Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Pet Safety

“My cat would never eat food off the table!”
 “My cat would never knock over the Christmas tree!”
“My cat would never bite someone!”

We all know our cats pretty well, but what we don’t always realize is that stress can make anybody do crazy things! When you have holiday guests or flashing Christmas lights or loud holiday music—or all of the above—at your house all at once, your cat may get stressed and frustrated, causing them to act out in unexpected ways. Most cat accidents are met with the statement, “He’s never done anything like that before!”

We recommend always making sure that your pet has a safe place to sit and relax during your holidays parties. Just like some people, cats need to get away from the action and de-stress, but most of the time they don’t know how to ask for their space.  We recommend moving your cats into a quiet room and letting them spend some time resting during your holiday get-togethers. Your cat will be happier, and by extension, you and your guests will be happier! And holidays disasters will be prevented. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Cat-Friendly Thanksgiving

During the holiday season, our cats want to be in on the action just like anyone else. It’s important to be prepared for possible pet emergencies if your cat is going to be home during the holidays. It’s important to, first of all, educate your guests about not feeding table scraps to your pet.We recommend having pet treats set aside so that guests who do feel the urge to feed your cat will be sure to feed them something safe. 

We recommend keeping all garbage can lids on tight as that trash is going to start smelling delicious to your pet once it’s filled with discarded turkey bones and other rich holiday foods. If possible, we also suggest keeping your cat in a quiet, comfortable place away from the action during mealtimes. This keeps them from temptation when plates or food items are spilled on the floor, and can also help alleviate their anxiety. 

All pets should be given the opportunity to take a nap during the holidays, after all, on regular days most of our cats sleep for 16 hours or more!

Friday, October 4, 2013

The importance of annual vet visits

When was the last time you had your pet into the office for a complete veterinary check-up? At Greater Lafayette Cat Hospital, we recommend that all pets come in on an annual basis for a complete physical examination.

These include a complete nose-to-tail check, a dental check, and a parasite check. Depending on your pet’s age, it may include blood work as well. These exams are so important for our pets because they help us, as your pet’s primary medical provider, to establish a baseline of health for your pet.

As your pet ages, this is very important for us because we are much better able to identify changes in their physical condition. For example, if we are familiar with your pet’s resting heart rate, basal body temperature, and appearance in complete health, we’ll be that much more equipped to identify a physical change in their health, prompting us to administer the appropriate diagnostic tests.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Pet Diabetes

What is diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus, the medical name for diabetes, is a disease caused by a lack of insulin, or the inability of the body to utilize the insulin properly, that affects the level of glucose, or sugar, in your dog or cat’s blood. The glucose comes from the food that your pet eats. The food is broken down into very small components by the pet’s digestive system so their bodies can use it for energy. Glucose is one of these components, and an important source of energy.

Glucose is absorbed from the intestines into the bloodstream where it travels to cells throughout the body. Insulin is required for the cells to absorb glucose. Insulin is produced by the pancreas in response to the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. Healthy pets produce insulin easily, but pets with diabetes don’t. In canine and feline diabetes, unused glucose builds up in the bloodstream.


Is diabetes in my pet the same as diabetes in people?

The two conditions are very similar. In fact, your veterinarian will be using medication, equipment, and monitoring systems that are similar to those used for diabetic people.


How common is diabetes in dogs and cats?

Diabetes usually affects less than 1% of dogs and cats. But experts believe that it is on the rise.


Can diabetes lead to other health problems?

Yes. Dogs and cats with diabetes can develop other health problems, usually after living with diabetes for a year or more. For dogs, a common complication of diabetes is cataract formation. Persistently high blood glucose levels can make the lens of the eye opaque, causing blindness. For cats, weakness of the hind legs is a common complication. Persistently high blood glucose levels may damage nerves, causing weakness and muscle wasting. For both dogs and cats, controlling high blood glucose levels can lead to healthier outcomes. For this reason, early diagnosis of diabetes in your dog or cat is important.


