Why all the Feline Wellness Talk?

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Feline Wellness Exam

“Each veterinarian’s primary goal is to allow your pet to have the best quality of life feasible for as long as possible.”

As the practice of medicine, both human and veterinary, has evolved over time, physicians increasingly share a philosophy of promoting wellness. But what does wellness really mean? This mindset of wellness and prevention means that doctors are looking to provide care for their patients before the worst has already happened, and put into play supportive measures that can delay, if not completely prevent the onset of illness and disease, especially those related to aging and the environment states Bush Animal Hospital in Eugene, OR. Each veterinarian’s primary goal is to allow your pet to have the best quality of life feasible for as long as possible . The tools a veterinarian has available to achieve this can range from simple regular routine examinations and vaccinations to more complex nutritional and pharmaceutical support.  Wellness examinations do not necessarily mean that your pet is going to be subjected to a barrage of complicated medical tests and treatments.

Some animals may need close monitoring of blood work, x-rays or other tests or many pets benefit simply from being physically examined, having their heart and lungs listened to and their general health assessed. Thus preventing a health issue from developing undetected. A general health assessment before surgery can help prevent complications and assure a speedy recovery. Ask your veterinarian for guidance in developing a plan for your cats health care to give you as many years as possible with your cat companions.

From Frisky to Risky: Detecting Feline Diabetes

Spotting feline diabetes is not easy. Why? If human beings with diabetes often overlook their own symptoms, imagine how difficult it can be noticing the signs your kitty may be diabetic. When it comes to noticing symptoms of diabetes in cats, recognition is even more difficult as pets lack the ability to effectively communicate how they are feeling. Any delay in diagnosis can allow the disease to advance to the point where it can cause extensive physical damage. Knowing the potential symptoms of feline diabetes is a proactive approach, ensuring your pet gets the help he or she needs before it’s too late.

Excessive Thirst

It is natural for cats to act thirsty in the hot summer months or after rambunctious exercise. However, excessive drinking throughout the day that continues for a number of days may be a sign of feline diabetes. If you notice you are fillingcalicocat_jpg the water dish more often, you should have your pet tested for diabetes. Spotting excessive thirst can not only help with early detection of diabetes, but many other diseases as well.

Excessive Urinating

If your pet is drinking more water, he or she will likely need to use the litter box to urinate more frequently. You may not recognize excessive water intake right away, as it tends to increase gradually. However, you should notice when you are changing the litter box at a greater frequency, or they may be coming in and out of the house as if through a revolving door. These are great indications that a trip to the veterinarian is warranted.

 “Sweet Breath”

Most every pet owner is accustomed to the unappealing odor of warm kitty breath. If you notice that your pet’s breath has sweetened, it may mean that his or her blood sugar levels are off. Although you may appreciate the appealing change in your pet’s breath, it could be a sign that something is amiss.

Shivering

If you notice your cat shivering even though temperatures are relatively warm, it could be a sign of hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar. This could potentially be a medical emergency. Your pet may require an insulin injection to stabilize blood sugar levels. Seek professional help as soon as possible, or your pet may suffer serious, permanent injury.

Lethargy

Cats suffering from feline diabetes may appear very tired and weak most days. If your normally active pet suddenly develops lethargy symptoms over the course of several days, take him or her to your holistic veterinarian to have their blood sugar tested.

Loss of Weight

Too much weight loss can lead to feline diabetes. If your pet is rapidly losing weight, he or she could have diabetes or a more serious illness. Take your cat to the veterinarian without delay.

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.

 

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.

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

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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.

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/

The Risks of Feline Obesity

Approximately 1 in 4 cats are likely to be over-weight or obese. This is a growing problem among our feline companions.

While Garfield the cat may say he is happy being a fat cat, in reality his obesity is making him anything but happy. Due to his weight, he is six times more likely to develop diabetes, five times more likely to develop lameness and twice as likely to develop skin and gastrointestinal issues. Fat tissue produces pro-inflammatory signals that may lead to worsening of many other diseases and to decreased life span as well.
Prevention is the best way to avoid the problems of obesity. Today’s cat doesn’t have to work to find food but that decrease in activity means they also need less calories. So measuring daily intake of food and monitoring body condition is very important from the time a cat is spayed/neutered.

For decreasing weight there are several nutritional solutions available. It is important to use a therapeutic weight loss diet since they are supplemented to supply critical nutrients in appropriate levels while decreasing calories to the amount needed for weight loss.
Increases in protein and fiber have both been shown to help keep cats satiated, or feeling full, while decreasing calorie amounts. By adding certain fiber blends to a reduced calorie diet, cats tend to consume lower calories per meal and take longer before going back for a second meal. Another option for weight loss is a high protein, reduced calorie diet. Protein takes time and energy to digest and it supplies the necessary amino acids for maintaining lean muscle mass while losing fat mass.

Remember to incorporate exercise and play when possible. This could include incorporating kibble into toys or placing food in multiple areas around the house for the cat to “hunt”.