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Toxicity in Animals

By Small Animal No Comments

This article is inspired by a recent 4-H Vet club talk.

It’s the dose that makes the poison and anything can become toxic. Something seemingly safe like water has a very wide safety margin, but it can be overdosed.  Other drugs have very narrow ranges of safety, such as Digoxin, a heart medication.  Drugs at the appropriate dose have benefits, but if you exceed the appropriate dose, you create toxicity.

You may have noticed “LD50” on household products.  This is the lethal dose, the amount of a toxic agent (as a poison, virus, or radiation) that is sufficient to kill 50 percent of a population of animals.

Different species metabolize drugs differently, mainly because they are divided into different groups based on the way their bodies process food:

  • horses are hindgut fermenters
  • cows, goats and sheep are foregut fermenters
  • cats, dogs and pigs are carnivores and omnivores respectively

Just because the animal kingdom likes to keep vets on their toes, there are also individual differences in toxicity between goats and sheep, as well as between cats and dogs, to name a few.

We have listed some of these toxins in previous articles, but here are some examples on farm and in the home:

  • Human medications
    • Tylenol is fatal to cats
  • Table food
  • Certain plant species
    • Lilies – cats only
  • Heavy metals
    • lead, copper, zinc and mercury
    • These can be mixed accidentally into livestock feed or be present in contaminated water
  • Household chemicals
    • Anti-freeze
    • Rat poison
  • Fungus
    • For example, moldy corn has additive toxins when mixed in a pig’s feed

The list above contains items that can lead to toxicity by ingestion, but there is also a potential for toxicity from topical exposure, as well as inhalation.  Insecticides applied to lawns can be absorbed through the skin or respiratory tract.  Household cleaners can be hazardous to pets if they are exposed through direct contact on their paws or through inhalation of the fumes.

As mentioned above, even veterinary medications can be toxic if they are applied incorrectly or at the wrong dose.  A common incident involves applying topical flea and tick products, which are insecticides, on a cat instead of a dog as prescribed.  Coccidiostats are a medication intended for cows and small ruminants, but if a dog eats it, it could be fatal.

The take-home message is that it is very important to read drug labels carefully and follow the instructions to the letter.  If an animal is exposed to a possible toxin, it is best to call a vet ASAP and reference Pet Poison Helpline .

Talk to one of our team members at Coventry Animal Hospital if you have any questions or concerns.

 

 

Coventry Animal Hospital asks, “Do You Know What Zoonoses is?”

By Small Animal No Comments

Zoonoses: animal diseases that can be transmitted to people

Is zoonoses the sinister side of pet ownership? There are countless diseases that humans can contract from their pets and here is a list of some of the more important ones.

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Cat scratch fever

When a cat’s dagger-like canine tooth punctures another cat’s skin, it pushes bacteria deep into the bite. The bad news? The same thing can happen to people. If you are bitten by a cat, you are at risk for a serious bacterial infection, even if the cat outwardly seems healthy.  We recommend flushing the site with soap and water and seeing your physician as soon as possible. In some cases, cat scratches can also transmit bacteria such as Bartonella. Immunocompromised individuals in particular should seek medical attention promptly if bitten or scratched by a cat.

 

Fleas

A single flea can hitch a ride into your house on your cat or dog and lay enough eggs in your home to create an infestation. Adult fleas feed on mammals numerous times a day and when they bite, they create itchy swollen spots. They can get their blood meal from your pet or from people. Unfortunately, some fleas carry viruses or other diseases that can make humans sick. Flea prevention is the key to protecting your household. Check out our blog article on fleas.

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Giardia (also known as Beaver Fever)

Giardia is a microscopic parasite transmitted by ingestion of a giardia cyst in contaminated water, as well as in an infected pet’s feces. It can cause severe watery or bloody diarrhea in dogs and cats. Some pets may show no symptoms but carry this parasite and spread it via their excrement. Puppies and kittens in particular have an immature immune system and are more prone to giardia infection.

