Sun induced skin cancer

Ultraviolet Sun Damage
Cats and dogs are both at risk for damage from ultra-violet (UV) sun rays.  In South Africa that risk increases during summertime but is actually a year-long damage especially in the Highveld. Non-pigmented breeds such as white cats, and then dogs such as white bull terriers, Jack Russel Terriers and Maltese poodles may be predisposed to sun damage.  Minimal hair coverage will exacerbate the risk, for example in greyhounds or whippets.  
The first syndrome, solar dermatitis or sun-induced inflammation is the minor risk, and is similar to severe sun burn in humans.  The skin can become irritated and itchy, leading to bleeding and crusting.  However, this may progress to skin cancers, such as squamous cell carcinoma (see photo of cat) which can appear exactly like a crusted wound.  Melanomas are less common, however haemangiomas will often develop on the abdomen of a pale-skinned dog (see pictures).  These cancers can be locally destructive/invasive as well as spreading to other parts of the body (eg. Liver, lungs).
Prevention would ideally involve keeping animals indoors during the high risk period of 10am to 4pm, although this is not always possible it is the best option in cats.  Cats are most at risk on the tip of their noses and ears, which are difficult to apply sunscreen to.  Pet sunscreen is an excellent method in dogs and can be applied daily to the danger areas such as the belly and bridge of nose.  Tattooing is unfortunately completely useless in protecting against UV radiation, but vitamin A supplementation can provide protection.  
It is important to remember to ALWAYS have any suspicious sores or growths examined by your veterinarian.  Early intervention can definitely be curative! 

Canine Parvovirus – Catflu / “Katgriep”

Parovirus is a highly contagious disease that may result in death. Vaccination is the only way to ensure that a puppy or dog remain healthy. Parvo is more prevalent from August to February. Vaccinate your puppies every 21 days from 6 weeks of age, up to 16 weeks, and there after yearly.  The puppies are unable to form a good immunity up to 16 weeks, as maternal inherited antibodies, which disappear around 16 weeks, interferes with the immunity formed. After the age of 16 weeks, a normal dog would have formed a good immunity, and only need a yearly booster.

Risks to consider:

  1. The surrounding area around our practice is a high Parvo prevalence area.

  2. Mortality rates with Parvo infection are about 90% in untreated patients, and with prompt, aggressive treatment in hospital slows down to 10%.

  3. It is important to note that the sooner after initial symptoms, the dog is treated, the higher the survival rate.

  4. Treatment of Canine Parvo virus on an outpatient basis (only if in hospital treatment is too expensive) can be done, by injections morning and evening of antibiotics and anti-emetics, with intra-peritoneal drips. This is far from ideal and only a guarded prognosis can be given.

Diagnosis and treatment

A diagnosis is made on a positive CPV snap test.  Symptoms include vomiting with diarrhoea and sometimes the body temperature can vary from normal (mostly) to high.


  1. Anti-emetics (anti- vomiting drugs) – mostly 2-3 types at the same time

  2. Fluid therapy – potassium, glucose, synthetic colloids, added as needed by patient

  3. Antimicrobials (antibiotics) intra-venous

  4. Nutrition – feed every 2 hours with easily digestible protein

  5. Fresh frozen plasma: early use of plasma supplies antibodies, as well as extra protein – this will improve survival rate in critical ill puppies

  6. Pro-kinetic drugs: Parvo virus can result in ileus

  7. Analgesic therapy (painkillers)

  8. Antiparasitic therapy

Puppies in our hospital is constantly monitored, and we feed them round the clock, as well as administering anti-emetics.

Human foods to avoid

Some foods that are edible for humans can pose serious health risks for dogs.

Alcoholic beverages
Fruit pits
Macadamia Nuts
Raisins (kidney failure)
Yeast dough
Xylitol sweetener

Puppy pen / dog crate

Pig rails prevent the dam from laying down against the side of the whelping tub and smothering a pup. Mom has to lay in the center and the pups can duck under the pig rail to stay out of the way. In the photo below the puppies was placed in a crate indoors and the pig rail was constructed from pvc pipes available at your hardware stores. Puppy play pen and flat folding crates are available at: www.petcreations.co.za