Are your pets disaster ready?

 

Used under licence from iStockPhoto.com

The 10th anniversary of the fires that devastated many parts of the ACT in January, 2003, reminds us that we should always be prepared for the unpredictable. Storms, fires and floods can come at any time and affect pets as well as people. Many pets were lost in the fires of 2003. Some were injured or died, others never found their owners and were re-homed or euthanased.

Make sure that your pets are microchipped and that your contact details on the ACT register are up to date. If you have time attach a tag with your mobile number and address, and your vet’s phone number to your pets’ collars so that if someone without access to a microchip scanner picks them up you can be contacted.

Have an emergency kit packed in advance. Include non-perishable food like dry dog kibble, water in spill proof containers, collars, leads, harnesses, cat carrier, litter tray, blankets and treats as well as a first aid kit. The first aid kit should have gauze swabs, bandages, disinfectant, cotton wool, scissors and the appropriate size muzzles for your dogs. Even the most placid animal may react unpredictably when in pain.

Decide where your pets will go if you have to evacuate. You may have family or friends outside the danger zone who would look after them. Kennels or shelters may be available in an emergency.

If you leave your pets at home leave them in the safest enclosed room in the house, usually the bathroom, with food and water. Don’t ever tie animals up as they will injure themselves trying to escape. Leave a notice on the gate or door of the house with your contact details and saying that there are pets inside.

 

Free Dental check

Bring your pet in during August for a free dental check and advice on keeping your pet’s teeth clean and healthy. The vets are already busy checking pets’ mouths. Some pets have had a scale and polish to give them a fresh start. Find out the most effective way to keep your pet’s teeth sparkling and gums healthy with a good diet and lots of chewing.

Phone us on 6230 2223 to make an appointment for your pet’s free check.

Senior health screening program

Have you booked your older pet for a senior screen yet? Coco has been reading about the advantages of 6-12 monthly checks for pets over 10 years of age and is worried that some of her friends might miss out on the Hills senior screening program.

Hills are offering a $20 discount on the cost of a check up and any tests that have to be done. Just go to Hills senior screening to print your voucher out. Book a check up with us and bring the voucher with you.

(No worries if you haven’t got access to a printer – just ask our receptionist to print a voucher out for you)

High blood pressure

 Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure, a silent killer of older cats.

 What causes hypertension in cats?

Hypertension is usually secondary to another disease. Kidney disease is the most common cause of hypertension but cats with adrenal gland tumours or treated for hyperthyroidism also develop high blood pressure at times. Sometimes no underlying cause is found.

Most cats with hypertension are older than 9 years of age.

What are the effects of hypertension?

Hypertension damages all body organs but we notice it most in:

  • the eyes. The small vessels in the retina break under pressure. The bleeding detaches the retina and the cat becomes blind.
  • the brain. Ruptured blood vessels cause ‘strokes’, fits, twitches or unusual behaviour
  • the kidneys. Increased blood pressure damages the delicate filtration system of the kidney.
  • the heart. The heart has to work harder to push the blood out into the body and the heart muscle thickens and becomes less efficient. Sometimes the heart goes out of rhythm or we hear a murmur with the stethoscope. Affected cats may show signs of heart failure such as breathlessness, lethargy, weakness or fainting.

How do we detect hypertension?

We measure the blood pressure of all cats over 9 years old as part of the regular seniors’ examination. We also check the blood pressure of all cats with kidney disease or hyperthyroidism, or with any signs of eye, brain or heart disease.

Most cats tolerate the cat sized cuffs we put on their arms. Some don’t like the feel of the gel or the sound of the amplifier we use to hear the pulse. We try to put them at ease so that we get an accurate reading.

How do we treat hypertension?

A daily dose of amlopidine as a fragment of tablet (Norvasc), or as chicken, fish, cheese or beef flavoured drops to put on the food, brings the blood pressure down rapidly.

After a week on amlopidine we recheck the blood pressure to see if it has come down to normal. If all goes well we recheck it every 3 months.

Sometimes other medications like benazepril (Fortekor or Vetace) are added in, particularly if we detect kidney disease.

Coughing cats

At first Gus’s carer thought he had hair balls. So did the friends she asked. He gagged and convulsed and brought up froth. She gave him some laxative paste.

Everything in the litter tray seemed normal and for a while Gus seemed OK.

When she rushed off to work he was curled up on the lounge in the sun room as usual.

But the gagging started up again, especially at night. She noticed that he wasn’t eating all his dinner and sometimes he stopped in the middle of the gagging and breathed heavily.

One night he crept on to the end of the bed and wheezed and gasped for breath until she was sure he was choking to death.

Next morning she rushed him into us. We X-rayed his chest and found a very hazy lung and signs of chronic bronchitis.

We took samples from Gus’s lungs and found he had pneumonia. Gus had developed an airway and lung infection on top of the chronic bronchitis.