Roundworm and hookworm

Roundworm and hookworm infections occur commonly in pets – especially in puppies and kittens. The eggs from these parasites are passed in animals’ stool and hatch into larvae in the soil. People are at risk of ingesting infective eggs from contaminated environments, or in the case of hookworm, from touching contaminated soil with bare hands or feet. For more detailed information, check out the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website on hookworm: http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/zoonotichookworm/gen_info/faqs.html and our roundworm blog article.

Rabies

Rabies is a nasty virus that is transmitted from wild or domestic animals through contact with saliva. Once the symptoms of rabies develop, it is nearly always fatal. This disease is preventable through vaccination of cats and dogs, as well as wildlife. Routine vaccination of our cats and dogs protects the public; in time we hope that this virus can be eradicated. Please see our previous blog article on Rabies virus.

Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted to people primarily through wildlife/rodents or dogs’ urine and saliva. For example, if your dog is not vaccinated against this infectious bacterium, it could become sick with it through contact with raccoons and then make its people sick. Illness in people can range from flu-like symptoms to meningitis and liver failure. Please see our previous blog article on Leptospirosis bacteria and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: http://www.cdc.gov/leptospirosis/.

Salmonella

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, Salmonella is a bacterium that is often found in the intestines of animals. It can be transmitted to people when they eat food contaminated with animal feces or through contact with infected animals: including livestock, cats and dogs, pocket pets (such as rodents), amphibians, birds and reptiles. Pet foods also have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria – for this reason, it is a good idea to wash your hands after touching animals or their food. Symptoms of Salmonella include vomiting and diarrhea.

The take-home message is that routinely vaccinating and deworming our pets dramatically reduces the risk of humans being exposed to viruses, bacteria and parasites transmitted by animals. Restrict your dog’s and cat’s access to wildlife and standing water outside. Use good hygiene practices when handling a pet’s fecal matter to protect yourself and pick up feces regularly to protect others. Testing a puppy or kitten’s fresh stool sample can detect giardia, roundworm and hookworm eggs. Protect yourself against food poisoning with these tips: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/fs-sa/fst-csa-eng.php. Do not put yourself in danger of being bitten or scratched at any time. If you are bitten or scratched and it breaks the skin, it is important to inform your physician.

If you have any questions please give our team at Coventry Animal Hospital a call.

 

Coventry Animal Hospital Disccusses Potential Easter Toxins

By Small Animal No Comments

Easter is on its way and along with it comes lots of Easter eggs, chocolate bunnies and family dinners.  Unfortunately with this celebration, Coventry Animal Hospital sees many pets exposed to some unforeseen potential hazards.

Chocolate ingestion is poisonous for both dogs and cats.  Products that contain darker, less sweet chocolate such as Baker’s chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate are the most likely to cause symptoms, as they contain higher doses of theobromine and caffeine.  Signs of chocolate toxicity include hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhea, an increased heart rate, heart arrhythmias, tremors, seizures, coma and death.  Even with lighter chocolates such as milk chocolate or chocolate-covered candies, the fat and sugar content are a risk of causing upset stomachs or inflammation of the pancreas.  The effects of chocolate take several days to leave a dog’s system – for this reason, we recommend speaking with your veterinarian as soon as you find out that your pet has eaten chocolate.  At that time we can formulate a medical plan, based on the dog’s body weight and type and volume of chocolate consumed.

Turkey bones are dangerous!  If your dog or cat swallows chicken or turkey bones, the bones may fragment into sharp pieces that could potentially injure its gut.  It is not recommended to make your pet vomit if it has ingested bones, because the shards could potentially create further damage to its esophagus on the way back up.  Large bones, such as a ham bone, risk becoming obstructed in the gut.  A pet should be seen by a veterinarian if they stop eating for 24 hours, or have vomiting or diarrhea.

Easter lilies are fatal to cats.  Even drinking the water from a vase containing this flower can quickly cause severe kidney failure.  All true lilies, including the day lily, are highly toxic to our feline friends.  If you see that your cat has ingested any part of a lily, it will require emergency therapy, including hospitalization and IV fluids, as soon as possible.

