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THE IMPORTANCE OF A RECHECK EXAMINATION IN CATS

 

Dr. Debra Primovic

General Practice & Preventative Medicine

RECHECK EXAM

Delaying or not having a recheck exam can hurt your cat. A recheck examination is an appointment that allows your veterinarian to assess the progress and follow-up on your cat's disease or problem. Maybe you are thinking you can skip it because your cat is doing better? Even if your cat physically looks and feels better, he or she may not be completely back to normal. Some diseases can progress undetected.

It is often more difficult to treat diseases or conditions that have been going on for a long time or are not thoroughly treated the first time. Consider the possibility that recheck exams may actually save you time and money in the long run. Some chronic diseases can spiral out of control if not closely monitored for subtle changes. This could ultimately lead to more lengthy procedures, hospitalizations, trips back and forth to your veterinarian, and significantly higher veterinary bills.

The recheck visits to your veterinarian will depend on the medical condition your cat has. If the condition is chronic, they may require life long-term treatment.

Recheck exams are a worthwhile investment in your cat’s overall health. By taking your cat in for a “re-check” you are providing your cat the best possible care by allowing his progress to be professionally monitored. By finding, diagnosing and treating these problems early and thoroughly, your cat will live a much healthier and longer life.

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HOW TO CONTROL AND PREVENT FLEAS ON YOUR CAT

 

Dr. Douglas Brum

General Practice & Preventative Medicine

UNDERSTANDING THE FLEA

For millions of pets and people, the tiny flea is a remorseless enemy. The flea is a small, brown, wingless insect that uses specialized mouthparts to pierce the skin and siphon blood.

When a flea bites your cat, it injects a small amount of saliva into the skin to prevent blood coagulation. Some animals may have fleas without showing discomfort, but an unfortunate number of cats become sensitized to this saliva. In highly allergic animals, the bite of a single flea can cause severe itching and scratching. Fleas cause the most common skin disease of cats – flea allergy dermatitis.

If your pet develops hypersensitivity to flea saliva, many changes may result.

· A small hive may develop at the site of the fleabite, which either heals or develops into a tiny red bump that eventually crusts over.

· The cat may scratch and chew at himself until the area is hairless, raw and weeping serum (“hot spots”). This can cause hair loss, redness, scaling, bacterial infection and increased pigmentation of the skin. Remember that the flea spends the majority of its life in the environment, not on your pet, so it may be difficult to find. In fact, your cat may continue to scratch without you ever seeing a flea on him. Check your cat carefully for fleas or for signs of flea excrement (also called flea dirt), which looks like coarsely ground pepper. When moistened, flea dirt turns a reddish brown because it contains blood. If one cat in the household has fleas, assume that all pets in the household have fleas. A single flea found on your pet means that there are probably hundreds of fleas, larva, pupa and eggs in your house.

If you see tapeworm segments in your cat’s stool, he may have had fleas at one time or may still have them. The flea can act as an intermediate host of the tapeworm, Dipylidium caninum. Through grooming or biting, the animal ingests an adult flea containing tapeworm eggs. Once released the tapeworm grows to maturity in the small intestine. The cycle can take less than a month, so a key to tapeworm prevention is flea control. Anemia also may be a complication of flea infestation especially in young kittens.

THE LIFE CYCLE OF THE FLEA

The flea’s life cycle has four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult.

· Eggs. The adult flea uses your cat as a place to take its blood meals and breed. Fleas either lay eggs directly on the cat where they may drop off, or deposit eggs into the immediate surroundings (your home or backyard). Because the female may lay several hundred eggs during the course of its life, the number of fleas present intensifies the problem. The eggs hatch into larvae that live in carpeting, cracks or corners of the cat’s living area.

· Larvae. The larvae survive by ingesting dried blood, animal dander and other organic matter.

· Pupa and adult. To complete the life cycle, larvae develop into pupa that hatch into adults. The immediate source of adult fleas within the house is the pupa, not the cat. The adult flea emerges from the pupa, then hops onto the host. This development occurs more quickly in a warm, humid environment. Pupa can lie dormant for months, but under temperate conditions fleas complete their life cycle in about three weeks. The inside of your home may provide a warm environment to allow fleas to thrive year round.

FIGHTING THE FLEA

Types of commercial products available for flea control include flea collars, shampoos, sprays, powders and dips. Other, newer, products include oral and systemic spot-on insecticides.

In the past, topical insecticide sprays, powders and dips were the most popular. However, the effect was often temporary. Battling infestations requires attacking areas where the eggs, larvae, pupae and adults all congregate. Because some stages of a flea’s life can persist for months, chemicals with residual action are needed and should be repeated periodically. Sprays or foggers, which required leaving the house for several hours, have been used twice in two-week intervals and then every two months during the flea season.

Treating animals and their living areas thoroughly and at the same time is vital; otherwise some fleas will survive and re-infect your pet. You may even need to treat your yard or kennel with an insecticide, if the infestation is severe enough.

The vacuum cleaner can be a real aid in removing flea eggs and immature forms. Give special attention to cracks and corners. At the end of vacuuming, either vacuum up some flea powder into your vacuum bag, or throw the bag out. Otherwise, the cleaner will only serve as an incubator, releasing more fleas into the environment as they hatch. In some cases, you may want to obtain the services of a licensed pest control company. These professionals have access to a variety of insecticides and they know what combinations work best in your area.

