Blog Archives

Lumps and Bumps

Here is an article that Isis’ vet shared with me.  Please read on:

When was the last time your pet visited the veterinarian? If you answered “not in a while,” it is time to book your next appointment. Have you recently discovered a lump or bump on your pet? Don’t let that new discovery go unexamined.  While it may be completely benign, it is essential for your pet’s health to make an appointment with your veterinarian soon after discovery. Ruling out health concerns such as tumors, cysts, and infections will help to keep your pet healthy.

Discovering and Diagnosing Lumps and Bumps

Without regular veterinary visits, subtle illnesses such as pet lumps and bumps can go unnoticed and develop into more serious health concerns such as cancers, arthritic conditions, and infections. When you brush and groom your pet, feel around behind ears, along the neckline, underneath their bellies and along legs and joints for wounds, lumps, and bumps.

Your groomer can help discover things you may miss. Furrier animals can hide lumps and bumps for a long time without anyone noticing until the animal becomes sick. While many pet owners consider grooming a pampering ritual for pets, it could be life-saving, especially when you choose a groomer who works in an environment with a veterinarian on site.

What to Look for on Your Pet

There are many types of masses, but a lipoma is the most common lump found on pets. This soft, round or flat, and painless lump presents just under your pet’s skin and is generally benign, although, rarely a liposarcoma is found. More of a problem though, is that mast cell tumors, a type of skin cancer, can look and feel just like a lipoma.  Because of this, it is always best for your pet’s overall wellness to have these lumps and bumps accurately evaluated and diagnosed.

Occasionally benign masses can grow into other surrounding tissues. While the actual lump itself is not a concern, the tissue it can disrupt sometimes is problematic. The mass may affect the way a limb moves, or an eyelid closes. In some cases lumps must be removed surgically, and removing them early is the key.

Talk to Your Veterinarian

Have you been maintaining your pet’s preventive care visits? If your pet has not been receiving annual examinations, now is the time to do so,  to ensure optimal health for your pet.

While many lumps and bumps are benign, some can present serious health implications for your pet.

Wouldn’t you want to know if something was getting in the way of your pet’s health?

 

Sources:
Goodman Lee, Jessica, “Lumps & Bumps: Team Training Plan.” Veterinary Team Brief, 2013

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Medical Benefits of At Home Grooming For Cats

I really enjoyed this article that Isis’ vet sent to me, so I thought I would pass it along to all my cat parents out there:

 

The condition of your cat’s coat and skin is an important feline health indicator. Healthy coats are shiny and smooth, and healthy skin will be supple and clear. While nutrition and health status will influence a cat’s appearance, regular grooming also has an impact. At-home grooming care, including daily brushing, is an important part of feline wellness care.

While most cats are fastidious groomers and rarely require a bath, regular at home grooming, including daily brushing, is still important. Brushing is especially important for long-haired cats, which are more susceptible to tangles and matted fur. Daily brushing is the best way to remove loose hairs. Daily brushing will also help owners who suffer from allergies as regular grooming reduces the amount of hair and pet dander in the home. For people with mild cat allergies, daily brushing may sufficiently reduce airborne feline allergens, making it possible for these individuals to comfortably share a home with cats.

Regular brushing also helps to reduce the amount of hair that cats naturally swallow through self-grooming. This may reduce  the quantity and severity of hairballs.  If pet owners do choose to bathe their cats, choose shampoos that are specially formulated for felines.  Older or obese pets with mobility restrictions may need additional grooming assistance, including at-home baths, if they are unable to fully groom themselves.

Nails should be checked during weekly grooming sessions and trimmed as needed. Cat nails grow differently than dog’s or people’s nails.  Cats shed their nails like a reptile sheds its skin. As cats age, they use scratching posts less, and the nail caps can build up to the point where the nails curl around and penetrate the pads of the feet. Cat nail clippers can be used to trim nails and prevent this from happening.

During at-home grooming, pet owners should also perform a mini-physical on their cat, evaluating the cat’s skin and coat condition, feeling for any lumps and bumps, or noting any painful areas.  While rubbing a cat’s head or scratching the chin, use the forefingers to gently raise the upper lips, checking for abnormal teeth or red gums.  In addition to being a special bonding time for cats and their owners, a feline health assessment during grooming is critical for older cats who are masters at hiding the symptoms of illness. Early diagnosis of health problems starts with proactive at-home care.

