Category Archives: Diseases of cats

‘Dementia’ and Age Related Changes

 

Behavioural problems in senior pets can result from medical issues like arthritic pain, loss of sight/hearing or diseases that affect the nervous system. They can also be attributed to age related deterioration of the brain known as Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome.

In mild cases the pet may sleep more, become less responsive or show less social interaction with family and other pets. More severe signs might include repetitive behaviours such as pacing, new fears and anxieties, house soiling, waking at night, confusion and disorientation or loss of recognition of training cues.

The behaviour changes may be noticed following changes to the household or environment that the pet has difficulty adapting to. Early detection provides the best opportunity to help these pets and slow cognitive decline.

Prevention: What can you do?
  • For healthy senior pets, twice-yearly wellness examinations and laboratory screening tests provide an opportunity to identify emerging problems, sometimes before there are outward signs.
  • Report changes in your pet’s health and behaviour to the vet early.
  • If you foresee changes in your pets environment or schedule, try to make these gradual so you elderly pet has time to adapt.
  • Providing mental and physical enrichment helps to maintain a healthy brain and body. If your pet begins to slow down, find new games, new toys and new ways to play to stimulate the brain and keep the body active.
  • Play and exercise help most if continued throughout life and adjusted for age related physical limitations, for example supported swimming for arthritic dogs.
  • Leash walking exercises muscles and provides mental stimulation via smell and social interactions. Use a harness, sling or pram/stroller if they can’t manage walking. Take a ‘sniff stroll’ rather trying to cover ground. Trim nails and hair under their feet for a better grip.
  • Supervise play and pick mates matched by temperament, ability and size. Redirect the new puppy play if your old pet tires. Watching play may be enough.
  • Car trips are fun for some dogs. They enjoy the tactile sensations of the breeze, the smells and company. A ramp may be needed for access and comfy padding in the vehicle to cushion old joints. Take care in warm weather to prevent overheating.
  • Be creative in seeking ways to make it easier for them. Elevate the water dish to shoulder height; warm food and add water/broth to food to increase palatability and water intake; give cats more litter trays for convenient access and cut down tray height; set up ramps to reduce the need to use stairs; cats benefit from stepped platforms leading to high perches; have the cat/dog flap at floor level; use hall runners or a paw friction product to provide grip on slippery floors; add psyllium to the diet to reduce constipation; clip heavy coats and matts for freer movement and summer comfort; provide a winter coat if they feel the winter chill.
Cats benefit from lower litter trays and ramps to their favourite places.
  • Smell provides great mental stimulation. Provide food puzzles and hidden treats. Visit unfamiliar places.
  • Hand signals or vibrating (NOT shock) collars can be used to communicate to deaf dogs. Lavender scent trails can guide the blind.
  • Practice massage and range of motion exercises for sore legs.

 

Treating problems: How can you help?
  • Medical problems need to be identified and treated, however retraining may also be required. For example, if your pet begins house soiling due to a medical issue, the problem may persist after the medical issue is resolved unless you use positive reinforcement to train the pet to return to the preferred locations and supervise access to the soiled areas.
  • For problems that cannot be completely resolved, you may need to make schedule adjustments to accommodate your pet’s needs. For example pets with kidney disease need to urinate more often so you may need to take your dog out to the toilet more frequently or reward them for using training pads. Provide extra litter trays or clean the litter tray more frequently if your cat urinates more due to kidney disease.
  • Maintain an enriched environment that stimulates your pet’s brain and body. Adjust their social play, exercise and training according to their health. Use their favourite food and toys to train new cues, practice previous training and play games of hide and find. Food release toys that provide manipulation to obtain the food or treats provide a challenge to stimulate your pet’s mind.

Veterinary treatment:
  • Medications can be prescribed to improve neurotransmitter function and brain activity or act as antioxidants. Medication that reduces physical pain, for example from arthritis, can allow your pet to enjoy more physical and mental activity.
  • A prescription veterinary diet is available containing antioxidants and fatty acids that reduce signs of cognitive decline by improving neurotransmission. It has been shown to help old dogs stay active, enjoy interactions, reduce sleep disturbances and retain house training.
  • Many natural products are touted to be effective and your vet will be able to advise you on supplements that may be useful.
If you are noticing changes in your senior pets
behaviour or would like more information on helping
your elderly pet get the most out of day to day life
please phone us on (02) 6230 2223.