TREATMENT AND PREVENTION

As one might expect, flea control through these methods is very time consuming, expensive and difficult. The good news is that currently, with the newer flea products on the market, flea control is much safer, more effective and environmentally friendly. Current flea control efforts center on oral and topical systemic treatments. These products not only treat existing flea problems, they also are very useful for prevention. In fact, prevention is the most effective and easiest method of flea control.

It is best to consult your veterinarian as to the best flea control and prevention for your pet. The choice of flea control should depend on your pet's life-style and potential for exposure. Through faithful use of these systemic monthly flea products, the total flea burden on your pet and in the immediate environment can be dramatically reduced. Keeping your pet on monthly flea treatments especially in areas of high flea risk is an excellent preventive method of flea control. These products often eliminate the need for routine home insecticidal use, especially in the long run. Although it may still be prudent in heavy flea environments to treat the premises initially, the advent of these newer systemic flea products has dramatically simplified, and made flea control safer and more effective.

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EXERCISING YOUR DOG

 

DAILY EXERCISE RECOMMENDED

Exercise is as important for your dog as it is for you. Young dogs and healthy adults alike need lots of it, and even senior pets need a regular daily workout to maintain their health. The type of exercise you choose depends on the age and fitness of your dog and your own lifestyle. Dogs are adaptable and are happy to play Frisbee in the park or take long walks in the neighborhood.

Exercise is one of the best ways to spend time with your pet. It's especially important for large breed, working, and active breed types. Dogs are wonderful athletes and most adapt to even strenuous exercise, provided they have had adequate opportunity to "train" and the environmental conditions are not too extreme.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Daily exercise is recommended unless the weather is especially dangerous or a medical problem limits your dog's activity. If there is a medical problem, consult your veterinarian about exercise limitations. Keep in mind that obese dogs and those with heart and lung diseases may have a problem, and be sure to consult your vet before starting a new regime.

Be certain your dog has plenty of water available at all times, and provide a place to cool down out of the sun. When the temperature drops below freezing, exercise should be limited, unless your dog is really used to this weather. This will often vary with the breed and hair coat. If the wind picks up to more than 10 mph, be careful to prevent hypothermia or frostbite. If your dog is shivering, get him back indoors or in some form of warm shelter. If you live in an area that gets cold and icy, remember that road salt can burn your dog's feet. Don't forget: even in cold weather, an exercising dog needs plenty of water.

Almost all dogs, especially those with heart and lung problems and those with thick hair coats, are likely to have trouble with hot and humid conditions. It's better to exercise in the early morning or evening when the heat is less than 80 degrees and the humidity is less then 30 percent (avoid hot and humid conditions).

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FEEDING YOUR ADULT DOG

 

WHAT SHOULD YOU FEED?

Your dog knows that what’s on your plate is infinitely better than what he’s eating at the moment – and you may be tempted to prove it by giving him some. Before you do, remember that good nutrition and a balanced diet are essential elements for good health in a dog. And that means watching your canine’s caloric intake carefully.

Your dog needs plenty of fresh water and should be fed good quality food in amounts just right to meet his energy requirements. Inadequate or excess intake of nutrients can be equally harmful.

Most dry dog foods are soybean, corn or rice based. Some of the better brands have meat or fish meal as the first listed ingredient. Although higher priced, they are worth looking into. Dogs eat less of the higher quality products, thus reducing the cost. Dry dog foods also have greater "caloric density" which means simply, there is less water in a cup of food as compared to a canned food diet. This is not a big issue for our smaller canine friends, but large dogs may have difficulty eating enough volume of canned food to fulfill their caloric needs (because they also get a lot of water in that food). Overall, the choice of "dry" vs. "canned" vs. "semi-moist" is an individual one, but larger dogs (such as those greater than 30 pounds) should be fed a dry or semi-moist food in most circumstances

Proteins, fats and carbohydrates are necessary for energy. Dietary requirements for dogs can vary according to activity and stress levels and medical history. Dogs expend energy in many different ways. For example, outdoor dogs are likely to experience increased levels of exercise and thus require a higher percentage of protein and fat for energy production than a dog who stays indoors most of the time. Dogs in various life stages [including puppy ("growth"), adult and senior ("geriatric")] require different amounts of nutrients. Special situations such as pregnancy and nursing puppies can dramatically affect nutritional needs. Working dogs need more calories, while the "couch potato" needs less (just like us!).

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is an organization that publishes regulations for nutritional adequacy of "complete and balanced" dog and cat foods. Your pet’s food should conform to minimal AAFCO standards. Diets that fulfill the AAFCO regulations will state on the label: "formulated to meet the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profile for…(a given life stage).

RECOMMENDATIONS

·  AAFCO Standards: All foods should conform to AAFCO standards (check the label). This indicates the manufacturer is following the national consensus recommendations for dog foods.

·  Food Type: The choice of canned, semi-moist or dry food is an individual one, but if your dog is more than 30 pounds, dry food is preferred as the base diet for its greater caloric density (more calories per volume of food). There are a number of excellent dog food manufacturers.

·  Water: Always provide plenty of fresh water.

CONSIDER YOUR DOG'S AGE

·  For puppies (less than 8 to 9 months and less than 30 pounds): Feed your puppy a consistent canned, semi-moist or dry dog food designed for puppies. If your dog weighs more than 30 pounds, dry food is preferred for greater caloric density.

·  For adult dogs (8 to 9 months to 6 years): Feed your dog a consistent canned, semi-moist or dry dog food designed for an "adult" dog.