Effective at-home grooming starts with the right products. Talk to your veterinarian about what brush is best for your cat; long-haired cats will need a different brush than short-haired cats.

Once you have the right products, brush your cat on a daily basis. Cats prefer routine, which is why your veterinarian may recommend brushing your cat in conjunction with an evening feeding or right before bedtime. If you will also be bathing your cat, ask your veterinarian which shampoo would be best to use.

Source:

Cornell Feline Health Center, “The Special Needs of the Senior Cat.”

What To Do When Your Pet Goes On The Carpet?

Here is a great article my  furbabies vet sent me that I thought I would share with you:

 

Painful Urination

Straining to urinate, frequent urination, blood in the urine, and accidents in the house are common symptoms that pet owners report to their veterinarian. Many times the signs come on suddenly, as people find urine spots on the floor, often near the door where the dog goes outside. Cat owners may notice that the urine balls in the litter box are smaller than usual, or they may also see urine spots around the house, often in the corners of rooms.  Painful urination has three main causes in dogs and cats.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

A urinary tract infection (UTI), also commonly called a bladder infection, is by far the most frequent cause of a painful urination. UTI’s can occur in both males and females, but infections in females are more numerous because of the shorter urethra (the tube from the bladder to the outside). To diagnose a bladder infection, your veterinarian will obtain a urine sample, collected in a special way so as not contaminate the sample, for a urinalysis and often a urine culture. E.coli is the most common bacteria causing the problem, but Staph, Proteus, Klebsiella, and Pseudomonas can be other types of bacteria causing the infection.  It is believed that pets licking their anal area, then their genital area may be the means of transfer of the bacteria. Pets with extreme weakness or paralysis of the rear legs, diabetic pets, dogs with Cushings, and female dogs with a recessed vaginal opening are prone to UTI’s.

Bladder Stones

Bladder stones are the second most common reason for painful urination. There are five main kinds of urinary stones with struvite (magnesium ammonium phosphate) being the most common. Other types of stones are calcium oxalate, urate, silica, and cystine.  Struvite stones commonly form secondary to a bacterial infection. The other  stones  form because of different metabolic problems. Many, but not all, stones will show up on abdominal x-rays.  Ultrasound will usually find the other stones.

Surgical removal is usually the treatment of choice for stones; this can quickly relieve the pain the pet is feeling. The main problem with stones is that they often recur. Some dogs have had multiple surgeries for stone removal. Your veterinarian can help to prevent struvite stones by performing urine cultures to monitor for UTI’s. There is also a  special food that may help to prevent struvite stones.  The other types of stones each have their own recommendations for preventing recurrence.

Bladder Tumors

Bladder tumors are the third most common reason for painful urination.  While not common, they do account for 2% of all cancers in dogs; however, they are less common in cats. The vast majority of bladder tumors are a malignancy called transitional cell carcinoma (TCC).  They occur mostly in older pets. Some breeds have a higher rate of TCC, with Scotties having the highest rate since they are 18 to 20 times more likely than the average dog to have a TCC. Other breeds with a higher incidence are Shelties, Beagles, Westies, and Wire Haired Fox Terrier. These tumors cause discomfort because they obstruct the flow of urine. Detection of the tumor is by ultrasound, diagnosis is by surgery and biopsy.

If your pet is showing signs of urinary discomfort by needing to urinate more frequently than normal and straining, if you’re finding urine accidents in the house, or if you see blood in your pet’s urine, then consult with your veterinarian. An examination of your pet and diagnostic tests can determine the cause, and your veterinarian will discuss the necessary treatment with you.

Incontinence in Pets

Incontinence is also very common in dogs, especially middle -aged to older female dogs. This does not cause pain though, unless there is a secondary UTI.  Incontinence causes the dog to leak urine, usually while lying down or sleeping. A small to medium volume of urine will leak out; the dog may not be aware, or you may see her licking her genital area more than normal.  There are many cases where it is confusing whether the pet is suffering from incontinence or one of the bladder diseases. Your veterinarian can help you and your pet sort through this and decide the correct diagnosis and treatment.

Dogs and Chocolate Poisoning

With Halloween just over, most of us will have some candy left over, or our children have trick-or-treated and got some great loot!  I know we like to share our food and sometimes even candy with our furry friends, sharing chocolate can be toxic and even worse, deadly for our dogs.

