Maui’s New Year’s Resolution

My name is Maui, and I am overweight.

Maui posedI haven’t always been this way. I used to be a thin, strapping, scrapping cat, toughing it out on the mean streets of Hamilton.  And then that car came out of nowhere……and that’s when my life changed forever.
My mom happened to be working at the hospital that night, and she saved my life. Literally. I heard her talking to the Animal Control agent, saying that she wanted to save me, even though he said I should be ‘put down’, whatever that means.  I was pretty scared.  But she gave me some great drugs and a nice cuddle, and a few weeks (and two surgeries later) I was feeling much better.

You can read about my story here:  http://guelphvet.ca/blog/2012/05/07/mauis-lucky-day/

Since she rescued me, I’ve been living the life of luxury, and quite honestly I’ve simply let myself go.  The food she gives’ me is so good I usually eat my portion and everyone else’s as well.  Sometimes, if I’m feeling ambitious, I can climb up and wiggle the lid off the food bin and crawl right in.  Mmmmmm.  Food coma. Maui relaxingI know I’ve been on diets before, but this time I’m gonna take it seriously.  No more overeating. No more food bin diving.  No more fruit loops that baby Asher drops on the floor. Fruit Loop MauiI’m going to get my body back, and I’m going to be more healthy.  When I crawl through the cat door to the food room, I have to squish through because my body makes contact on all sides.  I want to be able to make it up the stairs without taking a break halfway. And I really want to be able to run fast when the baby is crawling my way. He’s cute but he likes to pull my tail.

So join me as I begin my weight loss journey. 2016 is my year.

Stay tuned for more information and stories from Maui’s weight loss journey!

Aging Cat Wellness Myths

Senior Cat Wellness Myths

cat Question mark

Myth:  “I would know if there was something wrong with my cat.”

 Truth: Cats are excellent at hiding their Disease/Illness and early signs of often very subtle and easily missed by Owners. Regular physical exams and Wellness testing (including bloodwork and Urine tests) will allow the veterinarian to detect health changes and illness in the senior cat. Early changes to health often begin before the cat will exhibit symptoms

Myth  “My cat is not old he/she is only 8.”

Truth: Cats are considered to be mature between 8-13 years old (that’s 48-68 in human years), they are classified as seniors by 13yrs. There has been an increase in cats aged 15year and older from 5%-14% in recent year, this is due to advances in detection and management of age related health changes and illness.  Senior Wellness testing and physical exams are recommended annually on all cats over 7 yrs. Remember every year of a cat’s life is equivalent to approximately 4 human years and early detection is key in extending the quality and length of your cat’s life.

Myth:  “Don’t do bloodwork on older pets because if you find something wrong you can’t do anything about it.”

Truth: Early Senior Wellness screening (which includes blood and urine tests)is great at detecting changes and can be great at preventing or slowing the progression of illness. Some of the more common illness detected on wellness testing are changes in liver or kidney function, early diabetes and changes to the thyroid. These can often be managed by a change in their food, or adding a supplement/medication to their diet.

Myth: “I only need to bring my cat to the vet if there is a problem.”

Truth: Immune system function can deteriorate in older cats, which means the ability to fight infection is less effective. Your veterinarian can advise you of the most appropriate vaccination program. Veterinarians are able to assess things and catch changes that Owner often miss such as changes to the body condition, heart, eyes, ears and mouth.

Contact Guelph Animal Hospital at 519-836-2782 to book your senior cat for an annual physical exam and to discuss options for Wellness screening.

Written by:  Stacey Strauss R.V.T Guelph Animal Hospital

In the Know for Feline Nutrition

King tutFeline Nutrition

Feeding your cat a quality, well balanced feline specific diet is important to their overall wellbeing.  Since felines are of desert origin they are obligate carnivores and require meat in their diet. Also, because of this desert origin cats typically drink less water and this can become problematic. It’s important to encourage cats to take in more water by having access to fresh water at all times. Using a pet drinking water fountain is an excellent enticement to drink as well as supplementing with canned cat food. Most cats graze when they eat and will have several small meals throughout the day. This, however can be a problem for cats prone to weight problems, or who have a tendency to overindulge themselves. It is important to only have an appropriate measured amount out for them to eat within the day and be sure to monitor your cat’s weight and body condition regularly. The following points are important to consider when choosing an appropriate diet/ feeding regime for your cat.

