Guest Post: 4 Trending Issues to Watch This Summer

There are certain illnesses and accidents that we see each and every summer, but this year it seems like we’re seeing a particular uptick in a few areas of veterinary medicine. Could they be random? Could they be due to some changes in our lifestyles as of late? Let’s see.

ACL Tears

One of the more common injuries we see in the summer is a ruptured ACL. The client brings in a limping dog and starts the story by saying, “Well there was this squirrel…” The squirrel zigs right, the dog follows to the right, but the dog’s knee goes to the left and boom… a torn ACL. The anterior cruciate ligament is the main ligament that keeps the knee together. It is the same ligament that football and basketball players rip. The problem with an ACL tear is it normally needs surgery, and not a cheap one. There are two different surgeries used to repair the knee. One is called a Lateral Suture Technique and the other more expensive surgery is called a TPLO, or Tibal Plateau Leveling Osteotomy. When the TPLO procedure first came out, it was promoted as a better procedure for larger dogs. Now that opinion is under some debate.

Dogs do tend to walk sooner with a TPLO, but after 6 months you cannot tell the difference between the two methods, with the majority of dogs having good function. When evaluating the long-term success of the TPLO, studies have only gone out 2 years. Before, 5 years post-op many dogs have significant arthritis and lameness so longer length studies are needed. Many doctors find the lateral suture technique to be as good as the TPLO in the shorter term and may actually be superior in the long term. So ask those tough questions to your dog’s surgeon if your dog needs an ACL surgery.


Ticks ticks ticks…. are everywhere this year! Ticks are nasty creatures that carry nasty diseases. Now the Lyme disease tick, the black-legged deer tick, is gaining hold in much of the United States. The problem with the deer tick is its size. It is only the size of a freckle so you rarely see it. Lyme disease causes a plethora of conditions including chronic fatigue, arthritis, and heart and autoimmune diseases in humans and dogs. Prevention is the key. For humans, use a Deet containing product. For dogs, there are numerous flea and tick products made specifically for canines. Ask your vet which one they prefer and be very cautious about purchasing them online.

Black-Legged Deer Tick

Summer Car Dangers

We all know not to leave our dogs in a car in the summer heat, but dogs and cats can get overheated by just being in the sun and humidity. Humans cool off by sweating; dogs don’t sweat. The only way dogs cool themselves is through panting, using their tongue as a sort of radiator. The problem is the tongue is a pretty bad radiator, and dogs can get into trouble pretty fast. If you think your dog is overheated, cool him off by dousing him with cool water and get him to your vet as soon as possible.


Finally, a problem you can see any time of the year, but one that is really presenting itself much more recently: Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in gums, candies, medications and in some organic and generic peanut butter. For people, it causes no problems. In dogs though, even very small amounts can cause severe problems in as little as 30 minutes, starting with sudden hypoglycemia that can progress to seizures. In later stages it can proceed to severe liver disease. The only treatment is supportive care with infusions of glucose containing fluids and liver protectants. Get your pet to a vet as soon as possible if you suspect your pet has eaten a Xylitol containing food and your vet can induce vomiting and give activated charcoal to decrease absorption. Make sure to read all labels of anything you give your pet, as Xylitol can show up anywhere.

Have you heard about any increases in particular pet accidents or injuries in your area recently? We want to know!

Dr_RiggsDr. Rex Riggs grew up in Wadsworth, Ohio, near Akron. Dr Riggs is co-owner of Best Friends Veterinary Hospital in Powell, Ohio. He is also on the board of the North Central Region of Canine Companions of Independence, a board member of The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Society and Small Animal Practitioner Advancement Board at The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Riggs lives in Lewis Center, OH with his wife Nancy, their dogs Maggie and Ossa, and cat Franklin. Outside of work, Dr. Riggs is an avid golfer and cyclist, and enjoys travel and photography.

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