The Truth About Cats

mufasaCats. Kot, Katt, Gato, Got, Kissa, Felis catus. They domesticated themselves, of course, 3500 years ago but have been around our periphery since prehistoric times. Whether you love them or hate them, cats maintain a kind of tolerant interdependence with mankind. They are neither master nor slave and though they may love us it is only on their own terms.

Our domestic relationship with cats evolved because it was mutually beneficial to us both. They were attracted to the rats and mice near human grain stores and we enjoyed the rodent control felines provided. They slowly became accustomed enough to us to grudgingly move inside our homes. Today while there are some fancier breeds of kitties out there, by and large they remain unchanged. Continue…

Beyond Fresh Breath: Why Pet Home Dental Care Is So Important

pet home dental careMost pet owners are familiar with the unpleasant (or downright foul) stench of doggie or kitty breath, but did you know that bad breath can indicate less-than-stellar dental health for a pet? Studies show that 85% of adult pets have some form of dental disease, and the bacteria found in plaque and tartar can have a negative impact on the heart, lungs, kidneys and liver.

When it comes to pets, a healthy mouth is paramount to a healthy body. You can help your furry friend achieve optimal oral health through a commitment to pet home dental care, and your team at Animal Family Veterinary Care Center can get you started.

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Why is My Cat Drooling?

To explain any number of the great mysteries of the universe, one has to conduct extensive research and amass endless observations. Scientists have uncovered possible truths about the Easter island statues, dark matter, the lost city of Atlantis, and other fabulous head-scratchers. Among the list of unsolved enigmas is a very important topic for us: cat drooling. From the serious to the silly, this feline behavior can be explained through a variety of factors, and we’re happy to share them with you!

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Make Surgery More Safe and Less Scary

Maine Coon kitten

Oh wow! Anesthesia can be so scary! How do you know your pet is going to be ok? Will they wake up? How does a pet owner make certain their pet is receiving the safest surgical care possible?

What you should look for:

  • Take a tour of the facility. Check out the surgical suites. Do they have up to date anesthetic machines, monitoring and warming equipment?
  • Do they stress the importance of pre-surgical bloodwork? Pre-anesthetic testing is what determines if your pet has health problems that would make anesthesia unsafe or if they require special anesthetic drug protocols.
  • What type of anesthesia is used? There is a huge difference between cheap injectable first generation anesthetics and the newer generation of drugs and inhalants that can be specifically tailored to an individual animal’s needs.
  • What kind of staff do they employ? Are the surgical staff highly trained Veterinary Technicians or poorly paid lay persons who learn their trade on the job and with your pet? The best equipment in the world is no good if there is no one who understands what the readings mean.
  • Do they have complete monitoring systems in place? This should include heart rate, blood pressure, carbon dioxide levels, oxygen levels, respiration, body temperature.
  • Do they employ intravenous catheters, IV fluids and endotracheal tubes needed to control blood pressure, oxygen and anesthetic delivery? Or do they use an injectable anesthetic and hope for the best?
  • Do they keep their staff up to date through continuing education? Technology is improving and changing all the time. Make sure the clinic you use keeps their staff current and well trained.
  • Is it clean? Does the clinic smell clean? Believe it or not there are clinics that will use the same surgical pack on more than one animal. Are all the instruments, including those used in dentistry sterilized after each procedure?
  • Is there a good pain management protocol in place? Or will your pet lay in a kennel with no relief once surgery is complete.

