Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Holidays and Pancreatitis

With the holidays upon us we have abundant parties, bringing family, friends and food into our homes. Sometimes well meaning people give treats and extras to our pets or our pets get into the garbage or sneak extras on their own. All of these extras can sometimes lead to a condition called pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of the pancreas.

The pancreas is a digestive organ located just below the stomach and near the first part of the small intestine. When we eat, the pancreas's job is to excrete enzymes for digestion of the food. When the pancreas becomes inflamed and irritated those digestive enzymes can leak into the surrounding tissues causing irritation. Signs of pancreatitis can include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, occasionally fever, inappetance (lack of appetite,) and a painful abdomen. Cases of pancreatitis can range from mild where the patient is treated symptomatically at home, to severe when the patient would need to be hospitalized on IV fluids and supportive therapy.

Healthy (L) and inflamed (R) canine pancreas. Image courtesy of

Pancreatitis can be caused by ingestion of fatty meals, dietary indiscretion (getting into the garbage), certain medications (immuno-suppressives like azathioprine, certain antibiotics, or potassium bromide), endocrine disorders (diabetes mellitus, hyperadrenocorticism/cushing's disease, hypothyroidism), trauma, or pancreatic tumors.
If the veterinarian suspects pancreatitis they will recommend certain diagnostic tests like bloodwork, radiographs/x-rays, or ultrasound. Bloodwork will include a CBC to look for a very high white blood cell count, a serum chemistry looking at pancreatic enzymes (amylase and lipase), and an in-house PLI which is a specific pancreatic enzyme and has shown to very good at diagnosing pancreatitis. Radiographs and or ultrasound can help to diagnose pancreatitis and look for any other issues like tumors or potential foreign bodies/obstructions in the GI tract.
Treatment depends on the severity of the signs. If your dog is vomiting, but still bright and responsive, we will often times send your pet home with you after giving an anti-emetic injection to stop the vomiting, subcutaneous fluids to help keep the pet hydrated, and instructions on feeding a bland diet after a day of fasting. If your dog is so sick that they are very lethargic and unable to hold water down, then we would recommend admitting them to the hospital for supportive therapy (intravenous fluid therapy, injectable medications to stop the vomiting, potentially antibiotics if an infection is suspected, and pain medications to deal with the often times severe abdominal pain).

Once pancreatitis has occurred this patient will be prone to recurrent episodes and could potentially become diabetic since the pancreas is the organ that produces insulin and each episode of pancreatitis can cause damage to the pancreas. A low fat diet (often times prescription) will be recommend long term after pancreatitis has occurred in order to try and avoid pancreatic stimulation.

Although often times manageable it is best to try and avoid pancreatitis if you can. So during this holiday season when tempted to give your beloved pet a treat from the table think about giving an extra belly rub or scratch behind the ear instead.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Even as the colder winter months descend upon us, we still need to be mindful of the types of diseases our pets can contract from the environment, and how simple vaccinations can sometimes make all the difference in preventative medicine.  Leptospirosis, for those who aren't familiar, is a potentially fatal bacterial infection commonly contracted through the urine (or urine tainted water,) of an infected host animal, and less commonly by bites.  Leptospirosis infections are very severe and can develop quickly, attacking the liver and kidneys and causing a rapid decline in health, requiring hospitalization with supportive care including IV fluids and antibiotics.
Scanning electron micrograph of a species of Leptospira bacteria
Nickel City Animal Hospital has within the past few weeks alone seen two positive cases, with close to a half dozen in total in our short time of being open, about a year and a half.  This vaccine hasn't always been viewed as a core vaccine, but our vets as well as many around the country are bringing awareness of this disease and its prevention to center stage.  With the rat population as it is in the City of Buffalo and surrounding areas, considering vaccinating your pet for Leptospirosis next time you are at the clinic or at your vet.  For your information, we have provided two additional articles for you to read more on Leptospirosis:

If you have any further questions about Leptospirosis, or any health concerns about your pet, please call our clinic at (716) 847-1000.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pet Wellness Reports

Have you had annual comprehensive bloodwork for your pet?

You are your pet's companion and caregiver.  Your insights are key to providing your veterinarian with important lifestyle information about your pet.  The Pet Wellness Report online questionnaire allows you to provide us with in-depth information to better assess your pet's health.

We use the Pet Wellness Report for the early detection of illness or risks to your pet's health.  This can limit or prevent future complex and costly health issues.

