Tag: Cats

Trick or Treat! Help your Pets have a Hazard-Free Halloween!

It’s that spooky time of year again! Witches, ghosts, scary movies, creepy decorations, haunted houses, grave yard tours, & above all, candy! While this is a fun time for people of all ages, don’t forget to make sure that your pets stay safe & don’t get into any trouble.

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Candy, candy, & more candy!

Just as a reminder, chocolate (in all forms) is toxic to both cats & dogs. The artificial sweetener Xylitol can cause problems for your pets as well. Ingestion of these can cause diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, & worse. So be sure to keep the candy bucket, treat bags, & your own personal stash of Halloween candy out of reach from your pets! As always, if you pet does get into something, be sure to contact either the ASPCA Poison Control Center or your local animal emergency clinic.

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Jack-O-Lanterns, Cobwebs, & Wires –  Oh My!

Everyone knows that old saying about curious cats, but this time of year we need to be extra cautious with our spooky decorations. Those cobwebs look excellent, but you might need to move them if you notice your cat trying to eat them. Make sure that any open flames are out of reach from your pets & secured so that they can’t be accidentally knocked over. Keep wires secured as well as some pets may like to chew on them. We don’t want anyone getting shocked, starting a fire, or needing to have surgery to remove cobwebs from your pet’s digestive tract.

Be sure to also keep glow sticks out of reach from your pets. If your pet tries to play with these, they may puncture them & ingest some of the liquid. While most glows ticks are non-toxic, it may have a very bitter taste which may cause your pet to because nauseated.

bantha-pet-costumeSpooky Costumes!

Your pet’s comfort should always be your top priority when it comes to dressing them up. While it may look hilarious, if you know that your pet does not like to wear things, don’t force them to. You wouldn’t go to a party without having tried out your costume first, right? You should always make sure that the costume for your pet fits properly & that they are comfortable with it ahead of time. Costumes should never restrict your pet’s movement & it should never inhibit their ability to see. This can cause them to stress & possibly hurt themselves trying to get out of them. Caution should also be taken with costumes that have things hanging off of them. These could get caught on something or your pet may decide to try to eat it.

Don’t worry – Your pet can still be festive even if they’re not wearing a full costume! Halloween shirts, bandannas, collars, & harnesses are available pretty much everywhere in all shapes & sizes.

f4717c63ac9c0af1866a8cfc9d8b5ab9--halloween-costumes-for-cats-pet-costumesWhy are all of these weird-looking people coming to my house?! I’m outta here!

While Halloween is a fun holiday for everyone, your pet may be stressed or frightened with everything that’s going on. If your pet is a nervous one, be sure to take proper steps to ensure that they also have a Happy Halloween.

If they don’t like the door bell or people coming to the door, sit outside to hand out treats or leave the treat bucket out on your porch. If you have your dog outside with you, make sure that they’re on a leash & have their collar on. Make sure that you have a secured hold on the leash as well.

If your pet has a habit of running off when they’re nervous, make sure that they’re kept secure either in their kennel or in another room to prevent them from running out the door while you’re handing out candy. As we’ve talked about before, there are all sorts of options available to help calm down your nervous pets. If you’re concerned about your pet needing something to help take the edge off, talk to your veterinarian.

You should also make sure that your pets are wearing their collars & have their tags. Yes, even with their costumes! While shelters & clinics can check for microchips, a collar with tags is a quick & easy way for anyone to get a lost pet back home.

Speaking of microchips, this is the perfect time to make sure that your pet’s microchip information is up-to-date! If your pet was microchipped with us at TLC Animal Hospital, visit petlink.net to check the information that is associated with your pet’s chip. Not sure what company the chip is registered through? That’s ok! AAHA (The American Animal Hospital Association) has set up this fantastic website that allows you to search for your pet’s microchip number & it will tell you where to go to from there.iStock-612816962

With these tips in mind, you & your pets should be able to have a worry-free Halloween!

By: Ashley Elliott

Sources:
Halloween Safety Tips from ASPCA
Celebrating Safely with your Pets this Halloween from ASPCA
Universal Pet Microchip Lookup

 

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That Doggone Diabetes!

Diabetes is a condition brought on when an organ in the body, the pancreas, does not produce insulin. The concern here is that in order for the pet to metabolize sugar from their meals, they need insulin to help convert the sugars into a useful substance that the body can then absorb and utilize for energy. When this happens, the blood becomes overwhelmed with glucose (our energy supply), but without the insulin to make the glucose useful,  the body thinks it is starving – going into panic mode – and begins breaking down fats, stored starches, and proteins to feed all of the hungry cells. Now, while starches and proteins can be broken down in glucose for energy, fat breaks down into ketones. Detection of ketones on lab work show that there has been a large amount of fat breakdown, but a very serious complication, diabetic ketoacidosis, can occur as well from prolonged unregulated diabetes.

