Category Archives: Cats

Cat Eye Discharge — What’s Normal and What’s Not

 A tabby cat with eyes closed.

Cat Eye Discharge — What’s Normal and What’s Not

Cat eye discharge can be completely normal or something to bring to your vet’s attention ASAP. Here’s how to determine what’s worrying and what’s not.

Do your cat’s eyes ever get watery, goopy or downright crusty? It can be a little gross, but beyond that, cat eye discharge can sometimes indicate an eye problem that needs to be looked at by your veterinarian. If you’ve ever wondered if your cat’s eye boogers are normal or what could be causing them, you’re not alone.

“Tears are produced constantly throughout the day and normally drain at the corner of the eye without spilling over,” says Beth Kimmitt, D.V.M., resident of ophthalmology at Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in West Lafayette, Indiana. “If something causes irritation to the eye, more tears are produced. Irritation to the eye or blockage of the normal drainage pathway may lead to tears that spill over onto the face.”

Read on to get the scoop on what’s normal and what’s not when it comes to cat eye discharge:

1. A small amount of discharge is probably nothing to worry about.

“While technically a normal eye should not have any ocular discharge, a small amount of clear discharge, which may dry and appear slightly brown and crusty, may be OK,” Dr. Kimmitt says. If your cat just gets those morning eye boogers, the eyes are more than likely fine.

2. Some breeds are more prone to eye boogers.

Due to the shape of the face, Persians, Himalayans and other cats with short noses and large, round eyes might have more eye leakage than other cats. This might be normal, but if the discharge is excessive, ask your vet.

3. Some cat eye problems warrant a trip to the vet.

Yellow or green eye discharge is not normal — if your cat has colored discharge, make a vet appointment as soon as possible. “If there is enough discharge that you have to wipe your pet’s eye(s) more than one to two times daily, or if your cat is squinting or frequently rubbing at its eye(s), or if the eye(s) look red, it should be seen by a veterinarian,” Dr. Kimmitt says. When it comes to your cat’s eye issues, don’t delay making that vet appointment — your cat’s eyes and eyesight might depend on it.

4. Many things can cause abnormal eye leakage in cats.

Cat eye discharge is a sign of many different eye diseases and disorders, including corneal ulcers, conjunctivitis and entropion (an eyelid that rolls inward, allowing the hairs on the skin to irritate the eye). Your veterinarian will examine your cat and possibly perform certain tests to find out what exactly is causing your cat’s eye discharge.

5. It’s important to keep your cat’s eye area clean.

Use a soft, wet cloth to gently wipe away any discharge. “There are also a variety of veterinary products available to help clean around the eyes,” Dr. Kimmitt says. “Just be sure to find one that is labeled as safe to be used around the eyes, and avoid any product that contains alcohol.”

Diana Ruth Davidson,  Westside Dog Nanny,             Certified Professional Pet Sitter,                            Certified by American Red Cross in Pet First Aid

We offer:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

310 919 9372

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com

Indoor Vs Outdoor Cat: Is It Ever OK to Let Them Roam?

 Outdoor Cat Controversy: Is It Ever OK to Let Them Roam?

Pet parents commonly pose the question as to whether they should allow their cats to venture outside of the house. As a veterinarian and advocate for animal welfare, I explain that the decision is ultimately theirs, but to bear in mind that their cat is likely to use up her “nine lives” more quickly while outdoors. As with any controversial topic, there are both pros and cons to providing your cat with the opportunity to explore the great outdoors.

Dangers and Risks for Outdoor Cats

There are many potential dangers faced by outdoor cats, but some risks can be mitigated. For example, outdoor cats exposed to the rabies and feline leukemia viruses can be protected by vaccines. Another virus that is more prevalent in outdoor cat populations is the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Although a vaccine for FIV exists, its use is controversial.

The risk for exposure to fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes is also greater for cats who spend time outside. These pests can transmit the agents that cause diseases, such as feline infectious anemia and heartworm. Responsible pet parents must ensure that their cat receives appropriate parasite preventatives to stay healthy.

Another preventable problem associated with outdoor cats is unwanted pregnancies. Due to the persistent and staggering overpopulation issue, it is imperative to have your cats spayed or neutered before they are permitted outside.

Unfortunately, unsupervised outdoor cats are at risk for several serious problems that cannot be easily avoided. Vehicular accidents are one of the most common life-threatening issues faced by outdoor cats. Encounters with other animals can also pose grave consequences. Bite wounds, if not detected early, can result in serious infections. Cats attacked by larger animals such as dogs, foxes, or coyotes have a low survival rate.

Cats who roam outside are in jeopardy of being exposed to toxins such as antifreeze and rodenticides. If a cat ingests either product without the owner’s knowledge, the window of opportunity to administer an antidote is lost. Toxic outdoor plants such as lilies, azaleas, cyclamen, or the bulbs of tulips and hyacinth also endanger cats.

Benefits of Letting Your Cat Outsid

While there are many sound reasons for keeping your cat indoors, there are several benefits associated with outdoor life. The majority of outdoor cats maintain a healthy body weight. As opposed to their strictly indoor couch potato counterparts, outdoor cats play and run and therefore burn many more calories.

The importance of environmental enrichment for cats is strongly touted by veterinary behaviorists. Although cat parents can be creative in initiating indoor games, the mental stimulation experienced outdoors is ideal. Exposure to live prey allows cats to partake in natural hunting activities. Hunting outdoors serves as an outlet for stalking and aggression that might otherwise be directed toward other household pets and family members. For cat parents, channeling their pet’s scratching tendency toward trees and other natural surfaces is much preferred compared to leather furniture or Berber carpeting.