With spring approaching, another plant to watch for is lily of the valley. This plant can cause life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms when eaten by dogs or cats.  Tulip and hyacinth bulbs are also toxic when chewed.  Bulb ingestion can cause excessive drooling, vomiting or diarrhea.  If a large number of bulbs are consumed, signs become more severe – a dog may experience an increased heart rate and difficulty breathing.

Our team at Coventry Animal Hospital wishes you and your family a happy and safe Easter!

Coventry Animal Hospital Discusses Constipation in Cats

By Small Animal No Comments

Cats usually have at least one poop per day and should not strain excessively. Constipation is an abnormal amount of feces that has accumulated in the colon and is difficult to pass.  Cats with constipation may have reduced or no bowel movements in the litter box.

The more time that feces sits in the colon (large intestine), the more water is absorbed from the stool, creating a vicious cycle that makes it even more difficult for the cat to poop. Sometimes, when a cat strains to defecate, the hard stool will act like a partial obstruction and small amounts of liquid stool will continue to pass around the hard stool pieces, giving the false impression that the cat has diarrhea.

 Signs that your cat may have constipation:

1)      Abdominal discomfort, such as a hunched painful appearance

2)      Straining to poop and crying in the litter box

3)      Pooping outside of the litter box

4)      Passing small hard pellets of stool

5)      Passing small amounts of liquid stool or blood/mucus

6)      Vomiting

7)      Lack of appetite

8)      Lack of energy/hiding

 

What does a normal feline bowel movement look like?

Here is a fecal scoring chart that is a handy way of assessing whether your cat’s stools are normal.

In the images below, score 3 is an example of a normal bowel movement.

 

What causes constipation in cats?

Here are some risk factors:

  • Being a senior or geriatric cat
  • Having hairballs
  • Ingesting foreign material, such as plants or carpet
  • Having arthritis or a narrowed pelvic canal from a previous injury
  • Being obese
  • Being dehydrated (which occurs commonly in cats with chronic kidney disease)
  • Having decreased nerve/muscle function (for example, the tailless Manx cat)

Treatment of constipation

If your cat is diagnosed with constipation, through a physical exam and possibly by x-ray, one of the therapies below may be recommended:

  • Laxative/stool softener
  • Enema
  • Hospitalization and re-hydration with IV fluids
  • Manual evacuation of the colon
  • Abdominal surgery to remove obstruction from the colon
  • Medication to increase the ability of the colon to contract

If constipation is left untreated, it can lead to obstipation, which is the inability to empty the colon. This can lead to megacolon, which is a condition that results in loss of the colon’s motility.  Severe cases may need to be treated with surgical removal of a portion of the colon.

 What can I do to prevent my cat from becoming constipated?

  • Add moisture to the diet – in the form of cat fountains, canned food or water added to food
  • Add fibre to the diet
  • Add exercise – this encourages the smooth muscle to push stool towards the rectum
  • Add pain management for arthritis
  • Add a mild laxative – for hairball control
  • Any medications should only be given under the guidance of a veterinarian.

In addition to keeping litter box odour away, daily litter box cleaning is a good way of keeping tabs on your cat’s urinating and defecating habits, so that you can quickly recognize changes.

If you have any questions or concerns about your cats bowel movements talk to one of our team members at Coventry Animal Hospital.

 

Halloween Safety Tips for your Pet from Coventry Animal Hospital

By Small Animal

 

Halloween is approaching! While it is a fun time for adults and children alike, Halloween can be very stressful for our furry friends. Here are some simple tips for keeping your pet safe and happy during this Halloween season.

  • Keep your pet visible. If you plan on taking your dog trick-or-treating with you, make sure it is easily visible to cars and people when it is dark outside. You can do this by having your dog wear a reflective collar or vest.
  • Keep chocolate and candy out of reach. Chocolate can be very toxic to dogs if eaten. Be sure that none of your treats are left in reach of your pet. Even candy can cause a severe upset stomach if enough is eaten by your pet.