·  For senior dogs (over 7 years): Feed your dog a consistent canned, semi-moist, or dry dog food designed for a "senior" dog.

CONSIDER YOUR DOG'S BODY WEIGHT

·  Underweight dogs: Feed your dog 1 1/2 times the "usual" amount of food and make an appointment to see your veterinarian about your dog’s body condition. Consider switching to a food with higher protein and fat content.

·  Lean dogs: Many healthy dogs are a bit thin, especially active young male dogs. Consider increasing total daily food or caloric intake by 25 percent. Weigh your dog every week if possible to chart progress.

·  Chubby dogs: If your dog is a bit overweight, try increasing the daily exercise routine. Gradually increase exercise over 2 weeks unless limited by a medical condition. If these measures fail, cut out all treats and reduce daily intake of food by up to 25 percent.

·  Fat or obese dogs: Stop all treats except vegetables. Increase exercise gradually over 2 to 3 weeks if not limited by a medical condition. If these measures fail, reduce the total daily food amount by 25 to 40 percent, switch to a low fat/high fiber diet, and call your veterinarian to discuss your plans. Inquire about prescription-type reduction diets that can really be effective while providing balanced nutrition.

MEDICAL PROBLEMS

Always consult your veterinarian first regarding any specific foods or dietary adjustments required for a dog with heart, kidney, intestinal or liver disease, or for a dog with cancer. Special dietary measures may also be important for dogs with allergies, certain metabolic diseases, or other medical conditions.

PREFERRED FOOD

There are a number of prominent manufacturers of high quality dog foods, including Iams® (Eukanuba®), Hill’s® (Science Diets®), Nature’s Recipe® products, Nutra Max®, Purina® and Waltham®, among others. Follow the label recommendations, but use your own judgment in determining how much to feed.

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PREGNANCY IN CATS

 

Dr. Debra Primovic

General Practice & Preventative Medicine - Theriogenology

OVERVIEW

Pregnancy is the period of gestation when the young are developing in the mother’s uterus. Normal gestation in cats is 58 to 68 days (the average is 63 days).

The litter size in cats varies from one kitten to more than 10. Litter sizes are often smaller in young and old animals and largest when the mother is around three to four years of age.

Conditions that may be confused with pregnancy include mastitis (inflammation of the mammary glands), mammary gland neoplasia (cancer), abdominal enlargement due to fluid accumulation or organ enlargement, or pyometra (infection of the uterus). WHAT TO WATCH FOR

· Nesting behavior (attempting to make a nest by tearing up papers, blankets, etc.)

· Mothering activity (this may include mothering of shoes, toys and other articles)

· Weight gain (which typically occurs after the 4th week of pregnancy)

· Abdominal enlargement or swelling

· Mammary gland enlargement. The mammary glands may be large and secrete milk or serous fluid (usually one to two days before delivery)

· Abnormal behavior. If your pet does not eat, acts lethargic or you notice excessive vaginal discharge, please call your veterinarian as soon as possible. Be aware that many cats seek seclusion before delivery, and this is considered normal delivery behavior.

DIAGNOSIS

Your veterinarian may perform some diagnostic tests to confirm your cat’s health and to determine if she is pregnant. These include:

· A complete medical history and physical examination.

· Evaluating your cat's behavior and noting any potential breeding episodes

· Abdominal palpation (technique of examining the organs and other parts of the body by touching and feeling). However, kittens can seldom be felt until at least 26 to 35 days after breeding and fetuses can be difficult to feel in some cats.

· Abdominal radiographs or X-rays (the skeleton of the kitten is visible on an X-ray after 45 days of pregnancy)

· Abdominal ultrasound can be used to diagnosis pregnancy after 21 to 24 days post breeding. This is a safe and excellent way to diagnose pregnancy and verify the health of the kittens. Ultrasound can also be used to estimate litter size.

· Testing for feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) Your veterinarian may recommend other tests (not typically done with a normal pregnancy) based on a case-by-case basis. Tests may include:

· Complete blood count (CBC). There are no practical blood or urine tests available to diagnose pregnancy in cats.

· Serum biochemistry (bloodwork to look for abnormalities in liver and kidney function)

· Urinalysis

TREATMENT

· Normal pregnancy does not usually need any “treatment;” however, it is important to see your veterinarian for regular check-ups to ensure the health of your pet.

· It is extremely important that your cat be cared for properly during the pregnancy.

· If you decide that you do not wish to have further litters, or if your pet has significant problems during the birth process, you may wish to have her spayed to prevent further pregnancies.

· Have your veterinarian recheck your cat one week before the due date. The doctor may then palpate for kittens and perform a pelvic exam to establish a rough estimate of pelvic canal size vs. kitten size to try to anticipate problems that might occur during the delivery.

HOME CARE

Good nutrition is essential for healthy kittens and mothers so feed your pet a high-quality diet formulated for pregnant or nursing cats.

· Although nutritional needs change little during the first 4 weeks of gestation, your cat's nutritional needs may double or triple during the last 5 weeks. Your veterinarian may recommend a special diet and/or vitamins for your cat.

· Be sure to provide the increased amounts of food she needs in several small meals each day, rather than feeding it all at one time. It is particularly important to feed frequent small meals during the last part of gestation. A pregnant cat may not feel like eating much as delivery nears because her abdomen is full of kittens, which leaves little room for the stomach to enlarge. Continue feeding a high-quality diet until after the kittens have been weaned.