While indoor cats are afforded a longer life expectancy, some people believe that quality of life outweighs quantity. Pet parents need to recognize that there are circumstances that make a cat’s indoor confinement very difficult. Stray cats who have become accustomed to living outdoors have a hard time acclimating to life strictly inside. Parents of cats with non-resolvable litter box aversion often have no choice other than to allow their cat to venture into nature when “nature calls.”

In order for cat parents who live in a highly trafficked area to strike a happy balance, they can consider leash walking their cats in a harness or allowing their cats to explore and exercise within an enclosed yard under supervision. Whether you choose to allow your cat to roam outside or keep it indoors, be sure to take measures to ensure both her physical and mental well-being.

Diana Ruth Davidson,  Westside Dog Nanny,             Certified Professional Pet Sitter,                            Certified by American Red Cross in Pet First Aid

We offer:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

Vomiting in Cats

 Emesis in Cats

Cats vomit. It’s just a fact of life. The question is, is it for a benign reason like a hairball, or a more serious problem like liver disease? The answer is determined by observation and testing.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Vomiting is often preceded by drooling, lip licking, excessive swallowing, or even yowling. The act of vomiting, meanwhile, is characterized by strong abdominal contractions and head-bobbing. It is important to note what the cat vomits up, how much he vomits, how often he vomits, and if the vomit is associated with eating or drinking, especially before the first episode of vomiting.

PRIMARY CAUSE

Vomiting is caused by anything that irritates the stomach or prevents stomach contents from moving forward along the digestive tract. (Regurgitation, in which stomach contents move backwards up the esophageal track and into the mouth, is caused by anything that may prevent food from entering the stomach, which usually means problems with the esophagus.)

IMMEDIATE CARE

A single episode of vomiting is usually benign, as long as no foreign material or blood is seen. If your cat is vomiting multiple times within a day (acute vomiting), use the following steps as a guide:

  1. Check your cat for pale or cold gums, listlessness, diarrhea, fever, or other unusual symptoms.
  2. If possible, locate the food or item that caused the vomiting.
  3. Remove food from trays for about 12 hours, but continue to provide water.
  4. If the cat stops vomiting, try offering a teaspoon of his usual food.
  5. If he keeps this down, continue offering small amounts of food every few hours for the next 24 hours, then go back to his usual schedule if all others symptoms subside.

If for any reason your cat cannot keep water down, does not cease to vomit, has blood or unusual material in the vomitus, or if you have witnessed him eat something dangerous, call your veterinarian or an emergency hospital immediately.

If your cat vomits frequently — once a day to once a month (chronic vomiting) — there is an underlying problem that will need to be diagnosed by your veterinarian. You can help by noting other symptoms like diarrhea, increased thirst or urination, change in appetite, etc. If the vomiting can be associated with any particular food or activity, eliminating that food or activity may eliminate the vomiting.

VETERINARY CARE

Diagnosis

Since so many different things can cause your cat to vomit, your veterinarian will need to do a careful evaluation of your cat to determine the cause. This starts with a thorough physical exam of your cat and a discussion of what you are observing at home. From this basic information, your veterinarian will order a series of tests, which may include: blood tests, urine tests, fecal tests, X-rays, barium studies, endoscopy, ultrasound, and biopsy.

Treatment

Because of the many causes of vomiting, treatment will depend on the diagnosis. Cats with acute vomiting are often dehydrated and will need intravenous (IV) fluids until the vomiting is under control and your cat can eat and drink normally. If there is concern for infection, antibiotics will be given. If the vomiting will not stop, antiemetics and/or stomach protectants (like aluminum hydroxide) may be given. If a foreign body is suspected, surgery will be performed to remove it. There may be other treatments given specific to the cause of vomiting.

OTHER CAUSES

A partial list of things that can irritate the stomach or otherwise cause vomiting include: infection, parasites, various plants and toxins, kidney, liver, or pancreatic disease, foreign objects, cancer, etc.

LIVING AND MANAGEMENT

Some causes of vomiting can be self-limiting, or cured by surgery or medication, after which your cat can resume his usual lifestyle. Other causes of vomiting are due to chronic inflammation or other problems, which require permanent dietary changes, medications, or other restrictions. It is important to follow the veterinarian’s instructions and contact him or her if your cat won’t cooperate or gets worse.

If your cat refuses to eat for more than one day, she is at risk of developing hepatic lipidosis. The longer she refuses to eat, the greater the risk becomes. This is a serious, potentially fatal condition in which the liver becomes clogged with fat as the result of not eating. The treatment for this condition is long and intense, so it is best to avoid it if possible.

PREVENTION

Many causes of vomiting cannot be prevented. The best thing you can do is to remove any potentially harmful foods or objects from your cat’s environment.

 Diana Ruth Davidson,  Westside Dog Nanny,             Certified Professional Pet Sitter,                            Certified by American Red Cross in Pet First Aid

We offer:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

Dogs with Diabetes; Diabetes in Cats

Certain triggers cause us vet types to start thinking in overdrive during our examinations of pets. A seemingly innocent question, like “How’s his appetite? Has he been drinking more or less than usual?” can actually represent a significant clue in our hunt for answers. A dog or cat, for example, who suddenly starts drinking and urinating a ton more than usual is giving us a big hint that something is wrong with its body—and of the several possible causes, diabetes is one that owners seem to dread hearing the most.

As one of the most common health conditions in middle-aged cats and dogs, a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus is frightening for owners. And it’s true, diabetes is usually a lifelong condition that requires vigilance on the part of owners in order to control. But that also leads to the good news: in many cases it can be managed, and often pets with diabetes continue on to lead long and happy lives.

What is Diabetes in Dogs and Cats?

Diabetes can refer to two unrelated conditions in veterinary medicine: diabetesmellitus (sugar diabetes), and less common diabetes insipidus (water diabetes). As diabetes insipidus is a much rarer condition with a completely different cause and treatment, this article focuses on the prevalent type of diabetes: diabetes mellitus.