Outbreak Warning: Potentially fatal cat viruses in the Canberra area

Two viruses, one a new strain and the other a resurgence of an old virus are causing concerns for our feline friends and their owners around Canberra.

Virulent strain of cat flu (feline calicivirus)

In March this year and now again in June/July, vets around Canberra have seen sick cats suffering from a particularly virulent form of a cat flu virus, FCV-VSD (Feline calicivirus – virulent systemic disease)

While typical signs of flu in cats include mouth ulcers, sneezing and perhaps lameness, the virulent strain can cause a much more severe illness. Signs are usually more severe in adult cats than in kittens and fatalities are common. Whilst the normal flu vaccination may offer some protection, even fully vaccinated cats can succumb to the virulent strain.

Affected cats show some or all of the following signs – loss of appetite, lethargy, high fever, swollen limb(s) and/or head, jaundice, difficulty breathing, mouth ulcers and sores on the nose, ear tips and skin. These signs are similar to those reported in previous outbreaks in the US and Europe.

Fortunately, most infected cats in Canberra have recovered due to prompt diagnosis and supporting treatment.

The virus can survive in the environment for around one month. It is highly contagious and spreads easily to other cats via hands, clothing, shoes, bedding, food bowls and litter trays. The greatest risk of spread occurs in multi-cat environments such as shelters and boarding catteries. Fortunately spread in the wider community has been limited and the outbreaks seem to ‘burn out’.

Researchers at Sydney Uni are investigating the virulent strain and vets have been submitting mouth swabs from any suspect cases for testing.

If your cat is showing any of the signs listed above, please call us on 62302223 to arrange an appointment. An initial assessment may be done in the car by a vet kitted out in gloves and disposable gown to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.

 

Feline enteritis

The resurgence of the deadly virus, FPV (feline panleukopenia virus) which was almost eradicated 40 years ago by vaccinations, has been confirmed in various locations throughout Australia, including Melbourne and Canberra.

FPV is highly contagious and can be fatal to the affected cat.

The most common form of FPV presents as a three to four day history of high temperature, lethargy, loss of appetite and may progress to vomiting and diarrhoea. However, in cases of very severe infection, cats can die very suddenly with no apparent signs.

FPV in cats is caused by parvoviruses, which are small DNA viruses. The main one is feline panleukopenia virus but parvoviruses that infect dogs can also cause the disease in cats.

Disease control relies on strong herd immunity and that can only be achieved by keeping pets up-to-date with their vaccinations.

We recommend that kittens are vaccinated starting from 6-8 weeks of age and then every 4 weeks until they are 16 weeks old.

Cats receiving their first vaccination after 16 weeks of age only need one dose with a booster at 6-12 months and then every three years thereafter.

The modified live F3 vaccine used at Hall Veterinary surgery provides highly effective protection against this virus.

PLEASE NOTE:
Strict disinfection procedures have been implemented at the surgery so please do not be offended if we ask you to leave your cat in the car and phone us when you arrive for your appointment, we have your cat’s health as our top priority.

Dreading Shedding?

Shedding is one way an animal can adapt to its environment. Changes in the amount of sunlight and the external temperature are the two of the main factors that determine when major shedding will occur.

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While hair shedding is a normal process for many breeds of dogs and cats, the amount and frequency of hair that is shed often depends upon their health and breed type. It can also depend on the season —
many pets develop thick coats in the winter that are then shed in the spring. However, pets who are always kept indoors are prone to smaller fluctuations in coat thickness and tend to shed fairly evenly all year rather than seasonally.

When should you be concerned?
• You notice significantly more shedding than usual.
• Development of bald patches.
• Dull dry hair that falls off when touched.
• Your pet is continually itching, scratching or biting itself.

Image result for itchy dog

What can you do about it?
• Make some notes about the intensity and frequency of the shedding and discuss this with your vet.
• Groom your pet very regularly with an implement that causes no pain and pair grooming time with a great treat for your pet. This will make grooming something the pet enjoys rather than suffers through.

 

 

Aches and Pains – How Can We Tell?

Our pets can’t tell us what they are feeling in words, however through observing their body language, we can notice changes in their behaviour that may indicate pain.

Pain can occur with a vast array of chronic diseases, some not so obvious, for example dental disease, arthritis, back pain, ear infections, pancreatitis and cancer.

