Tag: cat

Ew! What is that in my dog’s stool?!

Oh no! It looks like your pet may have some kind of intestinal parasite!

parasites2Intestinal parasites are parasites that live inside a host’s gastrointestinal tract. Some feed off of the nutrients that the host ingests while others ingest the host’s blood. Whatever their food of choice may be, they can cause numerous issues for the host.

Examples of common intestinal parasites:
-Roundworms
-Whipworms
-Hookworms
-Tapeworms
Giardia
-Coccidia

While some parasites are large enough to see with the naked eye, this is not the case for all of them. For example, tape worms break apart and are usually passed as segments which can look like small grains of rice in your pet’s stool. Round worms resemble noodles or string. Others are much, much smaller and you may not physically see them in your pet’s stool. These parasites can cause all sorts of issues for your pet.

Symptoms include:
-Vomiting
-Weight loss
-Diarrhea
-Distended abdomen
-Scooting
-Occasionally coughing
-Anemia

How do cats and dogs get intestinal parasites?
Parasites are usually transmitted when an animal inadvertently ingests parasite eggs or spores in contaminated soil, water, feces or food. In the case of tapeworms, they can also be transmitted when a dog eats an infected flea. Puppies and kittens, on the other hand, usually get intestinal parasites from their mother. Transmission can occur in uterus or from nursing.
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Many intestinal parasites are zoonotic, meaning that they can also infect humans. Simply practicing good hygiene is usually enough to prevent this from happening. You should always remove your pet’s stool from the yard and be sure to thoroughly wash your hands afterwards. The same goes for your cat’s litter box. Wearing shoes while outside can help protect you against hookworms.

Diagnosing and Treatment:
But don’t worry – these pesky parasites are easily treated! There are many types of dewormers available. Some parasites can be seen in the stool, such as tapeworm segments or roundworms. Others are much, much smaller and harder to detect. Here at TLC Animal Hospital, we send your pet’s stool to an outside lab for thorough testing to identify which parasites are present to ensure that the correct dewormer is used to treat any and all parasites that your pet may have. Some dewormers require a second dose that is given a few weeks later to ensure that all of the parasites are gone. Depending on the parasite, repeat testing of your pet’s stool may be needed as well once treatment is done.

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Prevention:
10765_001_xxlWhile there is, unfortunately, no way to 100% prevent against intestinal parasites, there are steps that you can take that will drastically reduce the chance of your pet becoming infected. Most monthly heartworm preventatives also contain a broad spectrum dewormer. This helps get rid of any eggs or larvae that your pet may have picked up during the previous month. Picking up after your pet helps reduce the chance of any eggs or larvae from getting into the soil.

The best way to prevent against tapeworms is to use a monthly flea preventative. Having your yard treated by an exterminator for fleas will also help. The less fleas there are in the environment, the less of a chance your pet has of eating an infected flea. As we’ve written about before, every pet should be on a monthly flea preventative, even if they are strictly indoors. Read more about the flea preventatives that we offer in our previous post to help you decide which preventative is the best for your pet’s lifestyle.

puppy_kitten_careIf your pet is not already on monthly parasite preventatives, take them to your veterinarian to discuss how you can protect your pets and family from intestinal parasites.

Remember that the best way to protect your pets against parasites is to keep them on parasite preventatives and have their stool checked at least once a year. If you have any questions or concerns, you should always contact your veterinarian. They are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

By: Pigeon Tyler and Ashley Elliott

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The Benefits of Water Fountains for Cats

cat3We’ve all seen cats drinking in weird places. No, not your local dive bar – I’m talking the kitchen sink, the bathtub, that dripping faucet in the bathroom, or even the toilet.

Instinctively, our feline friends are hard wired to prefer running water over standing water simply because all of today’s domestic cats are descended from the same ancestor: the African wildcat. In the wild, standing water wasn’t as fresh and posed more risk of sickness than running water did. These practices passed on from generation to generation and are still seen today in our pets at home. Regardless of the reason why cats prefer running water, getting adequate water intake is important for your cat’s overall health, and to maintain a healthy urinary tract.

catCats are designed to get their necessary water from the prey they eat. Many pet guardians feed their cats dry food which has water content of about 10%, compared to approximately 70-80% in most canned food. Cats that eat a dry kibble diet rather than wet food will drink more water to compensate, but still run the risk of becoming dehydrated. Anything you can do to encourage your cat to drink more water will help. Cats that are only given standing water often drink far too little and this may result in disorders of the urinary tract, including bladder stones or chronic feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) and as a result, any existing small urinary crystals aren’t completely flushed out and can develop into gravel and then larger stones (so-called struvite stones, for example).

