Archive for the ‘Veterinary/Medical’ Category

Fire-Retardant Chemicals Linked To Thyroid Disease In Pet Cats

Thursday, August 16th, 2007


Researchers are reporting that a strange epidemic of thyroid disease in cats living in the U.S. may be related to dust from flame-retardant chemicals used in furniture, carpets, mattresses, electronics, and even pet food.

There is no evidence to suggest that the chemicals, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), pose a risk to humans, but the possibility cannot be ruled out. Researchers said that cats are highly exposed to chemicals, and the levels are higher in cats compared to people. This could be used as an indicator to gauge the indoor exposure to people.

Cats with hyperthyroidism may show the following symptoms: weight loss, increased appetite, hair loss and irritability. This disease is one of the most common and deadly illnesses in older felines. Due to their grooming habits, indoor cats are at a higher risk because they can ingest large amounts of dust containing PBDEs.

In this recent study, which is published in Environmental Science and Technology, the research team took blood samples from 23 cats. Eleven of them were diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. The cats with the illness measured levels of PBDEs three times higher than younger cats and cats without hyperthyroidism.

PBDEs can also be found in canned cat food, particularly in fish/seafood flavors, such as salmon and whitefish. An analysis showed that diets based on canned food could have PBDE levels 12 times higher than dry-food diets. Researchers stated that cats could be getting as much as 100 times greater PBDE exposure in their diets that humans.


Alzheimer’s Becoming More Common In Older Cats

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

Older cat

According to an upcoming Journal of Small Animal Practice paper, mental disorders associated with aging, including Alzheimer’s, are far more common in pet cats than previously realized. More than half of all cats over age 15 show signs of senility.

This study supports the claim that most, if not all, mammals have the ability to suffer age-related illnesses and conditions normally associated with people.

For cats, a 15-year-old can be compared to an 85-year-old human. A recent study done on humans showed that around half of all 80-year-olds also show signs of dementia.

Danielle Gunn-Moore, head of the Feline Clinic at the University of Edinburgh’s Hospital for Small Animals, explained that the signs of behaviors linked with senility in cats can range from acting disoriented to their social relationships changing.

They may also change sleeping habits, forget commands, pace, wander, act sluggish, and may have “accidents.” Cats may also show signs of behaviors of not being interested in their food, decreased grooming, and being confused.

Some of these symptoms can also be associated with thyroid problems and diabetes. To rule out those possibilities, one of Gunn-Moore’s team members, Kelly Moffat of Arizona’s Mesa Animal Hospital, conducted a study on 154 geriatric cats brought to local vets.

Based on her results, the researchers concluded that 28 percent of pet cats aged 11 to 14 develop at least one brain-linked behavior problem associated with aging. The percentage drastically increases to 50% for cats 15 years or older.


Cerenia: Medication To Prevent Dog Vomiting Due To Motion Sickness

Monday, August 13th, 2007

Dog in car

Does your dog love car rides but gets queasy whenever he steps in a moving vehicle? And then you end up cleaning his breakfast from the back seat of the car?

Pfizer Animal Health has created Cerenia, a daily tablet that prevents canine vomiting from motion sickness. This FDA approved medication became available starting July 30 and is recommended for dogs 16 weeks or older.

Cerenia works by blocking a receptor in the brain stem that receives signals from the rest of the body to vomit. It can be used to treat vomiting in dogs caused by motion sickness or medical problems, such as gastroenteritis or renal disease.

Dr. Brenda McClelland, a veterinarian and co-owner of an animal clinic in Fort Collins, Texas, says that when an adult dog gets sick, pants or drools excessively in a moving vehicle, it is important to observe the dog to see if it’s truly motion sickness.

McClelland says that true motion sickness is the result of an inner ear problem. When dogs start drooling or getting queasy even before they get in the car, it may be more of an anxiety problem instead of motion sickness. A dog may be anxious if they are not used to riding in a car or has had a bad experience.

A veterinarian with Pfizer Animal Health said that Cerenia has a success rate of up to 93%. But the medication will not treat a dog’s anxiety if that is the reason they are vomiting.


Overweight Cats In UK Facing Diabetes Risk

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007


Many cats that are overweight are facing the risk of diabetes. An increasing number of cats are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, as the lack of exercise and heavier body affect their health.