· Be sure that fresh water is always available, since pregnancy increases your pet's fluid needs.

· Moderate exercise is recommended. Neither forced rest nor strenuous exercise is a good idea. Keeping your cat indoors is often recommended (especially during the last couple weeks of pregnancy).

· If you would like to know more precisely when delivery is near, check the rectal temperature of the mother twice daily from the 58th day of pregnancy until labor begins. Normal rectal temperature varies between 100.5 and 102.0 degrees Fahrenheit. Within approximately 24 hours of the onset of labor the rectal temperature drops nearly two degrees in most cats.

QUEENING

The more that you can learn about queening (birth of the kittens), the better prepared you will be for any difficulties that might occur. Once you know that your cat is pregnant, you should begin preparing for the birth.

Provide a queening box for the mother to begin sleeping in to ensure that she gives birth to the kittens in an area that you have chosen (but this does not always happen). Allow her access to the box so she can become accustomed to it before delivery. The box can be covered and placed in a quiet (secluded) area where she will feel comfortable and protected. Newspapers or a soft blanket or towel can also be used.

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GASTROINTESTINAL PARASITES IN CATS

 

Gastroenterology & Digestive Diseases

WORMS

Most people are aware that their pets have worms, but just what are these worms, where do they get them and how do you get rid of them? When pet owners talk about worms, they are really talking about all gastrointestinal parasites. And there are several gastrointestinal parasites that commonly affect our dogs and cats.

ROUNDWORMS

Roundworms are visible in your pet’s stool or vomit. They are long and thin, similar to thin spaghetti. This parasite can pass through the placenta (only in puppies), through the milk (puppies and kittens) or be ingested (puppies and kittens). Some animals become infected after ingesting another animal with roundworm eggs. It is thought that nearly all puppies are born with roundworms since they pass through the placenta. In kittens, most become infected after nursing.

The roundworm that affects dogs is Toxocara canis. The roundworm that affects cats is Toxocara cati. The roundworm Toxascaris leonina is shared between dogs and cats. The roundworm eggs are very resistant to chemicals and weather and remain infective in the soil for years, which can result in repeated reinfection.

Typically, the eggs are found on the soil or grass. As the dog or cat walks by, the eggs are picked up on the animal’s fur. During normal grooming, the animal then ingests the eggs. After reaching the stomach, the eggs hatch. The developing larvae continue to mature in the small intestines and become adults in about three to four weeks. At this point, the mature worms are able to reproduce and shed more eggs. These eggs pass out the intestines in the feces. Once in the soil, the eggs will become infective in about one week.

WHIPWORMS

Whipworms are another type of gastrointestinal parasite that affects dogs. The most common whipworm is Trichuris vulpis and it is a significant cause of large bowel diarrhea. The whipworm eggs are quite resistant and can live in the environment for up to five years.

Typically, a dog becomes infected after ingesting eggs from the environment. The eggs then hatch once they reach the stomach. It takes about three months for the eggs to mature to adults and being shedding eggs. The adults then burrow into the small intestine and feed on blood and tissue. The eggs are intermittently passed in the feces and become infective in about one month. Since the eggs are not shed all the time, repeated fecal examinations may be necessary to diagnose whipworm infection.

HOOKWORMS

Ancylostoma caninum is the most common hookworm in the dog. Ancylostoma tubaeforme is the most common hookworm in the cat. The eggs are relatively susceptible to cold weather and the eggs are usually destroyed after a hard freeze. Hookworm infection can occur as the worms pass through the placenta, are spread during nursing, penetrate through the skin or are ingested.

After ingestion, the eggs hatch in the stomach and develop into adults into about two weeks. If the larvae penetrate the skin, it takes about four weeks for the larvae to mature. Once mature, the worms begin reproducing and shed eggs in the feces. It then takes two to eight days until the eggs are infective. The adult worms attach to the lining of the small intestine and feed on blood. In a severe infection, profound anemia can occur.

There are a variety of medications used to kill hookworms.

GIARDIA

Giardia are pear-shaped, one-celled organisms that infect the small intestine of dogs and cats. Most cases of Giardia in young animals cause explosive, watery diarrhea, dehydration, weight loss and an unkempt appearance. Adult animals are capable of harboring the infection without showing clinical signs.

The eggs are susceptible to chemical disinfection. Once ingested, the infective cysts develop in the small intestine. Diarrhea can begin as early as five days after exposure and cysts can appear in the feces one to two weeks after exposure. Most domestic animals contract Giardia from drinking contaminated pond or stream water.

TAPEWORMS

Tapeworms are very common in dogs and cats and, despite what you may think, rarely cause illness. Most people see the tapeworm egg packets as they pass out the rectum and crawl on the animal’s fur. These egg packets, referred to as proglottids, contain multiple eggs and appear about six to eight weeks after ingestion of an infective tapeworm egg. In order to become infective, the tapeworm egg is either ingested by a rodent, rabbit or flea. The egg then matures and becomes infective. Eggs or egg packets eaten after they pass out in the stool are not infective and do not result in more tapeworms.

There are two types of tapeworms, Taenia and Dipylidium. Taenia tapeworms are acquired when an animal ingests an infected rabbit or rodent. Dipylidium tapeworms are acquired when an animal ingests an infected flea. Once the tapeworm egg is ingested, it hatches in the stomach and begins to invade the walls of the intestines. The worm then matures to a larva and then to an adult. About 35 to 80 days later, the adults begin to shed egg packets, which pass in the stool. The adult tapeworm can survive in the intestine for about seven to 34 months.

