Tag: Cats

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

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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

TLC – Where Dentals are More than just a Cleaning!

UntitledWhen you drop you beloved pet at TLC for a dental cleaning, they receive the best personal care possible. We only schedule 2 dentals on a surgery day so that we can focus on each individual pet and give then the time we need to make sure they leave with a nice, clean, healthy mouth. We pride ourselves on quality not quantity.

When they arrive at the clinic for their cleaning, they are given a premed that helps them relax. Once that takes effect, we put in their catheters and draw blood. Normally, the blood work is done prior to the dental cleaning, but we are able to do it the same day if needed. The blood work tells us that all organ systems are functioning properly and you pet is in good shape to be placed under anesthesia.

UntitledsWe then give them an induction medication and place them under gas anesthetic. We then use an ultrasonic tool that uses vibrations and water to scale the tarter from the tooth and then a different probe is used to get under the gum line. We use a stain on the teeth to make sure we are getting all the tartar off, even the small pieces that are hard to see.

We have dental radiography to help give us a complete picture of your pet’s mouth. This allows us to see what is going on inside the teeth and aids in telling us if the teeth should be removed. If extractions are needed, you pet receives a pain injection and sometimes a nerve block. Dr. Richardson will then remove the infected, diseased teeth with precision and care. We have a synthetic bone graft particulate that helps fill the hole the tooth left. She will then suture the area with dissolvable suture.

PerioDisease1AThroughout this whole procedure, the surgery technician is monitoring heart rate, oxygen level, temperature, blood pressure, ECG and gum color. Your pet is kept on a heating pad and we have warm towels close by. The technician monitors the whole time as well as staying with your pet until they are extubated and awake. Their recovery is in a nice warm cage with blankets and warm towels. When they are awake and able to walk, then we release them.

Patients will go home with pain medications when they have extractions. The surgery technician will go over all aftercare instructions with you when you pick up your pet. You’ll be given a copy of these instructions to take home as well. These instructions also have the contact information for the local VCA Animal Emergency Clinics, just in case something happens and we are closed. Our staff will follow up with you the next day as well to check on your pet.

Each pet receives the individual attention they deserve. When you schedule 10 or more dentals in a day, it becomes more like an assembly line and your pet is one of many instead of an individual with specific needs. At TLC, we know your pet and we love and care for them like they were our own.

By: Candace Ivey

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.

fountains

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by: Kaitie Barczak