The scary thing is, it doesn’t take much to poison a dog, just 0.7 ounces per pound of body weight of milk chocolate, 0.3 ounces per pound of body weight of semi-sweet chocolate and baking chocolate is the worst at 0.1 ounces per pound of body weight is enough to do serious damage.

Some of the symptoms of chocolate poisoning are:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • increased body temperature
  • rapid breathing
  • muscle rigidity
  • seizures

If you suspect your dog is suffering from this, do not delay, call your emergency vet and get there immediately.

It is important to note that there is NO antidote to chocolate toxicity.

For more information, please see this article.

Care For Your Pet – Don’t Surf The Net

This is an article I received from Isis vet.  It discusses getting help when your pet is ill, rather than searching the net for answers for the symptoms or ailments that your pet is exhibiting.  It is a great article and well worth the read:

The World Wide Web has opened up communication opportunities between veterinarians and pet owners.  Convenient hand held devices allow pet owners with Web connections to scan, surf, text and email to their heart’s content at any hour of the day.  Or night.  You might think this is convenient for pet owners, brings fast results for pets, is easier on your budget than office visits, and is a smart use of available resources.  But is it?  Think again.

Emailing and texting veterinarians with questions that are pertinent to a pet can be a good thing when the communications are between you and your own family veterinarian.  When your family veterinarian is involved that means more information is involved:  your pet’s past health history, habits, activity levels, behaviors and several prior lab reports.  More information can provide alternatives, choices and additional treatment measures.

Unfortunately, pet owners are more often using the Internet to find information to identify, heal, or cure their pet’s symptoms.  The symptoms, to those not trained in helping pets maintain their health and wellness, may seem minor.  In fact, owners researching solutions via Internet for their pet’s emergencies, injuries and ailments can instead be compromising their health.

“Responsibly surfing (the Web) is fabulous,” says Nancy Kay, veterinarian and author of Speaking for Spot.  But that “does not take the place of a call or visit to your veterinarian,” she reminds pet owners.

“The American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA) saw veterinary visits decline by 21 percent for dogs and by 30 percent for cats,” says veterinarian W. Ron DeHaven and AMVA executive vice president.

“Get(ting) Dr. Google’s Opinion” is Kay’s perspective of the electronic pet care owners are providing for their beloved pets.  Choosing to use the technology owners keep handy is frequently delaying the necessary treatment an ailing pet requires to relieve discomfort or pain, restore its health, or even save its life.

“The biggest thing I see is an increased rate of euthanasia and much sicker animals than I’ve ever seen, meaning people are waiting longer,” says veterinarian Julie Kittams.

Marty Becker, veterinarian and author of Your Dog:  The Owner’s Manual, calls the phenomenon “Vets vs. Net.”  A good veterinarian can quickly and fairly cheaply address many conditions that make a dog or cat miserable, Becker says.  Owners with an itchy-pawed dog chose to let their pet lick and chew constantly for six years before they checked with a veterinarian.  What they believed to be allergies was a “carpet of yeast and staph in his feet.”  Appropriate medications eliminated the itching within 48 hours.

A comatose dog in Becker’s clinic couldn’t be saved after its owners concluded non-stop vomiting was caused by a minor upset stomach.  The piece of carpeting he’d swallowed without their knowledge became lodged in his intestine, causing a rupture and pus-filled abdomen.  “Sometimes hours or minutes matter,” Becker says.

Don’t delay with technology!  Ask your veterinarian to confirm information you learn via Internet.  Check in quickly with your family veterinarian when your pet’s health changes – you could save your pet’s life.

Sources:

American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA).

Balas, Monique. Sick pets put owners in financial bind.

Becker, Marty, DVM. Your Dog: The owner’s manual.

Kay, Nancy. Speaking for Spot.

Peters, Sharon L. Dr. Google not always best when pets are ill.

Portland Veterinary Medical Association.

The Pain Scale

We all know when we bring our fur babies to the vet and there is something wrong, our pets let us know, but how do we know what degree of pain they are in?

The pain scale roughly gages the amount of pain your pet is in, while also taking into consideration body temperature, pulse and respiration.

The pain goes from zero (your dog is wagging his/her tail, you can touch them without a reaction) to Grade four (vocalizing, becomes stiff, cannot move).