Animals infected with tapeworms may scoot on the floor since the egg packets tend to crawl on the skin, causing itchiness.

COCCIDIA

Coccidia are intestinal protozoa that invade and infect the lining cells of the small intestine. There are many species of coccidia and almost all domestic animals can become infected. Of the numerous types that infect dogs and cats, Isospora is the most common. Coccidia spread when an animal eats infected fecal material or an infected host, such as a small rodent. Many researchers maintain that virtually all dogs and cats have been infected with the organism at one time or another during their life.

Most coccidial infections are harmless, cause minimal symptoms and are eliminated by normal body defense mechanisms. More serious coccidial infections cause severe watery or bloody diarrhea and are often seen in high-density confinement situations such as kennels, catteries and pet shops.

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OBESITY IN CATS

 

Dr. Rebecca Remillard

Nutrition

OVERVIEW

Obesity is defined as the excessive accumulation of body fat. At least 25 percent of all cats are considered obese or are likely to become obese. It is the most common nutrition-related health condition in cats in our society.

The primary causes of obesity are overeating and lack of exercise. When regular caloric intake exceeds the energy burned, the excess is stored as fat. As little as an extra 1 percent caloric intake can result in 25 percent increase over ideal body weight by middle age.

Most owners don't recognize that their cats are overweight until they take them to the veterinarian for another reason. Most pets begin slowly gaining weight and only a historical review of body weight reveals the insidious nature of this condition.

Cats that are overweight may experience difficulty breathing or walking or they may be unable to tolerate heat or exercise.

VETERINARY CARE

DIAGNOSIS

Veterinary care should include diagnostic tests to determine overall health and to provide recommendations for weight loss.

Diagnostic tests may include:

· A thorough veterinary examination, including an accurate measure of body weight and an assessment of body condition score. A historical review of changes in your cat's body weight is often helpful in establishing a pattern of weight gain and may help identify a particular event or change in environment that relates to the increase in body weight.

· Routine blood work including a complete blood cell count, serum profile and urinalysis are necessary to determine if there is an underlying disease. If the results of these tests indicate a problem, additional tests are warranted to specifically identify the condition before starting a weight loss program.

· Assessment of your cat’s current daily intake of all food, treats, snacks, table foods and exercise schedule is important in the development of a successful weight loss program. Clearly if the calculated caloric intake exceeds the calculated daily energy requirement of the cat at an ideal body weight, then excessive caloric intake is the cause of the obesity.

TREATMENT

Treatment of any concurrent or underlying disease that affects obesity is recommended.

· Lower your cat’s daily caloric intake by changing the cat food product (there are several diets formulated for weight loss) or the amount fed daily.

· Increasing fiber or water intake may sometimes be necessary to satiate your cat.

· Increase exercise activity. To enhance exercise, a variety of leashes and toys are available.

HOME CARE

Weight loss should be a family effort. All members of the family must admit the animal is overweight and commit to a weight loss program. It may be helpful to maintain a log of intake (food and treats) and weight to monitor progress. It might be most effective if one person takes charge of feeding your cat, but all members can help exercise her.

To achieve significant weight loss, the diet must be changed to a therapeutic veterinary diet specifically designed for weight loss. Simply feeding less of your cat’s regular food is rarely, if ever, successful. Owners must be willing to measure exactly the amount of food offered and minimize treats. If treats are necessary, offer low calorie snacks such as air popped popcorn or a piece of vegetable (such as a carrot).

Re-check visits are essential every 4-6 weeks to monitor the weight loss since adjustments to the feeding plan are often needed. As your cat approaches ideal body weight, caloric intake must be reduced further to maintain weight loss.

Most cats require an 8-12 month weight loss plan to reach their ideal weight. Most cats do achieve ideal or near ideal body weight when the owner and family members are committed to improving the pet’s health. Most owners continue feeding the weight loss diet, only at a higher food dose, to maintain their pet’s ideal weight.

Specific recommendations depend upon the underlying disease. For obesity due to:

· Excessive caloric consumption – Once an ideal weight has been achieved, a low calorie food should be continued, treats and snacks should be minimized, and the exercise program continued.

· Diabetes mellitus – Regular recheck visits are necessary to monitor insulin dose and effectiveness. Body weight changes should also be checked regularly.

· Blood thyroid levels should also be checked regularly particularly if the cat is losing weight rapidly. DIET RECOMMENDATIONS PREVENTION

· Hill's Prescription diet w/d® TREATMENT

· Eukanuba Restricted-Calorie®

· Eukanuba Weight Loss Formula®

· Hill's Prescription diet r/d®

· Purina CNM OM-FORMULA®

· Waltham Calorie Control®

· IVD Weight® or IVD Hifactor®

INFORMATION IN-DEPTH

There are several causes of feline obesity, but whether your cat is overweight because of overfeeding or because of a disease process, she is still taking in more calories than she is using.

Obesity in pets is more commonly due to over-eating (excessive caloric consumption) than disease. The most common cause of obesity is a chronic consumption of calories greater than actual daily energy requirement. Excessive dietary calories are stored as body fat.

Other causes of obesity are due to an altered energy metabolism. Some diseases and conditions can contribute to obesity. The most common is diabetes.

