiently clear pathogens from their lower respiratory tract, and they may need antibiotics to help clear the infection.
- Cough suppressants — Medications that help reduce your dog’s cough may be helpful.
- Steroids — Steroids are frequently used on a short-term basis to help reduce mucus and decrease inflammation.
- Oxygen therapy — In severe cases, your dog may need oxygen therapy to ensure they are well oxygenated.
Surgical management for tracheal collapse in dogs
If medical management does not produce satisfactory results, tracheal stenting may be beneficial. Tracheal stenting is a non-invasive procedure that involves placing a self-expanding, cylindrical prosthesis to help keep the airway open. The procedure can often dramatically improve the dog’s quality of life, and improvement is typically seen in 90% of patients. Patients are typically in the hospital for only one day. Complications are rare and include issues such as stent migration, stent fracture, and infection. Care following a tracheal stenting procedure is minimal and includes:
- Giving medications — While the procedure improves most clinical signs, continued medical management is typically necessary.
- Losing weight — If your dog is overweight, it is beneficial to have them lose the excess pounds. Our staff can help with this.
- Recheck appointments —After a tracheal stent procedure, your dog will need several monthly follow-up examinations to ensure their condition is not still progressing.
Tracheal stenting can significantly improve your dog’s quality of life if they have moderate or severe tracheal collapse, because maintaining a patent airway helps them breathe better and reduces coughing. If you think your dog could benefit from tracheal stenting, contact Long Island Veterinary Specialists, so we can determine if your dog is a good candidate for the procedure.
How to Identify Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
If you are a dog owner, you may already be aware of how common hip dysplasia is in dogs. Some breeds are more prone to developing it than others, but any dog can potentially have hip dysplasia, including mixed breeds.
In this article, we’ll walk you through some of the most common symptoms of hip dysplasia so you can learn more about how to identify them. With this information, you can figure out whether or not you need to speak with your veterinarian about the potential of hip dysplasia in your own dog. If you have any questions, call LIVS at (516) 501-1700.
What Is Hip Dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia is one of the most common orthopedic conditions seen in dogs. While this condition most commonly affects large and giant breeds, any size dog and even cats may be affected.
Hip dysplasia is the abnormal growth and development of the hip joint. The hip joint is a “ball and socket” joint. The ball is the head of the femur. The socket is part of the pelvic bone, the acetabulum. Normally, the head of the femur fits very tightly within the acetabulum. In hip dysplasia, the joint does not fit together snugly, causing instability. As a result, the joint will partially subluxate or move in and out of the socket. This may cause cartilage damage and severe arthritis in dogs as early as one year of age.
Common Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia
Lethargy is a common symptom associated with hip dysplasia. Since it usually hurts dogs to stand up and move around when they have this condition, they become lethargic and less interested in getting up to do anything more than they have to.
Keep in mind, however, that lethargy is also a symptom of many other conditions that might affect your dog. If this is the only symptom you notice, you should work with your family veterinarian to determine the underlying cause and don’t necessarily assume it is hip dysplasia.
If your dog has trouble moving around, this may be another indicator that he has hip dysplasia. Dogs with this condition may have difficulty getting up out of bed and will especially have trouble running, jumping, or climbing stairs.
Difficulty moving or limited range of motion is also a symptom of arthritis, and it can also be related to Lyme disease and other serious health conditions. If you notice this symptom in your dog, talk to your veterinarian, as you may need a more thorough examination before a diagnosis can be made.
Hind End Lameness
Hind end lameness is a fairly solid indicator that your dog could have hip dysplasia. This condition will cause the back end of your dog’s body to become much harder to move, and it can sometimes freeze up or become impossible for him to control.
Lameness in the hind end may not occur until the later stages of hip dysplasia. Chances are good that if your dog is showing this symptom, then he has also shown earlier signs of beginning stages of the condition for a while. Hind end lameness is not associated with many other conditions but should still be examined by a veterinarian to be sure.
Loss of Muscle in the Thigh
As the hip dysplasia condition progresses, dogs will not use their thigh muscles nearly as much, especially when it comes to running and jumping. This will, in turn, lead to an atrophy of the muscles in the thighs. The loss of muscle will eventually become noticeable visually, especially if hip concerns are left untreated.