Pet-Diabetes-Signs-Web450x450Common signs you might start to notice in your pet and warrant a trip to see us would be excessive thirst, excessive urination, increased appetite, and weight loss.  Blood work helps us in diagnosing the condition by showing high glucose elevations in the blood and sometimes glucose being present in the urine, too. Glucose numbers can be falsely elevated in a stressed pet when they come to see us, so taking a thorough history and running blood work as well as urine helps us to accurately identify the condition vs. a pet that is just ready to go home from their vet visit!

Causes

  • Age. While diabetes can occur at any age, it mostly occurs in middle-aged to senior dogs. Most dogs that develop it are age 5 or older when diagnosed.
  • Gender. Un-spayed female dogs are twice as likely as male dogs to have diabetes.
  • Chronic or repeated pancreatitis. Chronic or repeated pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) can eventually cause extensive damage to that organ, resulting in diabetes.
  • Obesity. Obesity contributes to insulin resistance and is a risk factor for pancreatitis, which can lead to diabetes.
  • Steroid medications. These can cause diabetes when used long-term.
  • Cushing’s disease. With Cushing’s disease, the body overproduces steroids internally, so this condition also can cause diabetes.
  • Other health conditions. Some autoimmune disorders and viral diseases are also thought to possibly trigger diabetes.
  • Genetics. Diabetes can occur in any breed or mixed-breed, and it seems genetics can play a role in either increased or reduced risk. A 2003 study found that overall mixed-breeds are no less prone to diabetes than are purebreds. Among purebreds, breeds vary in susceptibility, some with very low risk and others with higher risk. Some that may be at higher risk include miniature Poodles, Bichon Frises, Pugs, Dachshunds, Miniature Schnauzers, Puli, Samoyeds, Keeshonds, Australian Terriers, Fox Terriers, Cairn Terriers, and Beagles.

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Types of Diabetes
Type I: Insulin dependent diabetes. A majority of the time, this is the type that of diabetes that dogs get – the pancreas stops producing the insulin so we must supplement the body with insulin to aid in proper metabolism of sugars.

Type II: Non-Insulin dependent diabetes. This is the type of diabetes that most cats will get. The pancreas produces some insulin but not enough to effectively metabolize the sugars, so we supplement with insulin and sometimes there is the potential that the pancreas in a cat can improve its insulin-secreting abilities and lead to remission.
Good glucose control and proper diet are beneficial – this can lead to a resolve in diabetes for some lucky cats, but unfortunately our canine companions are in it for the long haul with this being a maintained disease for the rest of their life. Ideally, cats should be fed a low carbohydrate, high protein diet, and dogs should be fed high fiber diets. Seeing as this could be tricky to formulate, we have diets specifically designed for diabetic pets that they can be switched to.

Treatment
At home care is usually the way we treat diabetes, teaching you how to administer thevesulin tiny amount of medication under your pet’s skin (subcutaneously) twice daily after a full meal. On occasion, a newly diagnosed pet that is doing poorly might spend some time with us while we get them regulated, but a majority of the time they get to go home the same day to start on their new routine.

We send you home with the selected insulin, syringes, and diabetic diet. You will need to feed a full meal every 12 hours and then administer the prescribed dose of insulin immediately after they have eaten. It is very important to set a schedule and stick to it!

IdealBloodGlucose_cat_lgRoutinely, a newly diagnosed pet will most likely need a few glucose curves to identify the dosage that they need to be on to effectively regulate their diabetes. This is done by having them stay with us for the day so we can take glucose measurements every 2 hours to see how they are utilizing their insulin. This is called a “curve” because if the insulin is working properly, the results will make a curve when graphed.

Once we get to a dose that is appropriate for your pet, we then monitor every 3-6 months with another curve and urinalysis to make sure we are staying on track and maintaining an accurate treatment for them. Of course, if there is a change in symptoms we see them right then and repeat testing when the problem occurs (feeling ill, losing weight, increase or loss of appetite, drinking/urinating excessively, disoriented/groggy).

by: Kaitie Barczak

Don’t take my claws, I need those!