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  • Use comfortable costumes for your pet. If you plan on dressing up your dog or cat, make sure it is comfortable in its costume. If it is really stressed out about wearing a costume, don’t force it to, as it may end up hurting itself trying to escape. Never leave your pet in a costume unsupervised and avoid costumes with loose and dangling parts that your pet may tear off and swallow.
  • Have a safe place available. Constant doorbell ringing and visitors (especially visitors in costume) can be very scary and stressful for some pets. It is best to keep your pet in a crate or a quiet room away from where all the excitement is happening. Consider a Thundershirt® or speak with your veterinarian about medications if your pet is extremely stressed by these issues and might hurt itself. Your dog should be kept away from the door at all times to make sure it doesn’t run out or harm any of the trick-or-treaters.
  • Keep your cat indoors. Your cat may not be used to the extra people and cars outside and this can present a danger if it gets scared of something. It may also be too fearful to come home if people are constantly coming up to the house. Furthermore, black cats are often subjected to cruel treatments around Halloween, so it is in their best interest to keep them inside.

 

 

We at Coventry Animal Hospital hope that you and your furry friends have a fun and safe Halloween!

Itchy Dogs in the Spring, Summer and Fall – Coventry Animal Hospital Discusses What it Could Be?

By Small Animal No Comments

Usually during the spring and the fall, we see an increase in the number of dogs that come into Coventry Animal Hospital for itchiness. Just like people, many dogs have seasonal allergies.  If your dog’s itchiness seems to be worse at certain times of the year instead of others, then you may have a dog that has environmental allergies.  This is a diagnosis that can be difficult to obtain as the other possible causes of itchiness need to be ruled out first.

Fleas or other insects could be making your dog itchy. It is important to have your pet on a reliable product for flea control.  Many dogs and cats are actually allergic to flea bites.  Even if you don’t see fleas on your pet, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there.  Dogs with allergies benefit from year-round flea prevention.  To learn more about fleas, check out our article: Summer is Almost Here in Perth County! Coventry Animal Hospital Gives a Flea Update.  Your vet will also check for other parasitic insects, such as sarcoptic mange mites and demodex mites.

Food allergies are another common cause of itchiness in dogs. The only effective way to test for a food allergy is to put a dog on a strict hypoallergenic diet and see if the symptoms go away.  During a food allergy trial, your pet cannot have any food or flavourings for several months other than what is prescribed by the veterinarian.  We will discuss food allergies further in a future article.

Dogs that are itchy from allergies may scratch or chew excessively and weaken their skin’s natural defenses. This leads to secondary skin infections from yeast or bacteria that are in themselves itchy.  Depending on the severity, skin infections can be treated with oral or topical anti-fungals and antibiotics.

Environmental allergies are known as atopy (or atopic dermatitis). An animal with seasonal allergies reacts excessively to allergens on the skin or inhaled from its environment – such as pollen, grasses, dust and mold.  A dog that reacts to allergens becomes itchy; especially at the feet, groin, armpits and belly.  Less commonly, dogs may have sneezing and watery eyes, similar to people with “hay fever” symptoms.

Environmental allergies cannot be cured, so symptoms need to be controlled lifelong when they flare up with the seasons. Treatment of individual dogs usually includes multiple therapies to maximize their effect.  Therapies include anti-itch medications – such as antihistamines, steroids and immune-modifying drugs.  Usually a combination of topical products and oral medications are implemented.  Topical therapies, such as shampoos, are usually aimed at improving the skin’s natural barrier and reducing the amount of allergens that come in contact with the pet.

Allergy testing can also be performed. This involves testing the skin or a blood sample to determine exactly which allergens trigger an allergic response.  A “vaccine” can then be made of very small doses of those allergens to diminish the pet’s reaction over time (this process is called desensitization).

Having an itchy dog can compromise your relationship with it if it is keeping you up at night with scratching and licking noises. There are many anti-allergy medications to help manage its symptoms.  Pinpointing the underlying cause that a patient is itching with your veterinarian can allow therapies to be tailored to your pet’s needs.

If you have any questions or concerns about your pet, talk to one of our veterinary team members.