An University of Edinburgh study that involved 14,000 cats concluded that one in every 230 cats in the UK is diabetic.

Cats with weight problems are said to be more than three times as likely to suffer from diabetes. Neutered male cats that do not get adequate amount of exercise are particularly at risk.

Cat owners are being urged to watch their cat’s health and weight, control the amount of treats they feed and to make sure their cat gets enough exercise.

Professor Danielle Gunn-Moore, from Edinburgh University’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, said: “This is the first study of its kind to try to quantify diabetes among cats in the UK and the results show extremely worrying levels. To reduce your cat’s risk of developing this often fatal disease you need to keep them active, and not allow them to gain too much weight.”

The number of diabetic cats in this UK study is almost five times higher than a previous study done in the US in the 1970s.


Contact With Farm Animals May Prevent Crohn’s Disease And IBS

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007


It may be time to go out and get yourself a pet pig or goat.

A recently conducted German study shows that children who have regular contact with farm animals may be less likely to develop inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) than other children.

The study was led by researcher Katja Radon, the head of the unit for occupational and environmental epidemiology & NetTeaching at Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, Germany.

The team focused on the “hygiene hypothesis,” which states that children who are exposed at a young age to certain microbes may have stronger immune systems. These microbes are less likely to be present in sanitized areas compared to a barn filled with animals.

The hygiene hypothesis may explain why researchers have found that allergies are less among people who have had regular contact with farm animals early in life.

Radon and her team studied 2,229 children from the ages of 6-18 who were born and raised in Germany. The study tracked juvenile inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), specifically ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Out of the 2,229 children, 1,481 children didn’t have IBS, 444 were being treated for Crohn’s disease and the other 304 children were being treated for ulcerative colitis.

Parents then answered questions about exposure to farm animals, pet dogs or cats, and urban or rural residence during the first year of life.

“We have shown that children with such diseases as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease were less likely to have lived in rural environments and were less likely to have farm contact in the first year of life before the disease had developed,” Radon says.


Fatal Infection Affecting Mississippi Cats

Monday, August 6th, 2007

Veterinarians at Mississippi State University are urging cat owners to practice effective tick control on their pets after the emergence of a parasitic blood infection they call a “death sentence.”

After examining the unexplained deaths of several cats in the state, the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine’s Animal Health Center revealed that their death was due to an infection called cytauxzoonosis.

A microscopic protozoan (Cytauxzoon felis) causes the infection when it reproduces within the inside lining of blood vessels. It blocks the flow of blood to vital organs.

Cytauxzoon’s natural host is a bobcat, which suffers no health problems from the organism. It becomes a pathogen after being ingested by the American dog tick. If the tick then attaches to a domestic cat for a blood meal, it injects a parasite that quickly becomes virulent in the cat’s system.

There is no cure for this disease, Dr. Sharon Grace, clinical professor and feline specialist, said in a news release about the infection. “Owners need to apply a topical product that will kill ticks that carry the pathogen.”

To be effective, the product must contain fipronil for tick control, Grace said. Dog owners should practice tick control on those pets, also, and examine themselves for ticks as well. The American dog tick, or Dermacentor variabilis, carries the disease and can hitchhike from dogs or humans to cats, even those that live inside. But dogs cannot contract the disease and neither can humans.


Free Canine Cancer Poster

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

Canine Cancer

Here’s something free that can help educate pet owners and spread the word about canine cancer.

The Morris Animal Foundation, an organization that is dedicated to funding research that protects, treats, and cures pets and wildlife, is giving away free 18×28 inch canine cancer posters. The posters also include photos of the dog breeds most likely to get cancer and other information about how cancer is the number one cause of death in dogs over the age of two. Anyone is open to signing up for a poster. Feel free to share it with your veterinarian, local animal shelter or pet store.

Knowing the common signs that can indicate cancer helps in early detection. The American Veterinary Medical Association and the Veterinary Cancer Society say these clinical signs may indicate cancer or another serious condition that needs veterinary attention.

