Archive for the ‘Pet Health’ Category

There is more than one reason why a cat may lose weight in spite of a healthy or larger-than-normal appetite.

Today, we will focus on a condition called hyperthyroidism, which can cause cats to become emaciated even as they beg for more food.

What is hyperthyroidism?
The thyroid gland, located in your cat’s neck, uses dietary iodine to make thyroid hormones that help regulate important body functions, including:

  • Metabolism
  • Body temperature
  • Blood pressure
  • Heart rate
  • Gastrointestinal function

When a cat has hyperthyroidism, its thyroid gland is enlarged and it produces excessive amounts of thyroid hormone.

Illustration from Hill's Pet Nutrition pamphlet on Feline Thyroid Health.

Illustration from Hill’s Pet Nutrition pamphlet on Feline Thyroid Health.

Hyperthyroidism is most often diagnosed in cats older than 10 years. Untreated hyperthyroidism can have serious — even fatal — effects on organs such as the heart and kidneys.

What are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism?

  • Weight loss
  • Increased appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Increased thirst
  • Poor skin and coat condition
  • Hyperactivity

Because some of these same symptoms can appear as a result of other diseases, such as diabetes or kidney failure, your cat will need tests such as a blood profile and urinalysis to determine the actual problem.

Did You Know?
An over-active thyroid is more common in cats than in dogs,
and an under-active thyroid is more common in dogs than in cats.

How is hyperthyroidism treated?
There are four types of treatment available today. Your cat’s doctor will discuss with you which treatment [or combination] is recommended, based on your cat’s overall health:
1. Daily nutrition
2. Daily medication
3. Radioactive iodine therapy
4. Surgery

What should I do if I notice the symptoms listed above?
Contact your cat’s veterinarian for an examination so that he or she can determine which tests to run. It may turn out that your cat does not have hyperthyroidism, after all — and that’s important to know!

Good to know:
Do not attempt to diagnose or treat hyperthyroidism — or any other condition — on your own. Hyperthyroidism, in particular, is notably tricky to manage and requires professional guidance.

Never give your pet a medication that has not been prescribed or approved by your pet’s veterinarian.

Questions? Contact Us


Sources of information for this article:
Feline Thyroid Health, pamphlet by Hill’s Pet Nutrition
Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice
Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary


This article has been edited and updated from its original publishing date in April 2013.


Disclaimer: Information on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure your pet. Information provided on this site does not take the place of a valid client-patient-doctor relationship, nor does it constitute such a relationship. Your pet’s veterinarian is the best source of information regarding your pet’s health. Your pet may require an examination and testing by a licensed veterinarian in order to provide proper diagnosis and treatment. Neither Dr. Miele nor Little Creek Veterinary Clinic or its staff is responsible for outcomes based on information available on this site. Every pet’s condition is unique and requires the direct care and oversight of its own veterinarian.

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April is Prevention of Lyme Disease in Dogs Month

What is Lyme Disease? Lyme Disease is an illness caused by Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, which are carried in the midgut of deer ticks and transmitted to dogs through a tick bite.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease include lameness that shifts from leg to leg, swollen joints, lack of appetite, depression, fever, difficulty breathing. As the disease progresses, it can cause serious injury to the dog’s kidneys.

Why are we talking about Lyme Disease in April? In spring and summer, a stage of deer tick called the nymph [between larval stage and adult stage] is feeding on blood and is able to transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease.
Nymphs are tiny — about the size of a poppy seed — and are fast-moving and difficult to detect. For this reason, they tend to go unnoticed longer and are able to attach to your pet [or you] long enough to transmit disease.

How do dogs get Lyme Disease? When a deer tick carrying B. burgdorferi feeds on a dog for at least 48 hours, the bacteria are “awakened” and travel out of the tick’s midgut, into the dog’s bloodstream, through the site of the tick bite. 

Baked bean? Nope – it’s an engorged, dead tick, thoughtfully preserved for the enlightenment of future generations of pet owners. Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic.

This is not a deer tick, but it is a well-fed tick.

Here’s where it gets a little technical: While the bacteria, B. burgdorferi, resides in the tick’s gut, they are protected by a special coating called Outer Surface Protein A (OspA).  A dog that is vaccinated for Lyme Disease has — circulating in its blood — antibodies to OspA. When the tick ingests the blood, the OspA antibodies travel to the tick’s midgut and attack the B. burgdorferi there — before they’ve had a chance to awaken and mobilize.

So, rather than the vaccine-induced antibodies attacking an organism that has already entered the dog’s body, they instead attack the organisms outside the dog’s body, while still in the host. That is why we — cheekily — refer to it as “vaccinating the tick.”

Think of Lyme Disease vaccine as the vaccine that stops an organism before it reaches your pet: like an invisible force field! Pretty cool, huh?

But remember: deer ticks and other ticks can transmit nasty diseases in addition to Lyme Disease. There is no vaccine (yet) for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis (and the list goes on.) For that reason, Dr. Donald Miele, a Norfolk veterinarian, recommends year-round tick control, like the Seresto collar or Nexgard chewables. 