Image result for pain in animals

Top five signs of chronic pain are:

  1. Decreased Activity. Is your dog less enthusiastic for walks lately? Does your cat lay around more than usual or have they stopped climbing on to their favourite perch? Be careful not to assume this is normal ageing. There could be a medical condition that will improve with treatment.
  2. Changes in habits. Is your cat grooming less? Has your dog stopped jumping into the car or onto furniture? Are they interacting less with family? Reluctance to use stairs or groom can often occur with back or joint pain.
  3. Loss of toilet training. Dogs and cats might start to toilet inside if it hurts too much to walk to their usual spot, squeeze through the dog door or navigate steps. It could be painful to squat.
  4. Lameness. Is your pet stiff when getting out of bed, hunched or favouring a leg? You might see them shifting their weight or unable to stand in one place for long if their joints are aching.
  5. Aggression. Perhaps your pet is growling or snapping when petted to protect a painful area. Are they avoiding a playmate who asks for a tumble because it’s going to hurt?

Detecting chronic pain in your pet can be challenging. Body language is their only way to tell us when something is wrong, physically or emotionally.

Watch carefully for changes in their behaviour and contact the practice to arrange a check up if you notice a change in your pet’s behaviour.

A day in the life of: Trent – Kidney Disease

Meet Trent, a gorgeous and very friendly 11 year old Domestic Short Hair cat. Trent visited us a few weeks ago after his owner Hayley noticed that he had been losing weight and the quality of his coat had been lacking.

In order to investigate Hayley’s concerns Dr Jenny decided that a senior check-up was in order. A senior check-up involves a thorough history and examination with a focus on issues that our senior cats are commonly affected by.  Our comprehensive examination includes a mobility assessment, dental health check, dietary assessment, parasite control review and a vaccination review.   The senior cat check-up also includes a full blood profile, blood pressure and urine testing all run in our state of the art in house laboratory.

Trent was an angel, he let us check his blood pressure without a fuss, we used a blood pressure cuff and a Doppler ultrasound to do this.  We made sure to use headphones so that Trent didn’t notice the noise at all. Blood pressure testing is extremely important as cats with high blood pressure have no clinical signs until they develop organ damage.  Sudden onset blindness is often the first sign we see.  Early detection and treatment can help prevent this, Luckily Trent’s blood pressure was normal.

We then went on to collect blood and urine samples from Trent, the blood test we ran measured his kidney enzymes, liver enzymes, thyroid hormone, glucose, and red and white blood cells.  The urine sample was to check urine concentration allowing us to assess kidney function, and to check for urinary tract infections which are common in our older cats.

 

After running these tests we found that Trent had early stage kidney disease, and this was what caused his weight loss and other symptoms such as changes to his coat.  Kidney disease can also cause increased thirst and increased urination – this is often what owners notice first.

Because of Trent’s vigilant owner we were able to detect the kidney disease at such an early stage that all Trent needed was a diet change to a special prescription kidney diet.  Trent actually quite liked his new diet, but don’t worry we have plenty of tips and tricks for cats that are more fussy.  In a few weeks we will follow up with Trent and recheck his blood and urine tests to make sure that he is improving with his treatment.

Image result for hills k/d cat Image result for royal canin renal cat

 

If your cat is 7 years of age or older, book in for their Senior Cat Check-up today, give us a call on (02) 6230 2223 or click HERE to book online now!

That’s toxic! The top 14 foods to keep your pets away from

There are a range of substances that can cause serious harm to pets. Listed below are just a few of the common products that you need to prevent your pet gaining access to.

Grapes, sultanas & raisins: The toxic substance in grapes, sultanas and raisins is unknown, however ingestion may cause kidney failure in sensitive pets and there is no ‘safe’ dose.Image result for grapes and sultanas

