Anorexia in cats

Anorexic CatAnorexia, which is a very reduced or complete lack of appetite, can be very serious in cats states Dr. Amanda Maus, at Catalina Pet Hospital in Tucson, Arizona. Decreased appetite can have many causes including fever, intestinal disease, organ disease, or cancer. In addition to whatever the primary cause of the anorexia may be, several days of not eating well can cause what is called fatty liver disease or hepatic lipidosis. Even a few weeks of just eating 25-50% less than usual can lead to this state.

Fatty liver disease, although more common in obese cats, can happen in any cat suffering from anorexia and weight loss, and is the most common type of liver disease seen in cats. Jaundice or yellowing of the skin is commonly seen with this disease. This disease can also cause significant nausea leading to more anorexia and vomiting. Affected cats are often lethargic and dehydrated as well.

Quick veterinary intervention is needed for this disease and most cats will recover with appropriate treatment. The main objective is to remedy the underlying cause as well as to control the nausea and vomiting and to provide proper nutrition. Advanced cases often require the placement of a tube from outside the neck, into the esophagus, so that adequate feeding can be provided without trying to perform oral force feeding. Daily oral force feeding can not only lead to resentment of the caretaker, but also causes worse food aversion. The feeding tube may need to be left in place for up to 2 months in severe cases. In addition to antinausea medication, the cat may also require hydration therapy, electrolyte and vitamin supplementation, and liver support medications.

As you can see, anorexia in cats can be very serious and lead to severe consequences. Daily monitoring of your cat’s food intake can make a huge difference in catching diseases early on. Unexplained weight loss in cats is never acceptable. Early intervention is not only better for the cat’s health, but also can be less costly for the owner.

How to trim your cat’s nails

Nail trims can be performed by one or two people with most cats states Amanda L. Maus, DVM, at Catalina Pet Hospital in Tucson, Arizona.  It is important to perform the nail trim on your lap or on a table to help make the process easier.  There are several types of nail trimmers.  Most people prefer the scissor type that can be bought at most pet stores. Trimming your cat’s nails once monthly not only trims the nails, it allows you to inspect the feet for any health issues.

In order to trim a cat’s nail, you must first push on the base of the nail to make it easier to see where you will be cutting.

Cat photo 1

Then look for the blood supply aka quick of the nail.

Cat photo 1

 

 

 

 

 

Make sure to cut the nail above the quick so you do not cause the cat any pain.

Cat photo 2

 

 

 

 

 

Repeat this process with each of the 5 nails on the front feet and each of the 4 nails on the rear feet.

Cat photo3

You do not need to trim all 18 nails at the same session.  Some cats do better with only a few nails done at each sitting.

Some cats are not agreeable to having their nails trimmed at home.  Your veterinarian’s office offers nail trimming services and is able to complete the task quickly for the cat.

 

 

Why are my cat’s ears so itchy?

mixcat_jpg_jpgThere are several reasons that cats can have itchy ears states Amanda L. Maus, DVM, at Catalina Pet Hospital in Tucson, Arizona.  The most common reason that people think of when their cat is shaking its head or scratching its ears is that they have ear mites.  Although ear mites are common, other types of bacterial or yeast infections, as well as fleas may be to blame.   That is why it is important for your cat to be seen by a veterinarian to help distinguish the type of infection.

Ear mites are a type of parasite that are transmitted directly between cats and dogs so all cats in the household must be treated at the same time.  Besides the intense itching they cause, they also produce a characteristic black coffee ground type of discharge in the ears.  This discharge can be examined by your veterinarian under the microscope in order to visualize the mites and confirm diagnosis.  Most over the counter medication only kills the adult mites, not the eggs, which means a daily treatment for 3 weeks that can be difficult.  Your veterinarian has injectable as well as topical medications that only need performed one or two times.

Bacterial and yeast ear infections typically come from the environment or are related to allergies.  The cat may have excessive brown or yellowish wax as well as red ears.  This discharge can be examined by your veterinarian under the microscope in order to visualize the bacteria or yeast.  Prescription injectable, topical, or oral medications can be used for at least 1 week to help remedy the infection.

Certain tiny fleas called bird fleas or sticktight fleas can be found attached around cat ears and eyes.  Cats can get these fleas from interacting with birds outside or dogs get them outside and bring them inside to the cat. Besides using tweezers to individually remove the fleas, the fleas can be killed with topical medication used to killed normal fleas.