It all starts with a physical exam and a laboratory screening, which includes the analysis of the blood, urine, and feces.  But the report goes a step further, combining lab diagnostics with with vital pet lifestyle information from the one person who knows your pet better than anyone - you.

Call us today for more info and to sign your pet up!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mission Slimpossible and Project Pet Slim Down®

The health problems of obese animals include reduced life span, reduced activity, impaired heart, liver, & breathing functions, digestive disturbances, increased surgical risk, skin problems, arthritis, slipped disks, heat stress, increased diabetes risk, fat around the internal organs, anal gland impaction and excessive gas and/or constipation. Overweight cat problems include lameness, diabetes, skin disease, risk for urinary tract disease, liver disease or failure, osteoarthritis and ligament damage.

Researchers found that a lean fed dog will live 1.8 years longer, delay the onset of osteoarthritis by 3 years, and have healthier blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and heart rates. The researchers also observed that the dogs also had fewer visible signs of aging such as graying muzzles and reduced activity level.

Common causes of obesity are high-fat diet, heredity, lack of exercise or hormonal disorders. The most common is over-consumption of food. As Americans continue to adapt to a more sedentary and pampered lifestyle so will our pets. The number one way to help your pet is...
Eat Less, Move More.

Did you know?

Three extra pounds on a Boston Terrier is equal to 30 extra pounds on a 150 pound human!

Americans are getting heavier, and so are our pets. Some pet owners think their dogs are just a little fluffy or big boned, while others can equate feeding their dogs with showing them love. Studies indicate that 50 % of pets in the U.S. are overweight or obese, a condition that creates or contributes to a wide range of health issues. Obesity is the number one nutritional disorder among dogs & cats. With overweight pets, there's more to love but there may be less time to do so.

It is important to keep your dog lean. An ideal body condition will add almost 2 years to your dog's lifespan and be considerably healthier. About 40% of owners think their animal is a normal weight but are incorrect.

Project Pet Slim Down®

It is never too late to help your pet with Purina Project Pet Slim Down Program®. With the help of overweight management food like Purina OM, pets are able to move more quickly and returned to a healthier condition. Our veterinarians will assess your dogs and cats for the body condition score based on #1- #9, where ideal is #4-#5. We will calculate the proper amount of food for your animals to lose weight at the safe ideal percent. 

Many weight loss programs fail at home but with the proper food and our help your pet can have a healthy approach to shedding fat, not muscle. Although weight loss may occur with any food, a special diet may be recommended if the amount of weight loss is not optimal. For example, Purina's OM food is low in calories and fat, high in protein, an optimal level of fiber helps pet feel full and is great tasting. 

Help your pet be trimmer!

We are joining together with Purina's Project Pet Slim Down® in a 12 week weight loss program. We recommend scheduling weight evaluations every two or four weeks (depending on your schedule), with prizes for all pets that lose weight. Please call Nickel City at 716-847-1000 to set up a free nutritional consult with Dr. Poltis on June 13 from 3-6 pm to discuss an action plan for your pet. Make our diet and exercise recommendations a part of your pet's daily routine, and get ready to love them longer.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Feline Bladder Stones

Meet Crystal, a 3 yr old female spayed feline that was originally brought to Nickel City Animal Hospital for inappropriate urination and bloody urine.  She was treated with antibiotics for a urinary tract infection and rechecked one week later.  At the recheck appointment a bladder stone was discovered via ultrasound when obtaining a urine sample.  Ultimately Crystal underwent surgery at Nickel City to remove the bladder stone.  Post-op Crystal’s demeanor changed immediately; pre-op she was difficult to handle and “grumpy”, post –op she was purring and attention seeking.  Her owners informed us that Crystal is much happier at home and no longer urinating inappropriately.

There are various causes of inappropriate urination in our feline patients including both medical and behavioral issues.  Examples of medical causes are a urinary tract infection, inflammatory conditions like cystitis (inflammation of the bladder wall), crystalluria (crystals in the urine), uroliths (bladder stones), and rarely bladder tumors/masses.  

Urinary tract infections are more common in elderly female cats or cats with metabolic/immune issues.  They are typically treated with antibiotics.

Crystalluria can not only cause inappropriate urination, but can also result in a urethral obstruction in male cats. If this occurs it is an emergency situation and must be dealt with ASAP.  Treatment of urethral obstruction involves urethral catheterization, IV fluids and hospitalization.  Crystalluria can be treated with prescription diets. 