This is another symptom that is not usually associated with many other conditions. If you notice this symptom in your dog, you have likely already seen some of the others listed here before he has gotten to this point of muscle atrophy.
An unusual or odd gait may signify that your dog has hip dysplasia. Some individuals refer to the hip dysplasia gait as a “bunny hop,” as it is similar to the way a rabbit moves when walking. It is a very strange-looking gait for a dog. Since it is quite noticeable, it is sure to stand out as a symptom if your dog shows it.
An unusual gait may also be related to several other problems and will need to be checked by your veterinarian. However, if your dog shows an unusual gait along with any other symptoms on this list, then the chances are more likely that he might have hip dysplasia.
Stiffness and Pain
Finally, your dog may have stiffness and pain if they have hip dysplasia. Even if he is able to move around, he may be stiff when doing so, and it may take him a while to loosen up when he gets out of bed in the morning.
Your dog may also start to guard their hips and legs as the pain increases. If he is reluctant or will not let you pet his hind end or touch his legs, or if he shows signs of fear or aggression when you try to do this, hip dysplasia is a likely cause.
Diagnosing Hip Dysplasia
The primary goal when diagnosing hip dysplasia is to detect hip joint laxity and to assess the degree of degenerative joint disease. Palpation, or careful manipulation of the hip, is an extremely important tool. Radiographs (x-rays) are also very helpful when trying to identify the progression of hip dysplasia.
Dogs who have hip dysplasia may be able to have their conditions managed through medication, supplements, or alternative therapies. These treatment options are generally known as conservative treatment and may be the best option for dogs who are older or who are not good candidates for surgery. Patients like this may also benefit from physical rehabilitation, to help alleviate pain and other symptoms and improve mobility.
If you are concerned that your dog may be exhibiting early signs of hip dysplasia, talk to your primary veterinarian as soon as possible. They will want to schedule an exam for your dog, and if the signs are present, they may refer you to LIVS for a consultation with our surgery team. If you have any questions, give us a call at (516) 501-1700.
How Can Pets Benefit From Acupuncture Treatment?
Have you ever heard of veterinary acupuncture? You may be surprised to find out that this type of treatment is available to pets and might even be a good solution for your pet’s health and well-being.
Read through the information below to find out more about veterinary acupuncture and how it can benefit pets. From there, you can choose whether to pursue this possibility for your pet. If you have any questions, feel free to call Long Island Veterinary Specialists at (516) 501-1700.
Acupuncture is one treatment offered in the field of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM is grounded in the philosophy that the body’s life force, or Qi (“CHē”), flows along body channels known as meridians. An imbalance in one’s Qi is thought to cause disharmony and, as a result, disease. Acupuncture and the action of needle insertion along specific points on the meridians stimulate beneficial effects.
Benefits of Acupuncture for Pets
Benefits of acupuncture treatment sessions may include:
- Pain relief
- Nerve stimulation
- Increased blood flow to specific areas of the body
- Muscle spasm relief
- Release of endorphins
- Release of cortisol
Acupuncture for Pets
Acupuncture for pets works the same way that it does for humans, including the insertion of needles. Pets can enjoy a wide variety of results when they receive acupuncture, including relaxation, relief from cramps and pain, improved mobility, reduced inflammation, and much more. Many pets respond well to this type of treatment over time. Some pets may even relax so deeply during their acupuncture treatments that they fall asleep for the duration of the treatment session.
What Acupuncture Can Treat
Acupuncture is most used to treat pain related to arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. However, it can also treat other types of pain and disease. It is often recommended as a good course of action for pets who are predisposed or who develop orthopedic conditions such as hip dysplasia.
Acupuncture can also be used to treat hot spots and benign granulomas on a dog’s legs and feet. The procedure works for these issues by relieving the nerve pain that causes dogs to lick constantly and aggravate these skin conditions.
Acupuncture may benefit pets with conditions including:
- Chronic musculoskeletal problems – including arthritis, intervertebral disc disease, and neck and back pain
- Post-surgical pain
- Nerve conditions
- Traumatic injuries
- Slowed gastrointestinal motility, and other GI issues
- Hip dysplasia
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Itching and scratching
- Behavioral problems
- Heart failure and heart murmurs
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
How a Veterinary Acupuncture Appointment Works
First, the pet will be evaluated and checked for any signs of worsening conditions or problems related to previous treatments. The pet’s health history will be recorded and any changes since the last appointment will be noted as well. From there, the problem areas to focus on will be pinpointed and the vet will talk with you about the type of treatment your pet will receive during this visit.