The pancreas is an essential organ; it is here that the beta cells that produce insulin reside. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream to enter the body’s cells to be used as an energy source. Diabetes is a condition caused by a loss or dysfunction of the beta cells of the pancreas. In some cases, the pancreas completely loses the ability to manufacture insulin—insulin deficient diabetes, also described as Type 1 diabetes—and the pet is dependent on external administration of the hormone. In other instances, the pet can manufacture insulin, but the body doesn’t respond to it (insulin resistant diabetes, or Type 2 diabetes.)

While it is assumed that pets are either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetics, that isn’t always the case. Rather than being one or the other, diabetes severity can exist on a spectrum. A recent study published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine shows that an individual pet’s condition may be more fluid than initially thought. For example, I had learned in school that dogs were almost exclusively Type 1 diabetics, and cats were almost always Type 2. Now we know that isn’t necessarily always the case.

What Causes Diabetes in Dogs and Cats?

There is no one single cause of diabetes in dogs and cats. In some pets, it is a genetic condition; certain breeds such as Australian terriers, Beagles, Samoyeds, and Burmese are at higher risk. Underlying medical conditions such as obesity, pituitary disease, and adrenal disease can predispose a pet to developing diabetes. Medications such as steroids can also induce diabetes in dogs and cats.

What Are the Signs of Diabetes in Dogs and Cats?

No matter the cause, all diabetics have elevated blood sugar that spills over into the urine, causing a predictable array of clinical signs:

  • Drinking and urinating much more frequently. The presence of glucose in the urine prevents the kidneys from effectively doing their job re-absorbing water into the bloodstream.
  • Increased hunger. Despite the high levels of glucose in the blood, the body can’t utilize it for energy. It’s kind of like sitting at a buffet with your mouth taped shut; there’s food everywhere, but it’s not doing you any good. So the body continues to signal pets to eat more and more to raise blood glucose levels.
  • Weight loss. Again, despite the increased appetite, the body can’t do anything with the calories being swallowed, so patients lose weight.
  • Additional signs may include vomiting, poor coat condition, cataracts in dogs, and abnormal gait in cats.

Left untreated, diabetes can lead to liver dysfunction and a life-threatening condition called ketoacidosis. A diabetic pet that is vomiting or disoriented should be evaluated immediately. Without aggressive treatment, diabetic ketoacidosis can lead to brain swelling, kidney failure, pancreatitis, and rapid death.

How is Diabetes Diagnosed in Dogs and Cats?

An initial diagnosis of diabetes does not require special testing outside of standard bloodwork and urinalysis. The main criterion in blood testing is an elevated blood glucose, though other abnormalities are also common. A urinalysis is also highly recommended as the presence of glucose in the urine is one of the hallmarks of diabetes.

Additional tests, such as urine culture to check for urinary tract infections, thyroid testing, and/or x-rays, are also commonly ordered to help gain a thorough picture of the pet’s current state of health.

Because diabetes affects every pet differently, and because some pets are more severely ill at the time of diagnosis than others, an accurate assessment is necessary so that your veterinarian can provide the most effective and timely treatment.

How is Diabetes Treated in Dogs and Cats?

In pets with clinical signs of disease, insulin injections are the mainstay of treatment for both dogs and cats. In cats, glargine and PZI are the insulins most commonly used. In dogs, Lente, NPH, and Vetsulin insulins are the first line insulins used in treatment. Each has its pros and cons in terms of how long it lasts in the bloodstream, how easy it is for owners to obtain, and reasonable cost. For those reasons, the most current American Animal Hospital Association Diabetes Management Guidelines suggest multiple options so that veterinarians and owners can select the best insulin for the pet as a team.

While many owners of a newly diagnosed diabetic worry about administering the injections, most adjust quickly. Insulin injections are given twice a day, timed with a meal, and because of the tiny needle size and volume administered, even the most reticent owners learn quickly that pets don’t seem to mind the shots.

How Quickly Do Pets with Diabetes Improve?

Managing a pet’s blood sugar is both an art and a science. Determining the proper insulin dose does not often happen right away; it can take some time before you and your vet arrive at the right amount of insulin. Many factors, such as stress and illness, can cause variances in blood sugar from day to day, so owners who are attempting to monitor their pets’ blood glucose may find it very confusing, especially in the beginning.

Your veterinarian may suggest a glucose curve—that is, testing blood glucose over the course of a day to make sure the prescribed insulin is properly managing the body’s blood sugar. Some veterinarians also monitor fructosamine, a value obtained from a single blood test that gives a “big picture” look at how the blood glucose has been doing over a several week period.

What Role Does Diet Play in Diabetes Management for Pets?

Everyone has a story about a friend who changed their cat’s diet and no longer needed insulin. While that isn’t the most common outcome, remission is possible in certain cases. And in any case, nutrition is a key component for managing the symptoms for all diabetics.

Dr. Jennifer Larsen, a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition and Associate Professor of clinical nutrition at the University of California Davis, stresses the importance of an individualized approach. While obesity is a critical risk factor in diabetes, pets of any weight can suffer from diabetes.

“In cats, the loss of body fat can result in remission, while for dogs, improved control (of symptoms) is an important goal,” said Larsen. “Likewise, reversing inappropriate or unwanted weight loss in a thin dog or cat is also important.”

Veterinarians look at two main factors in diabetic diets: the makeup of the diet, and the timing of the feedings.

Dr. Larsen stressed the importance of the timing of meals as much as the amount of the meal itself. “For dogs, feeding management in terms of consistency is important,” says Larsen.