You may also want to read: Allergies in Dogs & Cats

Coventry Animal Hospital Talks about Pet Fire Safety

By Small Animal No Comments

National Pet Fire Safety Day was July 15th

Did you know that every year pets are actually responsible for starting almost a thousand house fires in the United States alone? Take this story, for example, of a dog that started a fire by playing with matches: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/dog-playing-with-matches-starts-house-fire-in-yukon-1.2865883

Here are some tips to keep your pets and your home safe from these accidental fires.

  1. Supervise all lit candles. Cats are very notorious for walking on tables and knocking things off. This could lead to a fire very quickly, so always make sure you are in the area where any candles are lit. If you want to leave candles unsupervised, consider flameless ones.
  2. Remove stove knobs. This can be important if you know your dog tends to surf counters. If it does this on a stove, it can very easily turn a knob resulting in a fire.
  3. Do not use glass bowls. The sun’s beams can travel through the glass and be focused on one particular spot. If something flammable is in this area, it may ignite. Also avoid placing glass objects near windows.
  4. Do not allow your pet to chew cords or other flammable objects such as matches.
  5. Keep your pets secured. If your pet is a known chewer or young puppy or kitten, it may be best to keep it crated or secured in a safe room until you can trust it not to chew things or jump up on things it shouldn’t.
  6. Place a notification on your doors/windows. There are special pet alert notifications that can be placed in visible areas to let firefighters know how many and what types of pets are in the household should there be a fire.

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It is important to have everyone know an escape plan so it can be done efficiently if there ever is a fire. Keep collars, leashes and carriers in easy to access areas so that you can grab them quickly should you need to evacuate.

We at Coventry Animal Hospital hope that with these tips, you can keep your pets and your homes safe from fires.

 

Coventry Animal Hospital looks at Common Eye Conditions

By Small Animal

Eyeballs are a delicate miniature world of their own.  They are crucial for sight, but there are many conditions that affect the eyeballs and the structures associated with them.  It is with good reason that a veterinarian may recommend a referral to an ophthalmologist for pets.  Here are some of the more common eye conditions that we see in cats and dogs at Coventry Animal Hospital.

Red eye:  Conjunctivitis or “pink eye” is a term that describes swelling and redness of the moist pink membranes that line the eyelids.  This can be caused by a number of causes including allergies, infections (viral, bacterial or fungal) or a scratch to the outer clear surface of the eyeball (which is known as the cornea). Corneal ulcers can be detected using fluorescein stain, which is a green dye that sticks to the injured surface of the cornea

Blue eye: The lens of the eye is made of layers like an onion and senior pets often develop a bluish haze as the layers are compressed with age.  This haziness is a normal aging phenomenon known as lenticular sclerosis and does not impact vision.  However, if your pet’s eyes seem hazy and have decreased sight, this could be cataracts.  Over half of diabetic dogs will develop cataracts, but there are a number of other causes for cataract development including genetics or degeneration of lenticular sclerosis.  Blue haze in your pet’s eyes should be evaluated by a veterinarian to determine whether treatment is needed.

Runny eye:  Excessive tearing is known as epiphora and can lead to that unsightly brown fur staining under the eyes.  This is caused by 1) excess tear production in response to irritation of the eye from hair, allergy, injury/infection or 2) decreased ability of the eye to drain tears through the tear duct due to the animal’s face or eyelid shape or an injury/infection that has blocked the duct

Dry eye:  Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca is a condition where a pet doesn’t produce the watery component of tears properly.  These pets have tears that are thick and goopy and are ineffective at lubricating the eye during blinking.  Dry eye can be diagnosed with a Schirmer Tear Test that measures a pet’s tear moisture.  This condition can occur after treatment with sulfa drugs, certain eye trauma or from immune-mediated disease.  Animals with dry eye are prone to injuries to the cornea.

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Most eye conditions are quite painful.  Signs of pain include squinting, rubbing the eye (with a paw or on furniture), redness, swelling and lots of eye discharge, especially if that discharge is coloured.  Certain breeds are more prone to certain eye conditions and often multiple eye conditions will be found in the same patient.  Some eye conditions can lead to abnormal pressures within the eyeball that can cost a pet its vision if left untreated. Coventry Animal Hospital recommends a physical exam by a veterinarian if your pet has blue, red, runny or dry eyes.

