Category: Cats (page 2 of 6)

4 More Veterinary Visit Tips

Admit it, taking your pet to the veterinarian is probably not one of your favorite things to do.  Obviously, there are those times when your fur-baby is sick and that’s understandable you’re dreading the visit especially when the outcome is unknown.  Maybe it’s the cost of things that is frustrating.  Perhaps it’s the time you spend there or the interaction with the clinic staff that have you dreading the visit.  Fear not!  You can help make those trips to your veterinary clinic be more productive, safer, and efficient so we can cooperatively get your pet treated and make the experience less exasperating.  Think of these tips as some of the secrets we think but don’t say out loud.

broken leg puppyIf the presenting complaint is pain, we have to localize the pain – I know what you may be thinking…why do you have to make my pet hurt during the exam?  Yes, it’s true that during an exam we may palpate an area and it may hurt, but we have to know what is ailing your pet.  Afterwards (and before any x-rays), we’ll be more than happy to give your pet pain medication or a sedative to help them relax.  If we can’t find the painful area, then a diagnosis may escape us and your pet might not get the proper treatment.

from Trupanion.com

from Trupanion.com

Why can’t we complete our exam? – One of the things I find to take the most time (thus extending a visit length) is not being able to adequately complete our exam.  Why is this?  Two things….chairs & leashes.  Unfortunately, many pets are still afraid of the veterinary clinic.  When this happens, they tend to climb into a small or covered space in hopes of not being noticed or to make themselves more difficult to be touched.  This often means climbing under a chair.  I don’t mind helping coax Fluffy or Spot (with bribery from treats) out from under a chair but we may feel awkward if you are still sitting on said chair….let’s call it a personal space bubble that we don’t want to pop.

This is where you can help and where the leash comes into play (for dogs at least).  Drop the leash, hold the collar or place your hands on your pet.  Leashes also create prime tripping hazards with a big, happy dog.  If your pet holds still, we can do our jobs better and give you better service.  If a staff member is able to help in an exam room (not always possible), please trust them to handle your baby as if he or she were their own.

aggressive dogNot every pet who comes to the vet clinic is happy or a sweetheart – Admittedly, I will give every patient the benefit of the doubt if they seem leary or if they snap, we will likely want to put a muzzle on them.  I’ve heard people say that veterinarians should not be afraid of animals.  The truth is, we respect them and know what some of them can do.  I’ve known too many colleagues who have been unable to continue working like their accustomed due to a nasty animal related injury.  Animals are also perceptive and if they sense they the staff is uneasy, it may send the wrong signals of being dominant.  Simply put, if your pet has a history of misbehaving, allow us to take proper safety precautions so that nobody gets hurt.  Alternatively, for routine visits, we can often prescribe something ahead of time to help take the edge off and make your pet more relaxed so that their visit may not be such a bad experience.  Many veterinarians are become FearFree certified.

from justcuteanimals.com

from justcuteanimals.com

All we all need is just a little patience – Time spent at the vet clinic can be discouraging.  Whether it is before or after your appointment may make it more so.  A veterinary visit is compromised of multiple parts and interactions, from the client services up front to the veterinary technician to veterinarian and back up to client services.  Wow!  That can be a long time depending on the reason for the visit.  If you show up early, we can make sure your contact info is up to date so that further follow up can be done once you are done with the appointment.  And if we’re able to, we’ll see you early to give you some extra time or try to get you home just a little bit earlier.  On the same token, walking into the clinic with a true emergency (hit by car, active bleeding, trouble breathing, seizuring to name a few) is understandable but we ask that you at least call us before hand so we can prepare and if needed, we can notify our scheduled appointments and give them a chance to reschedule.  If you’re walking in and it’s not an emergency, we will do our best to squeeze you in but there may also be the need to schedule you for a later appointment.

So there you have it…a few more tips to try and help ease the trip to the vet clinic.  A few more tips you say??  Yes, check out part 1 of tips for your vet clinic visit!  And please keep in mind that we are always trying our best for all of our patients so let’s all be courteous to our fellow pet lovers and the clinic staff!  If there’s another piece of advice you have, please share with us in the comments!  Thank you!

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

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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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