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Dog Park Safety

Dogs running in a park playing with a tennis ball.
If you’ve recently become a dog owner, you’re probably excited to take your dog to the local dog park. But before you go, review this information to make sure you’re both prepared to have a fun and safe time at the dog park. By following these tips, you’ll be sure to win some canine and human friends!

Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) in Pets

A senior Golden Labrador being pet.
Senior pets, just like their human counterparts, can experience both physical and cognitive decline as they age. A disorder similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans, Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) is a degenerative disease diagnosed in some dogs and cats. CDS causes a decline in brain function in aging pets, resulting in behavioral changes. This decline is not the result of normal aging – instead, pets with CDS have been shown to accumulate beta-amyloid plaques in the brain, which block normal communication between neurons (brain cells). This leads to various changes in behavior such as disorientation, changes in sleep patterns, memory loss, personality changes, and loss of housetraining. While there is no cure for CDS, early intervention can slow the progress of this disease and improve your pet’s quality of life throughout their senior years.

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome in Dogs

A French bulldog at the vet
The term brachycephalic comes from the Greek words brachy, meaning “short” and cephalic, meaning “head.” Brachycephalic dog breeds have flat faces with shortened muzzles. Unfortunately, the shortened muzzles and snouts often mean that the throat and breathing passages are also undersized or flattened. The term Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome, or BOAS, refers to multiple anatomic abnormalities that can lead to breathing difficulties and other health problems for these dogs. As many as six anatomic abnormalities make up BOAS. Not all dogs have all six abnormalities, but the more a dog has, the greater their clinical signs. The table below lists the medical names for the abnormalities followed by their definition. Anatomic Abnormality Definition Stenotic nares Nose holes are too narrow or collapse inward during inhalation Extended nasopharyngeal turbinates Air filtering bones inside the nose extend into the back of the throat Elongated soft palate Roof of the mouth is too long Laryngeal collapse Voice box collapses, making air passage difficult Hypoplastic trachea Windpipe is too narrow for the dog’s size Everted laryngeal saccules Pouches inside the voice box turn inside out and block airflow All of these anatomic abnormalities lead to a decrease in air flow in and out of the lungs. The abnormalities associated with BOAS cause affected dogs to easily overheat because they cannot effectively cool themselves through panting. Stress, anesthesia, and exercise are also difficult for these dogs. Finally, dogs with BOAS often have lower blood oxygen levels as compared to non-brachycephalic breeds.

Urethral Obstruction in Cats

A cat sitting next to a litter box.
Urethral obstructions occur when the urethra (the tube through which urine exits the body from the bladder) is blocked. These blockages can be caused by plugs (a buildup of protein, cells, or minerals from the bladder), urinary stones, and/or inflammation. While both male and female cats can develop a urethral obstruction, it is most often seen in males because of their longer and narrower urethra. Urethral obstructions are a life-threatening emergency. If the blockage lasts too long and urine is unable to exit the body, the buildup can damage the kidneys and cause the bladder to rupture.

Cancer in Pets – An Overview

Dog resting on the floor.
When cells or tissues in the body begin to grow abnormally and uncontrollably, this is called neoplasia. A tumor, or a swelling of the part of the body, is a created as a result of uncontrolled cell growth. Tumors can be either benign or malignant. A benign tumor is not invasive, meaning the rapidly growing cells are localized to one area and do not invade the rest of the body. However, malignant tumors are made up of cells that spread throughout the body (metastasize) and harm other tissues, most commonly the lung and lymph nodes. The term “cancer” specifically refers to malignant tumors which spread and grow rapidly throughout other areas of the body. Cancer is not one disease, but hundreds. Cancer can be grouped into three main categories: Carcinomas – carcinomas are formed by epithelial cells, which are the cells that cover the inside and outside surfaces of the body. Tumors of the anal gland, mammary gland, and bladder are types of carcinomas in dogs and cats. Hematopoetic tumors – blood cancer, or hematopoetic tumors, include mast cell tumors, leukemia and lymphoma. At the Schwarzman Animal Medical Center, lymphoma is a common cancer treated in both dogs and cats. Lymphoma in Dogs Lymphoma in Cats Sarcomas – sarcomas are tumors formed by cells from bone and soft tissues, including muscle, fat, blood vessels, lymph vessels, and fibrous tissue (such as tendons and ligaments). Examples of sarcomas in dogs include soft tissue sarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, and osteosarcoma.