Category: Cats (page 2 of 6)

Diabetic Cats – Yes They Can Change!

Sal in hospital

Sal in hospital

The following is a true story (used with permission) of how diabetic cats can change their insulin requirements.

Sal is a 13 year old domestic shorthair cat who was diagnosed with diabetes in 2010.  He had been showing the initial signs of increased urination and having accidents outside the litterbox.  These signs, along with weight loss and increased drinking, are some of the most commonly noted first symptoms of diabetes or an alert to a pet owner that something is wrong.  Some cats may vomit, have a decrease in their appetite, or start to walk in a flat-footed position.  In later stages of not being diagnosed or treated, diabetic cats can have labored breathing and lethargy.

Insulin varieties

Insulin varieties

Back to Sal…  At the time of his diagnosis, he was started on insulin and his diet was changed to a higher protein, lower carbohydrate diet.  He had been doing well for a number of years and was considered to be a well controlled diabetic.  As part of our continuing care of these patients, we recommend doing a glucose curve every 6-12 months as part of their annual examination.  For some cats, we realize that the stress of the clinic setting might be too much for them and encourage home testing (which can be quite easy and most veterinarians will show you how!).  For cats that home testing is difficult either for the patient or the family (not everyone can stand the sight of blood), we do this testing in hospital.  Sal was one of these cats who fit into the latter category.

Hypoglycemia in diabetic cats

Hypoglycemia

Life happens and things don’t always get to go as planned; work or family obligations change, moving might happen, or the budget might be a little tight at times.  That’s okay and can be understandable…it even happens to us as vets too with our own pets and families.  Sal had been delayed in coming in for his annual check up.  His owner brought him in because he was seeming weak and hadn’t been eating well.  I examined him and checked his blood glucose level which was 1.2 (or 21.7 depending on your units)!  The average normal range for a cat is 4.0 – 9.7 (72.6 – 176).

So why did Sal present like this?  His signs were easily attributed to his low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) but his insulin dose had not been increased.  Well, it’s been known for some cats to convert to not needing insulin and their diabetes may be controlled by diet.  This is exactly what happened to Sal.  As he converted, his previously needed insulin dose essentially became that of an overdose.

Normal blood glucose

Normal blood glucose

Rest easy everyone.  Sal is doing fine.  We admitted him to the hospital and put him on intravenous fluids that contained dextrose to help bring his glucose levels up and remove the risk of seizures.  We checked his glucose levels without him getting insulin as well and he never went above the high end of normal so 2 days later he got to go home and now doesn’t need insulin injections!  For now he is doing well, but his family is still going to keep a close eye on him because there may come a time when he might need to start the injections again so he’ll be getting regular checkups from now on.

Disclaimer: All blog posts may contain opinions which are my own and may not reflect those of any current or former employers.

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The Hairy Truth About Hairballs

from www.tvacres.com

from www.tvacres.com

Horf horf horf, ack!  Ah yes, the sound you might hear at 3am and don’t make the connection until you wake up in the morning and step in it.  You know, the cold wet clump of fur your cat brought up a few hours ago.  For some cats and their owners, it has just been written off as a part of life.  But for others though, hairballs might be a sign of a larger problem.

In many cases, we can point the finger of blame to evolution whereby we got the joy of long haired cats on Earth and later we can thank the Egyptians thousands of ears ago for worshipping these glorious felines.  From that those days on, cats decided to make us their servants and remind us of our place…  What better way to do this than to make us clean up their recycled hair in a wet, clumped format?  It’s not just long haired cats that provide us with hairballs however as my own domestic shorthair Gremlin almost daily now reminds me with a small gift on my side of the bed.  (It turns out, she was actually constipated and once that was addressed the hairballs stopped!)

from www.vetoquinol.ca

from www.vetoquinol.ca

Hairballs, or trichobezoars, in most cases are the product of grooming as part of kitty’s normal cleaning habits.  Typically, they might only have an episode every few weeks to months and this is not so problematic.  Brushing your cat (if they’ll let you!) can help remove dead hairs and minimize how much they are ingesting.  For cats that aren’t amenable to brushing or if it still isn’t enough, many veterinarians will recommend using a gooey flavored paste (Laxatone or Tonic-Lax are 2 common products) that can help bind up hairs and grease up the insides a bit to help them pass more easily out the back end.

Sometimes though, hairballs are much more frequent than expected.  But why?  Over-grooming can be a common cause but is often linked to other issues.  Cats may over-groom if they are stressed for behavioral reasons.  Another cause is underlying skin issues such as allergies or infections.  I’ve even seen a few cats lick their bellies clean of fur and they were found to have problems on the inside such as bladder infections or stones and in one case an intestinal tumor.  The most likely thought is the inflammation was so uncomfortable that the licking was almost as if they were trying to relieve the discomfort on the inside.  But then again, they can’t talk to us so maybe their obsessive behaviors in those cases were them telling us there was a problem.