Kennel Cough: Questions and answers

All of us have witnessed the condition known as kennel cough. Often we see our newly adopted or fostered dogs start to cough within hours of arriving off transport. This cough is usually a very mild and self-limiting infection, but it is important to understand that all of the causes for kennel cough are highly contagious. Dr. Jonathan Smith, VMD, of Larkin Veterinary Center in West Lawn, PA states that although it’s uncommon, any cough has the potential to lead to a more serious infection.

What causes kennel cough? In recent years, it has been determined that kennel cough is usually not caused by a single agent, but is often a combination of viruses or bacteria which act together. The condition is referred to Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRD). Most of the causes for kennel cough are actually viral, similar to the common cold in people. We routinely vaccinate for a number of these viruses, including distemper virus, parainfluenza virus, and adenovirus. However, there are a number of recently discovered viruses which can also cause similar signs that we do not routinely vaccinate for. These include the canine influenza (dog flu), the canine respiratory corona virus, and others that have not yet been identified. Because most of these infections are usually mild and resolve on their own, identifying them does not usually ultimately affect treatment. This is why veterinarians usually do not perform diagnostics to determine what’s causing the cough.

Isn’t the canine flu (CIV) more serious than these other infections? Yes and no. Dogs exposed to canine influenza can have a wide range of signs, including nasal discharge, fever, cough, and lethargy. As with the other viral infections, most young healthy dogs get better with little or no treatment at all over a 2-3 week period. Older or immunocompromised dogs are more at risk for this normally mild infection to develop into pneumonia.

Well then what about bordetella? Bordetella Bronchiseptica is a highly contagious bacteria which can cause an infection of the trachea and upper airways. It can also remain in the airways of asymptomatic dogs for weeks to months, and, unfortunately, immunity (either from vaccines or previous exposure) can be short lived. As with most of the other infections, bordetella usually causes a mild short term cough without any severe signs. Puppies, most notably brachycephalic (short faced) breeds more likely to develop pneumonia from a routine bordetella infection than other dogs.

Why do these dogs always appear to develop a cough right after transport? Lots of factors make dogs either more or less susceptible to these infections. Exposure, stress, nutrition, intestinal parasitism, vaccination or exposure history, and overall health affect a dog’s immunity. It is safe to assume that most shelter dogs have been exposed to at least one of these viruses or to bordetella prior to transport. Even if they are not displaying any symptoms before they travel, the stressful trip to D.C. causes their immune system to succumb to the infection and a cough develops.

How contagious are these agents? Unfortunately, all of the causes for kennel cough are highly contagious. Most infections are spread through aerosol (moisture droplets) from sneezing or coughing, and also through fomites. A fomite is any object which can transport the virus including people, clothing, shoes, or anything which is moved from one area to another. Veterinarians recommend that any dog that is suspected of having kennel cough be isolated from other dogs for 14 days, however they are usually only contagious for the first 7-10 days of illness. Of course, isolating dogs is often not a possibility for a foster or for newly adopted dogs, but the next paragraph explains why we are willing to risk exposure.

Should I be worried about bringing a coughing dog home? As we just discussed, most of the agents are highly infectious to other dogs. Whether a dog develops a cough from these viruses is entirely dependent on their immunity, which is shaped by their previous exposure (doggie day care etc) or vaccinations. Most young, healthy, vaccinated dogs are not at risk of becoming very sick from exposure to a new house mate. Similar to sending your children to school, there is always the risk of a dog developing a cough despite being the healthiest dog on the block. The more important point is that these infections are almost always mild, short lived and should not cause any lasting harm.

If most of these infections are viral, why does my veterinarian often treat with antibiotics? As in people, most viral infections cannot be treated directly. The main concern with a primary viral infection is that a secondary bacterial infection can develop. By treating with antibiotics, we can decrease the chance that a cough will develop into pneumonia. In addition, because bordetella is a bacteria and not a virus, it is very susceptible to an antibiotic called doxycycline. Thus, a course of doxycycline not only treats the bacteria but also can also limit the period in which it is contagious to other dogs.

