Friday, November 11, 2016

Cervical Disc Disease

Canine Cervical Disc Disease

You are petting your dog for something he or she did that was good and your dog yelps out in pain for no good reason. Your pet just stands there with a stiff neck, afraid to move. When it turns its head it seems to be in a huge amount of discomfort. We could be looking at a dog with cervical disc disease.

stiff neck and painful
A more common term for cervical disc disease is a ‘slipped disc’ in the neck. The discs are the structures between the bones of the spine (vertebrae) that act as shock absorbers. As in people, discs in dogs degenerate as they get older.
This process results in the discs becoming dehydrated and losing their cushioning effect. They may then ‘slip’ in one of two ways. Firstly, the material in the center of the disc can come out of the fibrous ring and injure the spinal cord. Secondly, the fibrous ring may thicken and compress the spinal cord. Either type of ‘slipped disc’ may cause neck pain and nerve injury.
The Clinical Signs:

Neck pain
Signs of neck pain may be obvious e.g. yelping and crying or rigidity of the neck. More subtle signs include reluctance to jump or climb and low head carriage. Difficulty lowering the head to eat from the floor may be evident.
The Diagnosis

A neurological examination is necessary to detect evidence of spinal cord injury and neck pain. There are many other causes of neck pain and nerve injury in addition to cervical disc disease. As a result investigations are necessary to confirm a ‘slipped disc’ and exclude these other conditions.

Normal survey X-rays of the neck under sedation or anesthesia may reveal evidence of cervical disc disease, such as a narrowed disc space or a calcified disc. However, more advanced
closed space between c2-3
investigations are necessary to see which disc has actually slipped and to assess the severity of any spinal cord compression. Of these advanced imaging techniques, an MRI scan provides the best method of investigating cervical disc disease. Instead of X-rays, MRI uses high powered magnets and a computer to generate images of the spine. MRI provides information not only on the health and position of the discs in the neck but also on the nature of any injury to the spinal cord. This makes diagnosis more accurate and assists greatly in deciding the best course of treatment for the individual patient.
Myelography is another imaging technique which can be used for investigating cervical disc disease. This involves injecting a dye (contrast agent) around the spinal cord and obtaining multiple X-rays to assess the flow of the dye to see if it is interrupted at the site of the slipped disc. Injecting around the spinal cord is not without risk of causing further damage to already compromised nerve tissue. MRI is less invasive than myelography with less risk of side-effects, and for most patients MRI provides the best option for investigation. Both MRI and myelography require the dog to have a general anesthetic

Occasionally it is necessary to collect some fluid (cerebrospinal fluid - CSF) from the spine and send it to a laboratory for analysis. This test assists in the diagnosis of inflammatory conditions that affect the spine.

The Treatment
The two principle methods of managing cervical disc disease are (1) conservative treatment and (2) surgery.
  1. Conservative treatment
    When dogs with cervical disc disease are managed conservatively their exercise must be restricted. Short walks on a harness for toileting purposes may be necessary, with strict confinement at other times. The hope is that the ‘slipped disc’ will heal, any neck pain subside and the spinal cord recover from any injury. Painkillers may be necessary and possibly other drugs such as muscle relaxants.
  2. Surgery
    The aims of surgery are to remove any disc material that is compressing the spinal cord and to prevent any more disc material ‘slipping’. Decompressive surgery involves removing a section of bone from the bottom of the spine (ventral slot) to enable retrieval of disc material. Further
    ‘slipping’ is prevented by removing any remaining material in the center of the disc (disc fenestration). Occasionally vertebral stabilization (fusion) procedures are necessary, especially in large dogs.
The Prognosis
The outlook or prognosis with cervical disc disease is generally good.
Conservative management can be successful in cases with neck pain and no evidence of spinal cord injury, such as weakness and incoordination. Unfortunately some dogs continue to deteriorate with this approach or recover only to have a recurrence weeks or months later.
The success rate with surgery is generally high provided that the spinal cord hasn’t been compressed for a long time (chronic spinal cord injury). Chronic cord injuries can be treated successfully with surgery, but the outlook is less favorable than it is for short-term (acute) injuries.