 Contact Us with your questions about Lyme Disease.

Bonus Content: How to safely remove ticks from your pet


Originally posted on April 26, 2016. [Links and information updated.]

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The American Red Cross has designated April
as Pet First Aid Awareness Month.

Every home should have a first aid kit for people. Dr. Donald Miele, a Norfolk veterinarian, says pet owners should also have a special kit for their furry family members. You can put together your own kit (using a watertight container) with these items:

  • Veterinarian’s contact information
  • Emergency veterinary hospital contact information
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Gloves
  • Gauze pads
  • Gauze rolls
  • Soft muzzle
  • Alcohol prep pads
  • Cold pack
  • Digital thermometer
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Rags or rubber tubing
  • Blanket or towel

Just as important as having the kit,
is knowing how to use it.
See the Suggested Reading section below
for resources on first aid techniques at home.

Nationwide Pet Insurance provides these tips on knowing how to respond in an emergency:

“While it’s important not to self-diagnose your pet’s symptoms, you must first determine the situation. Next, stabilize your pet, then take him to the veterinarian, who will want to know what happened and when, and if your pet is feeling worse, better or the same since the incident occurred.”

Note that First Aid does not mean you provide all the medical care at home in a true emergency. However, there are occasions, such as in heat stroke or burns, where some home treatment is necessary to stabilize the pet in order to transport him safely to the hospital.

Ask for your copy of “First Aid for Your Pet” [brochure; while supplies last] or purchase a first aid book, such as one from the list below.

Suggested reading:

The First Aid Companion for Dogs and Cats

Cat First Aid by the American Red Cross

Dog First Aid by the American Red Cross

Need to Know Now:
BluePearl Emergency Pet Hospital…..………757-499-5463
Pet Poison Helpline…………………………………….1-855-764-7661
(fee charged to your credit card)
Nationwide Pet Insurance…………………………1-888-899-4874


This post originally published June 24, 2011. Links updated.

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Is it your imagination, or does your “brachy” dog have more problems than the Labradoodle next door? According to Nationwide Pet Insurance, you are not imagining it.

Let’s break it down:

A dog’s skull falls into one of three categories:
Dolichocephalic, mesaticephalic, or brachycephalic, as illustrated by the photo below.

Click to enlarge. Image can be found at http://www.onemedicine.tuskegee.edu

Brachycephalic (or “brachy”) dogs are those breeds with a flat, broad head. These breeds include —

  • Affenpinscher
  • Boston Terrier
  • Boxer
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Bulldog breeds
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Japanese Chin
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Mastiff breeds
  • Pekingese
  • Pug
  • ShihTzu

Nationwide Pet Insurance compared data for brachycephalic dog breeds versus dogs with longer skull types (dolichocephalic and mesaticephalic) and discovered that the dog breeds known for their flat, broad skulls showed a higher prevalence of certain diseases.

That means that more “brachy” dogs suffered the following conditions — 

  • otitis externa (ear infection)
  • pyoderma (skin infection)
  • atopic/allergic dermatitis
  • conjunctivitis (eye infection)
  • canine cystitis (bladder infection)
  • anal gland impaction
  • fungal skin disease
  • malignant skin neoplasia (cancer)
  • pneumonia

Does this mean you should stay away from “brachy” breeds? Not necessarily, as they can be very lovable and faithful companions.

But Norfolk veterinarian Dr. Donald Miele agrees that it does mean owners of those breeds should be aware of the greater likelihood of health problems, and that veterinary pet insurance is a worthy investment for owners of “brachy” breeds.


Learn more about Nationwide Pet Insurance


This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, or suggest treatment or cure for any disease.
Your pet’s veterinarian is the best source of information on your pet’s health.

 

 

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Does your cat have itchy ears? The #1 cause of itchy ears in cats is ear mites, according to Dr. Lynette Cole of Ohio State University.

At a lecture attended by Norfolk veterinarians and their staff, Dr. Cole listed the top three most common causes of itchy, inflamed ears in cats: parasites, polyps, and allergies.

Ear mites, which are a type of parasite, appear to be tiny white specks that move around, when seen through a magnifier such as an otoscope

Veterinary otoscope, used to examine ears.

 

Looking through an otoscope at a model cat ear.

Seen under a microscope, however, the situation becomes much more clear. Ear mites, known also as Otodectes cynotis, have eight legs and are very active crawlers. And if that weren’t enough Ick Factor — ear mites are arachnids, putting them in the same class as spiders and ticks.

Ear mite removed from a kitten. Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic.

Ear mite removed from a kitten. (2) Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic.

What’s the first sign of ear mites? Since you can’t see the mites with your naked eye, the first visible sign of a problem may be a layer of crusty, black debris in your pet’s ear. Sometimes it looks like coffee grounds. By the time this debris appears, your cat is probably scratching her ears, which may be what prompts you to look inside the ears.

Since there may be other causes of “crud” in the ears, you’ll want your cat’s veterinarian to examine the ears to find out if ear mites are present. Then, the veterinarian will devise an appropriate treatment plan.

