Tag: felines

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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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

Welcome to The (Bladder) Stone Age

Bladder stones are no joking matter!
While kidney stones are fairly common, another type of stone that can develop are called bladder stones. These stones are made of the build-up of minerals in the urine that collect in the bladder, producing a single or multiple crystallized, rock-like structure(s). They can range in size, making them very difficult to pass on their own. These can be very painful and even damage parts of the urinary system.

Causes of bladder stones:
There are several causes attributed to bladder stones.

  1. Mineral Crystals: Urine that contains an abnormal amount of specific minerals can potentially form bladder stones. There minerals are magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and ammonia. These are all minerals that derive from our diet.
  2. Urine pH: pH is an indicator of how acidic a liquid is. The urine of cats and dogs are typically acidic, meaning that they have a lower urine pH. An abnormal pH reading is a good indicator of an infection.
  3. Bacteria: Some stones are caused by bacteria in the urine. Bacteria in the urine can be discovered by running a culture & sensitivity plate. The urine is spread across a culture plate and placed in an incubator. If there are any bacteria present, it will grow on the plate and the doctor will determine what the best antibiotic would be for the patient. Bacterial infections can alter the pH of the urine, which can lead to crystal formation.
  4. Abnormal Metabolism of Minerals: A pet’s system can inappropriately be metabolizing the minerals leading to the formation of crystals in the urine. Some breeds are more prone to this than others.

The stones can develop anywhere between weeks or over a period of months. The rate of growth can be anywhere between a couple weeks or a few months depending on the crystals present or the degree of infection.

Symptoms:
The typical symptoms of bladder stones can be straining to urinate or only producing small amounts of urine frequently. Blood may even be visible in a pet’s urine as well. Sometimes, a pet will be noticeably uncomfortable during urination, appearing lethargic or unwilling to eat or drink.

Diagnosis:
To diagnose bladder stones, a veterinarian will typically perform a urinalysis. The urinalysis will give information regarding the pH, increased white blood cells, protein and bacteria which will aid in diagnosis. The presence of crystals will alert the veterinarian to do further testing.

The presence of crystals can indicate that a bladder stone is growing or is already present. Some bladder stones can be felt during a physical exam by your veterinarian but typically, your veterinarian will request radiographs or an ultrasound to be performed to confirm a potential diagnosis of bladder stones.

stonesTreatment:
After a confirmed diagnosis of bladder stones, your veterinarian will decide how to proceed. Some stones are able to be broken down with medication or specific kidney diets but more often than not, surgery to remove the stones will be performed so as to prevent further pain to the pet. Surgery can be performed either with a laser to break down the stones or through surgical removal of the stones.

Specifically in male dogs, the stones can get lodged in their urethra, causing immense pain. These stones cannot pass on their own and will need to be removed through flushing and subsequent surgical removal.

After the stones are removed, your veterinarian will recommend sending the stones out to a laboratory for further testing so as to ascertain what type of minerals are present

Case at TLC Animal Hospital:
We had a patient this past year who was diagnosed with bladder stones. Dr. Richardson was the attending surgeon and removed the bladder stones during a cystotomy surgery. The pictures are shown below. We are pleased to say that the patient has made a full recovery and is being monitored for prevention of re-occurrence.

stones2

Prevention of re-occurrence:
After surgery, your veterinarian will recommend prevention of further stones. While some pets can achieve this through a diet formulated to promote kidney health, others may require long-term medication. This will depend on the type of dog and also what type(s) of crystals are removed. Some breeds can be predisposed to formation of stones no matter what prevention is taken and should be placed on a medication regimen. The veterinarian will advise on what they think is best. Pets may need to come in periodically to recheck or culture their urine and bladder x-rays to monitor the kidney function.

Always make sure that your pet has access to fresh water and the ability to go to the bathroom. This can go a long way to preventing recurrence. Pet food that has more moisture will increase the amount of water that your pet receives and minimize crystal formation.

Sources:
https://www.lbah.com/word/canine/bladder-stones/
https://www.vetwest.com.au/pet-library/bladder-stones-in-dogs
https://www.acvs.org/small-animal/urinary-stones

By: Madison Cole

Feline Heartworm Disease

cat-confusedWhile cats are not natural hosts for heartworms, they are still at risk for contracting them. Just like with dogs, heartworms are contracted through mosquito bites. As we’ve mentioned before, we’re in prime mosquito territory. In areas that have mosquitoes, an incidence of 2-14% exist in cats.

Feline Heartworm Disease causes severe lung disease, heart failure, along with damage to other organs. Adult heartworms can grow to be 12 inches long. Cats will typically only have 1-3 adult worms, but they can have up to 6. It only takes 1-3 adult heartworms to cause the cat to collapse and die.

mosquito-illustration_2092x1660Cats are not natural hosts for heartworms. Their immune system is very reactive against heartworms and this makes it next to impossible to detect microfilaria in an infected cat. Microfilaria is the off-spring of adult heartworms born in the host body and found in the blood stream. If a mosquito bites a dog that has microfilaria in their blood stream, they become infected. The mosquito can then transfer the microfilaria to any cats or dogs that they bite next.

hwcats2
The tests currently available detect an antigen that is given off by mature female heartworms. It takes heartworms 6 months to mature. This is why with dogs, we recommend doing a heartworm test once they’re at least 6 months of age and repeating test in 6 months if there was a lapse in prevention. However with cats, due to the limited number of heartworms that grow to maturity, they can be difficult to detect with these tests.

