Archive from April, 2012

To Feed or Not To Feed – Canned Food – That is the Question!

Apr 9, 2012 by     7 Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Part 1: A Hefty Debate

Last year, a study including 450,000 cats was released called “State of Pet Health 2011 Report”. In that study, obesity ranked in the top three diagnoses for cats. The study also found that the incidence of diabetes in cats over the last five years has increased by 16% – not surprisingly, the two are related. They are both related to diet, as are several other medical issues we see in cats. This makes a cat’s diet one of the most important parts of good preventive health.

Over the past few decades, with increasing vigor, veterinarians and animal nutritionists have been debating the merits of dry foods (kibble) versus canned foods. One downside to feeding dry foods is that even though all commercially available diets are formulated to meet certain nutritional standards, dry food is quite the opposite of what cats naturally need. (Click here for more on feline obesity and diet from Dr. Lund.) The best way to encourage weight loss in a cat is to minimize the dry food and feed most calories as canned foods. Two recent studies were released this year demonstrated that the addition of water to similar diets resulted in weight reduction and increased activity1, 2

The bottom line: Canned food is more like a cat’s natural diet in consistency, nutritional content and caloric density. Canned food will help your cat lose weight and keep it off. And most cats just plain like canned foods better!

Part 2: The Tooth of the Matter

In the past, many veterinarians made the recommendation to switch from feeding canned diets to feeding dry kibble for the sake of cats’ dental health; a canned-food-only diet was the prime suspect for the poor dental hygiene seen in the majority of cats. In 2011, in the “State of Pet Health 2011 Report”, the number of cats with dental disease surpassed the number of healthy cats seen after age 3 (over 50% of cats!), making it the most common feline disease.

The reality of feline dental disease is that genetics has a large part to play in your cat’s oral health, just as it does in humans. While canned food really does not help eliminate plaque and tartar, neither do many of the commercially available dry foods, either! Most of the commercially available dry diets have kibbles that are small enough that cats will gulp them down whole. More recent research has shown that in order for a dry food to help with dental care, a larger-sized kibble, typical in special diets designed specifically for oral health, is required3. Larger kibbles allow for more tooth penetration and “scraping” of the tooth. Some of these special diets also have anti-plaque additives that help. Some diets advertise anti-calculus agents, too, but these do not seem to help. Once the plaque has hardened, it seems a professional dental cleaning is the best way to get the teeth clean again.

If you try out a dental diet, you will notice that your cats are significantly noisier when they eat – suddenly, you will be able to hear the crispy crunching sound of food being chewed, when before, the only dinnertime sound was the tink-tink-tink of kibbles being pushed around in the bowl.

The bottom line: Canned food is not your cat’s oral enemy, and not just any dry food will help keep their teeth healthy. A combination of special dental-focused diets and annual oral exams by your veterinarian are the best team for cats’ teeth.

Part 3: Litter-ally a Matter of Concentration

If you consider the cat’s natural diet, a rodent is about 70-78% water. Dry food contains about 10% water. Cats are descended from desert animals, so their instinct is to take in water from their prey versus looking for water sources. While a cat will noticeably drink more water when feeding a dry food versus a canned food, they never drink enough to compensate for the lack of moisture in their food, and will exist in a perpetual state of mild dehydration. In fact, their water intake is about ½ that of a cat that eats canned food, even if you have a cat fountain, give your kitty a “princess cup”, put ice in the water bowl, or let your cat drink from the faucet.

Mild dehydration, while not life threatening on its own, does mean that cats produce less urine than if they are well-hydrated, and that urine is more concentrated. Overly concentrated urine has been linked to urinary issues such as bladder stones or urinary crystals. Urine concentration is a measurement of how much “stuff” is in the bladder. The more “stuff” there is floating around in there, the more likely it is to stick together. The more it sticks together, the bigger it gets, until it starts to irritate the lining of the bladder as it sloshes around. Blood may or may not be visible in the urine. This irritation makes urinating an unpleasant event and may cause your cat to choose to eliminate somewhere other than the litterbox. (More information about litterbox issues from Dr. Colleran.) If the “stuff” gets too big, it may even cause a blockage in the urethra, which can become an emergency very quickly.

The bottom line: More water is better for your cat’s urinary health, and the best place to get it is from a canned diet.