· Diabetes mellitus – There is a relationship between obesity and diabetes, where overweight and obese animals become insulin resistant. These animals often begin to show the early signs of diabetes mellitus which are excessive drinking, excessive urinating and hunger. As the disease progresses, the cat eventually loses too much weight.
Call your veterinarian if you suspect that your cat is overweight, or if your pet begins experiencing difficulty breathing or exercising or appears unable to get comfortable. Also, have a veterinarian examine your pet to determine if these abnormalities are present before instituting a weight loss program.

VETERINARY CARE IN-DEPTH

DIAGNOSIS IN-DEPTH

Your veterinarian will want to determine the cause of your cat’s obesity before deciding upon treatment. Diagnostic tests that your veterinarian may wish to perform include:

· A thorough physical examination, including an accurate measure of body weight and an assessment of body condition score.

· Assessment of your cat’s current daily intake of all food, treats, snacks, table foods and exercise schedule.

· Routine blood work consisting of a complete blood cell count, serum profile and urinalysis. If the results are normal, obesity is probably the result of excessive caloric intake and decreased energy expenditure. However, if the results of these routine tests indicate a potential problem, additional tests are warranted to specifically identify the condition. Additional diagnostic tests may include:

· Blood and urine glucose levels: Diabetes mellitus can be diagnosed based upon detecting high blood glucose level and the positive detection of glucose in the urine. Sometimes a series of blood glucose measurements are needed to confirm the diagnosis.

TREATMENT IN-DEPTH

Therapy recommendations are dependent upon the underlying cause of the obesity. Take your cat to your veterinarian for a complete work-up before beginning a weight loss program to rule out major diseases.

Recommendations for obesity due to:

EXCESSIVE CALORIC CONSUMPTION

· Lower your pet’s daily caloric intake by 50 percent of that required for her ideal body weight.

· Change the pet food product to one designed for weight loss and containing:
- less than 360 kcal per 100 grams of food on a dry matter basis.

- between 7-12 percent fat.

- between 10-30 percent crude fiber.

- greater than 35 percent crude protein.

· Feed your pet a prescribed measured amount of food several times daily.

· Give treats only as directed. Use specifically designed low calorie treats or give cooked or raw vegetables.

· Increase exercise activity.

· Try getting your pet to swim. Swimming is an excellent exercise for patients with orthopedic disabilities. Unfortunately, many cats hate water and swimming.

· Return to your veterinarian for monthly visits for a weight check and appropriate adjustments in meal size.

DIABETES MELLITUS

· Often in the management of diabetes, a dietary change to a veterinary therapeutic diet is necessary for controlling blood glucose levels. The food should contain a moderate level of fiber (5-10 percent) with lowered levels of readily available carbohydrates.

· Insulin treatments are individualized to the patient.

· In some cases of feline diabetes, when the cat loses weight the clinical signs of diabetes resolve and occasionally insulin treatments are no longer needed.

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GROOMING YOUR DOG

 

General Practice & Preventative Medicine

A GUIDE TO GROOMING

Although it's often overlooked, grooming is an important part of your dog’s health program. Routine brushing and combing removes dead hair and dirt and prevents matting. Because it stimulates the blood supply to the skin, grooming also gives your pet a healthier and shinier coat.

WHEN TO START

Start regular grooming when you first bring your dog home and make it a part of his routine. Purchase a good-quality brush and comb and get your dog used to being handled. Praise your dog when he holds still and soon he will come to enjoy the extra attention. Some breeds have special grooming needs, so ask your vet or a professional groomer for advice on particular equipment necessary for your pet.

BRUSHING

Your dog’s skin and hair coat reflect his overall health and nutritional status. Many dogs maintain a healthy skin and hair coat with minimal assistance; others – especially some long-haired or curly-haired breeds – require regular brushing. For most dogs, a good brushing once or twice a week will do the trick.

BATHING

The need for bathing depends on the breed of dog, his skin type and hair coat, owner preference and just how dirty your pet gets. Bathing your dog every month or two isn’t unreasonable, but some dogs will need more frequent cleanings. A good rule of thumb is to bathe your pet only when his coat gets dirty or begins to smell “doggy.”

When bathing your dog, make sure to rinse all the soap out of his coat. If he has persistent problems with scratching or flaky skin, he may need a special medicated shampoo or have a skin problem that your veterinarian should examine.

SKIN PROBLEMS

Skin problems – including fleas, ticks and mites or allergies and infections – are common among dogs. Most conditions are manageable with early detection and treatment. If you notice excessive scratching, hair loss or flaky skin, contact your veterinarian. If your pet is continuously exposed to fleas and ticks, speak to your veterinarian about products to minimize the impact of these parasites on the skin. Remember that a consistently poor hair coat with lots of skin flaking may indicate a deeper medical problem.

EARS

Ears may also require cleaning, especially in dogs with oily skin or allergies. This is a delicate task and is probably best left to your vet. However, if your dog is easy to handle (and there is no chance that you will be bitten), you can learn to do this chore yourself. To remove excessive wax and debris from the ears, consider an ear cleaning every two to four weeks. Ask your veterinarian about products you can use at home, and be sure to ask for a demonstration of proper ear cleaning techniques.

NAIL TRIMMING

While clipping nails is a painless and simple process, it takes practice and patience to master the skill. Ask your vet to show you the correct technique, then get started by getting your pet used to having his paws handled. Once you start using the clippers, go slowly: Try clipping just a few nails in one sitting. Maintain a regular schedule and be persistent. Your pet will eventually develop patience and learn to cooperate.