Uroliths (bladder stones) can form in the face of infection or due to crystalluria and are typically discovered via ultrasound or radiographs.  Some, but not all, uroliths can be dissolved using a combination of prescription diets and antibiotics.  Large uroliths should be removed via surgery.    We then send the stone out for analysis to determine what type of minerals compose it. Based on these results we will suggest a prescription diet to try and prevent future urolith formation.

Inflammatory issues are often secondary to stress and are typically treated with a combination of medications and environmental changes to try and reduce stress.

Bladder tumors/masses, which are usually found on ultrasound examination, are usually removed surgically and sent out for biopsy to determine the type of mass and if subsequent treatment is necessary. 
After medical causes have been ruled out we will then investigate the behavior side.  These can be a very frustrating cause of inappropriate urination in cats.  

First we will look at the litterbox situation in the house.  Do you have enough litterboxes for your cats?  We recommend having at least one more litterbox than the number of cats you have in the household (example: 3 cats = 4 litterboxes). Also try to have a litterbox on each level of the house.  The litterpans should be large enough for the cat to move around in (at least 1 ½ x’s the length of your cat and 3-4 inches deep).  Some older cats may have arthritis and subsequent difficulty jumping into high walled litter pans.  How often do you clean your litterboxes?  Some cats are very particular about their litter and may require it being cleaned daily if not multiple times a day.  We recommend cleaning the litter pans at least twice weekly. Occasionally it is the type of litter that may be causing the problem.  Try all different types of litter to see which one your cat enjoys (clay, clumping/non-clumping, scented, unscented, sand, pine, etc). 

Another cause of behavioral issues is intercat aggression.   This can involve cats within the household or even neighborhood cats.  Different ways to treat this issue can include pheromone collars/diffusers,  and or medications like buspirone or Prozac.

As you can see there are many different reasons that your cat may be urinating inappropriately in your home.  If you are dealing with this issue the first step is to set up an appointment for a physical exam of your cat and we will most likely obtain a urine sample for a urinalysis.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

April 2013 Schedule Changes

Today we are pleased to announce additional hours for our schedule, going into effect in April: 

Starting Monday April 1st, we will be opening at 7:30 AM on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. 

Starting Saturday April 6th, we will begin extending hours until 1:00 PM for alternating Saturdays.

We are also adding wellness appointments to select Sundays, in addition to acupuncture visits, which are already in effect. 

And as always, we are available for housecalls. Call today at 847-1000!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Canine Parvovirus: What You Should Know

Teagan, a 5 year old Boston Terrier
owned by our practice manager Joanne
[Posted on, 8/31/2012]
With a new puppy, there is a lot of information to take in.  Especially if you take them to a veterinarian for their health check ups, the medical jargon can make your head spin.  We have been observing an increase in puppies testing positive for Parvovirus in the past two weeks, and want to make sure you have all the information you need to know what to look for and what to do should you suspect your puppy of having Parvovirus.
What is Parvo?  Canine Parvovirus is a highly contagious microscopic virus that causes inflammation in the small and large intestines in dogs.
What are the symptoms?  Lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, and (particularly bad smelling) diarrhea.  Blood is not always present in the stool.
How is it transmitted?  It is transmitted from dog to dog through the feces.  Viral particles are shed in the feces, and are extremely resilient to the outside environment.  Because they are so resilient, the virus can live on surfaces, such as floors, shoes, clothing, to name a few.
How is it diagnosed?  A sample of the feces must be obtained for testing.  Nickel City Animal Hospital tests for Parvo in-house for results in 15 minutes.  It uses Parvo antibodies to detect the virus itself, known as an ELISA test (Enzyme Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay.)  
How is it treated? There is no miracle drug or single sure for Parvo.  A positive dog is hospitalized and given support therapy.  They are constantly receiving IV fluids to replace fluids lost due to the vomiting and diarrhea.  Dogs are also given antibiotics, anti-nausea medications, and immune system support medications.
How is it prevented?  By vaccination.  Make sure your dogs are up to date on their Parvo shots!  Typically this vaccine is included in the canine distemper shot as a 4 or 5-in-1 vaccination.   The vaccine is not given before 8 weeks of age, and is given a booster every 3 to 4 weeks until the puppy is over 20 weeks of age.  So make sure you keep your puppy indoors, and remember that even adult dogs with no vaccination history can still get Parvo.
This is just a brief introduction, we suggest you click the following link and read the series of articles found on veterinarypartner.comto familiarize yourself with the disease. And pass your new-found knowledge around, the fight against these diseases is never complete.  As always, call our clinic if you suspect any problems.