Posts tagged with "Diarrhea"

Good enough to eat? What to do if your dog swallows a face mask

November 23, 2020

Yet another unexpected side effect of the COVID-19 crisis may be on the rise: Some of our four-footed household members think that face masks are tasty.

That was the first thought that ran through Chicagoan Nikki Nardick’s mind when she realized a white cotton face mask her grandmother had monogrammed was missing—and her five-month-old fox red lab Marvin was on the scene, licking his lips, Real Simple reports.

She was used to Marvin’s mischievous antics—he is still a puppy, after all—but the discovery that he might have actually eaten the mask brought on a new level of anxiety. “I instantly went into panicked mom mode and called our vet,” Nardick says.

In the age of COVID-19, keeping face masks away from dogs is just one more thing pet owners have to worry about.

“A new and unthought-of issue has arisen when our loyal canine friends have found our masks and decided [they are] a treat and not protective gear,” Brandon Sinn, DVM, director of Veterinary Services for Mahaska, Kansas-based PuppySpot, recently told Real Simple. He notes that, while responsible dog owners are used to having to keep harmful items (such as avocados and alcohol) away from their pets, many have not yet adapted to the new mask routine. “A puppy can quickly snag a mask in the time it takes to turn around,” Dr. Sinn says.

Sarah Wooten, DVM, veterinary spokesperson for Pumpkin Pet Insurance, said in a recent interview with the magazine that, while she hasn’t personally seen a dog patient yet who’s swallowed a mask, the likelihood of a dog doing this is high.

“I’ve seen many cases where dogs swallow a rock, socks, or toys,” Dr. Wooten says. “To a curious pup, a mask may seem like a tasty treat that smells like their favorite human, which can be very enticing to them.”

So what should you do if you suspect, as Nardick did, that a missing mask may have been consumed by your pup? First, know that any size or breed of dog is capable of ingesting foreign objects—but that younger dogs are at higher risk since they’re naturally more curious, Dr. Wooten says.

If you don’t witness your dog swallowing a mask, it can be hard to tell whether they’ve actually eaten one.

“It is easier than we realize for a dog to [eat a mask],” says Kerri Nelson, DVM, a veterinarian with Veterinary Emergency Group of Denver and expert with pet wellness brand Finn. “He might think he’s just chewing on it; then, accidentally gulps it down.”

Signs that may indicate your dog has unwittingly eaten a facial covering include lethargy; nausea; lip licking; vomiting; a hard, swollen, or sensitive abdomen; diarrhea; loss of appetite; or being more irritable than usual, Dr. Wooten says. And as silly as it sounds, if your dog has been in an area where you’re certain you left a mask and cannot find it, that’s a strong indicator your dog may have ingested it.

First, call your vet and let them know. They’ll ask about the size of your dog, the material of the mask, and the timeline to help you make a plan,  Angie Krause, a holistic veterinarian who works with pet food brand I and love and you, told Real Simple. They may ask you to watch and wait to see if your dog develops symptoms of an intestinal obstruction—such as nausea, vomiting and not eating—or recommend bringing your dog in to retrieve the mask via endoscopy.

Some vets may ask you to bring your dog in so they can induce emesis (vomiting) right away or ask you to do so at home. If the dog throws the mask back up, there will be no further issues, Dr. Nelson says. The best chance of this happening is if you take your dog to the vet within a couple hours of ingestion. Beyond that, the mask may have already moved into the small intestine, meaning vomiting it back up is no longer a possibility—at least most of the time, as it can vary dog to dog.

In Marvin’s case, his vet recommended he digest the mask, so they loaded him up with fluids and fiber to speed up the process. Afterward, he acted normal and happy—but after 48 hours, the mask still hadn’t appeared.

“It was assuring and alarming at the same time,” Nardick says, who began to doubt whether he’d eaten the mask at all. She kept in close contact with her vet and carefully monitored her pup’s bowel movements until, two days later, Marvin suddenly threw up the mask and went about his day.

He was fortunate the mask was a simple cotton one. If a dog ingests a mask with metal pieces, that’s cause for greater concern, says Natalie Marks, DVM, medical director at VCA Blum Animal Hospital in Chicago and a spokesperson for Royal Canin.

While vets will be able to see much more easily than cotton on an X-ray to determine whether a dog has in fact swallowed a mask, metal can cause abrasions, ulcerations, and even perforation in the digestive tract. In very serious cases, where a mask has been ingested days prior and is obstructing your dog’s intestines or has a metal piece perforating tissue, “we can have a life-threatening situation that requires surgery and intensive hospitalization,” Dr. Marks says.

Keep masks in a safe place, up high and out of reach of all pets, Dr. Nelson says —and make sure your kids do so, as well. If you’re making your own masks at home, be sure to do this in a separate room where pets do not go; cats have a predilection for swallowing string, so they can also be at risk for eating parts of a cloth mask in the making.

