Cats are amazing creatures. When you stop and think about it, biologically and evolutionarily we are sharing our homes with tiny and ferocious tigers. (It just so happens they also are obsessed with hunting down that relentless red light from the laser pointer).
Because cats are very much still wired like wild animals, it can make caring for them complicated. This means, though, that good preventative care is even more important for them. At Animal Medical Hospital, we partner with our pet parents to prioritize veterinary care for cats and keep Leo’s inner Lion as fierce as ever. Continue…
Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) are both caused by retroviruses that can be transmitted it to other cats. Both viruses depress the immune system opening the door to secondary infections and diseases. The most common contagious infection is upper-respiratory. The most common non-contagious disease is cancer.
An individual cat can contract both FeLV and FIV.
Contracting the viruses:
FeLV is spread through close and prolonged cat-to-cat contact through bodily fluids (saliva, blood, urine and feces). Mother cats can give it to their kittens when they are pregnant or when they are nursing. Companion cats can spread it through shared food and water dishes and through mutual grooming.
FIV is spread when an infected cat bites another cat. This can happen when cats fight so unneutered male cats that are allowed outside have the highest risk of infection.
Progression and Symptoms:
FeLV can be caused by one of several types of viruses which have slightly different symptoms.
In the early stages, common symptoms include weight loss, dehydration and fever.
FIV also has a wide ranging group of symptoms. Since the immune system is depressed, upper respiratory infections can become chronic. The mouth can become inflamed there can be loss of weight due to chronic diarrhea, fevers, enlargement of the lymph glands, and chronic abscesses. Younger, healthier cats can live for years with the disease in remission.
There is a vaccine for FeLV although it may not be 100% effective. Your personal veterinarian will be able to discuss the pros and cons of vaccinating individual cats.
There is no cure for either FeLV or FIV. Some cats can live long and healthy lives while others contract diseases immediately. Blood tests can show the presence of both viruses. Your veterinarian should always be notified if your cat has been infected since this could affect his administration of vaccines and other treatments.
Remember: An infected cat should be kept away from uninfected cats. A healthy, balanced and nutritious diet and good general care is the best way to maintain your cat’s health for as long as possible. Minimizing stress and change is also helpful.
Dr Jamie Laity
Monthly preventative products for parasites can be a source of much confusion for pet owners. What does my pet need? How often should I give it? Which products work best? These are a few of the many questions we hear on a daily basis.
Here’s the scoop:
In the south, parasites (both inside and outside the body) run rampant for dogs and cats. Heartworms are the focus of many of the monthly preventatives because these parasites can cause significant damage, but are very preventable! Heartworms are transmitted through mosquitos, and because we live in the south, heartworms are a real problem for our pets.
Both dogs AND cats can get heartworms, even the pets that stay indoors all the time. Heartworm preventatives should be given EVERY 30 days for maximum protection. If you forget a dose, the best thing to do is bring your pet in for a heartworm test.
Intestinal parasites are very common in our pets. Dogs and cats can become infected with intestinal worms through their everyday environment. Hookworms, roundworms, whipworms and tapeworms are among the most common intestinal parasites we see. These worms can cause various problems including diarrhea, weight loss, and anemia. Like heartworms, intestinal parasites are preventable. We recommend that each pet has a fecal once a year to check for internal parasites.
What about those nasty fleas and ticks? External parasites are not only ugly to look at, but can also transmit dangerous diseases to your pets. Fleas can result in tapeworm infections and ticks can harbor a whole host of organisms that cause serious illnesses in pets. The tricky part with flea infestations is that only 5% of the fleas are actually on your pet. The remaining 95% of the population is buried in deep carpet, couches, and rugs. If you are noticing fleas on your pet, monthly preventatives will help, but they won’t eliminate the problem. Vacuuming daily will help remove eggs and larvae from the environment. With severe infestations, professional exterminators may be necessary.
So what products should I use?
There are many different products on the market that do a great job preventing these harmful parasites. At Animal Medical Hospital, we recommend Sentinel combined with Vectra 3D each month for dogs. Sentinel is an oral tablet that prevents heartworms and intestinal parasites and acts like a “flea birth control.” It does not kill adult fleas, but makes fleas sterile, which helps with population control. Vectra 3D is a topical liquid that kills adult fleas, kills and repels mosquitos and ticks. Vectra 3D also has the advantage of being waterproof. Both of these products in combination will protect your dog for 30 days. For cats, we recommend Revolution, which is a topical product that prevents heartworms, fleas, intestinal parasites and ear mites for 30 days.
Dr Bridget Andersen
There are numerous toxins in a typical household to which our pets could become exposed. Toxic substances range from obvious hazards such as rat poison, to seemingly benign substances such as over the counter flea medications and raisins. It is impossible to remember all of the potentially harmful household items, but there a few key facts that every pet owner should know.