cat2In severe cases, a urinary stone can completely obstruct the urethra, which means that urine – and hence the body’s toxic wastes – can no longer be eliminated from the body and backs up into the kidneys. This blockage is life-threatening. An increased intake of water helps prevent urinary tract disease because the urine contains a lower concentration of the mineral substances that can cause these disorders. And a larger volume of urine makes the cat empty his or her bladder more frequently, which in turn means that the minerals responsible for forming urinary stones spend less time inside the body and the body’s own toxic substances are successfully eliminated in the urine.

A drinking fountain re-circulates and filters the water, making it fresher-tasting and encouraging your cat to drink more. It also adds movement which attracts the cat’s eye as well as an appeasing sound that entices them to investigate, play, and ultimately drink from them. Because the water in a drinking fountain goes through a charcoal filter to remove odors and impurities, it is healthier for your cat than stale water that has been standing and collecting debris. Also, a pet water fountain will provide the running water that your cat prefers without the wastefulness of leaving your tap running continuously.

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by: Kaitie Barczak

The Lowdown on Food Allergies & Diets

1Is your pet having ongoing skin or gastro intestinal issues with unknown causes? Have you exhausted all the other causes such as infection, parasites, or anatomy issues? Is your pet’s Veterinarian now recommending a food trial? If so, below is the lowdown on food allergies, what exactly a food trial is, how to properly execute a food trial, and what food options there are.

 What is a food allergy?

A food allergy is an immune system reaction that occurs after eating a certain food. Ingredients in pet food may be combined or changed into substances recognized by the immune system as foreign invaders to be attacked. The target of this attack include the gastrointestinal (GI) tract or other organ systems, but in dogs and cats it is the skin that most often suffers the most. The classical signs of food allergies in pets can be itchy lesions on the face, limbs, anal area, and ears. Some other symptoms are ongoing diarrhea and/or vomiting. Symptoms start when the pet is less than 6 months old or starts when the pet is older then 5-6 years old. Food allergies can develop even if a pet has been eating the same food for years with no issues. It takes time for them to develop the allergy. Symptoms do not happen seasonally like with airborne allergens, they are always present.  It is also noted that corticosteroids do not help with most food allergy issues.

The pet food companies have done a great job of advertising “grain free” diets, but unfortunately the pet usually is having a reaction to both the protein and/or carbohydrate in the diet. Grains are not bad for our pets. There is no simple test to see exactly what is causing the reaction. To solve the problem the culprit must be removed from the pet’s world. This is why we do food trials.

What is a food trial?

Before beginning a food trial we want to make sure all other possible culprits have been ruled out (parasites, infections, anatomy issues). If there is any secondary skin infection from the lesions, they must be cleared before starting the trial.

A food trial is when a hypoallergenic diet is fed for a period of time deemed by your Veterinarian. If the symptoms resolve, you then switch the pet back to its original food for 2 weeks to see if the symptoms return. If we see relapse, it is recommended to return to the food trial diet and staying on the food indefinitely.

There are no other ways to diagnose a food allergy. Blood tests are not helpful. Blood tests can detect antibodies against certain food proteins but this does not mean that the pet has an allergy. It could just mean the pet has eaten that type of protein before.

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What is involved in a food trial?

Food trials are VERY strict in order to see accurate results and everyone in the household must be on board with the instructions. This means the pet shouldn’t have any other protein sources besides the test protein. This includes rawhides, flavored chew toys, flavored chewable medications including heartworm/flea preventions, flavored vitamins, and all treats. Chewable medications will need to be switched to non flavored tablets/capsules and chewable heartworm/flea preventions may need to be switched to a topical brand.

As stated above, the pet is put on a hypoallergenic diet for at least 3 months. No other food/treats can be fed. If symptoms resolve then the pet is put back on their original diet for 2 weeks. If symptoms resume then we can diagnose a food allergy. The pet can then return to the hypoallergenic diet indefinitely. Some owners opt to not go back to the original diet because they do not want their pet to go through the horrible symptoms again. They will just continue the food trial diet indefinitely.

A food trial is very easy in that all you have to do is feed the hypoallergenic diet, but owners tend to find it hard to not feed other treats. Owners will state that the food trial failed, but in reality they were not being as strict as needed.

What are current food trial options?