  • Kittens, adult cats, and senior cats all have very different nutritional requirements, much like baby, adult and geriatric humans, so avoid diets claimed for all life stages.thirsty kitty
  • If home cooking for your cat is your preference it is important to follow a specific recipe that has been designed by a professional who specializes in nutrition to ensure it is properly balanced. A recent study found 90% of homemade pet food to be nutritionally unbalanced and incomplete.
  • The words ‘Holistic’ or ‘Human Grade’ have no legal definition for pet food, so they can be used on any pet food label without any relation to the ingredients.
  • By products are products produced in the making of something else (ex/flax seed oil, corn oil and soy oil are all by products). Animal by-product meal is an excellent source of nutrients and protein. Avoid foods containing generic name by-products (meat-meal, Animal By-product meal) and go for by products with the source named (Chicken by-product meal).
  • Choose diets with only 1-2 protein sources, since too many proteins sources can increase the cat’s likelihood of having a sensitivity/reaction. 80% of reported food allergies in cats are to Beef, Dairy, and Fish.

munching cat

 

Choosing a food for your cat from all the available options can be very overwhelming as the pet food industry relies greatly on persuasive advertising to sell their products. Veterinary health care providers are your best source for pet food questions. Here at Guelph Animal Hospital we have several different Pet food options for your Cat:

  • Life stage diets and clinically specific dry and canned  foods
  • Supplement and balanced recipe for homemade diets
  • Freeze dried complete & balanced whole foods (just add water)
  • Minimally processed, grain free diets
  • Frozen completely balanced whole food diets

 

What Every Cat Owner Needs to Know

Gotta PeeWhat Every Cat Owner Needs to Know-Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Have you ever had a bladder infection?

Mostly anyone that has is aware that it is an uncomfortable and painful condition that can potentially lead to further complications if left untreated. Just like us, our feline friends can be prone to conditions involving the bladder and urethra. The term used to describe this collection of illnesses is known as Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease or FLUTD for short. Below is all of the information you need to know to ensure prompt treatment of this common medical occurrence.

What are the symptoms associated with FLUTD?

- Straining to urinate or dribbling small amounts of urine

- Crying out during urination

- Bloody, strong smelling or discoloured urine

- Frequent urination

- Licking at privates excessively

- Urinating outside the litterbox or in unusual locations

- The inability to urinate at all

What factors increase risk?

- Age: being a young or middle-aged cat

- Weight: Being overweight and inactive

- Restricted access to the litterbox

- Environmental: perceived negative interactions with owner, multi-cat households, changes to routine (moving, new litter or litterbox, new addition to the family, new pet, etc.)

- Diet: eating a dry-only diet, poor water consumption or poor quality diet

- Previous occurrences of FLUTD

What are the causes?

Stones- Urinary Stones: these are collections of minerals that look similar to a pebble or ‘stone’ that form in the urinary tract. The two most common types of stone are those comprised of Struvite or Calcium Oxalate.

- A urethral obstruction: this occurs when the cat’s urethra (tube that transports urine from the bladder to the outside of the body) becomes partly or completely blocked so that the cat is unable to expel urine. This is a very serious medical condition that requires immediate medical care. The most common culprits causing this type of blockage are stones (discussed above) or urethral plugs. Due to the length and diameter of their urethra, a urinary blockage is more common in the male cat. Failure to treat promptly can result in damage to the kidneys or even death.

- Bladder Infections

- Injury to the bladder

- Cancer or Tumors

- Feline Idiopathic Cystitis: This is a diagnosis of exclusion, when all other possible causes have been ruled out. (Idiopathic is a term that is used when the cause is unknown).

How is it Diagnosed?

- A complete physical exam

urinalysis- Urinalysis: for this test, we check the urine for an increase in red or white blood cells, the presence of bacteria, crystals and any other abnormalities.

- Blood Tests: depending on the cause, these tests allow us to determine if the patient’s cell counts indicate infection, whether or not the kidneys are functioning properly and if any other internal organs are involved.

- X-Rays: if stones are suspected, a radiograph allows us to visualize and get an idea how many of them are present.

- Ultrasound: this test allows us to see the bladder, the thickness and shape of its wall, any abnormal structures as well as the presence of excessive sediment or stones.

- Urine culture and antibiotic sensitivity tests

- Endoscopy of the urethra and bladder

What is the treatment?

Treatment of FLUTD will depend on the underlying cause. If the patient has a urinary tract infection, then antibiotics will most likely be prescribed. For more serious underlying origins, treatment will be more invasive:

Urinary Stones:

For cats with struvite stones, a special diet such as Royal Canin Urinary S/O may be prescribed in attempt to dissolve them. In the event that a change in diet is unsuccessful at dissolution or in the case of calcium oxalate stones which cannot be dissolved, a surgery called a Cystotomy is likely required. During this procedure, an incision is made into the abdomen and then into the bladder. Using special surgical instruments, the stones are removed manually. The vet will also flush the urethra to ensure that there are no stones trapped that could potentially cause a blockage.