Ear mites can be transmitted from one pet to another, so the veterinarian may advise treating all pets in the household at the same time.

Check out these videos we’ve uploaded to our You Tube channel, featuring the ear mites shown in the photos above. One mite is mired in mineral oil, while the other mite speeds out of view!

Does your cat have itchy ears or suspicious-looking debris inside? Contact Us to schedule an appointment today!

[Our doctor cannot diagnose your pet over the phone or the Internet, so please schedule an appointment today.]

Bonus: Our cat patients that are treated with Revolution to protect against fleas, heartworms, and intestinal worms are also receiving protection from ear mites!


Disclaimer: Information on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure your pet. Information provided on this site does not take the place of a valid client-patient-doctor relationship, nor does it constitute such a relationship. Your pet’s veterinarian is the best source of information regarding your pet’s health. Your pet may require an examination and testing by a licensed veterinarian in order to provide proper diagnosis and treatment. Neither Dr. Miele nor Little Creek Veterinary Clinic or its staff is responsible for outcomes based on information available on this site. Every pet’s condition is unique and requires the direct care and oversight of its own veterinarian.

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We Love Cats
Most of us think
of our cats as self-sustaining little creatures (except when it comes to using a can opener) — but the truth is, cats need vet care just like dogs.

Cats are especially stoic and will often hide signs of disease or illness until the problem becomes serious. An annual exam can help catch problems in the early stages. And even if a disease or physical disorder is not evident at the time of the exam, the veterinarian can remind you what to look for throughout the year and make health recommendations based on your cat’s age and living conditions.

If more than a year has passed since your cat’s last check-up, it’s time to get him to the vet.

 

Quick questions: Are your cat’s vaccines (including Rabies) up-to-date? When was the last time your cat’s stool was tested for parasites?

Now, take note of your cat’s everyday habits and appearance (especially cats older than 7):

  • Does it use the litterbox or has your cat begun urinating and defecating in inappropriate areas?
  • Does your cat urinate more frequently or in larger amounts than usual?
  • Does your cat eat and drink more or less than it used to?
  • Has your cat gained or lost a significant amount of weight?
  • Does your cat sleep longer hours than usual?
  • Does your cat howl or vocalize more often, especially at night?
  • Have you noticed any lumps, bumps, sores or other skin irregularities on your cat?
  • Are its eyes bright and shiny or cloudy and dull?
  • Are its ears clean and pale pink or crusty, bloody, or filled with dark wax?
  • Are its teeth clean and white or brown and coated with tartar?
  • Does your cat have foul, stinky breath?
  • Is your cat’s fur shiny and smooth or dull and spiky?
  • Does your cat have trouble jumping onto its favorite perch or climbing stairs?
  • Does your cat have fleas or Tapeworms?

Let’s get together and talk about your cat’s health:  load your cat into its carrier and bring her in for a check-up. Make notes of your concerns, so we address the changes you’re seeing in your cat at home.

One last tip: your cat’s toenails need regular trimming if she is not wearing them down on a scratching post. Learn how to clip your pet’s nails or ask a professional to trim them.


 

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February is Responsible Pet Ownership Monthorange cat beside puppy

 

Being a responsible pet owner isn’t just about following some rules. It’s really about being a loving and caring pet owner. And what better month than February to celebrate love?

Here’s how to be a responsible [loving, caring] pet owner: 

  1. Choose a pet wisely based on your schedule, budget, and living environment. Consider the pet’s physical and behavioral needs.
  2. Discuss the responsibility of pet ownership with a veterinarian as soon as possible after bringing a new pet home.
  3. Establish a preventative health care program for your pet that includes regular checkups, vaccinations, dental care, parasite control, and reproductive options.
  4. Feed a pet food that is appropriate for your pet’s age, nutritional requirements, activity level, and special health needs.
  5. Provide your pet with fresh water at all times, cleaning the bowl daily.
  6. Provide your pet with daily exercise, according to your pet’s age and physical condition.
  7. Spend time with your pet every day to develop a positive human/animal bond and to teach your pet “social skills.”
  8. Begin your pet’s training early, starting with basic house training and proceeding to obedience training when your pet is ready.
  9. Learn how to detect signs of pet illness and always follow the expert advice of your veterinarian.
  10. Obey local ordinances and leash laws. Be a good pet neighbor.
  11. Provide adequate shelter and protection from the elements (think: heat, cold, rain, snow, hailstorms, hurricanes, plagues of locusts.) Are you able to let your pet live indoors with you?
  12. Do not leave your pet in a parked vehicle during the summer.
  13. Have an emergency plan in place that includes your pet, if you ever have to evacuate the area.
  14. Have your pet microchipped with a permanent pet ID, like HomeAgain.
  15. Protect your pet with veterinary pet insurance, so you can make the best medical decisions for your pet, and get help paying vet bills.

Questions? Please Contact Us today!


Tips 1-10 borrowed from Ralston Purina Company, “The Pet Owner’s Checklist,” 1994.

Image by Snapwire via Pexels.com.

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