There are three different types of diets that can be used in a food trial: a novel protein, hydrolyzed protein, or a home cooked diet.

Novel proteins are most commonly used in food trials. They are diets that contain a single protein source and single carbohydrate source. The most important part of choosing a novel protein, is that it has to be one that the pet has never come in contact with before. For example if you choose a venison and sweet potato diet, the pet must not have eaten either one of these protein/carbohydrates in any other food (treats, dry food, canned, etc). It takes years for a pet to become allergic to a food source, so the pet should not be allergic to something new. Pet food companies are starting to make a huge variety of flavors of food/treats, so it can be very hard to find a diet for the pet if the owner tends to feed a variety of different flavored food/treats.

Examples of novel protein diets include venison and potato, fish and potato, egg and rice, duck and pea, and even kangaroo. Several of these diets have been released to the public markets, so it is very important to choose ingredients for the trial that is not found in the pet’s regular diet. Public markets tend to sell these novel protein food for a lot less then Veterinary prescription diets, but they cannot guarantee that there are no additional proteins mixed in. Contamination easily happens because the machines are not thoroughly cleaned with each new batch of food made. Veterinary prescription diets can guarantee that the product does not contain any contaminants. The the machines are thoroughly cleaned/disinfected between batches of food. Most Veterinary prescribed diets have a 100 percent guarantee. This means that if the pet does not like the food, it can be returned for a refund.

Hydrolyzed proteins are diets that contain the smallest amount of molecules of a protein so that the body cannot detect them.  Basically, the immune system is tricked into no longer recognizing the protein so it does not trigger a reaction. The downside of hydrolyzed protein diets is that it is not as palatable as it would be with the protein in its original form. Examples of hydrolyzed protein diets include Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d, Purina HA HypoAllergenic Canine Formula, Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Canine Hypoallergenic. These diets also have a 100 percent guarantee. If the pet does not like the food, then it can be returned for a refund.

Home cooked diets are rarely used in food trial diets. It can be very inconvenient for the owner to have to cook the pets every meal and important vitamins/minerals are easily left out of the diet. If an owner wants to pursue a home cooked diet a nutritionist should be involved so that they can make a balanced diet for the pet. Recipes for appropriate diets can be purchased through BalanceIt, rpetdiets.com, or by any nutritionist listed at the American College of Veterinary Nutrition web site.

So how do you find out exactly what protein/carbohydrate the pet is allergic to?

2The process to find out what exact protein/carbohydrate a pet is allergic to is not a simple task but it can be done. It can be a very lengthy process. To do this, you add a single/pure protein source (such as cooked chicken, tofu, wheat flour or any other single food) to the test diet with each meal. If the pet begins to show allergic symptoms within two weeks, then that protein source causes an allergic reaction. You must return to the test diet until the allergic symptoms stops and then you can try another pure protein source. If no symptoms show after two weeks of feeding a test protein, then the pet is not allergic to that protein.

What if a diet is unsuccessful?

To determine if a diet was truly unsuccessful we need to make sure the owner was 100 percent compliant (meaning they only fed the test food), parasites are under control, infections are under control, and that the food trial was done for long enough time. If all those boxes are checked, then it is strongly suggestive that an inhalant allergy is the culprit. If this is the case, biopsies by dermatologist is recommended.

By: Jamie McAfee

Sources:
Brooks, Wendy C. “Food Allergies.” Veterinary Partner, 2001,      http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=652

H, Heidi. “Royal Canin Veterinary Diet® Canine Selected Protein Adult PR Dry Dog Food.” Canine Selected Protein Adult PR Dry Dog Food | Royal Canin Veterinary Diet, 10 Aug. 2015,  http://www.royalcanin.com/products/royal-canin-veterinary-diet-canine-selected-protein-adult-pr-dry-dog-food/1396

“Allergy – Food Allergy in Dogs.” vca_corporate, vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/allergy-food-allergy-in-dogs

Clinical Nutrition Team. “What Every Pet Owner Should Know about Food Allergies.” Clinical Nutrition Service at Cummings School, 30 Jan. 2017, vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2017/01/food-allergies

https://www.hillspet.com

Visiting the Vet doesn’t have to be Scary!

A-scared-dogWe’ve learned a lot about dogs and cats over the last 20 years including a lot about their behaviors. The truth is dogs are not people and cats are not small dogs. They have different preferences and respond differently to stressful situations.  Unfortunately, visiting the veterinarian is frequently considered a very stressful experience for both pets and their owners.