When and why should I vaccinate? Unfortunately, immunity to bordetella is short lived, and most veterinarians recommend that any dog at high risk (doggie day care, grooming facilities, boarding facilities etc) be vaccinated as often as every 6 months. The vaccination can be either intranasal or injectable. Both of these work well, however the intranasal is much quicker in providing an immune response. There is also a vaccination for CIV (canine flu) available, and although we do not know how common CIV is in our local dog population, veterinarians currently recommend the vaccine for any dogs who fall within that same high risk category. As with the flu vaccine in people, none of these are 100% protective. Most boarding facilities require these vaccinations not just for your dog’s well-being, but also to keep the prevalence of these infectious agents to a minimum in their facility.

When should I be concerned that this is more serious than kennel cough? It is important to understand that there are many causes for coughing in dogs. If a cough is from CIRD your dog would have a history of interaction with other dogs, and the cough would start within the first week or so after exposure. The main concern with CIRD is its potential to lead to pneumonia, which is an infection of the lungs. If your dog’s cough persists for more than 3 weeks, if your dog becomes lethargic, stops eating, or is having difficulty breathing, he or she should be evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Heart disease, heartworm infection, lower airway disease (similar to asthma or COPD in people), parasitic or fungal infection, cancer and others are all possible causes for a cough. If a cough slowly progresses over weeks to months, and is unresponsive to antibiotics, it may not be a simple case of kennel cough. A physical exam by a veterinarian and chest x-rays are usually the next step to evaluate the lungs and airways.

If you ever have any questions or concerns about your dog’s cough, do not hesitate to contact or visit your local veterinarian.

Submitted by:
Jonathan Smith, VMD
Larkin Veterinary Center
2333 Penn Avenue
West Lawn, PA 19609
610-678-2525
www.larkinvet.net

So just what is inolved in a dental cleaning?

Every day, owners have questions about dental cleanings for their pets. What happens? Is it safe? Why does my pet have to have anesthesia to clean his teeth? We asked our doctors to help explain the procedure, and let you in on what goes on during a routine dental cleaning.

Why is anesthesia necessary? cat dental

Much like your experience at the dentist, a dental procedure involves using tools that vibrate at high frequencies, make loud sounds, and spray jets of water. The use of general anesthesia allows your veterinarian full access to the teeth, gums, and below the gum line.

What is involved in a dental procedure?

1. The beginning of the procedure involves cleaning off the tartar and calculus that is firmly adhered to the teeth; this requires both specialized dental tools with sharper edges, and machine assistance. Then a dental machine that utilizes ultrasonic vibrations to break-up mineralized tartar is used to remove remaining build-up on the surfaces of the teeth. A combination of the scaling machine and hand tools are used to remove tartar and calculus both above and below the gum line.

2. The teeth are polished with a mildly abrasive paste and polisher tool to smooth the enamel surfaces.

3. A protective substance, such as fluoride, is applied to the teeth to strengthen the enamel and kill bacteria responsible for dental disease. 

Your veterinarian and veterinary technicians function as a team, working and monitoring your pet carefully to provide the best care and ensure safety. Machines are used to keep a close eye on your dog or cat’s vital signs. Veterinarians are trained carefully to provide safe anesthesia, and to make your companion as comfortable as possible. Ask your veterinarian if you have any further questions and concerns about feline dentistry and anesthetic safety.

 

 

 

 

 

The truth about intestinal worms

Many people have the misconception that if they don’t see worms in their dog or cat’s stool that they don’t need to be dewormed states Dr. Rebecca Marr, DVM, at Owl Creek Veterinary Hospital in Virginia Beach, VA. This is a complete misunderstanding of the threat that intestinal parasites pose to your animal and to your family. Many intestinal worms can cause serious illness for the animal, but also can be transmitted and harmful to people as well. As veterinarians, we have taken an oath to protect public health and it is our job to inform and keep you safe from health risks that your companion animal may pose to you.

There are four main types of intestinal worms that affect dogs and cats: roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. All of these worms take vital nutrients and protein away from your pet and may cause vomiting and/or diarrhea. Tapeworms are the worm’s owners typically seen around the rectum and are typically caused by ingestion of fleas or from hunting small rodents. Most of these can be prevented by regular use of flea prevention. Roundworms, Hookworms, and Whipworms are common in puppies and kittens, but also can infect adult dogs and cats. These worms live in your pet’s intestines and shed eggs in the feces, thus contaminating the soil, yard, litter box, etc. When your pet licks the dirt, eats grass, or cleans their feet they can accidentally eat these eggs and become infected. The adult form of the worm stays in the intestine and is usually not seen, while eggs are only visible with a microscope.