Here are some clinical signs of canine cancer:

  • Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Weight Loss
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
  • Offensive Odor
  • Difficulty eating or swallowing
  • Hesitance to exercise or loss of stamina
  • Persistent stiffness
  • Difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating


Cat Dander Extract Found To Clear Up Allergies To Cats

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007


Allergic to cats? Don’t want to spend $7,000 on a hypoallergenic cat? Can’t bear to part with Fluffy even though you’re sneezing day and night? Good news. Now those cat lovers who are allergic to cats may have a solution to their problem.

Tolerance to cats can be built up in allergic kids by placing increasing doses of standardized cat dander extract under the tongue, according to Spanish researchers.

In the medical journal Allergy, Dr. Emilio Alvarez-Cuesta and colleagues says that immunotherapy is the only treatment if allergic cat owners are unwilling to give up their feline friends.

Immunotherapy is based on the idea that the immune system can “learn” to tolerate allergy triggers if it is exposed to gradually increasing amounts of the offending allergen, starting with tiny amounts that don’t cause an allergic reaction.


Getting Rid Of Fleas From Your Pet And Your Home

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

FleasFleas. They seem like a never ending battle. When a cat or dog has them, pet owners wage war on these pesky little creatures.

In the past few years, many cat and dog owners have complained about the effectiveness of the flea products available in the stores and the vet’s office. Even veterinarians are frustrated over the flea problem.

Dr. Michael Dryden, veterinary parasitologist at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, admitted that something is happening with the fleas. He called the phenomenon “back end slippage”. He said that in some instances the effectiveness begins to slip at around three weeks.

He was hesitant to used the word resistance because Dryden said if fleas were truly resistant, then the flea products would not work at all. He said that this is not the case. Dryden explained that people who use flea products all year round have no problems with fleas because they don’t give a chance for fleas to stay in the pet’s environment.

With winters starting later and springs beginning sooner, the flea season has become longer. This means that flea protection may be a year-round task.


9/11 And Katrina Search Dog Dies Of Cancer

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

9/11 And Katrina Search Dog Jake Dies Of CancerJake the black Labrador was abandoned on a street with a broken leg and a dislocated hip 11 years ago. The 10-month-old puppy would eventually grow up to rescue injured people from Ground Zero and disasters such as building collapses, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and avalanches.

[Jake eventually became] one of fewer than 200 U.S. government-certified rescue dogs — an animal on 24-hour call to tackle disasters such as building collapses, earthquakes, hurricanes and avalanches.

Jake’s owner, Mary Flood, put him to sleep after a painful battle with cancer on Wednesday after a final stroll through the fields in Utah, and a swim in the creek near their home. Some people attribute cancers in humans and pets who worked around Ground Zero to the debris and particles that filled the air. It’s unknown if Jake’s tumor was related to his time spent in lower Manhattan.


Vet Makes House Calls To See Your Pet

Thursday, July 26th, 2007


You hate it. Your dog or cat is terrified of it. The whole experience is so stressful. Taking your pet to the vet is just plain dreadful. (If you don’t know what this is like because your pet is happy going to the vet, consider yourself extremely lucky. The rest of us have to drag, carry, or push our pets inside the door.)

This vet makes house calls, so pets don’t have to go through the trauma of going to the “bad people that poke me, put things in my ear and make me sit on that cold table.”

Veterinarian Lisa McIntyre of Naperville, Illinois has offered in-home animal care to much of the Chicago suburbs since May.

For many of her customers, both human and animal, a checkup becomes a less stressful event.

One of her patients, Luke, has definitely taken advantage of these house calls. Luke’s owner said that he used to be a “bucking bronco” when he had to go to the vet’s office. To restrain this 6-year-old Weimaraner, anesthesia was sometimes needed. Due to that extra cost, visits became expensive and would total up to $400 each time.

Now with the house calls, Luke is patient and passive, and he can now have more regular check ups on his health.


Can Oscar The Cat Predict Your Death?

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

Oscar the Cat that can predict death

Coincidence or a power beyond our understanding? In Thursday’s issue of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. David Dosa wrote about Oscar (pictured above), a cat who has the uncanny ability to predict our dying days. Oscar is a cat whose not known for his friendly behavior, but he makes the rounds of patients just like the doctors. His job, it seems, is to comfort those who are about to pass away.