What you can do to make anesthesia safer for your pet:

  • Make certain that your veterinarian is aware of all medications, supplements and over the counter drugs your pet is receiving. Then follow their instructions about how and what to administer before anesthesia.
  • Don’t feed your pet if your veterinarian tells you not to. Ignoring this can cause vomiting and aspiration pneumonia. Conversely, if you have an exotic pet, feed them if you are instructed to do so. They have different requirements than dogs and cats.
  • Tell your veterinarian if your pet has ever had any reaction to any type of medication. If your pet has a seizure disorder or is diabetic, please make sure to share this information. This is especially important if you are new to the practice.
  • Don’t let your pet become overweight. It makes anesthesia much less safe.
  • Make sure your pet stays healthy by staying up to date on all routine health care.
  • Don’t wait too long to spay or neuter. Large, overweight females that have been through several heat cycles are every veterinarians least favorite surgical patient. Everything is bigger, with more surrounding fat, more friable, harder to ligate and more prone to bleeding.
  • If you’re not sure, ask questions. We don’t mind.

Easy Tactics For Your Pet’s Dental Health

A pug shows her teeth for the camera in this comical pose.

A pug shows her teeth for the camera in this comical pose.

Did you know that the health benefits associated with your pet’s dental hygiene are actually within reach? It’s true! Your pet’s dental health can not only be maintained through regular exams, cleanings, and at-home care, but the link to his or her overall wellness is undeniable.

However, of all the areas that are known to support your pet’s health, dental care is often overlooked. It doesn’t have to be this way; your patience and diligence can make a world of difference to your pet’s dental health, and Animal Family Veterinary Care Center is here to help. Continue…

Your Cat Needs You: How To Support Feline Health and Understand Signs Of Illness

AFVC_iStock_000045883022_Large (1)Since the moment your cat’s paws padded softly into your life, you probably started cataloguing the many traits that not only make him or her a true individual, but the special cat you love and care for. Paying close attention to your cat’s personality, behavior, and appearance is undoubtedly a satisfying experience for you, but astute observations of any changes could even save your pet’s life. Continue…

Hyperthyroid Disease

 

Chances are, if you’ve had a few pets in your lifetime you have probably heard about the thyroid gland at least once.  You may have even had a pet or someone you know that required treatment for thyroid problems.

The thyroid is the largest of the endocrine glands.   It is shield shaped and located in the neck near the larynx or voice box.  The thyroid’s job is to secrete hormones which regulate growth and metabolism.  It also acts as a storehouse for iodine.  So when there is a problem with the thyroid gland we will often see significant changes throughout the body systems.

Cats are our most common hyperthyroid patient. We rarely ever see this problem in dogs.  As they age some cats, typically 6 years of age or older, will develop benign nodules on the thyroid which cause over secretion of thyroid hormones.  Hyperthyroidism caused from a cancerous growth is very rare in cats

Signs

When we see hyperthyroid cats in practice our owners will generally tell us that their pet is losing weight in spite of a ravenous appetite. Some cats may also be experiencing vomiting and diarrhea. Many will have concurrent signs of kidney disease and/or failure. Our typical hyperthyroid cat is thin, a bit cranky, a little unkempt and drinking and urinating more than normal.  When we listen to their heart we frequently note a rapid heart rate and possibly a murmur.  A blood pressure check often shows that the cat is hypertensive. If we palpate the pet’s neck we may feel an enlargement of the thyroid gland.

Tests

Laboratory tests are necessary to diagnose hyperthyroidism.  We need to be especially careful to check for any kidney and heart disease as well, since those problems often occur along with thyroid dysfunction.  Blood chemistry and urinalysis will help us detect signs of kidney disease.   Another blood test looks for a high T4 concentration.  Increased levels of this hormone are responsible for most of the troublesome signs we see. There are additional even more sensitive tests that are available if needed.  We may also suggest radiographs (X-Rays) and an ECG if heart disease is a concern

Treatments

Hyperthyroidism is generally treated in one of three ways.

  1. Anti-thyroid drugs:  Methimazole is the most common drug prescribed for hyperthyroidism.  It can be given orally or applied directly to the skin in a transdermal preparation. Methimazole works by decreasing the amount of hormone produced.  It does not cure the underlying disease and must be given for the rest of your cat’s life.  Other drugs may be prescribed if there is concurrent heart disease.

