Posts Tagged ‘spay and neuter’

You might guess that visible injuries are the scariest result when two neighborhood cats have a tussle. But it may be something unseen — like a virus that attacks the immune system — that packs the nastiest punch.

IDEXX Laboratories reports that Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) “kill more cats than any other disease.” Cats that are allowed to roam outdoors are at risk of developing one or both of these non-curable diseases. Even indoor cats can be exposed if they have physical contact with cats allowed to go outdoors.

     Check this list to see if your cat is at risk for either FeLV or FIV:

  • it is allowed outside the house
  • it is a male cat
  • it fights with other cats
  • it has not been neutered
  • it has not been vaccinated for FeLV
  • it lives in a multi-cat household
  • it is an indoor cat, but has contact with an outdoor cat
  • it has a fever, weight loss, gingivitis, or other symptoms
  • it has an unknown or untested mother
  • it is from a cattery, pet store, or breeder

How do the viruses make cats sick? Both FeLV and FIV attack the cat’s immune system, so it is less able to fight off other diseases. Illnesses that would otherwise be controlled by a healthy immune system can instead be fatal to a cat infected with immune-suppressing disease.

How are FeLV and FIV spread?
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) 
is often spread through contact with an infected cat’s saliva, such as through sharing food and water bowls, mutual grooming, or through a bite wound. It can also be spread through urine and feces deposited in the litter box.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) lives in the blood of the infected cat and is typically transmitted through bite or scratch wounds. That’s why cats that fight are at high risk for developing FIV.

Can people get Feline Leukemia or FIV? People are not known to be at risk for these diseases. So far, only cats have been affected.

What are symptoms of FeLV or FIV?

  • fever
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • poor coat condition
  • loss of appetite755px-Hannibal_Poenaru_-_Nasty_cat_!_(by-sa)
  • weight loss
  • diarrhea
  • dehydration
  • mouth sores

Is there a test for FeLV or FIV? Yes, cats can be tested for both diseases. If the tests are negative, we recommend vaccinating against Leukemia and limiting your cat’s potential exposure to disease by keeping it indoors.

What if my cat tests “positive”? Since cats with FeLV and FIV have weakened immune systems, it is important to avoid opportunities for exposure to illness. Keep your cat indoors and on a healthy diet with plenty of fresh water available. Try to provide a stress-free environment. Schedule yearly check-ups with the veterinarian and practice early intervention if you see signs of illness. Keeping your cat indoors will also limit its ability to spread the disease. If you have other cats in the household, have them tested and vaccinated accordingly.

The good news about Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is that they are preventable diseases. You can control your cat’s exposure level by keeping it indoors and vaccinated. Remember, though, each time a new cat is introduced to the household, it has the potential of bringing an illness with it. Ask your veterinarian about testing and prevention.

Some information from this article was borrowed from IDEXX Laboratories’ publications.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Image 1. Image 2.
This post originally appeared on December 20, 2010.

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Annual Examinations Can Save Pet Owners from Racking Up Expensive Bills

Brea, Calif. (March 5, 2013) – Pet owners can save hundreds and even thousands of dollars on veterinary costs each year by taking pets to their veterinarian for routine examinations. Preventive care is one of the most important factors for pet owners to maintain their pet’s health, and has the added benefit of minimizing total expenses on veterinary care. Nose-to-tail wellness examinations are an excellent way of catching any potential – and likely expensive – problems early on. Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI), the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, recently sorted its database of more than 485,000 insured pets to determine costs associated with the most common preventive canine and feline conditions in 2012. Following is a cost analysis of the five most common ailments that can be avoided through preventive care:


Dental Diseases: 
Definition: Diseases caused by, or directly related to inflammation or infection of the gums or teeth due to overgrowth of bacteria. 

Examples: Tooth infection or cavity and periodontal disease. 
Average cost per pet to treat: $531.71 
Average cost per pet to prevent: $171.82 
Prevention tips: Routine dental care, such as brushing teeth or feeding pet foods designed to help reduce dental tartar, can result in improved overall health. The most effective preventive treatment for dental disease is a professional teeth cleaning which will remove plaque buildup and tartar before it leads to more serious oral issues, such as tooth decay and periodontal disease.


Internal Parasites: 
Definition: A parasite is a plant or animal that lives within another living organism (called the host). Pets may acquire conditions caused directly by a parasite or the pet’s response to the parasite living within its body.
Examples: Round worms, tape worms and giardia.
Average cost per pet to treat: $179.93
Average cost per pet to prevent: $29.51
Prevention tips: Keep your pet and the environment free of fleas. Clean up your pet’s feces immediately, and eliminate exposure to the feces of other animals when your pet goes for a walk. As recommended by your veterinarian, annual fecal exams and preventive medications can greatly reduce the chance of a parasitic infestation.