If you believe your pet is in pain, but is unable to react to the pain (or is prideful as many pets are), it is best to call the vet and discuss the issue over the phone and then get in to see an emergency vet immediately.  When dealing with pain, it is best to have it dealt with immediately, so that your pet does not suffer.

It is probably important to know that if your pet has a Grade two measurement on the pain scale, your vet will discuss the options open to you as far as treatment.  If your pet scores a three on the pain scale, medication is issued immediately.

For more information on the pain scale, and to know what all the grades are, here is the information.

Top 10 Questions Asked Of Dog Veterinarians

As pet parents, we all care about the well-being of our dogs.  Many times we ask questions to ensure we are doing everything we can to keep our pets healthy.  Many vets were contacted, and these were the most common questions that were asked:

What is the best way to make sure my dog is receiving the best nutrition?

By reading labels on your dog food and giving them a healthy diet with plenty of protein , some fats and very little if any, fillers (corn, wheat, gluten, etc)., and by giving them healthy treats you will be providing your dog with the best nutrition possible.

 
My dog seems to have trouble rising in the morning (or they are limping) what could this be?

Many times as dogs grow older, they will need to be checked for hip dysplasia, or arthritis.  If this is an issue, there are many medications that can help an elderly dog.

What I suggest, since Sasha is a lab mix, they seem to be likely to develop hip dysplasia, so I opt to give her supplements for healthy, strong bones, and to keep the cartilage strong.  I use Cosequin Plus, but there are many alternatives on that page.  I figure I want to keep her as happy and healthy as long as possible, so I am going to do what it takes to keep her that way,

For more questions that are asked and the answers, click here.

Cats And Heart Disease

I received this article from my vet and thought I would share it with all of you:

Cats are wonderful pets.  In fact, they outnumber dogs as pets in the United States.  It is estimated that 85 to 95 million cats are kept as pets; one-third of all households have at least one feline friend. It is important for cat owners to be aware of a stealthy disease that may affect as much as 15 to 20% of all cats.

Heart disease is one of the more common problems in the cat, and can affect cats of all ages.  Some causes of heart disease may never cause the cat any symptoms; some can cause severe signs, even sudden death.

By far the most common heart disease in the cat is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) accounting for at least 60% of all heart disease in the cat.  This is an excess thickening of the heart muscle walls, so much that it interferes with the pumping action of the heart.  The walls can even get so thick that the ventricle chamber is greatly reduced in size, and therefore only a small amount of blood can be pumped with each contraction.

Cats with mild HCM may never show any symptoms, but more commonly cats with HCM develop one of three scenarios: congestive heart failure, clot formation, or sudden death.  Cats do not cough with congestive heart failure as dogs do; cats in heart failure have a fast respiratory rate and labored breathing. If you study their sides, you can see they are using their abdominal muscles to help them breathe. You may notice they do not want to lie down in a normal manner, they sit sphinx-like and are reluctant to move.

HCM cats are prone to clots.  These form within the heart, and can break off and are swept by the blood stream to other areas of the body. The clots can go anywhere, but most commonly they go down the aorta and lodge where the arteries divide to go into the rear legs.  You will find these cats unable to use their rear legs and crying in pain.  Your veterinarian will be suspicious of such a clot if the rear paws are cold, the femoral pulses are absent, and the pads of the rear feet are pale while the front pads are pink.

Cats with HCM may also die suddenly.  They may act fine one minute, and die within seconds to a couple minutes.  Death can be due to a severe arrhythmia or a clot that affects the brain.

HCM can develop sporadically in any breed or type of cat, but as it does have a genetic basis, certain breeds are prone to this potentially devastating disease.  Maine Coons, American Shorthairs, Ragdolls, and Persians have a much higher incidence than most other breeds, but each of these four breeds has its own genetic variation of HCM.  The Maine Coon and Ragdoll breeders have funded a veterinarian who does genetic research to develop genetic screens for their breeds.  But, unfortunately each test works only for that breed for which it was developed.

Regular examinations are important as your veterinarian will auscultate your cat’s heart (listen with a stethoscope) each time it is seen.  A murmur means more investigation is needed.  A murmur is just a symptom, it is caused by turbulence of blood not flowing in the normal manner.  There are innocent murmurs, which means, there is a murmur but it is not clinically important, and will never cause the cat a problem.  To make HCM even more difficult, one- third of HCM cats do not have any murmur at all.