The good news? You don’t have to sacrifice care by skipping out on regular veterinary visits because of stress. There are plenty of ways for you and your pet to stay relaxed during a veterinary visit. As we work on becoming Fear Free Certified, we want to share some of these tips with you!

Fear Free visits start at home!

dogincardangerSocialization is key! Early, positive experiences can build a foundation of trust and help prevent fear from developing. Puppies should be enrolled in training and socialization classes. Dogs should be comfortable riding in the car, visiting new places and meeting new people. A combination of rewards, slowly acclimatizing your pet to car rides and, sometimes, anti-anxiety medications given prior to the veterinary visit can greatly reduce or eliminate anxiety associated with car rides.

Something most clients don’t think about is that it’s ok to come by, even when your pets don’t actually need any kind of care. In fact, we encourage it! We have several patients who stop by for nothing more than some love and a handful of treats. This allows us to bond with our patients and build trust.

Owners can also desensitize their pets to being examined by handling them frequently at home, rubbing their feet, ears and gums.

Pheromone & Supplement Therapy

Like most animals, dogs and cats use a series of scents and pheromones, or “chemical signals”. These pheromone signals are used to mark territory and convey a large range of feelings including anxiety and contentment. There are several products that mimic some of the “feel good” pheromones that animals give off.

feliway-electric-diffuser-48-ml-3Feliway is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the facial pheromone produced when a cat rubs its face on an object to scent mark. Meridian is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the pheromones mother cats produce to reassure kittens. The calming pheromones from both of these products reduce the alarming sense cats can feel during stressful situations and help control those unwanted behaviors that stem from stress including aggression and inappropriate urination.

Adaptil-Diffuser_r7nexxAdaptil for Dogs works in a very similar fashion. Mother dogs communicate with their puppies through natural messages released into the air. These “comforting messages“are called Dog Appeasing Pheromones and they provide a strong signal of security and comfort to dogs of all ages.  Adaptil is available in several different forms: diffusers, collars and spray. In the event that an owner does not have Adaptil at home, we do have bandanas that have been pre-treated with spray in all of our exam rooms. Clients are encouraged to loosely tie one around their dogs’ necks while waiting to be seen.

1431-zylkene-newIn addition to synthetic pheromones, we also carry some supplements that have shown effective relief of stress in both dogs and cats. Zylkene is made with a milk-derived ingredient and it promotes calmness in pets. It often gives pets a calm feeling without causing sedation or drowsiness. Zylkene can be used for specific stress inducing events such as a visit to the vet, boarding, fireworks, thunderstorms and travel. Pets that are fearful may benefit from starting Zylkene one-two days prior to a known stress inducing event. It is also approved for long term, daily use.

Visiting the Clinic

pets-like-vetAll dogs entering the clinic should be on leashes and all cats should arrive in carriers. We try to make sure that all pets are moved into exam rooms quickly but if your pets are especially anxious, ask if you can wait in the car or even outside. In addition, ask our staff for a bandana that has been pre-treated with Adaptil. This can be tied loosely around your dog’s neck and will help him/her to relax some while waiting to be seen.

It is best for your pet to be hungry when he/she comes for his visit to a Fear Free veterinary clinic, since he will have a wide assortment of treats and toys available to reduce anxiety, distract and reward him while waiting, being examined and having treatments done. Pet owners are encouraged to bring their pet’s very favorite treats and toys as well.

In the exam rooms, pets will appreciate a familiar slip-proof surface on the table. Both Feliway and Adaptil are used throughout the clinic in their various forms and are also used in our boarding facility.

Feline Friendly!

adventurecat-yuki-11-of-118-1024x768We get numerous calls every day from pet owners needing to reschedule their cats’ appointments because they are hiding or they can’t get them in their carriers. This is because most cats never see their carrier unless they are going to the vet and they have been conditioned to associate their carrier with scary experiences. Cat owners should find a place in the home where their carrier can be left out. Allow your cats to become familiar with their carrier.  A carrier that opens from the top as well as the front is ideal. Leave the door open so the cat can investigate and leave its scent on the carrier. Put treats and favorite toys in the carrier to encourage exploration. Make sure the bedding is soft, comfortable and stays in place when the cat moves. If the carrier you use is one of his or her favorite safe sleeping spots, your kitty will be much more likely to accept transportation in a vehicle and also will be happier once they reach the hospital.  Clients are encouraged to pick up a Feliway wipe prior to the appointment so that they can wipe their kitty’s carrier at home an hour or so before their appointments.

cat-vetOnce at the clinic, cats are moved quickly into our kitty exclusive exam room. We keep a Feliway Diffuser plugged in at all times to help create a naturally soothing environment for our feline patients and help them feel safer while here. Cats are welcome to explore the exam room and even climb the cat tree. We have plenty of catnip and treats at hand and also keep warm towels on hand for cats to curl up or hide under during their exams.

