Category Archives: Dr. Fletcher

Veterinary Dentistry: Dental Radiographs (x-rays)

Dental radiographs are crucial for a thorough assessment of oral health. Dental radiographs show the parts of the teeth “below the gumline,” which is where most dental disease is found. The roots and the bone surrounding the roots are able to be seen and assessed. In order to have dental radiographs performed, a pet must be anesthetized and a digital sensor is placed in the mouth and the xray machine is placed close to the patient’s face in order to get the radiographic image. Here is an example of what a normal dental radiograph looks like. 1 All too often, teeth seem fine on the surface but the surrounding bone or root of the teeth could still have serious problems which need to be addressed. Possible problems include tooth root abscesses, root fractures, weakened or loss of jawbone, dissolving roots and cancer. On the flipside, teeth can look very diseased on the surface with heavy tartar and staining but the roots and surrounding bone are healthy. Once a veterinarian has looked at all the teeth in the patient and on the radiographs, only then can they decide which teeth need to be removed or even which teeth do not need to be removed. Here are some pictures that show problems that could not be seen without radiographs: 2 Broken jaw 3 Loss of bone around tooth 4 Tooth root abscess 5.tif This tooth is only supposed to have 2 roots, the one in the middle is an anomaly and knowing it is there would help with extraction if the tooth ever needed to be removed. In addition to finding problems with teeth, veterinarians are able to remove teeth faster and safer when they know what the problem actually is which means less time for your pet to be under anesthesia and less pain afterward surgery. AHDC is now able to provide your pet with dental radiographs. We recommended for all pets, even ones with no obvious problems above the gumline.

A Message From Dr. Jennifer Fletcher: Canine Influenza

Recently an outbreak of Canine Influenza, also known as CIV, occurred in Lancaster, PA. Canine Influenza is caused by a virus that actually originated in horses. Symptoms are similar to kennel cough but usually more severe: coughing, sneezing, runny eyes, fever and lethargy. It is more likely to go deeper into the lungs than kennel cough and cause pneumonia. It is transmitted through the air with nose-to-nose contact (coughing) and contaminated objects with the virus (toys, water dishes, etc). Dogs that are boarded in kennels, attend grooming facilities and dog shows are most at risk due to the increased contact with many dogs and the high stress dogs undergo in these particular places. Diagnosis can be made through a throat swab or a blood test and x-rays of the lungs helps to diagnose potential pneumonia. Treatment consists of antibiotics for 2-3 weeks depending on the severity. If a dog develops pneumonia, hospitalization is likely necessary. A vaccine is available and is recommended for dogs that are considered to be high risk for exposure (contact with unknown dogs through dog parks, kennels, veterinary hospitals, grooming facilities and dog shows). It is given as 2 vaccines 3-4 weeks apart as an initial vaccination and then once yearly. The vaccine can not “give” a dog symptoms of the flu. The influenza vaccine will be required for surgery patients and medical boarders at AHDC starting January 2013 if your dog is health enough to receive the vaccine.

A Follow-up Story About the Rescued Dog Sheba

We received a letter and picture today in the mail from the owner of Sheba’s birth mother. Sheba is the third puppy from the left in this photograph and is shown with her mom, Becky, in April 2007. The litter was born on Valentine’s Day during an ice storm and even after 5 years, the Sprecher family recognized Sheba when her tragic story was on TV last week. The Sprecher’s, along with several other generous and caring folks, have mailed donations to assist the Derry family with the cost of Sheba’s surgery. Thank you to everyone that has donated, it is a true act of kindness and is greatly appreciated by the Derry family. Sheba had a surgery to repair her leg fracture at AHDC on Monday and was later released to recover at home with her new family.

Lola has Diabetes Mellitus: The Importance of Wellness Bloodwork and Early Detection

The Importance of Wellness Bloodwork and Early Detection, by Dr. Jennifer Fletcher
Dr. Jennifer Fletcher
We would like to share a story with you about a recent patient that was diagnosed with a serious condition known as Diabetes. Lola is a 10 year old female cat whose owner brought her in for her yearly physical exam and vaccines. Her owner had noticed some weight loss recently but Lola had always been a bigger cat. Other than the weight loss, Lola was acting completely normal at home. Aside from some tartar on her teeth, Lola appeared to be a completely healthy cat on her physical exam. Lola’s owner decided to take advantage of the wellness bloodwork offered here at AHDC, which revealed that Lola has diabetes mellitus. Diabetes mellitus is a disease in which cats become resistant to the insulin that their body makes, resulting in high blood sugar and sugar in their urine. With proper management of diet, insulin injections, weight loss and blood sugar measurements, most cats do quite well with this disease. Some cats may even be able to be taken off insulin all together. All too often though, this disease is found in the pet after it has been present for some time and become very sick from the lack of insulin. In Lola’s case, her diabetes was detected early on her wellness bloodwork. She started her insulin injections yesterday and we will be monitoring her progress very closely. Call us to discuss wellness bloodwork in your pet today!