Will diabetes affect my dog or cat’s life expectancy?

Today, with effective treatment and monitoring, a diabetic dog or cat should have the same life expectancy as a non-diabetic dog or cat of the same age. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment helps diabetic pets maintain a good quality of life.


Is my dog or cat at risk for diabetes?

While diabetes has been diagnosed in dogs and cats of all ages, genders, and breeds, certain pets are at greater risk for the disease.


Risk factors in dogs

  • Age (middle-aged to older dogs are more affected)
  • Unspayed females
  • Genetics
  • Obesity


Breed—these breeds have a higher risk for developing diabetes:

  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Dachshunds
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • German Shepherds
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Pomeranians
  • Terriers
  • Toy Poodles


Risk factors in cats

  • Age (older cats are more susceptible)
  • Neutered males
  • Genetics
  • Other insulin-resistant disorders or diseases, such as chronic pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) or hyperthyroidism (overproduction of thyroid hormones)
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Indoor lifestyle


Are there warning signs I should be aware of?

Some common signs of diabetes in dogs and cats include:
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination—your pet produces more urine per day or has “accidents” in the house (dogs) or outside the litterbox (cats)
  • Excessive hunger while losing weight
  • Lethargy (less active/sleeps more)
  • Cloudy eyes (dogs)
  • Doesn’t groom (cats)
  • Thinning, dry, and dull hair


How will my veterinarian test my pet for diabetes?

Your veterinarian may begin by performing a general health examination and asking questions about any signs your pet may be displaying. Then, a sample of your pet’s urine will be tested for the presence of glucose (a type of sugar) or ketones (acids produced by the body as it breaks down fat instead of glucose for energy).

If glucose is present in your pet’s urine, your veterinarian will then test your pet’s blood to determine the blood glucose level. A diabetes diagnosis is considered definite when persistently high glucose levels are found in both the blood and urine.


How do I take care of a pet with diabetes?

Although there is no cure for diabetes, the disease can be successfully managed with the help of your veterinarian. Daily insulin injections are usually required to restore a pet’s insulin level and control blood glucose levels. Many owners are anxious about giving injections, but it’s easier than you think, and you can quickly learn how to handle the dosing routine with little stress for you or your pet. Diet plays a vital role in helping to keep your pet’s diabetes regulated.

Your veterinarian can recommend a diet that’s best suited to the needs of your pet. A high-quality, consistent source of protein is an essential part of any diabetic diet. High-protein, low-carbohydrate foods are currently recommended for diabetic cats because they provide the extra energy cats need to get through their active days, without the extra carbs that can turn into excess sugar. It is important to feed your pet based on its ideal body weight.

Consistent timing and size of meals is also very important. Exercise can help dogs with diabetes, but it needs to be regulated because activity affects blood glucose levels. It’s best to create a consistent exercise routine for your diabetic dog and stick to it. (There is no clear recommendation for exercise in diabetic cats because their activity is difficult to regulate.) Regular veterinary checkups can help identify changes in your pet’s condition and help you to manage this disease successfully over time.

Managing your dog or cat’s diabetes will require some effort, but the rewards are well worth it. Pets whose diabetes is under control have normal thirst, appetite, urination, and activity levels. Their weight is generally stable and they are less likely to develop complications.


Where can I learn more about diabetes in dogs and cats?

The following websites provide useful information:

Originally posted on Healthy Pet.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Adult Cats in Shelters: Give Them Hope

If you have ever been to an animal shelter, you have probably seen a sad sight: dozens of adult cats desperate for homes, most of which have little chance of getting out.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals states that every year, about 5 to 7 million pets enter the animal shelter system, of which more than half are cats. Unfortunately, approximately 70% of those cats are euthanized simply because no one wants them, and most shelters don’t have the funds to board them for more than a few weeks.  Why aren’t these cats getting homes?

Supply vs. demand
Even though more animals are being spayed or neutered, 75% of animals coming into the shelter are still intact. One unspayed cat can produce many litters of kittens over the years, and those litters produce their own litters. The supply of cats is simply too large.