Other tests that may be done are blood tests, especially a thyroid test, and proBNP, which is a newer test to check for cardiomyopathy.  Blood pressures and chest x-rays may also be done, especially if fluid in the lungs is suspected.  Radiographs (x-rays) of the heart are not useful, as severe heart disease can be present while the heart looks normal, but x-rays are needed to check the lungs.

The most important test to diagnose heart disease is an echocardiogram, which is an ultrasound of the heart, and needs to be performed by a veterinary cardiologist.  With an echo, the internal structure of the heart can be seen, and measurements taken of chamber size, valves of the heart observed for leaks with Doppler, and a diagnosis made.

There is no cure for HCM, but there are various drugs used to try to manage the disease.  Diuretics are used if they have started into failure; also atenolol, diltiazem, and enalapril have been used, although no studies have shown great efficacy.  Plavix, an anti-coagulant, is used if the heart is in the stage where clots are a concern.

There are other heart diseases that occur in cats: heartworm parasites, congenital malformations, restrictive cardiomyopathy, and dilated cardiomyopathy.  The latter problem is much less common in the last decade since cat foods have been supplemented with higher levels of taurine.

In summary, regular examinations are important to keep your feline friend healthy.  Your cat’s doctor will always be mindful of the potential for heart disease, listen for any abnormal sounds, and question you on any symptoms you may be seeing.  Your veterinarian can help your cat stay happy, playful, and as awesome as ever!

References:
http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc
http://www.humanesociety.org

Cats and Peppermint?!?

Just last night I was chewing some peppermint gum, when Isis came up and jumped right on my lap, ninja style and started to poke her head around in front of my mouth, almost as if to say “Whatcha got in there?!?”  She kept it up until the peppermint smell diminished significantly and then she promptly jumped down and chased a moth that had found its way into the house.

This made me wonder if this is normal and how normal it is. Which lead me to Google.

At this point I read article after article and found many uses for this great smelling stuff.  Just know that you can use Peppermint EXTRACT, NOT Peppermint Oil.  Oil can be harsh on cats.  Peppermint is in the same plant family as catnip so this was starting to make more and more sense to me.

For a multi-cat household, you can rub all your cats with a small amount of extract after one cat has gone to the vet and this will lessen the stigma for that cat when brought back home to their buddies smelling of peppermint.

If your cat needs a bath because they are smelly, using extract instead of bathing them can help get rid of those smelly odors.  It is great to use in the winter months so that your kitty doesn’t get cold and wet when it is cold and wet outside.

Just do not use this for a long period of time as most extracts are made with alcohol.

For more information on cats and peppermint, you can read up about it in this article.  It seemed to have been cut off a bit, but you will get the idea.

 

Not Again – Diamond Pet Food Recall Now Includes Cat Food

I just saw this posted and needed to share with my other furbaby cat parents:

Diamond Pet Foods has now expanded its pet food recall once again. The latest recall includes dry cat food manufactured by Diamond.

The Diamond CAT FOOD brands affected by the recall include:

  • Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul
  • Country Value
  • Diamond
  • Diamond Naturals
  • Premium Edge
  • Professional
  • 4Health
  • Taste of the Wild

ONCE AGAIN, PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS RECALL COVERS DRY CAT FOOD, NOT JUST DRY DOG FOOD AS ORIGINALLY REPORTED. Information about this recall appears to be still unfolding, so please continue to monitor the Internet, our website and the Diamond recall website for more details.

IF YOU HAVE CAT FOOD AFFECTED BY THIS RECALL, please return it to that store promptly and safely.

Salmonella poses a serious health risk to humans as well as pets, so be sure to follow extreme safety precautions when handling and disposing of any affected food that has been opened. (Reportedly over a dozen people have been sickened by food affected by this recall.)

Always wash your hands after handling affected food. Also wash and disinfect any areas that have come into contact with the affected food. (Don’t handle affect food if you are pregnant or have open sores on your hands.)  Be sure to dispose of possibly affected food in a way that makes it in accessible to pets, children and wildlife.

Click here for complete safety guidelines.

For more information on the recall, please visit the Diamond recall website:http://diamondpetrecall.com/