EXPOSURE TO TOXINS? NOW WHAT?:
- Whenever a pet has been exposed to a potentially harmful substance but seems normal, call a poison control hotline for advice. Animal Medical Hospital recommends the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline at (888) 426-4435. Note: this service is included in the HomeAgain membership. This organization has the most accurate and expansive database of toxins, and they will be able to calculate the toxic dose your pet received and advise whether or not your pet needs to be treated.
- If your pet is already showing signs of illness, bring him/her into the hospital and we can call the Poison Control Hotline once your pet arrives. There is a fee for the hotline’s services but it is well worth your while and may prevent an emergency visit to the hospital.
- If possible, have the product label available during the phone conversation so that you can provide information as to the product ingredients, concentration, and quantity.
- Also, bring the container/product label to the veterinary hospital – including the quantity spilled and vomited.
If your pet has had a topical exposure to a toxic substance (over the counter flea medication, household cleaners, 100% tea tree oil, antifreeze, etc) wash your pet immediately with mild dish detergent and copious amounts of water. It is best to wear gloves in case the product is toxic to humans as well. For powders, vacuuming the pet’s fur prior to bathing is ideal. For eye exposure, immediately flush the eyes with water, or ideally saline solution prepared for eyes. Then follow up with a phone call to Poison Control or Animal Medical Hospital.
For ingestion of a potentially toxic substance it is best to seek advice prior to treatment. If the substance is deemed non-caustic and the ingestion has occurred within the hour, it may be recommended to induce vomiting. This is best performed at a veterinary facility with an intravenous injection because the injection is less irritating to the stomach lining than oral induction. However, if unable to bring your pet to the hospital, vomiting can be induced at home using FRESH 3% hydrogen peroxide. Feeding a small amount of dog food or bread prior to induction of vomiting is commonly recommended. It is helpful to keep a turkey baster, bulb syringe, or large medicine syringe on hand in order to administer the hydrogen peroxide.
INGESTION OF CAUSTIC SUBSTANCES:
It is extremely important to contact your veterinarian or Poison control center prior to induction of vomiting because vomiting is contraindicated when the ingested material is caustic. Caustic items are corrosive and cause mild irritation to necrosis/sloughing of the mucosal tissue of the mouth and esophagus. Common caustic household items are alkalis (in cleaning products), turpentine, and petroleum products. In these cases it is best to dilute the toxin by giving milk or water and head to the emergency facility immediately.
The list of toxic substances is very long and is often time dose dependent. For complete lists of toxic substances, please go to www.ASPCA.org.
Neutering is a sterile surgical procedure that involves removing both testicles from a male pet. Spaying refers to the operation where the ovaries and uterine horns are surgically removed from a female pet. It is recommended to spay and neuter your pets between 5 and 8 months of age, before they reach sexual maturity. This is for both medical and behavioral reasons. The only reason not to spay or neuter is if you are going to breed or show your pet.
For male pets, there are several medical reasons for neutering. The first is to eliminate the risk for testicular cancer, which is the 2nd most common cancer in unneutered male dogs. If the testicles are removed, they can’t get cancer there. Neutering reduces the risk for prostate cancer and prostatitis, and reduces the risks of diseases associated with hormones such as testosterone. As for behavior- there will be a decrease in the need for roaming as your dog will not have the urge to reproduce, as well as decreased aggression. It also decreases the urge to “mark” their territory, so inappropriate urination is less likely to be an issue.
There are medical and behavioral advantages to spaying your female pets as well. Medical reasons include the eliminating the possibility of false pregnancy, uterine infections known as pyometras, decreasing the risk of breast cancer and eliminating the chances of uterine and ovarian cancer. As with males, behavioral benefits include reduced aggression and other undesirable behaviors such as inappropriate elimination.
There are serious medical complications and behavioral issues that can arise from not spaying and neutering your pets, as outlined above. In addition to these, you will be preventing the risk of unplanned pregnancies. If you take away the urge to reproduce, they will be much more suitable as pets because they will no longer have to answer the “call of the wild.”
It is tempting to reach in the medicine cabinet when our pets are not feeling well, but this can ultimately result in more harm than good. Many over the counter medications that are safe for use in people are toxic to dogs and cats. Even those medications that are safe for use in dogs and cats are not safe at the same dosages as those used in people.
Tylenol for instance is extremely toxic to cats and dogs and can lead to kidney failure as well as severe bleeding ulcers. It should never be used. Neither should Aleve as it can cause similar problems. Even milder forms of pain relievers such as aspirin can cause these signs at the human dosages listed on the bottles. In addition, aspirin can be extremely dangerous if given with other forms of medications such as steroids and anti-inflammatories dispensed from your veterinarian.
Antihistamines dispensed over the counter often have additional drugs in them for decongestion or to prevent drowsiness in people. These extra ingredients can cause dangerous heart arrhythmias in pets. Even something as mild as vitamin supplements often contains concentrations of certain ingredients that can be harmful to pets. For these reasons it is always advisable to consult your veterinarian before administering ANY over the counter medication to your pet.