Up until I had started working at TLC Animal Hospital, I didn’t know much about declawing & what all it entails. I had no idea that declawing was basically removing the last joint on their paws. I had no idea that it changes the way your cat’s body bears its weight. I thought it was just something that people did to their cats if they didn’t go outside.

tiggerI remember our oldest cat, Tigger, getting declawed. She had came home with these bright orange bandages on her legs & we had to use this weird paper litter. My parents had decided to get her declawed because she was tearing up my mom’s legs, they were worried about her hurting my brother & I, plus she was also incredibly feisty whenever we took her to the vet. I remember her getting loose in PetsMart once because she attacked one of the technicians in the back & escaped. We used to joke that Tigger had a tally in her carrier for how many people she had injured at the vet. She healed just fine & made up for the lack of claws with increased slapping power.

nissanBy the time we got our second cat, Nissan, we knew more about declawing & we didn’t want to put her through that. However, she started tearing up furniture even with more than enough proper things to scratch on. Tigger, being the queen that she was, would pick on Nissan, & we didn’t want Tigger to get hurt since she didn’t have claws. I remember having a lot of issues with her when she was recovering. There were issues with her bandages & we were not sent home with any medications for pain. I remember her being very scared when she came home & she spent most of her recovery time hiding in my room. She ended up healing just fine, but eventually part of her claws grew back on her front paws & she would still scratch at the furniture some.

weezeWhen we got our third cat, Weasley, he would play so rough with the other two that, again, we didn’t want them to get hurt by his claws. He played rough with us as well & I vividly remember him attacking my leg once & leaving part of a claw in my knee. My brother & I were the main ones that took care of Weasley’s vet visits when he was a kitten, & we were never told about nail caps, trimming, or anything. There was no question about it when we asked for him to be declawed when we got him neutered.Main_Graphic_Claws

Declawing is a major procedure & it’s going to take time not only for your cat to heal properly, but to also adjust to life without that last digit on their toes. Younger cats heal from this much faster, but this can be extremely difficult for older cats, especially if they’re overweight. It takes a cat 10-14 days to heal from this surgery. They need to be confined in a small space during this time. They should not run, jump, pounce, or play during this time. The more time they spend on their paws while healing, the longer it’s going to take for them to fully heal. You also risk the chance of sutures coming out, or being ripped out, along with infection if your cat is not properly confined. You have to use paper litter while your cat’s paws are healing as well. Using regular litter can lead to dust or other small particles getting into the surgery sites causing irritation, discomfort, & possible infection.

What should I do & what are my alternatives?

With so many alternatives available, declawing should never be your first choice. Below is a list of the alternatives & general information about them. If you’re concerned about your cat’s nails or are considering declawing, please take the time to read through these options & give them a chance first.

postScratching Posts: Scratching is a natural thing for cats, so having appropriate places for them to do so is important. Every cat, regardless of the status of their claws, should have somewhere to scratch. There are a variety of scratching posts made from different materials. Cardboard, rope, carpet, & so on. My cats prefer the rope kind. Depending on the material, these can help file down their nails some. Don’t worry if you don’t have space for a huge cat tower. There are so many different shapes & sizes to choose from that you should have no problem finding one that perfect for your house & your cat.

clippersTrimming: Regular trimming of your cat’s nails greatly reduces the likelihood of your cat damaging your furniture. If you have a new kitten, start working with their paws early on. This will help them get used to having their paws messed with & help cut down on them wanting to fight against having their nails trimmed. Be sure to use proper tools as well. Human nail clippers should not be used for this. I, personally, prefer the nail clippers that look like small scissors. There are spring loaded ones, but they can get stuck sometimes if you don’t use enough pressure when clipping.188774-300x300-claw-clipping-diagram

It can be scary trimming your cat’s nails at first, trust me, I know. I never wanted to even try because I was scared that I was going to make them bleed. Be sure to just trim the tips of the nails. It’s usually easy to see how far you can go back without hitting the quick. Doing this on a regular basis can help the quick go back as well, allowing you to keep the nails shorter overall. At TLC Animal Hospital, we are more than happy to show you how to properly trim your cat’s nails. We do this with all adoption exams for cats & dogs, but we’re happy to show anyone that wants to learn.

nailcapsNail Caps: These are both adorable & functional! They come in a variety of sizes & colors so you should have no problem with finding the right ones for your cat. Trimming the nails first is ideal, this will help the nail cap last longer. Apply the glue to the inside of the cap, extend the claw & then place the cap on the claw. When properly applied, nail caps can last up to two weeks.

tapeDeterrent Sprays & Tapes: There are sprays that you can use on the items that you do not want your cat to scratch on. These leave behind a scent that is unpleasant to cats & discourages them from going back. These can be scents like cinnamon & other herbs, so they’re not off-putting to humans. The tapes are very sticky & can be used as a temporary barrier for your furniture to help prevent scratching. Usually, cats will not mess with something sticky once they realize how it feels. As always, make sure that you have something nearby that is appropriate for your cat to scratch on when using these products. However, these are not guaranteed to work with all cats. Cats are weird, some could care less about smells & other could care less about getting into something messy.

feFeliScratch: This is a newer product that helps encourage appropriate scratching behavior. If this had been available when we were dealing with Nissan’s scratching, we definitely would’ve done this instead of declawing. Use FeliScratch on the posts that you want your cat to scratch on & apply it in vertical lines. It has a temporary blue dye to attract your cat’s attention to it. It also contains synthetic pheromones to draw them to it & catnip to keep them coming back. We highly recommend using this anytime you have a new cat or kitten to help them learn early on what they can & can’t scratch on in their new environment. Don’t worry, you can use this to help “older” cats as well – they don’t have to be new to the house & it’s never too late for them to learn.

