Posts in Category: The Cat’s Meow
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
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.
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
Hyperthyroidism is generally treated in one of three ways.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
- The owner is moving and is not able to take their pet with them
- The pet is too active for the owner to handle.
- The owner does not have enough time to devote to pet care
- The owner has encountered problems with housebreaking
- The animal is too expensive to care for.
- The animal is too young, too old or has developed health issues.
- The owner or a family member is allergic to the pet.
- The pet does not get along with another animal in the household.
- The pet belonged to a child who no longer lives in the home.
- 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.
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.
- Wash your hands after handling pets, soil and feces. Be especially vigilant with youngsters.
- Don’t eat or smoke while you handle your pet. Especially if it is a reptile, bird or pocket pet.
- Pets and food preparation do not go together.
- Keep your pets on a regular schedule of deworming. Dogs and cats should be on broad spectrum, year round anti-parasitic products.
- 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.
- Treat pets and their surroundings for fleas.
- Dispose of pet feces on a daily basis.
- Cover up your children’s sandbox when it’s not in use.
- Feed only cooked, canned or dry dog and cat food.
- Don’t allow birds or reptiles to roam loose in the house.
- If you are scratched by your pet, wash the area thoroughly.
- 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.
- Immune compromised individuals should not own reptiles or amphibians.
- 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
Who hates fleas? Everybody hates fleas! Ctenocephalides canis or felis better known as the common flea is not a visitor anyone ever welcomes to their home. For those of us who have had to deal with a flea infestation- once is definitely enough! Aside from the obvious “yuck” factor, there are a lot of good reasons to avoid this hopping, biting scourge of the insect world.
- Fleas make their living by biting other animals and feeding on their blood. When fleas bite they inject saliva into the skin of their host which can cause inflammation, itching, allergic dermatitis and hair loss. Even worse, if the host is small enough or the number of fleas’ large enough, anemia can result from blood loss.
- Fleas don’t just bite your pet. They bite you. They bite your children. Everybody gets itchy.
- A single female flea can lay up to 50 eggs each day and up to 2000 eggs in her short life time!!! Of course by the time you discover that your pet has fleas, there are most likely eggs and larva throughout your home.
- Fleas act as a transport vehicle for the aptly named “Flea” tapeworm. Pets ingest fleas as they groom. Once the flea is in the digestive system, the larva breaks free and finds a home in your pet’s intestines. An adult tapeworm can grow up to 75 cm (29.5 inches). According to CPAC (Companion Animal Parasite Council), “Infections of children with D. caninum following ingestion of an infected flea are occasionally reported. The disease induced in the child is generally mild, confined to the intestinal tract, and readily treated, but can still be distressing to the family.”
- Fleas carry the Plague – the Bubonic Plague. This is particularly important in the Rocky Mountain States.
- Fleas carry Typhus and yes it can be transmitted to humans. According to Pubmed Health, “Typhus is caused by one of two types of bacteria: Rickettsia typhi or Rickettsia prowazekii.” The form of typhus depends on which type of bacteria causes the infection. Murine typhus occurs in the southeastern and southern United States, often during the summer and fall. It is rarely deadly. Risk factors for murine typhus include:
- Exposure to rat fleas or feces
- Exposure to other animals such as cats, opossums, raccoons, skunks and rats
- Fleas can help to transmit “Cat Scratch” disease from one cat to another. We humans get Cat Scratch Fever when we are scratched by an infected feline.
- Fleas can transmit Mycoplasma haemofelis a blood borne parasite that can cause damage to the red calls which results in anemia in your pet.
- Even if your pet never goes outdoors, you can carry fleas into the house on your pants legs. Fleas can survive the winter just fine as long as you continue to heat your home.
- Once there is an established flea infestation, it can be time consuming and expensive to resolve. Like so many other problems fleas are much easier to prevent than alleviate.
I don’t know about you but I’m going to go make sure my dog is up to date on his flea prevention.
The decrease in feline veterinary visits has us worried. We love our cats but do not provide them with the same level of care that we do our dogs. It’s true that cats are great at masking illness. However, by putting off a veterinary visit until your cat is seriously ill, we only make for greater expense for us and stress for our pet. We all need to learn how to better recognise the signs of illness in cats, so this week we have decided to reprint a great article from Pet Docs on Call covering just this subject.