The process will then begin, with pets only receiving sedatives if they absolutely must have it. The needles will be inserted slowly and carefully, and your pet will be monitored throughout the experience. The process will take about 30 minutes to complete.
What to Expect Afterward
After the visit is over, chances are good and that your pet will not show any signs that anything happened at all. However, some pets may be very tired for about a day after an acupuncture appointment and will need extra rest. Other pets may be a little bit stiffer than they normally are for the first day but should have improved mobility in the days following.
Make sure your pet is allowed to rest as much as they want to after their appointment and give them plenty of cool, clean water to drink. Feed them normally afterward as well.
How to Know if Your Pet is a Good Candidate for Acupuncture
If your pet is dealing with chronic pain related to joint problems, birth defects, or arthritis, they may be a great candidate for acupuncture. Pets who have nausea, inflammation, and loss of appetite related to chemotherapy may also be ideal candidates for this treatment, as are pets who cannot receive normal pain medication due to health problems such as those with liver or kidney disease. Acupuncture may also provide pain relief and comfort for older pets who are not good candidates for orthopedic surgery.
Acupuncture is an extremely safe treatment when performed by a veterinarian who is certified in veterinary acupuncture. These treatments are a form of alternative therapy that can often be used in conjunction with your pet’s primary care to provide a holistic, comprehensive approach to certain medical conditions.
There is a lot to consider when you are trying to decide whether veterinary acupuncture is a good option for your furry friend. If you have any further questions or concerns, you can always speak with your primary veterinarian for more information or for a referral to a certified veterinary acupuncturist (CVA). For more information about Acupuncture and the Integrative Medicine services at LIVS, give us a call today at (516) 501-1700.
When to Call an Emergency Veterinarian
No pet owner wants to think about needing to go to an emergency veterinary hospital, but sadly, this is a potential part of pet ownership that owners must be prepared for. If your pet is going through an emergency, you will need to be prepared to go to an emergency veterinarian right away.
In this article, we will show you six of the most common situations in which you might need an emergency veterinarian. Read through this list to understand what may be considered a pet emergency. And if you ever need emergency pet care, call Long Island Veterinary Specialists at (516) 501-1700.
If your pet is not breathing
If your pet is having difficulty breathing or has stopped breathing suddenly altogether, it is time to call the emergency veterinarian right away. Do not wait, but also keep a close eye on your pet while you call the veterinarian. If you know how to perform CPR on your pet, you may want to try this as well, depending on the circumstances.
You may also need to go to the emergency vet if your pet is breathing; but is struggling to do so. The quicker you respond in a severe emergency situation like this, the better your pet’s chances of recovery will be.
If your pet is having a severe allergic reaction
Many times, pets are stung or bitten by insects and they do not have much of an allergic reaction at all. Some pets may simply get a little itchy or have a small amount of swelling at the location of the bite, and this is nothing to worry about.
However, some pets will have a severe allergic reaction, and this is usually a reason to call an emergency veterinarian. These reactions can include an increased heart rate, a fever, or—most commonly—swelling of the face and snout. Severe reactions can affect your pet’s breathing, so it’s very important to be vigilant if you suspect a reaction. Watch your pet closely after an insect or snake bite for signs of other allergic reactions.
If your pet has been injured
If your pet receives an acute injury—which means an injury that happens suddenly and is not related to an ongoing problem—then you may need to consider going to the emergency veterinarian, depending on the severity of the trauma. For example, if your pet is struck by a car or is attacked by another animal, it is important to call the emergency veterinarian as soon as possible.
Some injuries can wait until your primary veterinarian’s office is available, especially if they are not severe. When in doubt, it is always a good idea to reach out to an emergency veterinarian and ask them for advice.
If your pet is vomiting uncontrollably
Vomiting uncontrollably is a sign that something is very wrong with your pet, and it can also lead to dehydration in a very short amount of time. For these reasons, it is important to get your pet to the emergency veterinarian right away if she is vomiting and can’t stop—or if diarrhea is accompanying this problem.
Dehydration is very dangerous for animals, and many animals can die from dehydration in just a couple of days. The emergency veterinarian will give your pet IV fluids and help diagnose what could be causing her to vomit so much.