“Since the insulin dose is titrated to the diet, the same amount of the same [food] should be fed at the same times every day.” However, she added that “this appears to be much less important for cats.”

Contrary to common perception, veterinarians do not immediately jump to a new diet in newly diagnosed diabetic pets. Dr. Larson explains that “unless there is a concurrent disease that should be addressed, such as obesity or pancreatitis, and assuming the diet is otherwise appropriate, I usually do not change the diet initially.”

“Ensuring that all of the other aspects of managing a diabetic pet are well controlled is a priority,” says Larsen. For many families, the stress of managing injections and monitoring a pet’s health is challenge enough, and Larsen likes to take a big-picture approach.

Dr. Lisa Weeth, also a board certified veterinary nutritionist, agrees. “While I don’t change the diet initially for canine diabetics, I have found that increasing total dietary fiber does help with managing most cases. It won’t eliminate the need for insulin, but it does help even out the clinical signs throughout the day”

“Avoiding snacks in between meals is important for dogs,” says Weeth. “I have owners either stop treats or confine them to a two hour window after the main meals and account for that in my diet plan.”

High fiber diets are still the mainstay for both dogs and cats. While many people are now advocating a low carbohydrate, high fat and protein diet for diabetics, Larsen urges caution. “These diets are often higher in energy density and not ideal if weight loss is needed, since the volume fed may be too low to satisfy the cat and the owner. Again, an individualized approach is best.”

Weeth also emphasizes the fact that diabetes requirements vary widely depending on the pet and that there is no “one size fits all” approach. Some cats who begin as insulin resistant Type 2 diabetics can progress to insulin deficient Type 1 diabetes over time.

“In Type 1 diabetics, reducing total carb intake or adding fiber may help reduce the insulin dosage, but it doesn’t eliminate the need. For Type 2 diabetics, insulin may be necessary to control the hyperglycemia initially, but if you are able to address the confounding factors (secondary influences), the cat may revert to a non-insulin dependent state for a period of time.”

Diabetes doesn’t have to be an insurmountable problem. Successful management is a team approach with an involved veterinarian and a dedicated and patient owner. If your pet has been recently diagnosed with diabetes, take a deep breath and then get ready to learn some new skills. It’s all worth it.

What Role Does Diet Play in Diabetes Management for Pets?

Everyone has a story about a friend who changed their cat’s diet and no longer needed insulin. While that isn’t the most common outcome, remission is possible in certain cases. And in any case, nutrition is a key component for managing the symptoms for all diabetics.

Dr. Jennifer Larsen, a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition and Associate Professor of clinical nutrition at the University of California Davis, stresses the importance of an individualized approach. While obesity is a critical risk factor in diabetes, pets of any weight can suffer from diabetes.

“In cats, the loss of body fat can result in remission, while for dogs, improved control (of symptoms) is an important goal,” said Larsen. “Likewise, reversing inappropriate or unwanted weight loss in a thin dog or cat is also important.”

Veterinarians look at two main factors in diabetic diets: the makeup of the diet, and the timing of the feedings.

Dr. Larsen stressed the importance of the timing of meals as much as the amount of the meal itself. “For dogs, feeding management in terms of consistency is important,” says Larsen.

“Since the insulin dose is titrated to the diet, the same amount of the same [food] should be fed at the same times every day.” However, she added that “this appears to be much less important for cats.”

Contrary to common perception, veterinarians do not immediately jump to a new diet in newly diagnosed diabetic pets. Dr. Larson explains that “unless there is a concurrent disease that should be addressed, such as obesity or pancreatitis, and assuming the diet is otherwise appropriate, I usually do not change the diet initially.”

“Ensuring that all of the other aspects of managing a diabetic pet are well controlled is a priority,” says Larsen. For many families, the stress of managing injections and monitoring a pet’s health is challenge enough, and Larsen likes to take a big-picture approach.

Dr. Lisa Weeth, also a board certified veterinary nutritionist, agrees. “While I don’t change the diet initially for canine diabetics, I have found that increasing total dietary fiber does help with managing most cases. It won’t eliminate the need for insulin, but it does help even out the clinical signs throughout the day”

“Avoiding snacks in between meals is important for dogs,” says Weeth. “I have owners either stop treats or confine them to a two hour window after the main meals and account for that in my diet plan.”

High fiber diets are still the mainstay for both dogs and cats. While many people are now advocating a low carbohydrate, high fat and protein diet for diabetics, Larsen urges caution. “These diets are often higher in energy density and not ideal if weight loss is needed, since the volume fed may be too low to satisfy the cat and the owner. Again, an individualized approach is best.”

Weeth also emphasizes the fact that diabetes requirements vary widely depending on the pet and that there is no “one size fits all” approach. Some cats who begin as insulin resistant Type 2 diabetics can progress to insulin deficient Type 1 diabetes over time.

“In Type 1 diabetics, reducing total carb intake or adding fiber may help reduce the insulin dosage, but it doesn’t eliminate the need. For Type 2 diabetics, insulin may be necessary to control the hyperglycemia initially, but if you are able to address the confounding factors (secondary influences), the cat may revert to a non-insulin dependent state for a period of time.”

Diabetes doesn’t have to be an insurmountable problem. Successful management is a team approach with an involved veterinarian and a dedicated and patient owner. If your pet has been recently diagnosed with diabetes, take a deep breath and then get ready to learn some new skills. It’s all worth it.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny,             Certified Professional Pet Sitter,                            Certified by American Red Cross in Pet First Aid and CPR

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds

 

Want to adopt a cat, but suffer from allergies? Maybe you’ve tried coping by taking antihistamines, and have a HEPA air filter in your home. You may have even heard the term “hypoallergenic pet” but not know it applies to cats.

