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An unfortunate parasite that puts our pets here in South Florida at risk is the liver fluke, Platynosomum fastosum. This liver fluke is transmitted to our kitties when they ingest lizards. Surely Dr Sutton isn’t the only person in town trying to save the lizards on her patio from certain death at the hands of her kitties. Not only does she want to save the lizards, she doesn’t want her kitties to get liver disease! According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council, "Chronic infection with this fluke leads to development of enlarged bile ducts and gall bladder, biliary epithelial hyperplasia, and ultimately, liver failure. There are no products labeled for treatment of trematodes in dogs and cats; however, praziquantel, epsiprantel, and fenbendazole have been reported to be effective." If your cat is a big game hunter, Dr Sutton will likely set you up on a quarterly deworming schedule for your kitty.
Here in South Florida we are also unfortunate to have BUFO TOADS. They can be very toxic to our dogs. If you think your pet has had exposure to a bufo toad, rinse your pet’s mouth with water. If there is any unusual behavior at all, take your pet IMMEDIATELY to an emergency clinic. (Local emergency clinics are listed on the EMERGENCY tab of this website.) Neurologic, gastrointestinal and cardiac signs may ensue. You can read all the gory details in the article below from the Veterinary Information Network on Bufo Intoxication.
Article from Veterinary Information Network:
Bufo Intoxication, Toad Poisoning
Last updated on 3/25/2010.
Linda Shell, DVM, DACVIM (Neurology)
When dogs mouth or bite Bufo marinus or Bufo alvarius (cane toads) toads, a potent venom is released from the toad’s parotid gland. The bitter taste and irritating effect causes prompt salivation, frothing and vomiting. As the toxins are absorbed, CNS and cardiac signs occur resulting in vasodilation, tachycardia, tachyarrhythmias, hypertension, seizures and potentially death in as little as 15 minutes. While morbidity rates are high, mortality is low. 1-5 Fewer cases are reported in the winter months. 2
The marine toad (Bufo marinus) is found mainly in Florida and Hawaii. Though probably less toxic than B. marinus, the Colorado River toad (Bufo alvarius), found in the desert Southwest, causes similar signs in dogs that ingest them. 3 Cane toads were introduced to Queensland, Australia in 1935 and are now found in coastal regions from northern New South Wales to western Northern Territory. 4
The parotid gland secretions of these toads contain a mixture of toxic substances (bufogenins and bufotoxins) some of which are cardiac glycosides having a similar effect to digitalis. The venom may also contain catecholamines,epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, and the non-cardiac sterols, which are thought to be non-toxic. These toxins which are readily absorbed across mucus membranes and broken skin effect the parasympathetic nervous system and heart.
CLINICAL SIGNS AND DIAGNOSIS
Since smaller dogs receive a higher dose of toxin per kilogram of weight, they may display more severe signs. Animals absorbing these substances initially develop hyperemic mucus membranes, ptyalism, vomiting, and pawing at the mouth. If the venom comes into contact with the eye, the pet may paw at the eye which quickly develops conjunctivitis and uveitis. In as little as 15 minutes, the pet may start to show ataxia, extensor rigidity, opithototonos, seizures. These may progress quickly to coma and death as cardiac arrhythmias (ventricular fibrillation) develop. If not fatal, complete recovery occurs in ½-1 hour.
Diagnosis is based on clinical signs and historical information of observed exposure.
*Colorado river toad (Bufo alvarius)
*Marine toad (Bufo marinus)
Bark, increased vocalization
Cachexia, weight loss
Case fatality rate high
Collapse of patient
CONVULSIONS, SEIZURES, FITS
Hyperemic mucus membranes
Onset sudden, acute
Pawing at mouth
ZZZ INDEX ZZZ
|Diagnostic procedures:||Diagnostic results:|
ARRHYTHMIA, CARDIAC IRREGULARITY
1) There is no specific antidote.
2) The dog’s mouth should be flushed copiously with water. Owners can use garden hose and/or cloth to clean the gums. Do not lavage those dogs that are seizing or in a coma.
3) Gastrointestinal decontamination with activated charcoal and an osmotic cathartic may hasten recovery.
1) Treat cardiac arrhythmias and hypertension as necessary. Atropine may be needed to control bradycardia but is not recommended to treat hypersalivation alone.
2) Treat seizures and tremors as necessary. Diazepam has been used.
1) Prevent contact with cane toads. Currently these toads are found in Florida, Texas, Colorado, California, Arizona and Hawaii as well as Australia.
1) Roberts BK, Aronsohn MG, Moses BL, et al: Bufo marinus intoxication in dogs: 94 cases 1997-1998 J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000 Vol 216 (12) pp. 1941-1944.
2) Reeves MP: A retrospective report of 90 dogs with suspected cane toda (Bufo marinus) toxicity. Aust Vet J 2004 Vol 82 (10) pp. 608-11.
3) Hackett T: Spiders and Snakes: Recognizing and Treating Envenomations. Atlantic Coast Veterinary Conference 2007.
4) Haldane S: Animal Envenomations. International Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Symposium 2008.
5) Eubia PA: Bufo Species Toxicosis: Big Toad, Big Problem. Vet Med 2001 Vol 96 (8) pp. 594-99.
~~As my practice grows I regret that during season I sometimes don't get to spend as much time with my clients as I like. I don't like to rush when chatting about a pet's health, and I love the social aspect of interacting with my clients once the exam is over. Many of my clients are also my dear friends. The seasonal component of south Florida is tricky for small business! I need to keep my nurses employed during the slower months. How can I nudge my year-round clients to have their annual wellness care during the statistically slowest months in south Florida vet clinics?
I will discount dental packages 10% for the months June through September. That's a savings of $29 to $49! This offers financial incentive to locals to schedule wellness care during the summertime. I hope to keep our business flow steady for the sake of my amazing nursing staff. (They need to feed their kids year round!) And, it will give me more time to spend with each patient.
Joi Sutton, DVM
~~I want all of my patients to have a microchip, and I’m willing to do it for free. Yep, I pay for the chip and my staff registers it at no cost to our clients. If a pet is lost, a chip provides the best chance for reuniting the pet with the family. A client recently told me that one of my free microchips saved his cat. His indoor cat snuck outside and was gone for 6 weeks. He was reunited with the family because of the free microchip I implanted.
As my current patients come in for exams or annual check-ups I will scan and implant a chip if needed -- with owner’s consent of course. Folks do get to pay the regular $55 exam fee (which is pretty much the cost of a chip) and I will examine the pet from nose to toes.
This is a gift to my current and new clients. If someone goes to another clinic and just wants to come for a chip and continue going to that vet, they can ask their own vet if they will give them a free chip. This is a gift to Tequesta Vet Clinic patients only. I’d love for all the area clinics to chip patients for free. Who knows… I’m hoping I will start a trend, making this a common veterinary practice at other clinics. Spread the word!
Joi Sutton, DVM
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