Links
Corneal Ulcers in Dogs
Corneal Ulcers in Cats
Epiphora in Dogs
Epiphora in Cats
KCS in Dogs
KCS in Cats

Coventry Animal Hospital Debunk the Myths about Spaying and Neutering

By Small Animal

 

A neuter is a procedure in which the testes of a cat or dog are surgically removed.  It is also known as castration or orchiectomy.  A spay is a procedure in which both ovaries and the uterus are surgically removed.  It is also known as ovariohysterectomy.  Both spaying and neutering are performed on patients under general anesthesia.  There will be a surgical incision and a post-operative recovery time.  See feline spay, canine spay, feline neuter, canine neuter for the surgical procedures.  These surgical procedures sterilize cats and dogs so that they can no longer reproduce and female pets cannot come into heat.

What are the benefits of neutering my male cat at 6 months of age?

Neutering your male cat at 6 months old will prevent him from getting a female cat pregnant.  He may become more gentle and affectionate.  Neutering will decrease his chances of roaming and getting into fights with other animals, as well as urine spraying marking behavior.  It also decreases his risk of getting cancer of the testicles or prostate later in life.

Should I allow my female cat to have a litter of kittens before her spay surgery?

When your cat is 6 months old, we recommend having her spayed.  Allowing your cat to have a litter of kittens would contribute to the problem of pet over-population.  Spaying a cat at this young age will prevent her from going into heat (see our cat heat cycle blog), may make your cat more gentle and affectionate, decrease her risk of mammary cancer later in life, prevent pyometra (infection of the uterus) and prevent cancer of the uterus or ovaries.

What are the benefits of neutering my male dog at 6 months of age?

Neutering your dog at 6 months old would prevent his need to mark his territory and urinate throughout the house.  Neutered pets are easier to get along with and are more gentle and affectionate because they don’t have the desire to roam and find a mate.  Neutering your dog will prevent certain health issues such as prostatic enlargement and decrease its risk of developing testicular or prostatic cancer.

What are the benefits of spaying my female dog at 6 months of age?rsz_karen_mcdowell_rocky_iphone_image_48a824

Spaying female pets prevents the over-population of pets.  When a female dog goes into heat she has a bloody discharge for several days.  Without the proper protective care, the discharge can stain sofas, bedding and carpets.  Please check out our dog heat cycle blog.  Spayed pets are easier to get along with and tend to be more gentle and affectionate because they are not prone to the instinct of wanting to seek a mate.  Spaying a female dog at a young age significantly lowers her chance of developing mammary and ovarian cancer and pyometra.

Is it too late to neuter/spay my older pet?

After approximately 2 years of age, hormone-based behaviours such as urine marking, mounting or dominance may become hard-wired into the pet’s brain.  The medical benefits of sterilization surgery are still present; however, behaviors that have become a part of your pet’s personality may take dedicated time and training to overcome.  Providing your older pet is healthy at its physical exam and has normal pre-anesthetic bloodwork, it is a good surgical candidates regardless of its age.

Should I wait until my male dog is over a year old to neuter him so that he can develop masculine features?

There has been research in large-breed dogs that suggests waiting until a male dog is done growing may have a protective effect on limbs.  It may be linked to a reduced risk of ruptured cruciate (knee) ligaments and bone cancer later in life.  Please consult your veterinarian.

Will spaying/neutering my pet cause them to get fat?

Within days of sterilization surgery, your pet’s metabolism will slow down by approximately 30%.  This means that its caloric intake will need to be adjusted in order to maintain it at an ideal body weight.

How long would my cat or dog be in the hospital after her spay?

Here at Coventry Animal Hospital patients stay in the clinic for the first night following their spay.  This allows your pet to rest comfortably in a quiet kennel with a bed, food and water.  The veterinary staff can do a full examination on your pet in the morning after surgery and administer any pain medications necessary.

How long would my cat or dog be in the hospital after his neuter?rsz_1alysha_ford_rio_coventry

Here at Coventry Animal Hospital, your cat or dog would stay in the clinic for the day.  He would come to the clinic in the morning. The surgical procedure would be done in the morning and after he is recovered, gone to the washroom and eaten his lunch, he can go home in the late afternoon.