The old adage about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure holds true. The two trips Nardick made to the vet with Marvin cost her $320—all over a $5 cotton mask. Now, Nardick says they’re much more careful about where they leave masks and are creating a designated mask station high on a table.

Staying vigilant outside the home is also important, though. “I’m worried about all the masks [left behind] on the street when I walk him,” she says.

Research contact: @RealSimple

Digesting the latest facts: Early symptoms of COVID-19 include queasiness, upset stomach

March 23, 2020

The latest information about the novel coronavirus might be particularly hard to swallow. Until now, we’ve been looking for symptoms of fever and cough—but recent word on the disease indicates that it might start with an upset stomach, The New York Daily News reports.

Nearly half of the patients hospitalized in Wuhan and the wider Chinese province of Hubei, where the fast-spreading sickness was initially discovered, suffered from digestive issues, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Researchers analyzed data from 204 people diagnosed with COVID-19 who were admitted to three different hospitals in the region between January 18 and February 28. The average age was 55. According to the report, 48.5% of those patients said their “chief complaint” was digestive problems, including upset stomach, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.

“Clinicians must bear in mind that digestive symptoms, such as diarrhea, may be a presenting feature of COVID-19, and that the index suspicion may need to be raised earlier in these cases rather than waiting for respiratory symptoms to emerge,” wrote investigators with the Wuhan Medical Treatment Expert Group for COVID-19.

Most people diagnosed with the coronavirus have respiratory symptoms, including a cough and difficulty breathing — but 7% of the patients analyzed did not have any such problems at all.

Researchers noted patients with digestive symptoms also typically waited longer to seek treatment than those without them, the Daily News noted.

“We’re so focused on a cough and fever, but it’s possible there are people with digestive symptoms that are not being tested,” said Dr. Brennan Spiegel, editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

He told NY1 that, while the study is only preliminary, it highlights a need to re-evaluate testing criteria so medical officials can move faster to diagnose and quarantine patients.

“People with digestive symptoms in Wuhan presented for care later, on average two days later, compared with those who didn’t have digestive symptoms, because they didn’t suspect they had COVID-19.”

Research contact: @NYDailyNews

Hypnotizing patients over Skype helps ease the symptoms of IBS

April 3, 2019

Teletherapy—the online delivery of speech, occupational, and mental health therapy services via two-way video conferencing—is gaining in popularity because it makes help available to busy, infirm, or remotely located patients.

Now, a study conducted at the Neurogastroenterology Unit of Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester, England—and published in February by the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis—has found that combining teletherapy with hypnosis can offer an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome.

The researchers, lead by Shariq S. Hasan, a public health specialist, found that the unusual combination of mind-body therapy—coupled with the use of Skype—helped ease IBS pain and distress, even from afar, Psychology Today reports.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal disorder that affects roughly 10% to 15% of the population, and causes significant physical and psychological distress. People who have IBS suffer from frequent diarrhea, constipation, or both of these; as well as GI pain and other physical symptoms. For many, these symptoms generate considerable anxiety related to traveling due to fears of diarrhea and incontinence. The combination of distress and GI symptoms, including fears of losing control of one’s bowels, can thus make it difficult for IBS patients to make it to additional health care and other appointments.

Patients with IBS are frequently prescribed any of a variety of medications, as well as dietary changes, to manage symptoms. Yet, for some people, these approaches fail to result in adequate symptom relief.

That’s where hypnosis comes in: Hypnosis has been shown to help with a number of IBS-related symptoms. For example, once the patient is  in a more relaxed, yet focused state (often referred to as a trance state), he or she can more easily take in suggestions aimed at fostering greater bodily comfort; as well as decreased pain, stress, and anxiety.

For this study, the research team enrolled 20 IBS patients, who then received 12 sessions of hypnotherapy. The first session was conducted in person, but the remainder were conducted via Skype. The data from these 20 participants was then compared to that of another, original 1,000-person study.

The Skype study participants completed the same questionnaires as had the larger cohort—including measures of IBS severity, pain, anxiety and depression, and quality of life, Psychology Today notes. They also filled out a measure of noncolonic symptoms (such as nausea, heartburn, headaches, or lethargy), which frequently accompany IBS.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found significantly fewer participants reported having severe IBS symptoms. Hypnosis was also associated with statistically significant reductions in both noncolonic symptom severity and anxiety, and significant improvement in quality of life. The reduction in depression symptoms approached but did not quite reach statistical significance.

The data from the Skype group were also compared to those of participants in the larger, in-person hypnosis study. Although the degree of improvement on most outcomes was somewhat greater for in-person hypnosis, after adjusting for age, there was no statistically significant difference between the Skype and in-person groups with regard to improvement in IBS symptoms and pain. 

These findings seem important both for people who have inadequate relief from medications and dietary changes and in general for those dealing with painful gastrointestinal and related symptoms, the authors say.  It’s worth noting that the Skype study was small, and it will be important to conduct further research with larger numbers of participants.

Research contact: peter.whorwell@mft.nhs.uk