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27459547_10154877923105666_4246769826786111965_nCurrently, my boyfriend & I have three cats (Marcello, Ravio, & Gnocchi). We’re able to trim their nails just fine. While they aren’t overjoyed when it’s time to do so, they let me do it. If you had told me when I was little that I’d have cats with claws & be able to trim them, I would’ve laughed.

Now, with the way Tigger was, there’s no way on Earth we would’ve been able to trim her nails (you could pet her head, neck, & chin, but anywhere else you were going to loose finger). Maybe not Weasley either (he’s a bit of a nut), but I know for a fact that we could have trimmed Nissan’s nails with no problem at all. If only someone had pointed it out to us sooner.

This is why we focus so much on educating our clients on the different options available. Things have come a long way over the years as far as veterinary care & options for your pets goes. If you’re considering declawing your cat, please talk to your veterinarian first. Working together with your veterinarian & their staff, they can help you find what works best for you, your cat, & your furniture.

To learn more about FeliScratch & other alternatives, please visit savethecouches.com.

By: Ashley Elliott

Pancreatitis – Are the table scraps worth it?

toxic-dog-foods-listWe all love our fur-children, and we want to spoil them. Sometimes, spoiling them goes beyond buying toys off of the shelves at your local pet stores. Pet owners often like to feed their pets table scraps, or sometimes even a whole meal from their favorite fast-food restaurant.

What may seem harmless to us could potentially be harmful towards your dog or cat. The digestive tract of a dog/cat is very delicate, and it’s always mindful to keep Fido on a nutritional diet and keeping him or her close to their ideal weight, just to make sure that obesity isn’t a factor.

Feeding your baby anything that is high in fat can result in a condition called pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is a part of the endocrine and digestive system, which is integral for the digestion of foods, producing the enzymes that digest food, and producing insulin. When pancreatitis occurs, the flow d5101e3ef0974dc42e0c973427db21deof enzymes that goes straight into the digestive tract can become disrupted, forcing those enzymes out of the pancreas and into the abdominal area, resulting in the digestive enzymes breaking down fat and proteins in other organs, as well as the pancreas. During this process, the body begins to digest itself. Due to the proximity to the pancreas, the kidney and liver can also be affected when this condition unfolds, and the abdomen will become inflamed and possibly infected as well. If bleeding occurs in the pancreas, shock and even death can follow.

Some other risk factors include obesity, hypothyroidism or any other endocrine diseases, severe blunt trauma, and there may even be, in some cases, a genetic predisposition.

Mild cases of pancreatitis usually have a good prognosis, while it’s the more severe cases have a more guarded prognosis due to the potential for systematic complications. The best defense an owner can take against this condition from developing is to be on the look-out for the warning signs, such as repeated vomiting, pain or distention in the abdominal area, loss of appetite, dehydration, weakness/lethargy and having a fever. If any of these symptoms develop, take your pet to your local veterinarian.

The good news is that pancreatitis can be treated! A thorough physical exam and diagnostic testing can be done to confirm whether your pet has pancreatitis or not. Treatment usually consists of hospitalizing your pet for nursing care, a strict bland or low-fat diet, IV fluids to combat dehydration, and medications to help with any pain, vomiting, and/or diarrhea that may occur.

Prevention is always the key! Owner vigilance is required, especially around holidays and other festive occasions. Be watchful of anyone trying to slip your dog some buttery cookies, or a fatty piece of ham! This is definitely one way to prevent your fur child from developing pancreatitis. It is always important to maintain a well-balanced diet containing everything that your furry companion needs. Feeding a diet that is high in fat should be limited long term, as well as diets that are high in protein. The same goes for treats.

trail-running-w-dogKeeping your pet as close to his or her ideal weight as possible and avoidance of drugs that could possibly increase inflammation can help reduce your pet’s risk of pancreatitis. Making sure your pet isn’t overweight, and if he or she is, a reduction in said weight, and proper ongoing weight management can also be helpful.

Just keep your beloved pet on a nutritional diet, exercise as much as possible (it’s good for both the pet and the owner), and be mindful of what you feed to your furry family member.

By: Tiffany Bowmer

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.
parasites
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