Some feline breeds exist that are considered “hypoallergenic” or low allergy cats. This is because they produce fewer allergens than others. Cats do produce pet dander, a common allergen, but the culprit for the estimated 10 percent of the population who are allergic to cats may be a protein, Fel d 1, that is present in cat saliva.

Technically, there are no 100 percent hypoallergenic domestic cats or cats that are completely non-allergenic. All cats produce some amount of dander, so you won’t find a dander or allergen-free cat. However, there are breeds that produce less of it and therefore make good cats for people with allergies. The following list of “hypoallergenic” cats is a guideline which petMD recommends for people who want to adopt a feline, yet feel options are limited due to allergies:

Popular Hypoallergenic Cats

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

6 Pet Health Myths You Need to Stop Believing

 

Warm noses, eating grass, and dangerous foods—none of them mean exactly what you think they mean. Misconceptions about your pet’s health abound and some of them can actually harm your furry one if you aren’t able to differentiate truth from myth.

Here are six common myths about dog health issues and cat health issues that you may have fallen for in the past.

Myth 1: A Warm Nose Means Your Dog is Sick

Warm nose equals a fever, right? Sorry, but no. In fact, it is absolutely a myth that a warm nose means your dog is sick, according to Dr. Shelby Neely, DVM, a Philadelphia-based veterinarian and the director of operations for the online vet service whiskerDocs.

While it’s difficult to pinpoint how this myth got started, Neely suspects it might have become a prevalent belief when canine distemper, a contagious viral infection, was more common. “Dogs that are sick with distemper may have a thickening of the nose, which may alter its temperature and moisture,” Neely explains.

So why is your dog’s nose warm sometimes and not others? It could be for many reasons—“from being overheated to genetics to normal fluctuations throughout the day,” Neely says.

If your suspect your dog might be sick, Neely says a much better diagnostic measure is to observe the way your dog is behaving, eating, drinking, urinating, and defecating. “In addition,” Neely adds, “nothing replaces an actual thermometer for assessing a dog’s temperature.”

Myth 2: A Few Table Scraps Will Not Hurt Your Dog’s Health

This is also a myth. In fact, human food can be quite dangerous for dogs. “Dogs are not humans and they have very specific diet requirements to keep them healthy, which are different from ours,” Neely explains.

Take, for example, things like garlic, onions, grapes, potato leaves, walnuts, and anything containing the artificial sweetener Xylitol—all seemingly innocent foods that could cause serious harm to your dog, according to Neely.

Other foods to worry about include cooked bones, as they can splinter and pierce the bowel, explains Dr. Judy Morgan, DVM. Dr. Morgan is certified in acupuncture and food therapy and is a member of the Veterinary Botanical Medicine Association.

In addition, many table foods are too high in salt, sugar, preservatives, and carbohydrates, according to Morgan. “So if you want to share some broccoli, feel free,” says Morgan. “But foods high in salt, sugar, and fat can be problematic for our pets.”

Why is that? Simply put, sugars cause the pancreas to release insulin, which is then used to convert the excess sugars into fat. The result: pet obesity.

“High fat diets and snacks cause the release of pancreatic digestive enzymes and can lead to pancreatitis, which can be life threatening,” Morgan adds.

Myth 3: Dogs Must Be Vaccinated Every Year

dog vaccine

While rabies vaccines are mandatory in most states, the rest of the vaccines are discretionary and should be given only to dogs that really need them.

To be clear, all puppies should receive a full core vaccination protocol to build immunity against a multitude of highly fatal diseases, says Dr. Rachel Barrack, DVM, owner of Animal Acupuncture and a licensed veterinarian certified in both veterinary acupuncture and Chinese herbology.  “These [core vaccinations] include canine adenovirus, canine distemper virus, canine parvovirus, and rabies,” Barrack explains.

Non-core vaccinations, on the other hand, may not be necessary for all dogs, depending on their lifestyle. “This also is true for older dogs, whose vaccination frequency recommendations depend on the individual lifestyle in question,” Barrack says. “It is important to take into account geographic location, exposure to other dogs, and underlying disease.”

A clear example: If dogs do not have contact with other dogs in day care or boarding, it makes no sense to vaccinate them for influenza and bordetella, explains Morgan. And the leptospirosis vaccination should only be given to dogs that have exposure to the disease, said Morgan. Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection spread through the urine of wildlife and rats.

Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that some vaccines likely create immunity for longer than one year, so they do not need to be administered annually. “Distemper and parvovirus vaccinations may give immunity to pets for 5 to 7 or more years,” Morgan says.

If you are unsure whether your pet needs to be revaccinated or not, Barrack recommends asking your veterinarian for a blood test run called a titer. “Titers can be taken from a blood sample to determine if the dog has enough antibodies to maintain immunity status or if booster vaccines are needed,” Barrack explains.

Depending on your pet’s titer, revaccination might not be immediately neccessary.

Titers measure the quantity of antibodies present in the bloodstream of a previously vaccinated dog, but the results do not necessarily parallel with immunity status. And antibodies are only one portion of a healthy immune response to a particular bacterial or viral disease. Titers are useful for identifying animals who are potentially at risk—that is, those with negative titers—but a positive titer doesn’t mean a pet is 100% protected.

“Titers are most commonly performed for distemper and parvovirus,” Morgan explains. “We recommend titers for all our patients and we recommend never giving vaccines if a dog is sick, has cancer or other chronic disease, or is being treated for an illness.”

If you would like to explore your options in titer testing for your pet in place of an annual vaccination, discuss your pet’s individual heath risks with your veterinarian.

Myth 4: It’s OK For Dog to Lick Their Wounds

Many pet owners actually believe that they should let their dogs lick their wounds to speed up healing. While there is evidence that some of the enzymes in saliva can aid in the healing process, there are other things lurking in the mouth that can do just the opposite.