By Dr. Jen Mathis, Certified Veterinary Journalist and member of the Veterinary News Network received veterinary care in the past year.hadn’t”There are 82 million pet cats in the U.S., compared with 72 million dogs, making cats the most popular pet. Yet studies show the number of feline veterinary visits is declining steadily each year. A 2007 industry survey revealed that compared with dogs, almost three times as many cats
Though there are many myths about cat health, the truth is, cats need regular veterinary care, including annual exams and vaccinations, just like dogs do. More importantly, because they are naturally adept at hiding signs of illness, annual exams can result in early diagnosis of health problems. Early diagnosis often results in longer quality life at less cost.
Boehringer Ingelheim is trying to help cat health by teaching about the 10 subtle signs of sickness in cats:
1. INAPPROPRIATE URINATION – At least 80% of the time this is a medical problem often associated with conditions ranging from kidney disease to arthritis. Behavior is the least likely cause.
3. CHANGES IN ACTIVITY – Medical conditions such as arthritis can produce a decrease in activity while an increase can signal a condition such as hyperthyroidism.
4. CHANGES IN SLEEPING HABITS – While cats sleep 16 to 18 hours a day, they usually should be quick to respond to someone walking into a room. Difficulty lying or rising is also a problem.
5. CHANGES IN FOOD AND WATER CONSUMPTION – Eating or drinking more or less can be signs of a range of underlying medical conditions.
7. CHANGES IN GROOMING – A poor hair coat is a common sign of many medical conditions in cats.
8. SIGNS OF STRESS – Sudden lifestyle changes can cause stress in cats, resulting in symptoms such as decreased grooming to eating more frequently. These are also signs of illness, so sickness should be ruled out before stress issues are addressed.
9. CHANGES IN VOCALIZATION – An increase in crying or howling is common with older cats and can be caused by high blood pressure (leading cause of blindness), kidney problems, thyroid issues, stress or pain.
10. BAD BREATH– 70 percent of cats have gum disease as early as age 3. Pets are not supposed to have bad breath as it usually means infection. Since 2/3 of the tooth is under the gum-line, many cats have problems that can’t be seen without x rays. Dental problems cause kidney problems.
“Have we seen your cat lately?” If not, an exam may be just what your cat needs to help live a longer quality life! For more information, please check with your veterinarian!”
Have We Seen Your Cat Lately?
We love our cats in the United States. Unfortunately that doesn’t always translate into appropriate veterinary care. Yes there are plenty of owners who do everything for their cats – exams, vaccines, spay/neuter and dental care – whatever they need. However they may not be in the majority. Too many neglect health issues until their cat becomes seriously ill.
One scenario may be for a feline patient to come in for kitten vaccines, spay or neuter surgery and then not be seen again until they are sick. Other owners will keep up on rabies vaccines but little else. Too many of us don’t provide our cats with the same level of care that we do their canine counterparts.
Cats can be difficult to transport. They don’t like their carriers. They don’t like the clinic. Then again, many think because their cat is indoors, no vaccines are required. We tell ourselves cats are hardy survivors. They don’t need as much veterinary care.
Wrong. Cats need all the same care that other animals do. According to Scott Bernick at Animal Family, “This has been a disturbing trend in veterinary medicine. Unfortunately we are seeing more cats come in with severe illness, leaving the owners with fewer options and increased expenses.”
Cats need to be vaccinated just as much as other pets. Core vaccines are those recommended for all cats. These are diseases that are commonly found in the environment. That means there is a realistic risk of exposure, infection and development of a disease. This is particularly the case with kittens. In the case of Rabies, it is mandated by law for the protection of public as well as animal health.
- Feline Panleukopenia: All kittens should receive this vaccine as early as 6 weeks and then at 3-4 week intervals until 16 weeks of age. All kittens should receive a 1 year booster. Non vaccinated adults should receive 2 doses 3-4 weeks apart. Annual vaccination is not recommended in all adult cats. At Animal Family we vaccinate every 2 years.