Hairball noted by arrows, Morgan Animal Hospital, Ontario

Hairball noted by arrows, Morgan Animal Hospital, Ontario

Another cause to consider would be gastrointestinal issues.  We know cats eat their own hair, and who wouldn’t like silky smooth hair?  That hair may sit in the stomach for a prolonged time if there is a motility issue such as delayed emptying of the stomach or an excessive amount of tissue that prevents things from passing into the intestine.  On occasion, these clumps of hair can join with other ingested material and cause an obstruction which might involve surgery to remove.  To help with these issues, your veterinarian may recommend a hairball control diet which has certain amounts of digestible fiber to stimulate intestinal movement or, if needed, medications can also be used to help keep a normal flow.  If there is an increased frequency of hairballs, it may often be linked to inflammatory bowel disease.

As I try to tell people, a one time incident in these cases isn’t usually a cause for alarm.  Multiple times or increasing frequency deserves a trip to your trusted veterinarian.  So next time you step in a hairball, maybe you cat is trying to tell you something and you should listen.  Or they’re just getting revenge for that horrible outfit you made them wear at Halloween.

www.metzgercartoons.com

www.metzgercartoons.com

Disclaimer:  Blog posts may contain opinions which are my own and do not reflect that of any current or former employers.

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Cars, Planes, Cats & Dogs – Traveling with a Pet

Cars, Planes, Cats & Dogs – Traveling with a Pet

The arrival of the spring-summer travel season is upon us and perhaps you’re getting ready to take some time off with the family including the pets.  Traveling with pets can be lots of fun but also can be an anxious endeavor for both you and them.  Before you hit the open road or take to the skies, let’s do our part to make it a safe and enjoyable time for everyone.  Edie the Pug and I are back to help share some tips for your upcoming adventures!

Edie wants you to be safe & loves car rides!

Edie wants you to be safe & loves car rides!

Safety in the car just isn’t for you; your pets have to be safe also.  We’re talking about restraint.  Cats should always be in a carrier.  Preferably the carrier should be large enough for them to stand up and walk around in (though my cat prefers to curl up) but small enough to fit on the floor behind a seat which is the safest place.  For longer trips you may need a larger type crate (if space allows) for a litterbox and water or food dishes.  Dogs should wear seatbelt harnesses unless they are a toy breed then they should be in a carrier.  Seatbelt harnesses should be comfortable, well fitting, and sturdy.  One such recommendation is the Sleepypod Clickit Sport harness.  There may be other restraint devices out there but they may not have been tested for safety ratings.  For more safety info, you can visit the Center for Pet Safety website where they have tested many types (using crash test dummies).

SleepyPod Clickit Sport harness (from Sleepypod.com)

SleepyPod Clickit Sport harness (from Sleepypod.com)

What about when you fly?  Carriers will have different requirements if you are flying on an airplane so you will need to check with the airline.  If your pet is going in cargo, make sure the carrier has a screw type of closure, not clips as we wouldn’t want anyone escaping!cat in carrier2

A common request I get is about sedation for the trip.  Many dogs don’t seem to be bothered by a car trip but some do mind and there is a fair chance that many cats will vocalize.  In some cases they’re just talking but sometimes it’s more of a concern or bother for the other passengers especially if kitty is frantic in the carrier.  As mentioned before, by no means would I suggest that your cat get free roam of the car as it is a safety hazard to everyone.

pillsI must first stress you should never give any over the counter or prescription medication without the advice of a veterinarian.  Sedatives or anti-anxiety medications can vary from homeopathic to mild common medications to heavy tranquilization.  It is best to look into any type of medication at least a few weeks before your trip as I prefer to start on a benign medication (something that won’t affect heart rate or blood pressure) or start on a lower dose of a mid-grade medication.  Each pet will be different and may require different drugs.  When traveling on a plane, I do not recommend heavy medications that would normally require monitoring unless nothing else will work and we have no other choice.

These are the two main points to focus on when traveling with your pets.  There is much more but we will touch on them briefly here.

Nausea : Some animals can get car sick just like people!  If they do, it may be best if they are fasted before a trip or only feed them a small meal.  Alternatively, your veterinarian can recommend or prescribe something to help.

Identification & Records : Before leaving, make sure your pets tags or microchip information is up to date in case of a separation.  If you will be gone for awhile or if your pet has a medical condition, it may be useful to bring a copy of pertinent records or information should they need medical attention.

First aid kit : Particularly if you’re camping, this may be a necessity.  Bandage material, antibiotic ointment, tick removers, peroxide, and eye wash are just a few of the items that might be handy.

Pit stops : Take a break every few hours on longer trips!  Stretch your legs and let your dog do the same.  For cats, this might be a good time to set a litterbox in the back of a vehicle for them to try to use though some cats may be too stressed.  I would also suggest having a leash & harness on cats just as another aid in keeping them from escaping or getting under seats.

Well that’s the basics of pet travel and we didn’t even talk about moving overseas!  Plan ahead and be safe. Remember, it’s not just a vacation; it’s an adventure!

Gremlin napping during a trip

Gremlin napping during a trip

Disclaimer: Blog posts may be opinions which are my own and do not reflect on those of my current or any former employers.  I did not receive any compensation from SleepyPod or the Center for Pet Safety.

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