Caffeine: is a stimulant and pets are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than people. A couple of laps of tea or coffee are unlikely to do any harm, but if your pet swallows a handful of coffee beans, coffee grinds or tea bags they could be in danger.
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Chocolate: contains a stimulant called theobromine which is poisonous to pets. The darker the chocolate the more theobromine it contains. Signs of theobromine poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea, restlessness, hyperactivity and seizures this can lead to cardiac arrest.
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Mouldy foods: including bread, nuts and dairy products, contain lots of toxins that could make your pet very ill so keep all pets away from compost.
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Onions, garlic, and chives: eating these vegetables and herbs can cause stomach and gut irritation and potentially lead to red blood cell damage and anaemia.
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Alcohol: is significantly more toxic to pets than to humans. When consumed, even small quantities of alcoholic beverages and food products may cause vomiting, diarrhoea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors,
blood changes, coma and death.
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Macadamia nuts: within 12 hours of ingestion, macadamia nuts can cause dogs to experience weakness, depression, tremors, vomiting and increased body temperature.
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Yeast dough: the rising dough causes gas to accumulate in the pet’s digestive system. Not only can this be painful, but it may also cause the stomach or intestines to become blocked. So while small bits of bread can be given as a treat — never give your pet yeast dough.
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Bones: dogs regularly present to vets for emergency surgical procedures to remove intestinal obstructions after swallowing pieces of bone that become stuck. Other conditions bones frequently cause include constipation, pancreatitis, teeth fractures as well as internal injury such as bone splinters which can puncture your dog’s digestive tract.
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Corn on the cob: if your dog swallows large chunks of the cob, or even the whole cob, it can cause an intestinal blockage due to its size and shape. Signs to look out for are vomiting, loss of appetite or reduced appetite, absence of faeces or diarrhoea and abdominal discomfort.
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Xylitol: is an artificial sweetener found in many products that causes insulin release which can lead to potentially fatal hypoglycaemia (lowered sugar levels).
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Milk: feeding your dog milk and other milk-based products can cause diarrhoea or other digestive upsets.
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Blue cheese: the roquefortine C found in blue cheese may cause
vomiting and diarrhoea, can lead to tremors, twitching, seizures and
high temperature.
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Death cap mushrooms: Are lethal to pets and humans –
no contact is safe.
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If your pet ever ingests something you are unsure about please give us a call on (02) 6230 2223 straight away.

Snake Bites and Your Pet

Every year in Australia thousands of family pets are bitten by snakes, the types of snake vary depending on where in Australia the bite occurred. Here in Canberra the most common snakes we encounter are Brown Snakes followed by Tiger Snakes and less commonly Red-Bellied Black Snakes.

As snakes hibernate during the colder months the vast majority of snake bites take place in the Spring/Summer months. Snakes are commonly found in areas with long grass, rocks and other hiding holes, often near a fresh water source such as a creek or dam.

It is important to remember that most snakes will try to avoid you and your pets. However, whilst we humans may simply walk away from a snake, our pet’s are inquisitive, armed with natural hunting instincts and when given the chance, will harass snakes often resulting in snake bites.

What can I do to prevent a snake bite to my pet?

  • Avoid areas with grass any longer than ankle height
  • Always keep your dog on lead when walking
  • Do not let your dog investigate off path/in long grass
  • Keep your backyard tidy, mowed and remove any rubbish that would make a nice hiding spot for a snake
  • Consider building a cat enclosure for cats that like to venture outdoors

What are the signs of snake bites that I should be aware of?

There are several factors that may determine the reaction your pet may have to a snake bite. These can include the type of snake, where on the body your pet was bitten and how much venom was injected.

Signs and symptoms of snake bites vary but can often show some of the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Sudden weakness
  • Collapse (can seem to ‘recover’ shortly after)
  • Twitching of the muscles
  • Hyper-salivation
  • Dilated pupils non-responsive to light

And in later stages:

  • Blood in urine
  • Paralysis

I think my pet has been bitten by a snake, what should I do?

If you suspect your pet has been bitten by a snake you should keep them as quiet/still as possible whilst seeking immediate veterinary attention. The sooner your pet is treated the better their chances of survival.

Unless you are certain the snake is dead do not put yourself at risk trying to identify it.


Variations in colour of the Eastern Brown Snake.

What will the Vet do to treat my pet?

Once you arrive at the Vet they may recommend a series of tests to determine whether a snake bite has occurred.
After receiving confirmation of a snake bite your pet will be placed on intravenous fluids and possibly oxygen depending on their current condition.
Your vet will administer the appropriate anti venom to your pet slowly whilst intensive monitoring and supportive care continues.
Subject to your pets reaction to the anti venom occasionally more than one vial is needed.
Depending on the severity of your pets condition, intensive nursing, hospitalisation and supportive care such as IV fluids and oxygen may be necessary for a number of days whilst they recover.

What is my pet’s prognosis?

Approximately 80% of pets survive snake bites if treated quickly.
The survival rate of pets that are left untreated is much, much lower.