 

  1. Radioiodine therapy is used to destroy thyroid tissue and is considered the gold standard of treatment.  It is safe for the pet but is not as readily available and does require in-patient treatment. However, most universities are able to perform radioiodine treatment.

 

  1. Thyroidectomy or removal of the thyroid gland itself is another effective treatment.  This method requires hospitalization as well.

 

All of the treatments discussed will require some level of follow up.

Hopefully this will aid you in recognizing hyperthyroid problems in your cat earlier should the disease develop.

 Next week we will discuss Hypothyroid disease.

Making Veterinary Visits Less Stressful for Your Cat

 

Did you know that cats actually out number dogs as pets in the US?  Yet in spite of their greater numbers we see much less of them at the clinic than we do dogs.  Cats don’t like coming to the vet.  They don’t like the carrier, the car ride or the office visit.  The great news is that there is something we can do to make things better.  Cats can  learn to tolerate, dare we say even enjoy,  veterinary visits if we just take the time make things a little more cat friendly

 

As an owner, you can help decrease your cat’s stress by taking the time to get them used to the experiences associated with a veterinary visit ahead of time.  We have included a list below of some feline friendly recommendations based on information provided by the International Society of Feline Medicine and American Association of Feline Practitioners.

 

  • Start working with your cat at as young an age as possible.  You can retrain older pets but youngsters will always be easier.

 

  • That means getting your cat accustomed to the carrier as early as possible.
    1. Make the carrier a part of the furniture so it isn’t just the evil box that comes out for veterinary visits.  Leave it open and out in the main living area.
    2. Place toys and treats inside.  Use a familiar favorite blanket, catnip or a pheromone product such as Feliway to make it even more inviting.
    3. Try feeding your cat in the carrier. It allows you to keep track of what everyone is eating in multi-cat households and as an added bonus, makes the carrier even more inviting.

 

  • Get your cat used to riding in the car.  Again, start as early as possible.  Start with short trips or even just sitting in the car with the motor running.  Don’t be in a hurry and don’t be afraid to use treats.  Believe it or not, there actually are cats that like to go for car rides.

 

  • Once your cat is accustomed to the car, try going to the clinic for a social visit.  Have technicians and front staff give your cat loving and some treats.  Walk kitty around the clinic and then go home.

 

  • Practice doing the types of things your veterinarian will do at home.
    1. Hold and look at paws, peer into ears and gently handle your cat all over his/her body. 
    2. Try using tasty treats as a way to teach your cat to open their mouth.  This could come in handy should you ever have to medicate kitty later on.  Its helps when it’s time to introduce the tooth brush as well.

 

  • Plan ahead.  Don’t be in a rush.  Make sure you know where your cat is long before it’s time to leave. If you can, get the cat to enter the carrier on their own.  If you know that your cat gets upset in the waiting area, call ahead and make arrangements to get them in a room right away.

 

  • Make sure that there is a familiar blanket and/or toys in the carrier. The smell of home is always calming.

 

 

  • Understand how your stress and anxiety affect your cat.  Whatever you feel telegraphs straight to your pet.  Veterinarians know this but few owners realize it.

 

  • Plan for the trip home as well.  If you have more than one cat at home leave the patient in the carrier until you know whether their housemates will behave aggressively or not.  If they do, keep them in separate rooms until friendly relations have returned though the door.

 

Hopefully these suggestions will help make veterinary visits less stressful for you and your kitty if you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call at 563-391-9522 or check out our website  http://www.animalfamilyveterinarycare.com/index.html

Davenport, Iowa Veterinary Clinic Lists 10 Reasons People Take Pets to the Humane Society.

 

According to the ASPCA, “approximately 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and approximately 3 million to 4 million are euthanized (60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats). Shelter intakes are about evenly divided between those animals relinquished by owners and those picked up by animal control. These are national estimates; the percentage of euthanasia may vary from state to state.” 