If your pet has suffered a seizure for the first time
Pets who have suffered a seizure for the first time and do not have a prior history of seizures will need to go to the emergency veterinarian if their primary veterinarian is not available at the time. If your pet has known seizures, however, you do not need to rush to the emergency veterinarian every time this occurs.
You should, however, go to the emergency veterinarian if your pet has a seizure that lasts longer than about two minutes. You should also consider the situation an emergency if your pet is having multiple seizures within the span of a few hours.
If your pet has heatstroke
Finally, if your pet has heatstroke or is showing any of the symptoms of heatstroke, you should go to the emergency veterinarian immediately. Heatstroke can occur even when you do not think it is necessarily hot enough outside, and it can happen in just a few minutes if a pet is left locked in a hot car.
Heatstroke symptoms include heavy panting, drooling, difficulty breathing, and a very high, rapid heart rate. Pets may eventually become lethargic or unable to rouse if the condition persists. Quick response is crucial in saving a pet who is suffering from heatstroke.
Remember to never leave your pet unattended outside on hot days, or unattended in a vehicle – even if it is not hot outside. Always ensure that your pet has access to clean water and cool areas in and around your home.
These are just some of the situations in which you might need to contact an emergency veterinarian in Plainview. You know your pet better than anyone else, so only you can tell for sure whether or not your pet is experiencing an emergency. These guidelines can help make the decision easier if the unfortunate circumstance ever presents itself.
For more examples of pet emergency situations, visit our Emergency & Critical Care service page. If you believe your pet is experiencing an emergency, contact your primary veterinarian immediately. In the event of an after-hours emergency or if your primary veterinarian is unavailable, contact LIVS: (516) 501-1700.
Acute Caudal Myopathy (Limber Tail)
My 10-year-old Labrador retriever suddenly stopped wagging his tail. It was really droopy, and my veterinarian says he has limber tail. What is that?
The term limber tail is one of several slang terms that apply to a condition that is technically called acute caudal myopathy. Some of the other terms you might hear that apply to this include:
- swimmer’s tail
- cold water tail
- dead tail
- broken tail
- limp tail
- rudder tail
- broken wag
Working dogs and active hunting dogs seem to be at greatest risk for developing this condition, but it can happen to any breed.
Is this a true medical condition?
Yes. Acute caudal myopathy typically results from overuse of the tail, causing a strain or sprain of the muscle groups used for tail wagging. Possible scenarios leading to limber tail include hard/vigorous play within the previous 24 hours, prolonged swimming, or active hunting within the past few days. Your dog may act fine immediately following activity but will wake up in pain the next day. The key risk factors appear to be overexertion and/or exposure to very cold water or cold weather.
How is limber tail diagnosed?
Typically, limber tail is diagnosed by connecting the dots between your dog’s symptoms and recent high activity, in addition to a careful evaluation of your dog’s tail by your veterinarian.
Your dog may have difficulty rising because dogs use their tails for balance. Likewise, your dog may have difficulty finding a comfortable position in which to sit and you may see him shifting his weight from side to side. The tail may droop limply between your dog’s rear legs, or it may stick straight out behind him for a short distance before drooping. Your dog may be so distracted by his pain that he might not eat and may be reluctant to squat to defecate.
The veterinary examination will include a careful palpation of the tail starting at the base (up by the pelvis) and proceeding down the entire length. The goal is to locate the discomfort and rule out any other problems that might explain the symptoms.
What else can explain these symptoms?
Other medical problems that resemble limber tail include:
- tail fracture
- lower back pain from a diseased intervertebral disk or osteoarthritis
- infection or inflammation of the anal glands
- prostate disease
The fact that other medical problems can look similar to limber tail
reinforces the need for a thorough examination by your veterinarian.
How is limber tail treated?
Uncomplicated acute caudal myopathy is treated with rest and anti-inflammatory medication (e.g., meloxicam, brand name Metacam®). Please only use medication that has been prescribed by your veterinarian. Most dogs are back to normal within a few days to a week. Just because your dog developed limber tail once does not mean that it will happen again when he returns to his favorite activities. You do not need to prevent your dog from doing the things that feed his soul!
Contributors: Tammy Hunter, DVM; Robin Downing, DVM, CVPP, CCRP, DAAPM
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