While heartworms can be treated in dogs, the medication used (Immiticide) is toxic to cats. Unfortunately at this time, there are no treatments available for heartworm positive cats.

revHowever, there is good news! The disease is 100% preventable. Our recommendation is Revolution. Revolution prevents fleas, roundworms, hookworms and ear mites as well as heartworms. Revolution is a topical preventative instead of an oral, making it easier to administer.  If you apply once every 30 days, your cat will not only be flea-free, but they’ll also be protected against heartworms!

Twelve common symptoms of Feline Heartworm Disease are:5625pt1

  1. Coughing
  2. Weight Loss
  3. Lethargy
  4. Gagging
  5. Vomiting
  6. Collapsing
  7. Lack of Appetite
  8. Abnormal Rapid Breathing (Tachypnea)
  9. Difficulty Breathing
  10. Blindness
  11. Convulsions
  12. Sudden Death

Remember – Mosquitos are everywhere! Just because your cat is strictly indoors only doesn’t mean that they aren’t at risk. Every pet should be on both flea and heartworm preventatives year round.

By: Candace Ivey

Concerned about your canine companion? Read about Double Defense here to learn more about heartworms in dogs & the best way to prevent your pup from them.

Wellness for All Ages

“Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” -Anatole France

Senior Wellness

At TLC, we recognize that no two animals are the same. We respect their individuality and their

individual needs throughout all stages of their lives. Unfortunately, aging is a fact of life and can take its toll on the body. That’s why we specialize in senior wellness and care. We monitor senior pets closely for age related changes so that we can address developing medical conditions as soon as possible.

We work with you to create and customize a care plan for your pets as they age so that they can remain happy and comfortable in their later years and so that you can spend as many years with them as possible.

Some of the services that we offer and recommend for our senior patients include:

Extensive Bi-Annual Examinations

Pets age at seven times the rate of humans. It is for this reason that we recommend bi-annual examinations for all of our senior patients. The Doctor will check your pet from nose to toes looking for any physical changes that need to be addressed or monitored. This includes monitoring their weight, listening to the heart and lungs, checking their eyes and ears, palpating their abdomen and checking the joints for stiffness or discomfort.

Bloodwork & Urinalysis

While a physical examination is vital to your pet’s healthcare, there are several conditions that simply cannot be diagnosed by just looking, listening, and touching. Chemistry and hematology blood tests and urinalysis provide a detailed look at your pet’s health from the inside.

Radiographs

As pets age they experience many changes internally such as changes in their organs and joints. Radiographs give us a better picture of what is happening inside the body and allow us to address and monitor these changes. All radiographs are reviewed by board certified radiologists who can help identify and diagnose these changes and make additional recommendations for care.

Blood Pressures

Just like humans, dogs and cats can also suffer from high blood pressure, especially as they get older. Hypertension in pets is often caused by some other underlying disease and thus is a very important wellness screening tool. All senior pets should have a screening blood pressure with every exam.

Ocular Pressures

Glaucoma is a serious condition where the pressure of the eye becomes elevated. It can be extremely painful for dogs and cats and can cause irreversible, rapid blindness. It may not be obvious to pet owners when they eye is only mildly affected so it is recommended that screening pressures be performed twice a year. Medications, when administered regularly, can help to lower eye pressure and slow down vision loss.

Schirmer Tear Tests

As dogs age, they frequently develop a condition called KCS or dry eye. Many breeds such as Shih-Tzus, Pugs and Boston Terriers are pre-disposed to this condition. It can be painful and lead to other damages to the eyes if left untreated. Schirmer Tear Tests allow us to monitor the eyes’ ability to produce tears. Medications can be prescribed if needed to ensure that your pets’ eyes stay properly lubricated.

Laser Therapy

Our Class III Therapeutic Cold Laser is specifically designed to treat pain and inflammation due to arthritis. Low level laser light has both anti-inflammatory and immunostimulate effects. Following a laser session approximately 75-80% of clients that have patients being treated notice improvement in their condition.

Medication Therapy

There are many pet-safe medications available to relieve arthritic discomfort and pain. These medications have been tested for long term use in pets. We can recommend and prescribe these medications based on your pets’ personalized wellness plan.

Geriatric Boarding

As pets age, many require care beyond basic boarding. That’s why we offer Geriatric Boarding for our senior patients. This service is available for pets that are physically restricted and/or have medical conditions that make it difficult for them to stay at general boarding facilities. Our team is specially trained to deliver exceptional care to senior pets including monitoring them closely while here and administering their medications. All senior boarders are walked every hour and we provide hygienic baths as needed to make sure that they remain clean and comfortable.  You can have confidence that your pets’ are receiving the care that they need while you are away.

In addition to beds and mats, we also provide Pet Cots for our boarders. Unlike regular bedding which has been known to clump and become uneven, Pet Cots evenly distribute a pet’s weight and relieve stress on the joints. The raised design protects pets from excessive cold, heat & moisture and yet is low enough to the ground to allow older pets to climb step easily on and off the cot.

Products
In addition to providing senior specific services, we carry a variety of products that address age related changes including:

  • Purina Neuro-Care, a diet designed to promote healthy brain activity and joints in aging dogs
  • Hills J/D, high levels of glucosamine and fatty acids promote healthy joints
  • Therapeutic Diets for medical conditions such as renal disease
  • Planet Dog “Old Soul” Balls  Senior dogs are only as old as the wag of their tail. The Old Soul Ball is designed to address the issues dogs experience as they grow older and wiser: reduced vision and snout strength, weakened jaw muscles, and brittle teeth. High contrast colors make the Old Soul Ball easy to spot, and the extra mint makes it easier to sniff out. The material is given extra pliability to offer a satisfying chew that’s easy on the gums and snout

By: Tara Sansing