What is Feline Diabetes?

According to a study performed by Purina, Diabetes is a very common disease in cats affecting up to 2% of the feline population in the United States.  This disease occurs when the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin, resulting in high blood sugar.  Richard Henderson, DVM of Gavelston Vets in Gavelston, TX warns that if left untreated, many other health problems can occur which can result in blindness, kidney damage, muscle weakness, and urinary tract infections.  Diabetic cats often require daily insulin shots at home, and frequent trips to the veterinarian for blood sugar tests and monitoring.

The increasing number of diabetic cats in today’s society is a result of sedentary indoor life styles and free-choice feeding, ending in an epidemic of obese felines.  There is also research that, for many cats, the carbohydrates in dry cat food cannot be used for energy, and is easily converted into stored fat.  For this reason, feeding canned cat foods that are high in protein anPicture2d low in carbohydrates can be fed to aid in weight loss and prevention of diabetes.

Your veterinarians will take a medical history from the cat owner and perform blood tests and urinalysis to determine if your cat has developed diabetes.  Dr. Henderson notes that diabetic cats can be successfully managed but requires a dedicated owner.  In cases where a cat is overweight but not yet a diabetic, a successful weight loss program will prevent the disease from developing and increase your cat’s longevity and quality of life.  Many feline diseases can be prevented through weight loss and weight management.  Proper diet is key not only caring for the diabetic patient, but also to prevent this debilitating condition from developing.

 

Why microchip your pet?

Is your pet not microchipped? Well, then, it's a great time to make an appointment to have that done.

Is your pet not microchipped? Well, then, it’s a great time to make an appointment to have that done.

Don’t forget, August 15 is National Check the Chip Day! Thousands of pets become lost every day, and microchip identification is the one reliable way to reunite these lost pets with their owners. The procedure is safe, easy, inexpensive, and practically painless.

The microchip itself is about the size of a grain of rice. It contains a tiny metallic “bar code” surrounded by an inert membrane which makes it non-reactive when it is placed under the skin. The microchip is injected under the skin between the shoulder blades with a hypodermic-type syringe. Although the needle itself is larger than those used for vaccinations, most pets don’t seem to notice any more than any other injection. Once the chip is in place, it should be there for the life of the pet, and we will register your microchip to ensure your contact information is associated with the bar code number.

If the pet becomes lost, all animal care facilities (shelters, veterinary hospitals, pounds, etc) will scan the pet for a microchip, using a special microchip reader that is simply waved over the skin. These scanners are very reliable and easy to use. Once a microchip is found, a special hotline is called, and the lost pet is reported. The pet owner is then called immediately and given the contact information about where to pick up their pet.

Regardless of the type of chip, every pet should have microchip ID. Some owners feel that their pet doesn’t need identification because it is always in the house, but in our experience these are the most likely pets to become lost when they get outside by accident. As separation from your pet can happen all too easily, appropriate identification, ideally permanent identification by use of microchip, is critical. Industry figures claim that 8,000 pets every day are located and returned home because they have a microchip; your pet should be protected!

Take this opportunity to check your pets’ microchip registration and make sure the information is up-to-date. Is your pet not microchipped? Well, then, it’s a great time to make an appointment to have that done. Search for a local veterinarian in your area here: http://www.youranimalhospital.com/

Looking for a pet? Click here to access the Universal Pet Microchip Lookup: www.petmicrochiplookup.org

Valley Fever Cases on the Rise

Signs of Valley Fever are increasing in pets throughout Arizona, New Mexico, southwestern Texas and the central deserts of California. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, around 30-60% of people who live in these endemic areas are exposed to the fungus at some point in their lives, meaning your pet has the same likelihood of exposure as you do.

Caused by inhaling a fungus found in soil, Valley Fever (CAnimal Hospital Arizonaoccidioidomycosis) initially infects the lungs of your pet and may disseminate to other areas of the body such as to the organs and bones. Your pets may show no signs of infection; however those who cannot naturally fight off the infection will typically exhibit flu-like symptoms. If you notice your pet is lethargic, feverish, coughing, and shows a lack of appetite, have him/her seen by a veterinarian immediately.

“Valley Fever is causing real health problems for many people living in the southwestern United States,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Because fungus particles spread through the air, it’s nearly impossible to completely avoid exposure to this fungus in these hardest-hit states. It’s important that people are aware of Valley Fever if they live in or have travelled to the southwest United States.” Like humans, pets are highly susceptible to inhaling these floating fungus particles, especially if your pet spends large amounts of time outdoors or likes to dig.

This recent increase in Valley Fever could be related to changes in weather, which could impact where the fungus grows and how much of it is circulating; higher numbers of new residents or changes in the way the disease is detected and reported to the states or CDC.

The only way to determine if your pet has in fact contracted Valley Fever is through a full panel blood test. Not every pet that gets Valley Fever requires treatment, but for those pets at risk for more severe forms of infection, it is important they receive an early diagnosis and complete veterinary care.

