spcaLA: Friends for Life

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles, since 1877

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Pets of the Week

Hashbrown the Chihuahua MixRicky Bobby the Domestic Short Hair

Dec 15–Dec 21

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Resources » Ask the Vet

General Interest Questions

Worms

Question: Is coccidia a worm? My roommate’s kitten was just diagnosed with this.

Answer: Coccidiosis is a common intestinal infection caused by organisms, classified as protozoa, called coccidia. They are not worms; they are microscopic parasites that live within the cells of the intestine. Because of this they commonly cause diarrhea, especially in puppies and kittens. Coccidiosis is diagnosed by performing a microscopic examination of your pets stool. It is usually treated with a sulfa type antibiotic for 10 to 14 days. Reinfection, or contamination to other pets is common, so environmental disinfection is important. Good hygiene and proper disposal of your pet’s feces are important in minimizing the risk of transmission.

Senior Pets

Question: What can I do to help my dear little 16-year-old dog live longer?

Answer: Well you have done a really good job of parenting because your dog has already had a full life. The best thing to do is to get yearly physical exams from your veterinarian that includes checking the blood and urine. This will help make sure that it stays in good health and that any medical problems are diagnosed and treated right away. Older dogs need less protein but their vitamin and mineral requirements generally increase. They also need fewer calories because they are usually not as active. I recommend feeding a senior diet and of course all the love and attention you can give!

Pet Owner Benefits

Question: I have high blood pressure and a friend of mine suggested that I get a dog. What do you think?

Answer: Your friend is absolutely right! Dogs and cats are very therapeutic especially for lowering blood pressure, helping with depression and even improving your immune system. Studies have shown that petting a dog or cat actually lowers your blood pressure. Taking your dog on his daily walks increases your activity level, which is good for a lot of health problems.

Demodex Mites

Question: My Dog was diagnosed with Demodex. Is this contagious
to my cat or me?

Answer: Fortunately, the answer is no. A microscopic mite that looks like a cigar with eight legs causes Demodecosis. Demodex mites are normally found in small numbers at the base of some hairs in both pets and humans. If an animal’s immune system is not functioning properly it allows these mites to rapidly multiply. The result is patchy areas of hair loss and redness of the skin. In puppies it is not uncommon for demodectic mange to start on the face or legs in several small areas and then to disappear without treatment. Sometimes, however, the lesions spread and become infected and this is called generalized demodecosis and needs to be treated right away. Demodex is diagnosed by a skin scrape, which can be performed by your veterinarian. Medicated baths and dips are needed and repeated over several weeks. Most cases of demodex can be controlled very effectively but sometimes animals are never fully cured and need long-term treatment.

Routine Urinalysis

Question: Why is it that every time my pet gets a blood test they always add on a urine test? Is this really necessary and what information does it tell you?

Answer: Your vet is absolutely justified in requesting a urine test/urinalysis when they send out a blood sample. A routine urinalysis can tell you a lot about the health of your pet. Furthermore, if something shows up in the blood sample often times you need to correlate this with any abnormalities present in the urine. Measurements of blood, protein, bacteria, casts, glucose, ketones, bilirubin and crystals are also determined. A urinalysis can aid in the diagnoses of diseases such as bladder infections, diabetes, kidney disease, protein loss, liver disease, endocrine disease and even cancer. I recommend a urinalysis on cats and dogs once a year until they’re seven years of age and then, depending on the pet, I may recommend it twice a year after that. The cost, usually around twenty-five dollars, is minimal compared to the wealth of information that a urinalysis will provide. Remember animals tend to mask their signs of illness until the problem becomes severe. Preventative medicine is the best choice for you and your pet!