The Providence Veterinary Hospital Blog is a publication of Peter Herman, VMD, at the Providence Veterinary Hospital, 2400 Providence Ave. in Chester, PA. Contact Dr. Herman at 610-872-4000 or visit us at 
Some information was obtained from Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral Service in the UK




Monday, October 3, 2016

Proactive Wellness Exams To Prevent Disease

Preventive Care

Do you change the oil in your car? Why do you do that? If your answer is to prevent car trouble latter on down the road, read on.
Do you have a security system on your computer to prevent viruses? Yes? Read on.
Do you go to the dentist or medical doctor about once a year to prevent a major issue with your teeth or body? Yes?

Then why wouldn’t you go to a veterinarian to prevent disease in your dog or cat? Preventive Care is a proactive approach to your pet’s health. Your pet often will not indicate anything is wrong. He or she does not
say “I am not feeling so hot today”. Unlike humans, animals will often hide pain or discomfort, so there may be no outward signs anything is wrong. Regular wellness visits to your veterinarian to prevent disease allows you to be sure your pet is in good health.
Blood tests, diagnostic procedures, and examinations are performed based on your pet’s age, breed, life style, behavior, diet and history. For example, a five year old unsprayed female Beagle would not get the same examination as a thirteen year old neutered male Labrador.
A typical annual wellness examination on an old patient may consist of a blood health screen, urinalysis, thyroid test, parasite check, glaucoma screen and a heartworm test. Based on the history or findings, further testing may be necessary. All those tests usually don’t add up to one serious disease diagnosis and treatment. Preventive medicine is always less costly than treating a major crisis.

The Benefits of Preventive Care are:

1.     Pets get better, more comprehensive care instead of a hit or miss approach.
2.     Owners can anticipate the cost of preventive care and plan in advance.
3.     Diagnosing a little problem is always more rewarding than treating an emergency.
4.     Regular visit also provide your veterinarian with  better knowledge of your pet’s habits, general health and temperament, and can reduce stress of an office visit for you and your pet.

Health Care Plans

At Providence Veterinary Hospital, we offer several health care plans for your cat or dog.
We have puppy plans, kitten plans, adult cat and dog plans. Please ask the receptionist to review the ones you are interested in studying. All plans have a approximate built in 40% discount on items in the plans.
Pets should receive a veterinary examination at least annually and for some animals, more frequent visits may be appropriate. 
The Providence Veterinary Hospital Blog is a publication of Peter Herman, VMD, at the Providence Veterinary Hospital, 2400 Providence Ave. in Chester, PA. Contact Dr. Herman at 610-872-4000 or visit us at 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Poisonous Plants And Pets

Spring Is Here and So Are Toxic Plants

With the weather getting better and plants starting to grow, dogs and cats are exposed more to
outdoor and indoor plants. Most people think that pesticides and household substances are toxic to dogs and cats. They never consider that common indoor and outdoor plants and fruit leaves can be equally toxic.   

If your pet shows any combination of the clinical signs associated with plant poisoning, it would be advisable to call your veterinarian immediately. If the office is not open, the call one of the helplines listed below.
Success of the case is absolutely related to two simple questions of how much did your pet eat and when did treatment begin?