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THE FEEDING AND NUTRITION OF KITTENS

 

Ed Kane

Nutrition

FEEDING PROPERLY FOR GOOD HEALTH

Kittens bounce off walls, propel themselves through the air and pounce at warp speed toward anything that moves, especially toys. The only time they seem to slow down is to wash their faces after a satisfying meal.

And what could be more satisfying than a meal that supplies all the necessary nutrients. Meeting your kittens nutritional needs is important to provide for her rapid growth rate and boundless energy.

YOUR KITTEN’S GROWTH

At birth, she weighs about three ounces (100 grams) and gains about 1/2 ounce (15 grams) each day. By 10 weeks of age, she’ll weigh more than two pounds (1 kilogram), a tenfold gain in 10 weeks. Although males and females grow similarly at first, males begin to outweigh females by 10 weeks of age. Males tend to increase in weight until about 11 months of age, about four to eight weeks longer than female kittens do. The growth for both sexes is rapid at first, through about six to seven months of age. Males continue at this pace until about nine months of age, leaving their sisters behind.

THE FEEDING REGIMEN

Right from birth, food is critical. On mom’s milk up to weaning at around ten weeks of age, your kitty will begin to eat solid food at about three to four weeks of age. At this time, with few teeth and a tender tummy, a soft meat-based (canned food) diet is more easily consumed.

WHEN WEANING ENDS

After weaning, a balanced complete diet provides all the nutrients – energy, protein, vitamins, minerals – in proper proportion and amount. Though foods specially formulated for kittens are more nutrient-dense, a diet for “all stages” – one that can be fed to kittens and adults – may be fed as well. Both diets provide for the increased demand of your kitten’s growth. Although your kitten requires the entire complement of nutrients, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin D, thiamine, essential fatty acids and taurine are especially important. For example, a diet that’s otherwise sufficient but deficient in one nutrient, such as zinc, can result in poor growth, dermatitis (skin lesions) and other deformities.

IT HAS TO TASTE GOOD

Your kitten should eat well as long as the food is tasty. Palatability is based on aroma, texture and taste. If your kitten is fed a variety of flavors, she’ll probably be a less-selective eater as an adult. As your kitten matures, a complete and balanced dry food may be fed in addition to canned food. Feeding should be consistent, not switching back and forth, to avoid digestive upset or diarrhea. It isn’t essential to offer a variety of food types, though feeding canned and dry is fine, as long as it is palatable and sufficiently eaten to provide enough nutrition. For younger kittens, ease of eating is important; a soft diet or small pieces is best. To make it easier to consume, dry food may be moistened with warm water.

BEWARE OF "ADULTS ONLY"

Specially formulated kitten foods are higher in protein and energy density. Dry kitten foods contain about 35 percent protein, have a higher fat content, about 12 to 24 percent, and are about 25 percent higher in calories than adult dry cat foods. If a food is labeled “100 percent complete and balanced for all life stages,” it’s okay to feed to your kitten. Don’t feed him a food labeled for “maintenance,” which is for adults only.

CAN YOU OVERFEED?

At a very young age, up to three to four months, it’s almost impossible to overfeed your kitty. At 10 weeks of age, he needs 250 kilocalories of energy per kilogram of body weight per day or about two and a half to three ounces of dry food, or eight to nine ounces of canned food. At four to six months of age, your kitten’s daily requirement for energy is about 100 to 130 kilocalories per kilogram of body weight, closer to that of an adult cat (70 to 80 kcal/kg body weight), as growth of body tissues slows down. Between eight months to a year of age, most kittens reach adult body size and weight. The daily food requirement at adulthood is about 1 ounce of canned food or one half ounce of dry food per pound of body weight.

HAS YOUR KITTEN LOST HIS APPETITE?

As your kitten plays, your concern for his food needs should be primarily for a good quality, balanced diet. Consult your veterinarian with any concerns; however, if your kitten is playfully frisky, you and he are doing just fine. If your kitten doesn’t eat for 48 hours, consult your veterinarian. If symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea or fever accompany a lack of appetite, see your veterinarian immediately. In these cases, lack of water intake or dehydration (excessive water loss) is more critical than lack of food consumption.

NUTRIENT NEEDS

In comparison to other animals, as true carnivores, the cat and kitten have unique nutrient needs. Since they’ve evolved as meat-eaters, many of these needs are associated with their meaty diet, not obtainable from plant sources. Their requirement for a higher protein level, pre-formed vitamin A, niacin, essential fatty acids and taurine are based on this fact. They cannot convert carotene to vitamin A, getting it naturally from the organ meats of prey. Similarly, cats cannot metabolize niacin from tryptophan (an amino acid), can use only essential fatty acids from animal fat sources and need taurine from muscle tissue.

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NORMAL LABOR AND DELIVERY IN THE CAT

 

Vetsuite Veterinarians

General Practice & Preventative Medicine - Theriogenolog

BE PREPARED

Pregnancy and giving birth can be a frightening, confusing and painful experience for both you and your cat. However, understanding proper pregnancy care can help make the process go more smoothly and help you know what is normal. It can also help you to determine when it is time to get the veterinarian involved.

GESTATION

Many people consider the time from breeding to delivery to be gestation but this is not completely accurate. The true definition of gestation is the time from conception to delivery. In the queen, a female cat, gestation is 63 days. Knowing the exact time of conception, however, is difficult since a queen can be receptive to the male before and after ovulation. For this reason, the time from breeding to delivery is usually somewhere between 58 to 70 days. Your veterinarian can help narrow this time frame by examining the cells of the vaginal wall.