Our Own Dr. Jennifer Fletcher Was Featured in This Weekend’s Patriot News Discussing Preventative Care for Pets!

Health risks from pets can be avoided with preventive care. Written by NOREEN LIVOTI, For The Patriot-News 6-24-12 They sleep on our beds, keep us company and their greetings never fail to make us smile: Whatever their breed, pets are part of the family. But while they considerably lighten our moods, they also can cause health risks to their owners. Zoonoses — diseases that can be transmitted between species — pose problems for pet lovers, but can be avoided with proper hygiene and preventive care. Rabies According to Dr. Renee Richards, veterinarian at Willow Mill Veterinary Hospital in Silver Spring Twp., the most serious disease pets can pass to their people is rabies. “Technically, it’s a fatal disease,” she said, with only a handful of cases of human survival documented. Without a vaccine, dogs and cats are both at risk for rabies and can be infected through the bite of a rabid animal. “The biggest argument I hear from pet owners is, ‘My cat never goes outside,’” Richards said. “That’s a much safer lifestyle, but rabid animals do very strange things.” For example, a cat she treated came in contact with a rabid raccoon that made its way into a home. Giving your pets up-to-date rabies shots is not only the best way to keep it away from them and your human loved ones, it’s also state law because of the public health risk. Plus, the only way to test an animal for rabies is by euthanizing them — so prevention is truly the best medicine. “That’s a hard thing to have to be facing because you didn’t do a rabies vaccine,” she said. Parasites For most dog owners, daily walks mean a collar, leash — and several bags for Fido’s waste. “A lot of the diseases you would catch from your pets are related to the stuff in their feces or where they go to the bathroom,” said Dr. Randal Medzoyan, pediatrician with Good Samaritan Pediatrics in Lebanon. Intestinal parasites, including roundworms, tapeworms and hookworms, are found in canine waste, but can also infect feces of cats, raccoons and other wildlife, Medzoyan said. “Eggs are in the soil and they become larvae,” said Dr. Jennifer Fletcher, veterinarian at the Animal Hospital of Dauphin County in West Hanover Twp. “People can contract them by walking on the ground and having the larvae enter their feet,” or by ingesting the soil. Places that animals use as their latrine “are areas that need to be avoided,” Medzoyan said, especially by kids, who are most at risk for getting dirt in their mouths. It’s also important to deworm all puppies and kittens for the first few weeks of their lives and to use a monthly preventive after that. These parasites are easily brought into homes on shoes, “so even though they’re indoor pets, they’re at risk for being exposed,” Richards said. Giardia and Lyme disease Many zoonotic diseases rely on secondary sources for transmission. For example, while you can’t catch it directly from each other, Lyme disease is another common parasitic problem: Ticks hitch a ride inside with your pet — and onto you. “If you’re not using the proper flea and tick control, those parasites are on the pet,” Richards said. Giardia, a commonly contracted intestinal parasite, also relies on an indirect passage, Fletcher said. “Animals shed the eggs of the parasites in their feces, so anything contaminated with those eggs and passed into the mouth in any sort of way can occur.” Giardia is often found in water sources, including clean-looking wells and streams — so drinking from that mountain lake might not be the best choice. The most important rule? “Washing hands frequently is the No. 1 way of preventing disease transmission,” as well as keeping your pet healthy, Fletcher said. “With the economy being what it is, people are looking for places to cut back,” Richards said. “One decision we’re seeing is to cut back on their monthly heartworm and flea and tick preventive. The concern for that is, that leaves those pets at risk to diseases that can be transmitted to people.” Ringworm and Toxoplasmosis Fido gets blamed for many common zoonoses, but don’t put a halo on Fluffy quite yet: Fungal infection ringworm and parasitic disease toxoplasmosis often come from cats. Typically, pregnant women are warned to steer clear of litter boxes, the breeding area for toxoplasmosis, a disease that can cause serious side effects or even death for mother and unborn child. While often in cat stool, if the spores are left to dry, it can also release into the air and inhaled. Plus, ringworm resides on cats’ nails, skin and hair: “A large percentage have no signs of having it,” Richards said. Keeping your cat clean — and washing your hands often — can keep both infections at bay. Richards says to clean the litter box every 24 hours. “I know some women who wear gloves and a mask when they’re doing their litter box,” she said. “I know some who are careful to wash their hands, not stir things up real heavily, and do it every day. And I know others who take the excuse to make their husbands do it.” Salmonellosis They may be hypoallergenic, but that doesn’t mean slithery pets like frogs, turtles and snakes can’t make you sick. “Reptiles are known for carrying salmonella,” Fletcher said. And backyard chickens can also carry salmonella. A recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine said that since 2004, more than 315 people in 43 states have gotten sick from an outbreak tied to a mail-order hatchery. The bacteria can come from the birds’ feet, feathers, beaks and eggs. “Most people can tell you that chicken meat may have salmonella on it,” Casey Barton Behravesh of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in an Associated Press story. “But surprisingly, we found many people are not aware that live chicks and chickens can spread salmonella to people.” Ingesting the bacteria can make you feel worse than when you had the stomach flu. “The younger you are, the less germ it takes to make you sick,” Medzoyan said. Infants could easily consume enough salmonella to cause a major problem, even if it wouldn’t be enough to make someone older ill. Salmonella also can survive on surfaces for long periods of time: “There was a story of someone who caught it off the leather jacket of a family friend who owns a python,” Medzoyan said. “The python wasn’t even there.” Still, he added, “most people with pets actually rarely catch anything from their pets,” and it’s improbable for people to transfer diseases to their animals. While the parasites and salmonellosis could spread, “it’s fairly unlikely,” Fletcher said. Good hygiene, especially by washing hands after handling waste products and before eating, and keeping your pet healthy are paramount — and can keep you from these illnesses altogether. “Most people who have pets aren’t any sicker than anyone else,” Medzoyan said. “People who use common-sense precautions are not likely to have any issues.”