Now is the time to have your pet tested for Valley Fever.  A variety of Arizona animal hospital locations throughout the state will be offering 20% off a full or re-check blood panel with an exam through August 31st.  After the exam, you will be advised if screening for valley fever would be recommended for your pet based on history, lifestyle, and exam findings.  Click here to find the most convenient veterinarian in your area and check to see if they are offering this promotion.

Watch out for Leptospirosis

Star, a seemingly healthy 9 year old Boston terrier, had been unable to retain food for the last 24 hours.  After being examined at Caton Crossing Animal Hospital in Plainfield, Dr. Heather Stopinkski delivered the troubling news to Star’s family: Star may have leptospirosis.

An often fatal and contagious bacterial infection, leptospirosis is transmitted through the urine of livestock and wildlife, such as raccoons, skunks, and rats.  In a recent study, 60% of raccoons were found to be infected with the bacteria.

Infection typically occurs when dogs drink from streams, ponds, or stagnant water where infected wildlife may have urinated.  Dr. Stopinkski warns, even if the dog walks through contaminated water, there is a chance the bacteria can enter through a cut on the paw.

Cats are naturally resistant to this bacterial infection, however it is possible for dogs to pass leptospirosis on to their human owners should they come in contact with the dog’s urine.  The infection is becoming more common in humans, with almost 200 cases of leptospirosis diagnosed each year.

Dr. Stopinski cautions even handling an infected dog with a cut on your hand or touching the dog and then putting something in your mouth can transmit the infection, which is just as dangerous to humans as it is to dogs.

Although symptoms may take a few days to manifest from initial infection, warning symptoms to look for in your pet include fever, loss of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting.  Typically, within the next few days following these initial symptoms, the dog will become lethargic, followed quickly by kidney and liver failure. Even if treated early enough, and the infected dog survives, Dr. Stopinksi has noticed the chance of permanent damage to the dog’s kidneys and liver remains high.

There has been an increase in infections in suburban areas due to the building of houses and resulting destruction of wildlife environment.  Dr. Stopinski realizes dogs now have a greater chance of contact with wildlife, and are thus becoming exposed more often. 

Fifteen years ago, the vaccine guarding against leptospirosis only protected against two strains of bacteria and caused adverse reactions such as vomiting, diarrhea, and breaking out in hives.  Today’s vaccine provides better coverage against the bacterial infection with fewer negative side effects.

Typically, puppies receive two injections given two to four weeks apart once they have reached 12 weeks old.  Dr. Stopinski suggests evaluating older dogs for the vaccine on a case-by-case basis depending on their exposure to wildlife and their present health conditions

Treatment for leptospirosis is aggressive, especially if the dog’s kidneys and liver have already failed.  Treatment includes hospitalization, antibiotics, and intravenous fluids.

Unfortunately for Star, the Boston terrier, treatment did little to cure the infection and she continued to decline in health.  The pain became unbearable and Star’s family made the heartbreaking decision to euthanize Star to alleviate her suffering.

It is important to talk with your veterinarian to determine if your dog runs the risk of contracting leptospirosis.  Get your dogs vaccinated against leptospirosis to protect your health and theirs.

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.

A happy reunion for Tanner

TannerTanner, a very friendly six-year-old pug mix, was brought in to Best Friends Animal Hospital in Chambersburg, PA after he was discovered walking alongside a nearby road. He was scanned to see if he had a microchip and sure enough he did! As a result, the clinic was able to locate Tanner’s family in Maryland.

The family expressed to the clinic that he had been missing for nearly 3.5 years. As you can imagine, when they came to the clinic to see the pug, it was a very special reunion indeed. The video of their reunion was posted on the clinic’s Facebook page and received an incredible amount of exposure with close to 300 “likes” and 60 re-posts. Click here to watch footage!

With such a positive ending, this is great enforcement to all pet owners out there on the importance of microchipping.

Welcome Home, Tanner!

 

The dangers of Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a serious bacterial disease that infects dogs, horses and small wildlife.  It is a life threatening zoonotic disease, or a veterinary disease that can also infect humans.  When an infected animal urinates or salivates on their environment, which may include your lawn, they leave enough bacteria to be infectious if ingested by your pets, states Mary Jean Calvi, LVT, at Pawling Animal Hospital in Pawling, NY.

Often referred to as “Lepto,” it is most often acquired through accidental ingestion of infected urine. However, the bacteria can also enter the body through open wounds, abrasions or mucus membranes in the eyes of nose.  The signs and symptoms of Lepto mimic signs of many other diseases which is why immediate diagnosis is important.  These symptoms include fever, lethargy, GI upset, loss of appetite, joint pain, nausea, excessive drinking, general malaise, jaundice, yellow foamy vomit, dark or bloody urine or unusual “accidents” in the house.

Prevention is the best medicine. Vaccinating your pet against Lepto can make a difference.  Make sure you talk to your vet about this important vaccine.