The hospital staff has observed 25 cases where Oscar would curl up next to patients who “died within hours”. The 2-year-old cat grew up in the dementia unit at Steere House, which treats people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and other illnesses. One doctor says that he is better at predicting who will die than the staff that works there. Dr. Joan Teno of Brown University was convinced after Oscar’s 13th(!) correct call.

This story gave me many conflicting feelings — disbelief, sadness, fear, appreciation and wonder — in that order. If you were on your deathbed, would your welcome Oscar?

Doctors say most of the people who get a visit from the sweet-faced, gray-and-white cat are so ill they probably don’t know he’s there, so patients aren’t aware he’s a harbinger of death. Most families are grateful for the advanced warning, although one wanted Oscar out of the room while a family member died. When Oscar is put outside, he paces and meows his displeasure.

The hospital staff seems grateful for his help. Oscar was given a wall plaque for his “compassionate hospice care.”

Veterinarians are not sure of there is a scientific basis for his abilities or if his skills are more earthly. “His behavior could be driven by self-centered pleasures like a heated blanket placed on a dying person.”

We’ve also provided excerpts from the copy of the full New England Journal article (which requires a paid subscription). Read highlights of Dr. Dosa’s thoughtful and poignant descriptions below after the survey. (Tissue box warning.)


Rabid Kitten Sparks Mutli-State Search

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

It started out with a kind-hearted softball coach picking up stray kittens from a cardboard box in a dumpster. Unfortunately, one kitten was infected with rabies. The softball coach from Buncombe County, NC, was attending a tournament with his or her team, and may have exposed the team and other players to rabies.

State health officials are looking for members of the teams across four states that attended the South Atlantic Summer Showdown softball tournament in Spartanburg County on July 14.

Officials also would like to talk with the person who put the kitten in the dumpster because of their possible exposure to the disease.

Experts said only people at the Boiling Springs recreational facility or the North Spartanburg on July 14 had any potential exposure to the kitten. They also stressed that just petting the kitten doesn’t mean that a person was exposed to rabies.


Family Dog Euthanized After Coming In Contact With Rabid Bat

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

A North Carolina dog, whose rabies shots were not up to date, had to be put down last week when he came in contact with a rabid bat.

The dog’s owner, Wanda Handy, called animal control officers when she heard her dog barking at something in her backyard. She reported that she had seen a bat the day before. Handy also decided to call local health officials because of the strange behavior of her dog and the bat.

The state laboratory confirmed that the bat was rabid. After hearing the news, Handy had to surrender her dog to the health department.

The director of the Moore County Animal Center, Al Carter, said that it was necessary to euthanize the dog because state law requires this when any animal has contact with a rabid animal. Pet owners have two choices when this happens: They may surrender the animal to health officials to be euthanized, or they may place the pet in quarantine at a licensed veterinary hospital for six months.


Survey Results Say Cat Owners Need Urinary Track Disease Awareness

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

Cat at vet

A national Cat Behavior Survey conducted by Harris Interactive was done to discover if cat owners really understand the number one reason why cats are being taken to the veterinarian.

One major culprit is Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD), a serious disorder that affects the urinary bladder or urethra of cats. Although a recent study published in Veterinary Economics found FLUTD as the number one reason cats are presented to the veterinarian (outside of routine care), the Cat Behavior Survey uncovered that less than half of cat owners (46%) would take their cats to a veterinarian for urinating outside of the litter box (inappropriate elimination) — one of the warning signs of FLUTD.

Besides inappropriate elimination, additional warning signs of FLUTD — straining to urinate, urinating more frequently and/or cats crying out when urinating — can be misinterpreted as “behavioral problems,” often sending cats to shelters rather than to the veterinarian for the care they require.
Although the survey found about one out of every ten cat owners (9%) says their cat has experienced each of these symptoms, many owners don’t know what to do when they see these symptoms.

“In my practice, I see cats with FLUTD on a daily basis, proving that owners need to be educated about this condition,” said Dr. Craig Prior, a veterinarian in Nashville, Tennessee. “In fact, I encourage owners to start preventive care, such as feeding a therapeutic pet food with balanced nutrition and low salt levels to preempt any signs.”


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