There are so many pet stories doing the rounds and talking about a well-known medicinal herb these days. They’re all talking about the slightly controversial substance called ‘cannabis’. The owner of a twelve-year old Labrador reports that his dog, earlier diagnosed with lung and liver cancer, regained its appetite and improved significantly after getting a cannabis tincture bought by the owner from a legal marijuana medical dispensary. And there are several such stories. So is your dog doing pot by taking cannabis? Maybe not.
Cannabis for dog ailments
There are numerous dog owners who are making use of medical cannabis for treating a range of different ailments in their dogs. These include cancer, arthritis and even anxiety. But the cannabis given to dogs isn’t marijuana, instead it is hemp. Hemp use was considered to be illegal in America and other nations for the longest time. This is because it was grouped in with the other ‘dangerous’ types of cannabis. But today the situation is different. You may be able to purchase hempseed products easily from a local departmental store, besides soaps and shampoos. These typically include hempseed milk and protein powders.
The FDA hasn’t given its approval to cannabis as a treatment for pets. This is partly because there isn’t sufficient research that shows its effectiveness. Hence veterinarians are prohibited from handing out prescriptions for cannabis products. The subject is especially controversial in states where the local government has banned marijuana. In 2015, Nevada witnessed the defeat of a potential state law which would allow veterinarians to write prescriptions for cannabis to treat chronic illnesses in pets. But users continue to vouch for these products.
Research on cannabis
The first ever cannabis related research and its effect on animals was published in the British Medical Journal in 1899. This was written by Walter E. Dixon, an English pharmacologist and physician and included his observations on the response of dogs to cannabis. But it was much later that that the observation about the origin of the response being in ‘endocannabinoid system’ or ECS became known.
Marijuana is a highly complex botanical containing over 400 natural compounds known to man. It has a minimum of 64 phytocannabinoids (plant-based cannabinoids). There are two phytocannabinoids which are produced in a lot of abundance: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
The National Cancer Society reveals that both of them work in a way that they activate certain specific receptors which are found everywhere in the body and generate pharmacologic effects, especially in the immune system and the central nervous system. THC is known to have psychoactive properties and gets humans high. However it is toxic for animals. On the other hand, CBD will offer the same benefits and no buzz. This is why industrial hemp (also used in paper and textiles) is now being utilized for pet products since it has negligible THC levels.
Commonly referred to as “bladder stones”, urinary calculi in dogs is a medical condition called urolithiasis. It is possible for stones to get formed almost anywhere in the urinary tract of the animal. Urinary stones are typically found in ureters, urethra, kidneys or the bladder. But as far as dogs are concerned, 85 percent of the stones are formed in the bladder itself.
Bladder Stones: Signs and Symptoms
Although bladder stones in your dog might be very small in the beginning, they tend to grow both in size and/or number over time. If you suspect that your dog may have bladder stones, it might be good to look out for the following signs and symptoms:
Frequent urination attempts but little production of urine
Blood in urine
Too much effort to urinate
Frequent licking close to the urinary opening
These specific clinical symptoms are also noticed with various other urinary tract related diseases such as tumors or infections. Therefore, it is vital to do a proper investigation to confirm the existence of bladder stones using tests such as an ultrasound or an x-ray or both.
Causes and Treatment of Bladder Stones
Bladder stones in dogs can be due to a variety of different reasons including:
Increased mineral levels in the urine leading to precipitation and supersaturation of crystals.
Bacterial infections disturbing urine pH levels.
Acidic or alkaline urine pH can lead to the formation of stones. So the pH of the urine should remain fairly neutral.
Vets inform that in most cases, bladder stones diagnosed in dogs will be made up of struvite, urate, cystine or calcium oxate. If the diagnosis reveals struvite, then the veterinarian will examine the underlying cause and follow it up with a suitable treatment, for example, urinary tract infections are treated with antibiotics. Often a therapeutic diet is prescribed for dissolving the crystals and stones formed in a dog’s bladder. Generally speaking, a vet will use a combination of antibiotics and a therapeutic diet for treating bladder stones in your dog.
In several cases, a surgery or similar procedure such as lithotripsy is required for eliminating the stones from the dog’s bladder. Lithotripsy involves using ultrasonic shock waves for breaking up bladder stones.
Surgical removal of stones is often deemed to be the most successful treatment for bladder stones in dogs. It requires making an abdominal incision but the recovery period is usually very less. It is possible for the haematuria to stay for a couple of day following surgery but it finally gets resolved. It is important to understand that surgery isn’t the most suitable option for dogs with various other medical concerns.
Your feline friend is no different from a human; it can suffer from similar health issues that humans deal with. For example they can also suffer form constipation. Feline constipation is a common problem that cat owners have to deal with. Although the problem isn’t as serious as people think it to be, it can still influence your cat’s behavior and mood in a big way. But before you plunge into the cure, you need to understand what is feline constipation in the real sense.
What is feline constipation and how to know if you cat is constipated?
You cat is constipated if you see that its stool is too large or too hard to be passed. If you see your cat spending too much time in its litter box, then perhaps it is a sign of constipation. Normally, cats should poop every single day. Its poop should be brown, well-formed, and soft for it pass out easily. But it does not happen in the case of constipated felines.
A constipated cat strains hard to defecate. A mildly constipated cat may cry while defecating and pass only a little amount of feces. However in severe cases of feline constipation, the cat may squat on the litter box for a considerable period of time, but passing nothing at times. Constipated cats attempt to defecate outside their litter box, or return to it very frequently. Such signs in cats should not go unnoticed.