Toxic Plant Symptoms to Recognize in Your Dog or Cat Are:
  • Drooling
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • Irritation of the skin or mouth
  • Vomiting

I have listed poisonous plants, but only to the letter ‘A”. The list is enormous. You can look up the poisonous plant on the internet. For a quick look up you can go to the ASPCA Poisonous Plant website .
There are a few other helplines available, but be prepared to pay for the information and remedy with a credit card:

ASPCA Animal Poison Control     1 8888 426 4435

Pet Poison Helpline                         1 800 213 6680

Poisonous Plants List Through Only the letter “A”

Adam-and-Eve (Arum, Lord-and-Ladies, Wake Robin, Starch Root, Bobbins, Cuckoo Plant) | Scientific Names: Arum maculatum | Family: Araceae

African Wonder Tree () | Scientific Names: Ricinus communis | Family:

Alocasia (Elephant's Ear) | Scientific Names: Alocasia spp. | Family: Araceae

Aloe () | Scientific Names: Aloe vera | Family: Liliaceae

Amaryllis (Many, including: Belladonna lily, Saint Joseph lily, Cape Belladonna, Naked Lady) | Scientific Names: Amaryllis sp. | Family: Amaryllidaceae

Ambrosia Mexicana (Jerusalem Oak, Feather Geranium) | Scientific Names: Chenopodium botrys | Family: Chenopodiaceae

American Bittersweet (Bittersweet, Waxwork, Shrubby Bittersweet, False Bittersweet, Climbing Bittersweet) | Scientific Names: Celastrus scandens | Family: Celastraceae

American Holly (English Holly, European Holly, Oregon Holly, Inkberry, Winterberry) | Scientific Names: Ilex opaca | Family: Aquifoliaceae

American Mandrake (Mayapple, Indian Apple Root, Umbrella Leaf, Wild Lemon, Hog Apple, Duck's Foot, Raccoonberry) | Scientific Names: Podophyllum peltatum | Family: Berberidaceae

American Yew
American Yew () | Scientific Names: Taxus canidensus | Family: Taxaceae

Andromeda Japonica (Pieris, Lily-of-the-Valley Bush) | Scientific Names: Pieris japonica | Family: Ericaceae

Angelica Tree (Hercules' Club, Devil's Walking Stick, Prickly Ash, Prickly Elder) | Scientific Names: Aralia spinosa | Family: Araliaceae

Apple (Includes crabapples) | Scientific Names: Malus sylvestrus | Family: Rosaceae

Apricot (Group also includes Plum, Peach, Cherry) | Scientific Names: Prunus armeniaca | Family: Rosaceae

Arrow-Head Vine (Nephthytis, Green Gold Naphthysis, African Evergreen, Trileaf Wonder) | Scientific Names: Syngonium podophyllum | Family: Araceae

Arum (Cuckoo-pint, Lord-and-Ladies, Adam-and-Eve, Starch Root, Bobbins, Wake Robin) | Scientific Names: Arum maculatum | Family: Araceae

Arum Lily (Calla Lily, Pig Lily, White Arum, Trumpet Lily, Florist's Calla, Garden Calla) | Scientific Names: Zantedeschia aethiopica | Family: Araceae

Asparagus Fern (Asparagus, Emerald Feather, Emerald Fern, Sprengeri Fern, Plumosa Fern, Lace Fern, Racemose Asparagus, Shatavari) | Scientific Names: Asparagus densiflorus cv sprengeri | Family: Liliaceae

Australian Ivy Palm (Schefflera, Umbrella Tree, Octopus Tree, Starleaf) | Scientific Names: Brassaia actinophylla | Family: Araliaceae

Australian Nut (Macadamia Nut, Queensland Nut) | Scientific Names: Macadamia integrifolia | Family: Proteaceae

Australian Pine (Norfolk Pine, House Pine, Norfolk Island Pine) | Scientific Names: Araucaria heterophylla | Family: Araucariaceae

Autumn Crocus (Meadow Saffron) | Scientific Names: Colchicum autumnale | Family: Liliaceae

Azalea (Rosebay, Rhododendron) | Scientific Names: Rhododendron spp | Family: Ericaceae
The list is truly extensive. It should make you aware of the potential dangers lurking in your home and garden for your pet .

The Providence Veterinary Hospital Blog is a publication of Peter Herman, VMD, at the Providence Veterinary Hospital, 2400 Providence Ave. in Chester, PA. Contact Dr. Herman at 610-872-4000 or visit us at Some of this Blog is based on material written by: The ASPCA