- Feline Rhinotracheitis: All kittens should receive this vaccine as early as 6 weeks of age and then in 3-4 week intervals until 16 weeks of age. All kittens should receive a 1 year booster. Non vaccinated adults should receive 2 doses 3- weeks apart. Annual vaccination is not recommended in all adult cats. At Animal Family we vaccinate every 2 years
- Feline Calicivirus: All kittens should receive this vaccine as early as 6 weeks of age and then in 3-4 week intervals until 16 weeks of age. All kittens should receive a 1 year booster. Non vaccinated adults should receive 2 doses 3-4 weeks apart. Annual vaccination is not recommended in adult cats. At Animal Family we vaccinate every 2 years
- Rabies: State statutes determine how often Rabies vaccines are administered. In Iowa a single dose is required as early as 12 weeks of age. All kittens should receive a 1 year booster. Non vaccinated adults receive 1 vaccine and a booster 12 months later. Thereafter adults can receive Rabies vaccination in 3 year intervals provided it is given on schedule. Otherwise another 1 year booster will be required.
The following vaccines are considered noncore:
- Feline Leukemia: Feline Leukemia testing and vaccination is strongly recommended for all kittens and for individuals whose health is compromised. Kittens test negative for the virus prior to vaccination. Two doses are administered as early as 8 weeks of age and 3-4 weeks later. Only cats that are at risk (such as those who go outdoors) should be vaccinated at yearly intervals thereafter.
- Feline Immunodeficiency Virus: This vaccine is only recommended for only for cats with high risk of exposure. Because the vaccination itself can cause a positive result on antibody testing, there is some controversy surrounding its use
- FIP: Generally not recommended due to concern about whether the vaccine is effective or not.
- Feline Chlamydophila and Bordatella are only recommended when the diseases are present in multi-cat environments.
We are participating in a nationwide National awareness program aimed at reminding people of the importance of regular veterinary care for their cats. During the months of April, May and June Animal Family will provide dental exams, weight checks and body assessment scores free of charge. It would be a great time to update vaccines and get a wellness check up for your cat as well.
A while back there was a particularly funny e-mail circulating about pilling a cat. What made us laugh was the large kernel of truth within the wit. Many of us have experienced the frustrations of trying to get a pill inside our cat first hand… It can be a daunting task.
The easiest and most time honored way to give a pill remains hiding it in something else. If you can get your pet to take a pill this way and he/she is not on any food restriction this is still the best method. One of our favorites at Animal Family is Pill Pockets made by Greenies. They are a meat flavored soft treat that molds around the pill. A large number of both dogs and cats will happily take their medications in a Pill Pocket. Other choices are peanut butter, cheese, yogurt and canned food. Just make sure your pet doesn’t spit the medication out.
If your pet either won’t eat a hidden pill or eats around it, you may have to do it the old fashioned way. Even then, it is possible to make the process easier.
- Make sure your pet is in a safe area. For bigger dogs we recommend having their butt in a corner where they can’t back away. Small dogs and cats should be placed on a counter or other raised surface.
- Stand to the side of your pet. Cats and small dogs should be placed in the crook of your elbow. Don’t approach your pet from the front.
- Coating the pill with butter will give it a slippery and yummy tasting coating.
- Tilt your pets head back. For large dogs you may just place your fingers behind the canines and pull upward. A gentle squeeze at the corner of the jaws works best for smaller pets.
- Once their mouth is open you will need to get the pill far back in the mouth. This is the scary part for most owners so we recommend that you use a pet piller. This can literally take the bite out of pilling.
- In one smooth motion, place the piller so the tip is at the back of the mouth and depress the plunger to release the medication. Please be careful of your pet’s mouth. This is a sensitive area and you don’t want to cause injury.
- Leaving the head tilted backwards, immediately close your pet’s mouth and blow into their nose. Return the head to a normal position and gently rub the throat until you see swallowing… Be careful not to get in your pet’s face. Make sure you are above and to the side or back of the pet’s mouth when you blow. If your pet is aggressive…don’t get close to his/her face.
- Make sure your pet has swallowed before releasing him/her. Look for swallowing or licking of the lips.
What happens if your pet is like the cat in the funny e-mail? If you absolutely can’t get pills down your pet there is another option…Compounding. Most medications can be compounded into taste tabs, liquid suspensions or topical gels. It may involve some additional cost but can be a life saver with a non-cooperative animal. Be sure to ask your veterinarian especially is your pet is on maintenance medications
Remember, if you don’t feel confident, please don’t attempt this without help from your veterinarian.
- Start with a yummy flavored tooth paste. Vanilla mint, poultry, beef or malt are some of the favorites. Any flavor your dog enjoys is alright but make sure it is safe for pets. DO NOT use human tooth paste! It is not good for your pet. I always open the tooth paste container in front of the puppy. Remember to keep it in a safe place Continue…