Urethral Obstruction:

When a cat becomes blocked it is imperative that it is treated immediately. To do this, the patient will be given a sedative and sometimes a general anesthetic. A long catheter is inserted into the urethra and up into the bladder in attempt to remove the blockage. Once this has been done successfully, the catheter is often left in and attached to a urine collection bag for a few days. This allows urine to pass freely and gives the bladder a chance to heal. Most patients are started on IV therapy to assure adequate hydration and normalize electrolyte imbalances if they exist. Antibiotics will be prescribed as well as some medications to aid the bladder with normal function. It is not uncommon for the pet to spend a few days in hospital for this treatment.

Can FLUTD be prevented?

While a large portion of felines with a history of FLUTD can be repeat offenders, there are certain precautions pet owners can take in order to reduce the occurrence or re-occurrence:

- Keeping the litterbox clean and in a quiet place to discourage any associated stress

- Access to clean water at all times

- Feeding a high quality diet, preferably canned and with an S/O index if your cat is pronelitterbox to infections or Struvite crystals.

- Keeping to your cat’s routine

- Ensuring your cat maintains a lean body weight

Diana Hunsberger, RVT

Sudden behaviour changes: Is your pet telling you something?

If there is one thing most of our clients have in common, it is that they view their pets as members of their family.  They give us love, make us laugh and keep us company.  Thissick-dog close relationship sometimes leads us to believe that they really are human.  As a result, we often attribute their behaviour changes to personality quirks, and sometimes they are. However, when a behaviour change is sudden it is often an indication that an underlying medical issue may be to blame. This is especially true when no sudden environmental change (new pet, moving, etc.) accompanies the behaviour change.  Our pets are not able to tell us when they aren’t feeling well, and so it is important that we listen to the clues they are able to give us.  That is why we at the Guelph Animal Hospital would like to share with you some common behaviour changes to watch for in your furry family members that should not be dismissed. 

Changes in Urination

 

 A common complaint from clients is that a pet is urinating in the house. Most often, owners believe that this is a behavioural problem occurring because their pet is upset with them. However, the majority of instances where a pet who was previously good about using a litter box or going outside to pee suddenly begins urinating around the home can be explained medically. Often times the pet is suffering from a bladder infection, crystals or stones. In addition to inappropriate urination, changes in frequency/amount of urination can also signal a health problem, such as reduced kidney function or an impending urinary blockage, in your pet. These issues can all be assessed and treated by your veterinarian.

Changes in Eating/Drinking Habits

Has your dog recently started emptying their water bowl several times a day?  Has your cat refused to eat even the most tempting of wet foods, no matter what flavour you try?  Is your pet suddenly ravenous, no matter how often you feed them?  Any sudden change in eating or drinking habits should be taken seriously and evaluated by your veterinarian. These symptoms can be signs of kidney failure, pancreatitis, gastrointestinal blockage and dental disease.  In addition to signaling an underlying medical issue, your pet’s refusal to eat or drink can cause additional problems if not addressed quickly.  In cats, reduced calorie intake (be it from complete refusal to eat or reduced hunger) can lead to liver failure in as little as a few days.  Taking this change in behaviour seriously, and getting your pet to a veterinarian quickly, is always the best course of action.

Less Active/Playful

 As our pets age, they often become less active and playful than they were when they were younger.  While some decreased activity is to be expected, often times a less playful pet is suffering from some degree of arthritis or pain.  You may notice that your cat, which always slept on the back of the couch, now prefers a ground level bed.  Perhaps your dog sleeps on the floor when you are used to him warming your feet at the end of the bed. These are common signs that your pet is experiencing discomfort, and should be seen by their veterinarian.  Depending on the severity of your pet’s individual case, options for treatment may include food changes, supplements, pain control, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments and/or laser treatments.  Your veterinarian can help reduce your pet’s discomfort and increase their activity, giving them the quality of life that they deserve as a beloved member of your family.

Hiding

When our pets are not feeling well, many will try to disguise their pain or illness by hiding.hiding cat If your normally outgoing pet begins to spend more and more time away from you, it is an indicator that they are not feeling well and should be seen by their veterinarian.

Inappropriate Defecation

Think your pet left you that special gift on your bathroom rug because you were late with dinner last night?  It’s possible that you have an especially vindictive dog, but it is more likely that they are not feeling well. Inappropriate defecation can be a sign of arthritis pain, inflammatory bowel disease or colon issues.  Before deciding that your pet is sending you a stinky message, you should bring them to your vet clinic for an exam to see if there is another explanation for their behaviour.

While this list contains some of the most common behaviour changes that are seen, it is important to have ANY sudden behaviour change in your pet evaluated.  Your pet may be unable to speak to you and explain what is wrong, but your veterinarian can use diagnostic tools (bloodwork, X-rays, urinalysis, etc.) to listen to what your pet is unable to verbalize.  If you suspect something may be going on, don’t hesitate to contact us, we’re here to help!

Krystal Boehm CCS