Roundworms and Hookworms have been known to cause disease in people; children and elderly are at an increased risk. It is therefore very important for the health of your pet and family to keep your pet as worm free as possible. The Companion Animal Parasite Council guidelines (www.capcvet.org) recommend deworming puppies and kittens repeatedly, routine fecal examinations, year round heartworm preventatives, and cleaning up dog poop from the yard daily.

Submitted by:
Rebecca Marr, DVM
Owl Creek Veterinary Hospital
587 S Birdneck Road
Virginia Beach, VA 23451
(757) 428-4344
owlcreekveterinaryhospital.com

Making a Difference: C.A.R.E NC

Canine Assisted Rehabilitation for the Elderly, or C.A.R.E. NC was founded by Dr. Julianne Davis, of Quail Corners Animal Hospital in Raleigh NC. C.A.R.E. NC is a non-profit organization dedicated to transforming shelter dogs into therapeutic visitors for the elderly of Wake County.  In this way, their mission is two-fold with the aim of increasing adoptability of these dogs while motivating senior citizens through the healing power of pets.

Chief and Dr. Davis at Morningside Assisted Living.

The idea for the non-profit was actually spawned from her adopted dog, Chief, an extremely loving and affectionate German Shepherd, who Dr. Davis realized would make a perfect fit for service work.  Soon after, she began taking him to Spring Arbor Assisted Living facility in Raleigh in early spring of 2011, “The experiences we had with the elderly changed everything. What if shelter dogs could be transformed into visitors for the elderly while they are waiting to be adopted? The behavior training would not only increase their adoptability but enrich the lives of the senior citizens. It’s a WIN-WIN!”

C.A.R.E dogs are currently therapeutic visitors at 4 facilities throughout Wake County. Dr. Davis noted that starting a non-profit organization has been an enormous amount of work, but the responses received have been amazing. “A visit with one of our dogs is the highlight of the week for many seniors. The dogs help to decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation that many of the residents face daily.  Ironically, many of the shelter dogs share these same feelings. As an individual I believe that we have to be the change we want to see the in the world.  One person (or dog) can make a difference.”

Though still in the early days, C.A.R.E NC hopes to continue to grow and engage more assisted living communities throughout the region.  To learn more about this amazing program and how to lend support visit the C.A.R.E. NC website at www.carencinc.org.

Are you ready for another pet?

Most pet adoption organizations operate under the same simple mission: Make sure the pet’s next home is its last home.

Before you bring home a new dog or cat, there’s a million things to think about – where will you find your pet? Will your pet get along with your other pets? How will you help your pet adjust and keep your pet healthy? We can help you find the answers.

Know Your Family
Pet adoption screeners are skilled at matching pets to people. The more questions they ask you, and the more honestly you answer, the better suited your family will be to the pet you finally bring home.

The Adoption Process
The dog or cat you want has to get along with the pets you already have. Your pet also has to meet the needs of the humans in your family. Start by making a list of the non-negotiable qualities a new pet should have.

The First Checkup
Regardless of the age or breed of your new pet, a visit to the veterinarian and a complete physical exam should be a top priority. Start your pet off right with vaccinations, baseline testing, and a clean bill of health.

Plan for the Unexpected
Sometimes pets get sick, and sometimes pets are lost. Both are experiences that can be less traumatic for you if you’ve planned ahead. Pet insurance can save you valuable dollars and help you follow your heart when making healthcare decisions. Most animal shelters now scan for microchips. Both should be considered as soon as you bring your new pet home.

 

Can my pet make me sick?

Did you know… Several diseases can be transmitted from pet to person, and vice-versa?

