Tag: feline

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

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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

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.

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by: Kaitie Barczak

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