Monday, May 30, 2011

Preparing Your Cat for a Veterinary Visit!

A carrier with a removable top is best.

1.Rehearse visits to the hospital. Use positive rewards. Avoid punishing as it can have unintended effects like redirected aggression.

2. Adapt cats to carriers. Take kittens and cats on short rides. Try to begin as early in life as possible. Cats often feel safe and secure in their little transportable home.

3. Bring items for the cat such as bedding or a toy.

"Feliway" spray to help with anxiety.
 4. Notify the vet team in advance that the cat can easily get upset. This will allow us to prepare for the arrival(have them placed in a quiet room immediately or tailor the appointment differently). For example some cats do better with house calls, others do not.

5. Understand the effect of your own anxiety or stress on the cat. Remain calm and reduce outward display of fear and anxiety.

6. A removable top on the carrier is best carrier to get- especially for those fearful or fear aggressive cats, as well as for painful or limited-mobility cats.

7. Consider spraying a synthetic feline facial pheromone spray at least 30 min prior to placing the cat in the carrier.

8. Placing a towel over the carrier will prevent visual arousal. Try to secure the carrier while driving using the seatbelt to give some  added security.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Sneezing? Coughing? Your kitty may need more than chicken soup!

Most feline upper respiratory infections are caused by viruses, but some cats develop secondary bacterial infections. Signs of upper respiratory disease can also be linked to other serious problems, like allergies, dental disease, cancer or the presence of a foreign object in the nose or the back of the mouth.

What causes feline upper respiratory infections?

Approximately 90% of all upper respiratory infections in cats are caused by two common viruses: feline herpesvirus-1 and feline calicivirus. Feline herpesvirus is related to the virus that causes cold sores and chicken pox in people; however, people cannot get sick from the feline virus. Upper respiratory infections in cats can also be caused by fungi or bacteria. It is common for cats to be “co-infected” — infected with more than one agent (e.g., a virus and a bacteria) at the same time — which can make treatment and recovery longer and more difficult.

How are these diseases spread?

Feline upper respiratory infections are spread the same way as the common cold: a healthy cat comes in contact with an object that has been used by an infected cat — for example, a shared food bowl or toy. Disinfecting shared items on a regular basis can help cut down on the transmission risk. Feline calicivirus can also be spread when a healthy cat uses the same litter box as an infected cat. And, just like the common cold, your hands can play a role in spreading these viruses. Therefore, if you have or touch a sick cat, wash your hands before touching another cat! Also, one of the major ways these viruses are spread — like human respiratory pathogens — is through sneezing or coughing, aerosolizing the virus into droplets.
Even after they are no longer sick, many cats that have been infected with feline herpesvirus and calicivirus can transmit these viruses to other cats. Therefore, seek professional veterinary advice before introducing a new cat with an unknown vaccination history into your house or before placing your cat in an unfamiliar setting with other cats, such as a boarding facility.

What should I do if my cat is already sick?

Diagnosing the exact cause of an upper respiratory infection can be difficult because many cats are co-infected. When you bring your cat in to the veterinary office, it helps if you can remember what vaccinations your cat has had, when your cat might have been exposed to an infected cat, and when your cat began to show signs of being sick.
As in people, very few drugs can control viral infections, so treatment typically consists mostly of keeping your cat warm, comfortable, and eating and drinking properly. Many sick cats lose their appetite because nasal congestion affects their sense of smell; therefore, these cats may need to be tempted with baby food or another delicious treat. Discharge from the nose and eyes should be gently cleared away if the cat will allow it, and any lesions in the mouth or eyes should be treated. You may be given a prescription for a broad-spectrum antibiotic to help combat any secondary bacterial infections. Dehydration can be a problem in seriously

How can I keep my cat healthy?

Cats that are kept indoors are at a lower risk of contracting upper respiratory diseases. Cats that are allowed outside; have recently been in a shelter, boarding facility or cattery; or live in a multicat household are at higher risk of contracting these diseases. Kittens, because of their immature immune systems, are also at higher risk.
Vaccines are available to help prevent or reduce the severity of the most common infections. Many vaccines may not be 100% effective in preventing a disease, but they do help limit how sick your cat becomes if it is infected. See the box about the current guidelines regarding which vaccinations cats should get and how often.
 ill cats, so fluid therapy may be called for in some cases.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Nail Trims Do Not Have to Be “Torture” for Dogs or You

Nail trimming can be a dreaded task that many dog owners choose to defer to a professional. Some dogs are taken to a groomer, and some have their nails trimmed once or twice a year during their annual or biannual veterinary examinations. If a clinic does not have a groomer on staff, a veterinary technician often trims nails with the help of an assistant.

The temperaments of patients during nail trims can range from “polite” dogs that tolerate or even enjoy the procedure to “Cujos” that would just as soon eat you as let you touch their feet. The upside to trimming the nails of Cujos is that their temperament often causes them to produce highly desired laboratory samples, such as feces and urine. However, nail trims should not be psychological “torture” for patients or veterinary staff. In addition, nail trims should not be painful for patients unless there is an underlying pathology.

Our goal is for patients to think that only “wonderful things” happen at our animal hospital. We encourage owners especially with puppies to start regular touching or playing with their pets’ feet.  We also encourage clients to make “footwork” sessions fun, to carefully choose the timing of sessions, and to reward good behavior with lots of attention, play, and/or treats.

So what should you do with a growling, anal-gland wielding “land shark” ironically named Princess or Sweetie? The answer is desensitization and counterconditioning. These simple techniques involve gradually introducing a pet to the feared stimulus (e.g., nail trimmers) in the presence of a valued reward (e.g., toys, treats, attention). When this method is used, the “evil” nail trimmer becomes a predictor of something good. However, timing is important; the pet must learn that the nail trimmer predicts something “good,” not that the “good thing” predicts the nail trimmer.

Nail trims can be performed by almost anyone. Desensitization and counterconditioning are simple techniques that can be used to help patients overcome their fear of nail trimming. With some time and effort, clients can gain the confidence required to trim their pets’ nails on their own. If you do happen to cut the "Quick" or also known as the blood vessel within the nail, you can always try some cornstartch to apply to it, to control the bleeding.

Shown above the yellow line indicated where you should trim the nail.