According to Neely, while licking the wound can help remove dirt, there’s more harm than good that can come from allowing your dog to lick his wound.

“Dogs’ mouths, just like every living being, can have some nasty bacteria that could cause a wound to become infected,” says Neely.

In addition, while licking can keep an incision moist—therefore delaying healing, which can be good for a wound that needs to be allowed to continue to drain for a bit—Neely points out that it can also irritate the wound, making it worse. “[Licking] can even remove stitches that have been placed there by your veterinarian,” Neely says.

The best move? Prevent your pet from licking its wounds at all costs, even if it means making your dog wear the dreaded E-collar for a while.

Myth 5: Dogs Eat Grass to Make Themselves Vomit

sick dog, dog eating grass, why do dogs eat grass

The truth is that not all dogs eat grass, and those that do may do it for different reasons, according to Morgan. In fact, Morgan points out that a lot of dogs simply seem to enjoy eating grass, either because of the taste or because they’re attracted to some of the nutrients it contains. “Grass is high in potassium, chlorophyll, and digestive enzymes,” Morgan explains.

That said, some dogs will instinctively eat grass when they have an upset stomach, and while a sick dog does not know to eat grass with the intenion of vomiting, doing so often does result in vomiting. “Coarse, tough grasses are particularly effective at inducing vomiting,” Morgan says.

If your dog enjoys eating grass, Morgan recommends making sure there are no chemicals or pesticides sprayed where the dog has access.

“Unlike cats, dogs aren’t exclusively carnivores, so they like some roughage or plants in their diets,” Barrack says. “So if you notice your dog eating a lot of grass, you may want to include more vegetables as a source of roughage in their diet, or get a small tray of grass for your home.”

Myth 6: Only Old Dogs Get Kidney Disease

Although kidney disease is often seen in older pets, it can occur at any age. Some breeds, such as Golden Retrievers, Bull terriers, Doberman Pinschers, and others, are more likely to develop some type of kidney disease, but all dogs and cats are at risk.

If you suspect that your dog might be suffering from kidney disease—excessive drinking and urination are early signs—get your dog to your veterinarian right away.

A urinalysis should be performed to assess the kidney’s ability to concentrate urine, says Neely. This is done by measuring the urine specific gravity, which will be lower than normal in pets with kidney disease. “In addition, blood tests can be performed to assess kidney function, with the two most common being creatinine and BUN, or blood urea nitrogen.”

While kidney disease can be fatal if left untreated, early detection can easily change the outcome. “With early detection, treatment can be started, which can lead to pets living many years—even normal lifespans,” Neely says.

 

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

Top 10 Cat Conditions: Cat Health

What’s Ailing Your Cat?

Cats may have nine lives, but you want to make sure kitty hangs on to all of them for as long as she can. No matter how much love and care you give your furry companion, things happen. But by knowing how to recognize the most common conditions affecting cats, you may just be able to save your pet’s life

10. Hyperthyroidism. The most likely cause of hyperthyroidism is a benign tumor on the thyroid gland, which will cause the gland to secrete too much of the hormone. Take your cat to the vet if it starts drinking and peeing a lot, shows aggressive and jittery behavior, suddenly seems hyperactive, vomits and/or loses weight while eating more than usual.

Treatment depends on other medical conditions but can range from using drugs to regulate the overactive gland, surgical removal of the gland, and even radioactive treatment to destroy the tumor and diseased thyroid tissue.

9. Upper Respiratory Virus. If your kitty is sneezing, sniffling, coughing, has runny eyes or nose, seems congested and has mouth and nose ulcers, chances are it has an upper respiratory virus. The two main forms of the virus are the feline herpesvirus and calicivirus. Once at the vet’s office, the cat may receive nose drops, eye ointments and antibacterial medication, especially if it has a secondary infection.

8. Ear Infection. Ear infections in cats have many causes. These might include mites, bacteria, fungi, diabetes, allergies and reactions to medication; some breeds are also more susceptible to ear infections than others. So it’s definitely a good idea to have your kitty checked if it’s showing symptoms such as ear discharge, head shaking, swollen ear flaps, stinky ears and ultra sensitivity to ears being touched. Treatment, of course, depends on the cause, but will include eardrops, ear cleaning, ear and oral medications and in severe cases, surgery.

7. Colitis/Constipation. Colitis is a fancy word for inflammation of the large intestine. While the most obvious sign of colitis is diarrhea, sometimes it will hurt the cat to poop. Thus, in trying to hold it in, the cat may develop constipation.

There are many causes of colitis, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, allergies and parasites, among other diseases. Signs include straining to poop, lack of appetite, dehydration and vomiting. Your vet will test for the underlying cause and treat it accordingly. This may include a more fiber-rich diet, de-worming, antibiotics, laxatives and/or fluids.

6. Diabetes. Like humans, cats suffer from diabetes, too, though this is usually seen in older, overweight cats. Symptoms include increased thirst and peeing, peeing outside the litter box, lethargy and depression.

While causes of feline diabetes are not really known, there is a link with diabetes and being overweight. Treatment, therefore, includes daily health monitoring, diet changes, exercise, and depending on the cat’s needs, either daily oral medications or injections.

5. Skin Allergies. Kitties, like you, are known to suffer from allergies, although their allergies show on the skin. If your cat scratches, or chews on its skin a lot, has a rash or loses hair in patches, a trip to the vet is a good idea.

Causes of skin allergies vary from reactions to food, fleas, pollens, mites, and even mold and mildew. Treatments may include allergy shots, diet changes, medication and antihistamines.

4. Intestinal Inflammation/Diarrhea. Diarrhea is a sure sign of an intestinal inflammation. It affects either the cat’s small or large intestine and may due to a variety of factors, including diet changes, eating contraband foodstuffs, allergies, bacteria overgrowth, worms and even kidney disease.