If you’ve ever shared your home with other people, you know that illnesses can travel from one person to another, until everyone’s been infected. The same can happen with pets and, even worse, illnesses can transfer from pets to people and back again. We call this zoonotic disease, and protecting your pets is the first step to protecting the rest of your family. Here are just a couple of the zoonotic diseases you should watch out for:

Mange Caused by specific mite species
Transmitted pet-to person through direct contact with mites on an infected animal

Signs and complications in pets: Itching, hair loss, dandruff or crusty lesions, and bleeding or oozing skin

Hookworm Infection Hookworms are thick, short (6- to 12-mm) worms that are whitish to reddish brown with a hooked front end. They live in the gastrointestinal tract. Transmitted pet-to-person through skin or fecal-oral contact

Signs and complications in pets: Diarrhea, anemia, weight loss, and deterioration of the skin and coat condition; adult dogs and cats may not show signs.

My Cat’s Not Eating!

As we are in the midst of holiday season, it seems appropriate to discuss a topic that is likely to cause nightmares for any veterinarian states Nicole McCready, MDVM, at Camelwest Animal Hospital in Phoenix, AZ. Being presented with a cat who won’t eat frequently causes anxiety, and a feeling of urgency by veterinarians to correct the situation. The old thought of “If you wait long enough, they’ll eat” just isn’t the case with cats. They can and will starve themselves. To make matters worse, once a cat has stopped eating, it can be very difficult to get them eating again–even if you correct the initial cause!

When presented with a cat who won’t eat, there are two main goals your veterinarian is presented with:

1. Determine what’s going on and correct it if possible
2. Try to get calories and nutrition into the cat

Number 1 is a no brainer… Of course we have to find out why the cat isn’t eating. That’s why you brought him in, right? Your veterinarian has to be like a detective. Unfortunately your kitty can’t just tell us why it’s not eating. He doesn’t just walk in with a sign on his side that says “the rotten tooth in my mouth hurts” or “my kidneys aren’t working and I’m nauseated”.

anorexic cat, Hepatic LipidosisThere are many causes of a cat not eating, some obvious, and some not so apparent. It could be anything from a painful infected tooth, cancer, nausea from organ failure, endocrine or hormonal diseases, stress in the home, or even a change in the food that the cat doesn’t like. Your veterinarian may ask you quite a few questions about the household, including about the other pets that live there, people in the home, any food changes, any other symptoms such as vomiting, and how long the problem has been going on.

A complete physical examination of the cat will then be performed. Often the cause of the decrease in appetite can be discovered after a 20 minute consultation. The next step will be some diagnostics, often a blood workup, a urine analysis, and x-rays, to find out about organ functions and look for signs of cancer or other physical abnormalities.

While we are waiting–either for diagnostic results, or to do something about the problem (like scheduling dental work), we will focus on the second goal — Calories! It is critical that your cat gets food back into their system. When a cat goes without eating they start to utilize the fat and muscle stored in their body. This sounds like a good plan, except that cats have the peculiar issue of the fat clogging up their liver. This can cause a potentially fatal type of liver disease called Hepatic Lipidosis (any vets reading this just shuddered a little bit).

Hepatic Lipidosis is the worst kind of catch-22. It’s caused by severe anorexia, and makes the kitty feel worse, so they REALLY don’t want to eat. The most important aspect of treating the disease is to get food into the cat. Of course, this is going on in a cat who probably has some other disease that has already made them not want to eat!

Sometimes the kitty has to be force fed, your veterinarian may use appetite stimulants, or we may recommend a surgically implanted feeding tube. This may seem drastic, but getting adequate calories into your cat may make the difference between life and death. There are times an owner may think “But I got that tablespoon of food into her this morning…” or “She ate two bites of chicken…” but this is really not sufficient. Until you are able to get your cat to eat a whole chicken breast over the course of a day, you are not getting enough in (Note! DO NOT try to force a whole chicken breast into your cat– its likely to be unpleasant for both you and the cat. Follow the advice of your veterinarian regarding getting food into your cat, feeding amounts, and proper techniques).

An anorexic kitty may seem like a relatively minor issue, but as your veterinarian’s palms are becoming sweaty. If we’re recommending a list of diagnostics and force feeding, please realize your vet is just trying to prevent the snowball from rolling downhill any faster. If your cat stops eating, DON’T WAIT– take him to your vet! The sooner your kitty is seen, the more likely we can resolve the issue and get your cat eating again without any major interventions.

Submitted by:
Nicole McCready, MDVM
Camelwest Animal Hospital
10045 W. Camelback Road #105
Phoenix, AZ 85037
http://camelwestanimalhospital.com/