Be aware that because your queen bred, this does not mean she is pregnant. For confirmation of pregnancy, an examination, with ultrasound and possibly x-rays by your veterinarian is suggested.

NUTRITION

Once pregnancy is confirmed, proper care of the mother-to-be is very important. Before breeding, make sure she is up to date on all her vaccinations. It is not recommended to vaccinate your cat during pregnancy. Also, make sure she is dewormed and tests negative for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus.

After breeding and conception, the nutritional demands of the mother increase. This need for more increased calories and increased food continues throughout pregnancy and nursing. At the time of breeding, begin slowly changing the queen’s diet to a growth formula or a pregnancy and lactation diet. Continue this diet throughout the remainder of pregnancy and until the kittens are weaned. Vitamins or other supplements are not recommended nor needed. With a proper diet, your cat will receive the proper amount of nutrients. Excessive amounts can actually result in birth defects.

PREPARING FOR DELIVERY

As the time of delivery approaches, you way want to make a queening box to provide a safe, clean and comfortable area for your cat to deliver. Queening boxes should be easily accessed by the mother but escape-proof for the new arrivals. You can use wood, Formica or any easily cleaned building material. Some people use small plastic children's wading pools. Whichever type of box you choose, make sure it is large enough for the queen to stretch out comfortably. Make sure the sides are just low enough for the mother to step over and place the box in a warm, dry, draft-free area. If possible, try to choose a quiet and secluded area. Initially, place newspapers on the bottom of the box for easy clean up.

Once all the kittens are born, place blankets or towels to provide some footing for the kittens. Be aware that you must get the queen used to the queening box before the birth. If not, she may make her own decision on where to have the kittens – and this may be a closet, a pile of fresh clean laundry or even in the middle of your bed.

An additional suggestion is to have your cat examined by a veterinarian toward the end of pregnancy. A thorough physical exam, along with ultrasound or x-rays can help determine how many kittens you can expect. This way, you will know when she is done delivering and not just in another resting phase between kittens.

LABOR AND DELIVERY

As the time of delivery approaches, twice daily monitoring of the queen’s body temperature will help alert you to the impending birth. About 24 hours before the beginning of labor, there will be a temporary drop in the body temperature. Normal temperature is 101 to 102.5. Twenty-four hours prior to labor, the temperature can drop to 98 to 99 degrees.

LABOR STAGE I

After the temperature drop, stage I labor begins. This is the time when the queen becomes restless and anxious. You may notice panting, pacing, refusal of food and maybe vomiting. Nesting behavior begins. This is the time to place her in the queening box (hopefully she is already accustomed to the box). After getting settled in the queening box, you may notice her dragging clothing or fabric to the area to form a comfortable bed. You may want to remove any clothing as queening begins or these pieces of clothing may be permanently stained.

This stage of labor typically lasts 6 to 12 hours. At the end of stage I, the cervix is completely dilated. If your cat has not started queening within 24 hours after starting stage I labor, veterinary assistance is recommended.

LABOR STAGE II

Stage II labor is defined as the part of labor when the kitten is delivered. Visible contractions begin. The abdomen tenses and the queen begins straining. This action will appear similar to the queen trying to have a bowel movement.

The first kitten should be delivered within 1 to 2 hours of the onset of contractions and straining. Veterinary assistance is strongly encouraged if the first kitten is not delivered within 2 hours after the onset of contractions.

After delivery of the kitten, the queen may enter a resting phase that can last up to 4 hours but typically only lasts about 30 minutes. Active straining will begin again and more kittens will be delivered. If you know there are additional kittens yet to be born and the resting period is longer than 4 hours, veterinary assistance is necessary. This resting phase may not occur after each delivery. Sometimes, several kittens may be born rapidly.

LABOR STAGE III

After delivery of a kitten, the queen may enter stage III labor. This is the time when the placenta, or afterbirth, is delivered and usually occurs 5-15 minutes after delivery of the kitten. If multiple kittens are born rapidly, several placentas may be expelled together. After the passage of the placenta, the queen will return to stage II labor. She may continue the resting phase or begin contracting. Throughout queening, the queen will fluctuate between stage II and stage III labor until all the kittens are born. It is very important to keep track of the number of placentas. There should be the same number of placentas as kittens. If a placenta is retained in the uterus, the queen will eventually become quite ill.

QUEENING

As soon as the kitten is born, the mother should immediately start cleaning the kitten. She should lick the kitten vigorously, remove him from the amniotic sac if it is still present, and chew the umbilical cord. She may even ingest the placenta. This is not necessary and, sometimes, can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. Prompt removal of the placentas can get them out of the way and help you keep track of how many placentas she has passed.

Those kittens that are born still in the sack need immediate help. If the mother does not open the sack and begin cleaning the kitten, it is up to you to help. Tear the membrane of the sack and begin cleaning and rubbing the kitten with a clean dry towel. You may have to clean other kittens if the mother is not showing much interest in her newborns. Tie off the umbilical cord about 1 inch from the belly wall using string, thread or dental floss. Cut the cord off on the other side of the tie. Clean and rub the kitten vigorously until you hear crying. Place the kitten back with the new mom and make sure she allows her kittens to nurse.

Being prepared to assist and understanding newborn kitten care is essential to help the mother and her babies through these first steps of life.

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