What can I do to remove a snake from my property?

If you see a snake do not try to catch or harm it. All Australian snakes are protected and you will expose yourself to unnecessary danger.

If you need a snake removed/relocated please phone:

Access Canberra Contact Centre on 132281.
or visit their website HERE for more information.

Patient Spotlight: Floyd the ‘Wonder-cat’

Floyd is an 18 year old Domestic Short Hair Cat with a lovely personality, he has lived his 18 years in the care of his dedicated owner Margaret, who has tended to all of his hunger needs!

Unfortunately, Floyd recently suffered from an Aortic Thromboembolisim. This is a serious and often fatal condition where a blood clot forms in the heart and moves down the aorta. As the clot forms it causes pain, decreasing pulses, cold limbs, loss of blood flow and hind leg paralysis. A very small 30-50% of cats will recover fully from this condition. Due to this, Floyd had become bedridden and unable to move his hind legs.

Luckily for Floyd, his lovely owner was more than dedicated to help him get through it.

Floyd was admitted to hospital every day whilst his owner was at work, each day he went through a rigorous routine of hourly massaging, physio and assisted stands. He was offered as much food as his heart desired, was brushed daily by our nurses and even had his own radio to listen to while spending his days in our cat ward!
Each night Floyd’s owner picked him up and continued his physio routine over night, turning him hourly and massaging his legs.

After 2 weeks of intensive physio we are so pleased to say that Floyd is making amazing progress!  He has regained some strength in his hind legs and is now able to stand and walk around with minimal assistance! Floyd’s road to recovery is a long one but without the wonderful dedication from Floyd’s owner Margaret, he certainly would not be where he is today.

The importance of Dental check-ups for your pet

August is Pet Dental Health Month here at Hall Vet Surgery, so let’s talk about the Importance of thorough Dental Examinations  for your pets!

Dental examinations  play an extremely important role in maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

Providing your pet with good oral care is essential for them
to enjoy a happy, healthy and pain-free life.

Our human dentists recommend 6 monthly dental check ups and cleans for us to prevent dental issues.. and we brush our teeth twice every day!

Hall Vet Surgery offers Free 6 Monthly Dental Check-ups to ensure we detect any dental issues early. Early detection helps us to reach the best possible outcome for your pet (and your wallet!).

Dental disease that is left untreated is painful for your pet and can lead to other serious health problems including infections in the kidneys, liver and heart.

Remember, pets will still eat despite having a painful
mouth, so regular oral examinations with your veterinarian
are the best way to detect dental disease early and keep
your pet comfortable and healthy.

Give us a call on (02) 6230 2223 to arrange your pets Free Dental Check-up.

Why fat sucks! Pancreatitis – what it is and what you can do to minimize the risk to your pet

What is pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is part of the endocrine and digestive system that is integral for the digestion of food. One of the functions of the pancreas is to produce enzymes which enable food to be digested. When the pancreas is inflamed (pancreatitis), the flow of enzymes into the digestive tract can be distrupted and the digestive enzymes move out of the pancreas and into the abdominal area — this spells trouble!

When the body eats itself!

When the digestive enzymes wrongly move into the abdominal area they will begin breaking down fat and protein in the other organs as well, that should not happen — it causes the pet’s body to begin to digest itself. Clearly then, pancreatitis is a very painful illness that can cause can cause permanent organ damage and death if left untreated. If treated, pancreatitis can be resolved and your vet will put together a life treatment plan to help prevent recurrences. Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic and certain breeds seem more prone than others.

Some of the symptoms of pancreatitis

There are many symptoms which can include:

  • Diarrhoea.
  • High temperature.
  • Vomiting.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Weight loss (more common in cats than dogs).
  • Dehydration.
  • Fatigue.
  • Sluggishness.
  • Depression.
  • Mild to severe abdominal pain (pain can become more severe after eating).
  • Increased heart rate.
Some of the causes of pancreatitis

There many causes of pancreatitis. Below is list of the most common causes.

  • A high fat diet.
  • High levels of calcium
    in the blood.
  • Pet obesity.
  • Some medicines used to
    treat other conditions.
  • The marrow from bones commonly triggers a case of pancreatitis.
  • Festive eating – the pet that is usually on a suitable diet who gets into the BBQ sausages, bacon or large amounts of cheese or dessert foods. This is enough to trigger a bout of pancreatitis.