Causes of feline constipation
The following are considered to be major reasons behind your cat becoming constipated:
Gastrointestinal motility issues
Fracture of the hind limbs or pelvis, effected anal glands or arthritis
Neurological or orthopedic issues
The most common cause of feline constipation is insufficient fluid intake by cats, as they are naturally inclined to drink less water. The lack of water stresses the kidneys, as a result of which the stool turns hard, dry and painful to let out. Lack of exercise, colon blockage by foreign objects, or swallowing excess hair during grooming also contribute to feline constipation.
How to treat feline constipation?
The good news is you can treat your cat’s constipation without having to worry much. The following tips will help you treat the issue without painful vet treatments:
Make a slow transition from dry to canned food, which provides a more appropriate diet.
Add some of the canned food to your cat’s water to increase its water intake. A moisture-rich diet helps in lubricating the colon.
Some amount of psyllium fiber added to the diet can make a huge difference in your cat’s defecation.
Use a non-petroleum hairball remedy in each meal to allow the hair to easily pass through the gastrointestinal track.
Exercise your cat regularly.
Consider adding natural laxatives like aloe vera to your cat’s diet
Contrary to popular belief that botflies infest rabbits and rodents, it has come to notice that botflies can latch on to felines if they get a chance. You are stroking your feline friend, and suddenly you feel a lump. On parting the fur, you see a small hole in the skin with something moving in it. Such a situation is bound to evoke disgust, but you need to consider a botfly infestation. A clear understanding of such infestation will help you get deeper into the matter.
What are bot flies?
Botflies, also called cuterebra, is commonly found in most parts of North America, particularly in the northeastern region, which is called the hub spot of botflies. These large, frizzy flies look like bees, and they lay eggs near the entry point on their host animal’s body. Once the eggs hatch, larvae emerge in the presence of a potential host nearby, such as cats. The larvae latch on to the cat’s fur and gains entry into its body through any opening like the mouth, nose or anus, and finally burrow into the skin.
Symptoms of botfly infestation
The symptoms of botfly infestation vary depending on the larvae’ location in the cat’s body. Although skin symptoms are common, botflies can have a virulent affect on the central nervous and respiratory system, and eyes. The symptoms are as follows:
Sores and lumps
Excessive grooming of infested region
Diagnosis and treatment
A veterinarian usually examines the respiratory, neurological, eye and skin symptoms of your cat and draws a conclusion. Warbles under the skin are the clearest signs that your cat has been infested by botflies. However, there is nothing much to worry because a number of treatment options are available, which are as follows:
A surgical procedure may be employed to remove the larvae from the cat’s body. Although helpful, the process may subject your cat to side effects, anesthesia, and intravenous fluids. It also entails a longer recovery time.
Anti-parasitic medications These medications are used to kill the parasites within your cat’s body, particularly in the nervous, respiratory, and other vital organ systems where surgical removal is not possible.
Extraction Considered less risky than surgeries, extraction of the larvae does not require the cat to undergo painful procedures. Local anesthesia is used to numb the infested area, and the larva is removed by making an incision.
Corticosteroids Corticosteroid medications suppress immune reactions and controls inflammation. Although not that effective in removing the larva, these medications can treat nervous and respiratory symptoms.
Congenital deafness, a condition where puppies are born deaf, is common but sad. Such a thing disturbs dog owners because they feel clueless and helpless about it. The realization often throws them into a frenzy and they take to research rigorously to find a cure. After their efforts go in vain, they realize that they can only be “care” and no “cure” for them. Besides congenital deafness, severe ear infections and injuries and old age of dogs cause deafness in them. Irrespective of the reasons behind deafness, dog owners need to take extra care while dealing with deaf dogs.
Signs of dog deafness
The following signs can indicate dog deafness, and elicits attention from dog owners:
Personality and behavioral change
Change in attentiveness and obedience
Difficult in waking up
Pain in ears
Stenchy discharge from ears.
How to communicate with deaf dogs?
It is interesting to know that dogs experience the world first through their nose, second through their eyes, and third through their ears. They communicate through body language and energy. However, deaf dogs require some tweaks in the training process so that they get accustomed to different stimuli and behave accordingly.
The first thing people with deaf dogs can do is to use symbols and cues. Deaf dogs learn the same way hearing dogs learn, but they require rewards for their behavior to understand that they are behaving as desired. When a behavior is rewarded, the deaf dog gets a signal and learn to do it more often. Many dog owners have got positive results after using symbolic cues to communicate with their deaf dog.
How to live with a deaf dog?
Dog owners are defensively against the idea of euthanasia of deaf dogs because they are extremely attached to them. There are, however, a few tips that can help dog owners to care for and live with a deaf dog, which are as follows:
Keep your dog informed
It would be terribly unfair to leave the deaf dog while asleep because it could make it anxious when it does not find you after waking up. You should always keep your dog informed about your whereabouts.
Keep your dog leashed You should keep your dog leashed so that it does not get a chance to go away from you. Deaf dogs cannot hear cars or other dangers. So you need to keep it protected by either keeping it leashed or within your yard. You may also decide to tie a bell around its neck.
Use a flashlight flashlights can be a great way to communicate with your deaf dog and signal to it for your attention. You need to keep your communication consistent so that it understands you better.