May 3, 2010

What is Degenerative Valve Disease in Dogs?

Filed under: Dog Diseases,pet health — Dr. Amber Reed @ 11:50 pm

While there are many types of heart disease that may affect your dog, one of the most common is degenerative valve disease.  The mitral valve, which is found between the left atrium and the left ventricle, is especially prone to degenerative valve disease while the tricuspid valve (between the right atrium and right ventricle) can also be affected.  The effect of degenerative valve disease is that the valves themselves begin to leak resulting in a heart murmur.  In a healthy heart, blood flow from the atrium to the ventricle is controlled by these valves.  However, dogs with degenerative valve disease develop this murmur which is caused when blood moves backwards into the atrium.

Picture of the Mitral ValveAs degenerative valve disease progresses, the leaky valve causes too much blood to accumulate in the atrium and ventricle causing these heart chambers to expand.  Over time, the pressure in the heart builds up and may even affect other organs.  In mitral degenerative valve disease, blood may leak out of blood vessels into the lungs leading to congestive heart failure.  In tricuspid degenerative valve disease in dogs, fluid can leak from the chest into the abdominal cavity causing a large abdominal cavity that looks like a bloated abdomen.

In most cases, degenerative valve disease in dogs mostly affects older, small breeds and the disease is more prevalent in males.  Some breeds that are predisposed to degenerative valve disease include Miniature poodles, Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, terriers, and Miniature Schnauzers.  Unfortunately, treatment of degenerative valve disease rarely cures the condition.  Instead, veterinarians aim to alleviate the symptoms of congestive heart failure and by removing any fluid that may build up in the abdominal cavity.  For dogs, degenerative valve disease is the most common cause of heart failure and there may be little you can do to prevent death.  Because heart failure due to degenerative valve disease in dogs normally affects older dogs, veterinarians will encourage taking steps to improve the comfort of your dog during his final days.

May 2, 2010

Plants that Are Poisonous for Cats and Dogs

Filed under: pet poisoning,poisoned pet — Dr. Amber Reed @ 11:43 pm

poisonous plants for petsHome owners are often surprised to learn that many of the plants that decorate their homes are toxic for their cats and dogs.  Indeed, when ingested by dogs and cats some of the most poisonous plants can even cause death.  This article will introduce some of the most poisonous plants to dogs and cats as well as the symptoms of accidental ingestion.  If you notice any of these symptoms you need to visit your veterinarian right away.  It is also recommended that you keep a list of the plants you have in your home so that you can easily identify substances that your dog or cat may have eaten.

Cycad Palm Plants

With their large green leaves and tropical beauty, cycad palm plants are a favorite among homeowners in warmer climates but Cycad palms like the sago palm, false sago palm, and the queen sago palm are toxic to cats and dogs.  Cycad palms contain cycasin and while the entire plant is poisonous the seeds are even more dangerous.  Some of the symptoms associated with cycasin poisoning are:

  • Vomiting
  • Excessive thirst and water consumption
  • Increased salivation
  • Reduced appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Yellow coloration of the skin and gums
  • Seizures and other neurological problems


Also known as the laurel rosa, the laurel blanco, or the laurel colorado, the Oleander plant is highly toxic to both cats and dogs.  Containing a cardiac glycoside poison, oleander toxicity causes gastrointestinal irritation followed by vomiting, diarrhea, increased salivation, and loss of appetite.  feline diarrheaDogs and cats often ingest the dried leaves of the oleander plant and may also suffer from irregular heart rhythms.


Despite their beauty, lilies are poisonous for cats. Easter lilies, tiger lilies, stargazer lilies, and some species of day lilies are toxic to cats as they cause kidney damage. Some of the symptoms of lily toxicity may appear within a few hours of ingestion and include:

  • Vomiting
  • Reduced appetite
  • Sluggishness

May 1, 2010

Bladder Stones in Dogs

Filed under: Bladder Stones — Dr. Amber Reed @ 11:35 pm

Dog with Bladder StonesAs you have probably already guessed, many of the illnesses that can affect humans can also affect our four-legged friends.  Bladder stones are one of the most common conditions that dogs may suffer through in their lifetimes.  Usually the result of recurrent bladder infections, bladder stones can lead to problems with the kidneys and other organs in addition to being very painful for your dog.  Since almost all breeds of dogs can get bladder stones, it is helpful to understand the condition and its treatments for the safety of your own dog.

When excess waste and minerals begins to crystallize in the dog’s bladder, you get a bladder stone.  While symptoms can vary greatly between dogs, acute and serious pain is almost always present.  Also known as uroliths, bladder stones are most common in dogs between the age of four and six years and in female dogs; although, older dogs and male dogs are not immune to the condition.  Chronic infections (especially chronic bladder infections), metabolic diseases, pour nutrition, and other factors are leading causes of bladder stones.  Over time, bladder stones almost always become quite painful for dogs so if you notice that your dog is frequently ill with infection it is probably a good idea to visit the vet.

Treating bladder stones usually comes down to dietary changes but there are some medical techniques that help.  First of all, because bladder stones are often associated with an infection, your veterinarian will likely prescribe an antibiotic to eliminate the underlying infection.  Then, if dietary changes are not sufficient for treating the stones, a number of other medical treatments may be required.  Surgical removal of the stones may be necessary in the most extreme cases but most veterinarians will try less invasive treatments.  If you suspect your dog is suffering from bladder stones visit your vet immediately to determine the best course of action.

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Disclaimer: CritterCures is an educational resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure diseases, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet are taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.