Symptoms include diarrhea, lack of appetite and vomiting. A visit to your vet will sort out the cause, and treatment may include hydration therapy, a bland diet, dietary changes and anti-diarrhea medications.

3. Renal Failure. This is a serious condition, which is common in older cats. While the underlying causes are not yet understood, recent research suggests a link with distemper vaccinations and long-term dry food diets. Make sure you request blood tests on your regular wellness checkups, since symptoms often don’t show up until 75 percent of the kidney tissue is damaged.

The main symptom is excessive thirst and peeing, but the cat may also show signs of drooling, jaw-clicking, and ammonia-scented breath. While it’s not curable, renal failure (when not severe) can be managed through diet, drugs and hydration therapy. Kidney transplants and dialysis can also be used.

2. Stomach Upsets (Gastritis). An inflammation of the cat’s stomach lining is simply referred to as gastritis. This condition may be mild or severe, but regardless of its type, make sure you bring your cat to visit the vet if it doesn’t show improvement in a day or two, or if the symptoms are severe.

Gastritis has many causes, from eating spoiled food to eating too fast to allergies or bacterial infections. If your cat is vomiting, belching, has a lack of appetite or bloodstained poop or diarrhea, a visit to the vet will help straighten things out. Treatments depend on the cause, but generally include medication, fluid therapy and even antibiotics.

1. Lower Urinary Tract Disease. Coming in at No. 1, lower urinary tract disease can turn very quickly into a life-threatening illness for your cat, especially if there’s a blockage caused by crystals, stones or plugs. When total blockage occurs, death can occur within 72 hours if left untreated.

Therefore, whisk your cat off to the vet or emergency center ASAP if you see any of the following signs: peeing outside of the litter box, straining, blood in urine, crying out while attempting to pee, not being able to pee, excessive licking of genitals, not eating or drinking, yowling while moving and lethargy. These signs will generally occur regardless if the urinary tract disease is due to stones, infection or urethral plugs. Treatment includes catheterizing to drain the bladder, medication to dissolve stones or blockages, and in recurring cases, surgery.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

Diabetes in Pets

 Recognize the Pet Diabetes Epidemic

Top Ten Signs Your Pet Has Diabetes: Diabetes in Dogs, Diabetes in Cats

Recognize the Pet Diabetes Epidemic

November is nationally recognized as American Diabetes Month, a month focused on raising awareness about diabetes in people. Not as commonly known is that November is also recognized as Pet Diabetes Awareness Month. A growing epidemic amongst our pets, recognizing and spreading awareness about diabetes in dogs and cats is vital to helping pet owners spot and treat the disorder early.

#10 Increased Thirst

Drinking more water than usual, known as polydipsia, is an early warning sign of diabetes.

#9 Increased Urination

Urinating more frequently, producing more urine throughout the day, or having “accidents” in the house may mean your cat or dog has developed polyuria, another early warning sign of diabetes that goes hand in hand with polydipsia.

#8 Increased Hunger

If your cat or dog suddenly acts as if it is always starving, despite eating the usual amount (known as polyphagia), and maintains or loses weight despite increased food intake, this can be a sign of diabetes as well.

#7 Sudden Weight Loss

Though a diabetic pet may show signs of being hungrier than ever, sudden weight loss is a common occurrence because diabetes can cause an increased metabolism.

#6 Obesity

Obesity can actually cause diabetes to develop; therefore, if your pet is obese you should keep an eye on it to determine if it is developing any symptoms of diabetes.

#5 Weakness or Fatigue

Diabetes can cause wasting of back muscles or weakness in the back legs of cats. With dogs there may just be a general sense of lethargy, being less active, or sleeping more.

#4 Thinning or Dull Hair

Thinning, dry, or dull hair, particularly along the back. Thinning hair is generally a symptom of some illness, diabetes included, so it is best to visit your veterinarian to determine the cause.

#3 Cloudy Eyes

A common complication of diabetes in dogs is cataracts, or cloudy eyes. Cataracts can lead to blindness if not monitored.

#2 Depression

A later sign of diabetes in dogs and cats is ketoacidosis, metabolic acidosis caused by the breakdown of fat and proteins in the liver in response to insulin deficiency. Ketones in the body in high amounts are toxic, and this imbalance in the body of your pet can cause depression.

#1 Vomiting

Another side effect of ketoacidosis, if your pet’s diabetes has escalated to this point before it’s been recognized, is vomiting. Ketoacidosis is more commonly found in older pets and in females. Dachshunds and Miniature Poodles are also predisposed to it.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

The Dangers of Second Hand Smoke

THE DANGERS OF SECOND HAND SMOKE FOR PETS

You must have been living on a desert island for the last few decades if you are not aware of the danger that smoking poses both to smokers and to the people who come in contact with second hand smoke. Less well known, however, is the effect that a smoke filled home can have on pet health.

First some definitions. Second hand smoke is smoke that is exhaled or otherwise escapes into the air and can then be inhaled by non-smokers, including pets. Third hand smoke is the residue from smoke that remains on skin, fur, clothing, furniture, etc. even after the air has cleared. Both second and third hand smoke can be referred to using the term “environmental tobacco smoke,” or ETS.

Now let’s take a look at the scientific studies that reveal a link between environmental tobacco smoke and serious diseases in cats and dogs.

THE EFFECTS OF TOBACCO SMOKE ON CATS

A study published in 2002 demonstrated a greatly increased risk of malignant lymphoma (also called lymphoma or lymphosarcoma) in cats with exposure to ETS. The relative risk for malignant lymphoma in cats with any household ETS exposure was almost 2 ½ times higher than that seen in cats who lived in smoke-free households.