For kitties that require a little extra stress reduction, we have “Feline Fear Free” kits. These kits include a couple of doses of a tasteless medication that can be sprinkled directly on their food the night before and the morning of their appointments. This medication will help to relax them. In addition, the kits include a Feliway wipe for their carrier.

All cats that drop off for exams or boarding are kept in a separate area, away from dogs, and are given tents or boxes to curl up and hide in.

Sedation is not a last resort

stress dogWe will never struggle with your pet or hold him/her down in an uncomfortable position for any reason. This will only create a cycle of fear and distrust that will become nearly impossible to break. Once a pet is at the clinic, if it is fearful and won’t take a tasty food reward, even if hungry, it’s time to regroup. While a lot of people balk at the idea of sedating their pets, sedation with safe and effective modern drugs is ideal in many situations and is certainly more beneficial to the pets’ mental well being than being wrestled to the table or floor. Some pets may even need sedation for routine examination and that’s ok! Many pets are so psychologically damaged or fearful that they would benefit from sedation before they even leave home. Our doctors can work with you to create a stress reduction plan for your pet that meets their individual needs.

Clients are encouraged to bring their pets by for “happy visits” or desensitization exercises to prepare them for future handling without sedation. Even a very fearful pet can be taught to tolerate procedures with time and effort.

By: Tara Sansing

Why can’t we all just get along?!

As much as we love our cats, it can be incredibly frustrating when they don’t get along with each other. One minute they could be fine, sleeping on top of each other & purring like crazy. Then the next something happened & now they’re tearing through the house hissing, spitting, & screaming at each other. The next thing you know, one cat is hiding on top of the fridge, things are knocked over, there’s tufts of fur everywhere, & the other cat has a cut on his face.

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But don’t worry, there’s hope! You may have read about Feliway before on here or heard us talk about it in the clinic. There’s a Feliway MultiCat available now as well. This could be the missing piece to finally eliminating the tension between your cats!

Feliway & Feliway MultiCat work in different ways:

Feliway works by imitating the Feline Facial Pheromone. This is what is given off when your cat rubs his face on the table, your leg, boxes, & so on. This is a “happy message” that promotes comfort & security to your cat. This is used more to deter unwanted behavior, such as inappropriate urination, that can be caused by stress or changes in the house.

Feliway MultiCat imitates the Cat Appeasing Pheromone. This pheromone is naturally emitted by mothers when their kittens nurse. This helps the cats feel safe & promotes a sense of harmony between all of the cats in the home. This is also great to use when introducing a new cat or kitten to your family.

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Signs of tension include fighting, chasing, obstructing or blocking another cat from a certain area, & staring. So if one cat doesn’t want the other to go to the kitchen, or they’re having intense stare downs that lead to them fighting throughout the house, you may want to consider trying Feliway MultiCat.

You can use original Feliway & Feliway MultiCat together if you’d like. Sometimes tension can cause unwanted behavior. Using the two different types of Feliway together can help in these types of situations.

Feliway MultiCat is only available as a plug in diffuser. Each bottle lasts up to 30 days & it runs continuously. The actual diffuser itself should be replaced every 6 months. The diffuser should be placed in an open space & covers about 700 square feet. Putting it behind doors, under shelving, in similar places can make it difficult to spread & work properly.

Starter Kits & Refills are available in clinic & online through VetSource. The goal with Feliway MultiCat is to help develop a strong, harmonious bond between your cats so that you don’t have to use the product long term.27459547_10154877923105666_4246769826786111965_n

Testimonial: “I’ve been using this for about a month now. I can tell that the fights between my cats are less frequent. I’ve just started my first refill & I’m very hopeful to see how things continue to go! I can tell the difference between my cats fighting & playing. I’m happy to report that there’s much more play now!”
– Ashley E. Receptionist at TLC Animal Hospital

If you have any questions, feel free to call the clinic! We’re happy to help & answer any questions you may have. If you’d like to read up more about Feliway & how it works, click here to go to their website.

By: Ashley Elliott