Valentine’s Chocolate is for You, Not Your Pet!

Happy Valentine’s Day from AHDC! Love is in the air, especially the love for chocolate. Although we love chocolate (especially with Hershey so close!), it is important to keep in mind that our dogs and cats may love it, too. Unfortunately, chocolate is toxic to pets. Chocolate is a mixture of cocoa beans and cocoa butter that contain theobromine and caffeine. Chocolate also contains a high amount of fat. Unfortunately, dogs are sensitive to the effects of these three components. Depending on the dose of theobromine and caffeine, chocolate ingestion can cause hyperactivity, increased heart rate, tremors, and potentially death. Other effects of an overdose include vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, increased urination, and lethargy. The amount of toxin present in chocolate depends varies with the type. The general rule is the more bitter the chocolate, the more toxic it could be. In fact, unsweetened baking chocolate is the most toxic due to it containing almost seven times more theobromine as milk chocolate. White chocolate (a combination of cocoa butter, sugar, butterfat, milk solids, and flavorings without cocoa beans) contains negligible amounts. An ingestion of the large amount of fat in chocolate can lead to pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). Signs of pancreatitis are vomiting, diarrhea, decreased/no appetite and usually needs IV fluids and supportive care in the hospital. What to do: call your veterinarian with the approximate amount of chocolate, type of chocolate and weight of your pet. Your veterinarian should be able to calculate whether your pet ingested a toxic amount. If you pet accidentally ingested a toxic amount, your veterinarian may need to make your pet vomit and administer charcoal to prevent further absorption. Please, do not induce vomiting without the direction of a veterinarian as this can be dangerous. More severe cases of ingestion may need IV fluid therapy to flush the body of the toxins. The caffeine in chocolate can be reabsorbed across the urinary bladder wall, therefore hospitalization allows for frequent walks by the veterinary staff. It takes nearly 4 days for the effects of chocolate to work its way out of a dog’s system. If the chocolate was only just eaten, it is possible to induce vomiting; otherwise, hospitalization and support may be needed until the chocolate has worked its way out of the system depending on the dose ingested. – Dr. Fletcher