For cats with five or more years of ETS exposure, the relative risk climbed to 3.2. In other words, these poor cats were more than three times as likely to develop lymphoma as were cats who lived in a home where no one smoked.

 

This study and others also strongly suggest a link between oral cancers in cats and third hand smoke. It is thought that cats groom the toxins contained in tobacco smoke out of their fur, which damages tissues in their mouths. This eventually leads to oral cancer.

THE EFFECTS OF TOBACCO SMOKE ON DOGS

Dogs can become seriously ill after long term exposure to second and third hand smoke as well. Two studies, one published in 1992 and the other in 1998, determined that cancer of the respiratory tract was more common in dogs who were exposed to environmental tobacco smoke. Interestingly, the type of cancer the dogs got was influenced by the shape of their heads.

The risk of nasal cancer increased by 250% when dogs with long noses (picture a Collie) were exposed to tobacco smoke. On the other hand, dogs with short or medium noses tended to develop lung cancer under similar conditions.

When you think about it, these findings aren’t all that surprising. The extensive nasal passages of long-nosed dogs are good at filtering out the toxins contained in cigarette smoke, which protects the lungs to the detriment of the nose. These same toxins pass right through the relatively shorter noses of other dogs and then become lodged in and damage the lungs.

Many other studies underline the damage that tobacco smoke does to the lining of the respiratory tract and a possible link to non-cancerous diseases such as chronic bronchitis and asthma.

DO ALTERNATIVES HELP?

By now you might be thinking, “I’ll just smoke outside.” While direct research into the effect that outdoor smoking has on pet health hasn’t been performed, we can look at a 2004 study on infants and draw some conclusions. It found that smoking outside of the home helps but does not eliminate smoke exposure to babies. The infants of parents who smoked outdoors but not inside were still exposed to 5-7 times as much environmental tobacco smoke in comparison to the infants of nonsmokers. Similar results could be expected for pets.

And what about vaping? Again, no direct research into the health effects of second and third hand vaping solution on pet health has been done, but according to the American Lung Association:

In 2009, the FDA conducted lab tests and found detectable levels of toxic cancer-causing chemicals, including an ingredient used in antifreeze, in two leading brands of e-cigarettes and 18 various cartridges. A 2014 study found that e-cigarettes with a higher voltage level have higher amounts of formaldehyde, a carcinogen.

It’s hard to imagine that inhaling substances like these or licking them off their fur could be completely risk free for pets.

CONCLUSIONS

Looking at the science brings us to the inevitable conclusion that second and third hand smoke exposure is very dangerous for pets. If you must smoke, do so outside or switch to vaping, but know that you are still likely putting your pets’ health at some degree of risk… to say nothing of what you are doing to yourself.

 

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

How Much Water Should a Dog Drink a Day?

Animals have an instinctual drive to consume enough water to meet their daily requirements. The average amount of water for a dog or cat to drink each day is roughly 1 cup per 10 pounds of body weight. Young puppies and kittens require more due to their higher metabolism and growth rate, and pets with certain illnesses (or those that are very active) may also require more water each day.

Animals meet their daily water requirement in numerous ways, most commonly by drinking water. A less obvious means of consuming water is through food. Canned food has higher moisture content than dry food. If you start out feeding dry food but begin feeding your pet a canned diet, the amount of water she drinks will often decrease.

Determine Water Intake

How do you know how much your pet drinks? Start the morning by measuring how much water you place in your pet’s water dish. Allow free access to the water all day, and if the pet empties the bowl, refill it (but measure how much water you added). At the end of the day, measure the amount remaining in the dish. Do this over several days or a week to obtain an average of how much water your pet drinks. If there are several pets in your household, you may need to isolate this pet from the others for a few days so she is the only one drinking from the bowl. And don’t forget to restrict access to “other” water sources your pet may find, like the toilet or the fish pond. Once you know how much your pet is drinking, your veterinarian can determine whether the amount is sufficient or excessive or if additional supplementation is required.

Dogs and cats that don’t consume enough water can become dehydrated. Pets with normal hydration typically have adequate saliva in their mouths, so your finger should slide easily over their gums. In severely dehydrated pets, the gums can feel dry or “tacky” to the touch. Your veterinarian has other ways to check your pet’s hydration status, so if you have any concerns, contact your vet to schedule an examination.

If it seems like your pet is drinking more than normal, it’s important that you don’t restrict her access to water without consulting your veterinarian first. Some pets may drink more because of underlying diseases and restricting water could worsen their condition.

Encourage Your Pet to Drink More

If your veterinarian feels your pet needs to drink more, there are several ways to go about it. One option is to feed either a strictly canned diet or to add canned food to dry kibble. Your veterinarian can help you figure out the right proportions of canned food for your pet.

If canned food isn’t an option, dry kibble can be soaked in water or other liquids such as tuna juice or low-sodium chicken or beef broth. These options can also be added to your pet’s water dish to encourage her to drink more water, but you’ll need to change the water several times per day to maintain freshness. If you choose this option, offer a plain bowl of water for pets (especially cats) who don’t like the taste of the broth or tuna juice. If you notice your pet avoiding the water, discontinue the additives.

Some pets can be enticed to drink more by adding ice cubes to the water dish. The flowing water in a fountain can encourage increased drinking as well. Just remember to clean the fountain regularly to prevent slime and other unpleasant material from accumulating inside. If your pet still isn’t drinking enough water, please schedule an appointment with your veterinarian, who may have additional suggestions on how to increase your pet’s water intake.

With some diseases such as kidney failure, your pet may be unable to consume enough water to maintain normal hydration. In these cases, she may need fluids administered intravenously (into a vein) or under the skin, in addition to what she drinks. Your veterinarian can recommend the best approach for your pet.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372