That is a really sad statistic.  We work closely with many of our local shelters at Animal Family and are always surprised at the quality of the pets we see.  These animals are neither worthless nor dangerous.  In fact, often the opposite is true.  Many are pure bred and almost all are loving, healthy animals who through no fault of their own end up homeless.

The 10 most common reasons owners give when surrendering a pet at the Humane Society of Scott County are:

  1. The owner is moving and is not able to take their pet with them
  2. The pet is too active for the owner to handle.
  3. The owner does not have enough time to devote to pet care
  4. The owner has encountered problems with housebreaking
  5. The animal is too expensive to care for.
  6. The animal is too young, too old or has developed health issues.
  7. The owner or a family member is allergic to the pet.
  8. The pet does not get along with another animal in the household.
  9. The pet belonged to a child who no longer lives in the home.
  10. The pet has become pregnant

Do you see a common thread among many of the reasons for pet relinquishment listed above?   How many of these problems could be avoided by a little research and planning before acquiring a pet.  For all the information on specific breeds that is available, it seems that people still jump into pet ownership on impulse.

So, please, before you bring a pet into your life, do your research. Think about your lifestyle, future plans, and overall health.  How busy are you?  Can you even afford a pet at this time?  Do you have the time or interest for training, walks and general health and coat care.  Don’t pick your pet based on looks.  Don’t assume you have to have a puppy and never, ever give a pet as a gift without a thorough discussion with the prospective new owner first.

Next week, we will go over what you need to think about before you add a new pet to your family.

Davenport IA, Veterinarian Talks Explains Diseases You Could Share With Your Pet…but Shouldn’t

 

According to the AVMA, in 2007 there were 72 million pet dogs, 82 million pet cats and over 4 million pet birds. At least 3% of the US households own a reptile. Almost one half of those pet owners consider their pets to be a member of the family. We are a pet loving country. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that we can share more than love with our pets. Did you know that according to the Center for Disease Control that almost 14% of the US population has been infected with Toxacara (roundworm of dogs and cats). That’s because up to 30% of dogs fewer than 6 months of age and 25% of all cats are infected with roundworms.

Cats and dogs can carry Roundworms, Tapeworms, Hookworms, Leptospirosis, Ringworm and Rabies to name a few. Pocket pets and reptiles can carry Salmonella. Birds can also carry Salmonella as well as Psittacosis (a bacterial disease).

Who is most at risk? According to our friends at CAPC (Companion Animal Parasite Council), it is generally those who come in contact with the soil the most often. That includes, gardeners, plumbers, sunbathers and of course children. Immune compromised individuals need to be particularly careful.

So should we get rid of all of our pets? No need to get so carried away. Following are some relatively simple measures you can take to control the risk of zoonotic transmission in your family.

  1. Wash your hands after handling pets, soil and feces. Be especially vigilant with youngsters.
  2. Don’t eat or smoke while you handle your pet. Especially if it is a reptile, bird or pocket pet.
  3. Pets and food preparation do not go together.
  4. Keep your pets on a regular schedule of deworming. Dogs and cats should be on broad spectrum, year round anti-parasitic products.
  5. Get annual fecal parasite checks. That’s because you may give your pet his preventative but he may either spit it out or throw it up later on.
  6. Treat pets and their surroundings for fleas.
  7. Dispose of pet feces on a daily basis.
  8. Cover up your children’s sandbox when it’s not in use.
  9. Feed only cooked, canned or dry dog and cat food.
  10. Don’t allow birds or reptiles to roam loose in the house.
  11. If you are scratched by your pet, wash the area thoroughly.
  12. Vaccinate. Yes, there is some risk (1/10,000) of soft tissue sarcomas in cats with the use of Rabies and Feline Leukemia vaccines. We try to make it safer by vaccinating every 3 years. However, our biggest concern is that Rabies is out there and it kills all of us all the time.
  13. Immune compromised individuals should not own reptiles or amphibians.
  14. Don’t let your dog or cat drink from the toilet bowl. According to CAPC this can spread human adapted strains of parasites to pets