Michael Moyer, VMD, AAHA president, Rosenthal director and adjunct associate professor of Shelter Animal Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, says, “There are more [cats] heading into shelters than there are people going to shelters to adopt, or than are being displayed off-site from shelters to get adopted.”

The rate of intake of adult cats at shelters is significantly higher than the rate of adoption, and in spring, when the “kitten season” begins, the margin increases alarmingly. When given the opportunity to adopt a cute little kitten, people tend to ignore the older cats.

The American Humane Association has dubbed June “Adopt a Cat Month”—June has the lowest rate of adoption from shelters, therefore the highest rate of euthanasia. Kittens usually go fast, but unfortunately, the majority of shelter cats are over 5 years old. Some are “boring” looking, like tabbies or black cats, and others are part of a bonded pair, which means they would be miserable without their friend. Some have easily remedied medical conditions, while others aren’t well socialized. These cats stand no chance against the puppies, kittens and dogs in the shelters.

Location, location, location
According to the Humane Society of the United States, 33% of Americans have at least one cat. Of that number, only 21% were adopted from animal shelters. The rest came from a hodgepodge of sources: friends, family, coworkers, wandering strays or unplanned litters of kittens. Because people are getting cats from these other sources, they don’t turn to the shelter for adoption.

Part of the problem has to do with the shelters themselves. Because of city noise regulations, most shelters are located in industrial or other “undesirable” neighborhoods. People often don’t even know there’s a shelter in their area. “Most shelters are not in highly desirable foot-traffic neighborhoods,” Moyer says. Also, cities frequently lack the funds to modernize shelters, so walking through them can be dismal.

Decreasing odds
Numbers aren’t the only reason for low shelter adoptions. The shelter environment, specifically the cage, can dramatically decrease a cat’s odds of being adopted. The shelter is a loud, scary place, and with no consistent or regular exercise, cats can become depressed and fearful.

Cats need about 9 square feet to be comfortable, but shelter kennels are smaller than that. The animals need vertical space for jumping and horizontal space for play and sleep. When they are forced to live in cages, they have some serious adjusting to do. It may take up to 5 weeks for a cat to feel comfortable in a new environment, but most shelters aren’t able to keep them that long.

Illona Rodan, DVM, DABVP and founder of the Cat Care Clinic in Madison, Wis., says, “Cats are fearful in unfamiliar environments, and fearful cats tend to hide or flee. If caged, they will most likely hide in the back of the cage, as far away as possible in an attempt to protect themselves. To potential adopters, these cats appear unfriendly and undesirable.”

Ideal companions
With litters of cute kittens prancing around, who would want to adopt an older cat? Smart people! With adult cats, what you see is usually what you get. You may have to look a little harder, past the fearfulness, but, as Rodan says, “Adopting an adult cat allows one to know the personality you are getting.”

Older cats, especially in pairs, are also great for seniors and people who don’t want a huge time commitment. “Kittens require a lot of time and energy, and are usually more costly to care for than an adult cat,” says Rodan. Adults are more well-adjusted to life, and pairs keep each other company.
But more than anything else, adult cats are grateful. “Adult cats that find their way into homes can be the most loving pets of all—perhaps they know how lucky they are to have found a loving and caring home,” Rodan says.

How you can help
If you are thinking of adopting a cat, visit your local shelter first. Sure, your coworker might need a new home for her cat, or your neighbor might have a litter in the back yard, but those cats are “safe,” meaning they aren’t in immediate risk of being euthanized.

\You can also spread the word in your community that adult cats in shelters need homes, too, and encourage people to visit their shelter first, either to adopt or to volunteer. “More adoptions is what shelters need, by whatever means can be found within that particular community,” says Moyer. “There is a role for vets, for shelters and for the community to step in and make a better outcome possible for cats.”

And, you can help with prevention. In the words of Bob Barker, “Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.” And encourage others to do the same.

Originally published by Healthy Pet.