Cats get asthma and bronchitis, just like humans do. For some it is worse when there are lots of pollens blowing about, for others being cooped up inside with the stagnant air and dust mites in winter set the wheezing and coughing off.

His carer remembered that he had always had a bit of a wheeze, especially in spring and early summer. She hadn’t thought much of it.

It is very easy to confuse coughing with vomiting or regurgitation. Usually food or bile will come up at some stage with vomiting. Vomiting cats often lose their appetite or have diarrhoea as well. Coughing cats don’t go off their food unless they develop an infection as well.

Some asthmatic cats have life threatening breathing difficulties if they are not treated adequately. If you notice your cat coughing, gagging, breathing with difficulty, especially with the mouth open and the neck extended, contact your vet.

Check out Fritz the Brave for reliable information and support if your cat has asthma or bronchitis in cats.

Gus is back to his irascible self after a long course of antibiotics. He’s getting used to a puffer and spacer, and quite likes all the attention we give him.

 

Kelpie pups for sale

Those gorgeous pups who visited us earlier this week are now for sale for $100! They are fully vaccinated and wormed and ready to go to loving homes with lots of time for runs and fun.

They are now 8 weeks old, well-socialised and ready to go.

PHONE   0421 762 897

 

Everyone had a pup to cuddle!

 

 

 

 

Kidney disease diets

Switching to a kidney diet

Why should I feed my cat with kidney disease special food?

  • Specially formulated kidney diets are proven to improve the quality of life of cats with kidney disease. They also extend their life expectancy.
  • Cats on kidney diets end up in hospital on a drip much less often than those on regular foods.

What is so special about kidney diets?

  • Potassium is added to kidney diets because cats with kidney disease often have low levels of potassium. Low potassium blunts cats’ appetites and make them feel unwell.
  • Phosphorous builds up in the blood of cats with kidney disease. High phosphorous levels put them off their food and eventually weaken their bones. Cats in untreated advanced kidney failure develop “rubber jaw” –  the high phosphorous levels drain the calcium out of their jaw bones.
  • Cats’ systems become more acidic in kidney failure. Kidney diets help buffer the acidity and improve the cats’  well-being.

When should I start feeding my cat a special kidney diet?

We recommend starting a special kidney diet when your cat is in stage 2 kidney (also known as renal) disease. This means that the blood creatinine levels are over 140 and/or the urine concentrating ability, the urine specific gravity (USG) is less than 1.036.

Cats in stage 2 kidney disease usually still have good appetites and are more likely to accept a new food.

How do I convince my cat to eat the new food?

  • Switch to the new food gradually. Most cats need at least a week to make the transition and many take a month or so.
  • Only try one brand of food at a time. Offer one brand for at least a week before trying another.
  • Try mixing a little of the new food with the old and gradually increasing the proportion of new food.
  • Alternatively provide both foods side by side and let the cat get used to the new scent and taste without being forced to consume it.
  • Don’t be discouraged! Keep putting the new food out. If it is rejected take it away for the moment and put it down again at the next meal time.
  • Serve food on a flat food dish like a saucer rather than a bowl. Some cats reject a food if their whiskers rub the side of the food dish.
  • Serve food at room temperature or warmer.
  • Some cats prefer food from a newly opened container every time.
  • Other cats like their food stored in a plastic container rather than its original can.
  • Offer foods with different textures – minced, pate, chunks –  or different formulations – dry or moist. Many cats change their preferences when they develop kidney disease so don’t be afraid to offer something that they didn’t like before.
  • Add flavour enhancers like low sodium chicken broth, tuna juice, oregano, brewer’s yeast, or a small amount of favourite food.
  • Feed more moist food to increase fluid intake. Cats with kidney disease need to consume a lot more water per day than healthy cats.
  • Make sure water is always available. Place water dishes near your cat’s favourite resting places. Cats who like to lap from dripping taps or shower recesses often like water fountains like the Drinkwell water fountain. 

Acupuncture

At Hall Veterinary Surgery, we offer acupuncture as an integral part of the total veterinary health care system. This is provided by Helen Purdam who certified with the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society in 1993.

By integrating veterinary acupuncture with western veterinary science, we can offer further treatment options to improve outcomes for our patients.

There are times when conventional medicines prove insufficient for adequate management of common chronic disease such as osteoarthritis and back problems. Acupuncture can improve the comfort and mobility of these pets.

Many of our clients have commented that their pet seems to “just feel happier” after their treatment.

Patients are chosen for acupuncture therapy based on a full clinical examination and temperament. Radiographs are helpful, however they are not required.

Acupuncture treatments take 30 minutes. A program of three treatments at weekly intervals initially is followed by top up treatments as required. The majority of pets tolerate acupuncture well. Light reversible sedation is offered to our more bouncy patients.