External Parasites: 
Definition: A plant or animal that lives upon another living organism. Pets may acquire conditions caused directly by a parasite or the pet’s response to the parasite or its bite. Some conditions are the result of a toxin or organism (e.g. bacteria, virus, etc.) transmitted by the parasite which can cause an illness. 

Examples: Heartworms transmitted by mosquitoes, Lyme disease transmitted by ticks and flea allergic dermatitis. 
Average cost per pet to treat: $180.67 
Average cost per pet to prevent: $84.89 
Prevention tips: Keep your pet and the environment free of fleas and ticks. Thoroughly check your pets after outdoor activities and remove any ticks you find with a pair of tweezers. As recommended by your veterinarian, use preventive medications and vaccines to limit your pet’s exposure to fleas, ticks and the diseases they carry.


Infectious Diseases: 
Definition: Conditions transmitted via bite or contact with another animal which carries a transmittable or communicable disease (virus, bacteria, fungi, etc). Transmission of disease can occur in various ways including physical contact, contaminated food, body fluids, objects, airborne inhalation, or through biological vectors (any agent that carries and transmits an infectious pathogen into another living organism). 

Examples: Parvovirus, Lyme disease and feline leukemia virus. 
Average cost per pet to treat: $678.24
Average cost per canine to prevent using core vaccines: $85.14 
Average cost per feline to prevent using core vaccines: $73.52 
Prevention tips: Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent contraction of common canine and feline infectious diseases. A vaccination protocol will be recommended by your veterinarian, which may include additional vaccines based on your pet’s exposure risk (e.g. outside cat, area with high prevalence of ticks, etc). Keep your pet and the environment free of fleas and ticks to limit exposure to organisms that external parasites carry. In addition, keep your pet away from any other animals that may be sick.


Reproductive Organ Diseases: 
Definition: A reproductive organ is any of the anatomical parts of a pet’s body which are involved in sexual reproduction. Pets may develop conditions caused by, or directly related to, the pet having intact reproductive organs. 

Examples: Pyometra (infection of uterus), prostatitis (infection or inflammation of prostate gland) and ovarian neoplasia. 
Average cost per pet to treat: $531.98 
Average cost per pet to prevent: $260.69 
Prevention tips: Spay (removal of the ovaries and uterus of a female pet) or neuter (removal of the testicles of a male pet) your pet, as recommended by your veterinarian.

“As the data above shows, regular pet preventive care can significantly lower potential costs,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “Similar to ensuring that all members of the family see their doctor regularly for wellness visits, it’s just as important for pets. Taking preventive measures can avoid more serious and expensive medical conditions from arising down the road and helps keep our furry, four-legged family members on track for a long and healthy life.”

 Est. 1973


About Veterinary Pet Insurance

With more than 485,000 pets insured nationwide, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co./DVM Insurance Agency (VPI) is a member of the Nationwide Insurance family of companies and is the oldest and largest pet health insurance company in the United States. Since 1982, VPI has helped provide pet owners with peace of mind and is committed to being the trusted choice of America’s pet lovers.

VPI Pet Insurance plans cover dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets for multiple medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. CareGuard® coverage for routine care is available for an additional premium. Medical plans are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Additionally, one in three Fortune 500 companies offers VPI Pet Insurance as an employee benefit. Policies are offered and administered by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company in California and DVM Insurance Agency in all other states. Underwritten by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company (CA), Brea, CA, an A.M. Best A rated company (2012); National Casualty Company (all other states), Madison, WI, an A.M. Best A+ rated company (2012). Pet owners can find VPI Pet Insurance on Facebook or follow @VPI on Twitter. For more information about VPI Pet Insurance, call 800-USA-PETS (800-872-7387) or visit

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Animal Friendly

Are you ready to change your license plate? You’re in luck! It’s been said that more Virginia drivers sport vanity plates on their vehicles than drivers in any other state.   

And it’s not just a matter of cleverly announcing one’s favorite sport in plate-speak (MLB 4ME). Virginians have also been blessed with activists who have engendered specialty plates for everything from bowling at home to camping in the mountains to celebrating one’s favorite branch of the military.

As a dedicated pet owner, you may be interested in plates that financially benefit animals or just raise awareness to a cause. Try these on your Smart Car:

Animal Friendly – benefits spay/neuter programs

Butterfly Heritage

Greyhound Adoption

Horse Enthusiast

Wildlife – Bluebird — supports programs of the VA Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries

This post originally published on Feb. 25, 2011.

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