What’s the difference between spaying in a hospital and spaying in a low cost spay/neuter facility?

Low cost spay/neuter facilities operate on a tight budget to provide a low cost service.  A full service veterinary clinic such as Coventry Animal Hospital, has a Registered Veterinary Technician monitoring anesthesia throughout the surgical procedure, anesthetic monitoring equipment (pulse oximeter, blood pressure monitor and respiratory  monitor), safer anesthetics, less reactive suture material, intravenous fluid therapy, all day patient observation before and after surgery, as well as individual attention to each patient.  A full service hospital staff member follows up with their post-op patients to address any complications early on should they arise. Staff also ensure patients are comfortable. A post-op surgical recheck is included to ensure that your pet can safely resume its regular activities.

If you have questions or concerns about spaying or neutering your pet, we at Coventry Animal Hospital would be happy to address them.

 

 

Coventry Animal Hospital Discusses the Medical Emergency of Blocked Cats

By Small Animal

 

The technical name for blocked cats is Feline Urethral Obstruction.

What is Feline Urethral Obstruction? 

Feline urethral obstruction occurs when the urethra (the tube that drains urine out of the bladder) becomes blocked. While this sometimes occurs because of urinary stones obstructing the urethra (urolithiasis), it more often occurs in cats because of “urethral plugs” made up of mucus, protein, and cells. These obstructions make it very difficult for the cat to pass urine.

When your cat is unable to pass urine, the kidneys are no longer able to remove toxins out of the body and maintain a balance of your cat’s electrolytes. This can lead to kidney damage, fatal heart arrhythmias and death. It can take as little as 24 hours for a cat to die because of this condition. This condition is also extremely painful.

Is my cat at risk?

The exact cause of this condition is unknown; and so we don’t know all the risk factors. Males are at greater risk of developing obstructions due to the length and narrowing of their urethra. While it can occur in cats of any age, most affected cats are between 1 to 10 years old. Other risk factors include being overweight, living in multi-cat households, eating an all dry-food diet, having a history of urinary tract infections and having restricted access to the outdoors. One of the most important risk factors is stress. A stressful event (such as a change in something in their environment) is thought to almost always play a role in most cases.

How can I tell if my cat is obstructed?

The first signs to look out for are frequent trips to the litter box while producing very little urine, straining to urinate, blood in the urine and urinating outside of the box. Your cat may also start to cry out in pain as it becomes more distressed.

When should I be worried?

If you notice any of these signs, this is considered a medical emergency and your cat should see a veterinarian immediately! As mentioned above, it is an extremely painful condition that can rapidly turn fatal.

What will my veterinarian do? 

Your veterinarian will pass a catheter (a narrow tube) into your cat’s urethra to relieve the obstruction. Your cat will also be placed on intravenous fluids to correct the electrolyte abnormalities. Pain control, antibiotics and drugs to help relax the urethra will also be started. Your cat will have to remain in hospital for a few days or longer, depending on the severity of the obstruction.

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What can I do to prevent this?

While we can’t say how to prevent all cases, there are some things you can do for your cat to reduce the risk of obstruction:

  • Add wet food to your cat’s diet.
  • Provide clean, fresh water at all times to encourage drinking. This is very important! Many cats do not like food floating in their water, so try to keep the water bowl away from their food dish. Consider using a water fountain, as some cats enjoy flowing water.
  • Make sure to keep your cat a healthy weight. If your cat is overweight, talk to your veterinarian about a weight loss program.
  • Provide enough litter boxes (one for each cat in the household, plus an additional one). Keep them clean and in a quiet area. Try different sizes and litters to see what your cat prefers.
  • Decrease stress. Try not to change your cat’s routine, consistency is key! Consider using pheromone sprays or diffusers when anticipating a stressful event. Encourage playtime and have many safe hiding places for your cat to use.
  • If your cat had urinary stones, use a specially formulated veterinary diet to help prevent them from reoccurring.

Please do not hesitate to contact us at Coventry Animal Hospital immediately, if you suspect your male cat is unable to urinate.