1. Cameron KM, Morris PJ, Hackett RM, Speakman JR. The effects of increasing water content to reduce the energy density of the diet on body mass changes following caloric restriction in domestic cats. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). Jun 2011;95(3):399-408.
2. Wei A, Fascetti AJ, Villaverde C, Wong RK, Ramsey JJ. Effect of water content in a canned food on voluntary food intake and body weight in cats. Am J Vet Res. Jul 2011;72(7):918-923.
3. Clarke, DE, et al. Effect of Kibble Size, Shape and Additives on Plaque in Cats. J. Vet. Dent. Summer 2010; 27(2): 84-89

Dr Steven Bailey

Dr. Steven J. Bailey founded Exclusively Cats Veterinary Hospital in 1992. He obtained his Bachelor of Science and Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Michigan State University in June of 1986. After graduation, Dr. Bailey practiced emergency medicine for 8 years prior to establishing Exclusively Cats. Dr. Bailey is one of two veterinarians in the state of Michigan and the only veterinarian in Southeastern Michigan that has been board certified by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners as a Feline Specialist (ABVP). His special interests include complicated medical/surgical cases as well as critical care, advanced dentistry, and behavioral medicine. Dr. Bailey is an active member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), he is a current council member of the Southeastern Michigan Veterinary Medical Association (SEMVMA). He is also an Associate Editor of the Feline Internal Medicine Board on the Veterinary Information Network (VIN), invited member of VMG #18 (The only feline exclusive Veterinary Management Group) and MOM’s group (Macomb/Oakland Management Group). In his free time, Dr. Bailey is an avid kayaker (some may even call him “obsessed”) and an instructor in both canoe and kayaking sports. He also enjoys running and spending time with his family. Dr. Bailey and his wife Liz have 2 adult children, Christopher and Kayla, 3 cats, Tic Tic, Sapphire and Lacey, and one dog, Charlotte.

Exclusively Cats Veterinary Hospital

6650 Highland Road

Waterford, MI 48327

Phone: 248-666-5287

Fax ‎206-333-1135

ecvh@exclusivelycats.com

Website: http://www.exclusivelycats.com

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Real Life Stories: Heart Worms and Pumpkin

Apr 7, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

This is the story of my wonderful cat, Pumpkin and how I lost him- a happy, healthy cat, at such a young age. I know now that I should have tried harder to prevent the disease that ultimately took him. As a veterinarian, it especially pains me to know that he died of a preventable disease. Unfortunately, this happens to cats every year. My hope is that, by sharing our sad story, others can avoid the same fate.

Pumpkin came to us through our hospital’s adoption program. He was a healthy little kitten in need of a home. Although we aren’t supposed to have favorites, he was mine. He grew to a small, fluffy orange tiger with a sweet, outgoing and gentle nature. His one challenge was that he refused to eat the monthly chewable heartworm preventive (Heartgard). At the time, topical preventives were not available, and there was still much we didn’t know about feline heartworm disease. Although my other cat would gladly eat the whole box if I let him, I could not get Pumpkin to take the medication easily, so I was lax with forcing him to take it.

One day, when Pumpkin was four years old I came home from a quick run to the store to find him lying on the floor, taking his last breath. I ran to him and tried to resuscitate him, but it was too late -he was already gone. How could this be?! He was fine a half hour ago. He was young and healthy and was in the house with no sign of trauma. He was still so cute and sweet, but gone. In shock, we sadly said our goodbyes.

I brought him to the University of Connecticut to be examined. I had to know what had happened and if my other cat was in danger. After an extensive examination all they found was one adult heartworm- small, but enough to kill him. That was it.

Feline Heartworm disease is much different from heartworm disease in dogs. It is often difficult to detect, almost impossible to safely treat, and disease symptoms vary greatly. While some cats infected with heartworm may have frequent coughing or vomiting, one of the more common signs is sudden death. Heartworm has been diagnosed in all 50 states and indoor cats are not immune to the disease. In one study, almost one third of cats with heartworm disease were indoor only cats. The good news is that it is almost 100% preventable with safe monthly medication.

As pet owners, we decide what care our pets get: what risks we are comfortable with and what dangers are unacceptable and keep us up at night. As a feline veterinarian, my job is to make sure each of you know what dangers your cats face and how to avoid these. Luckily, when it comes to preventing Heartworm disease, we now have several options, including safe and effective topical medication for finicky cats like Pumpkin. I urge all cat owners to make Heartworm disease an unacceptable risk. Losing a beloved pet is difficult. Knowing the death was preventable is tragic.

More information can be found at http://www.knowheartworms.org and http://www.heartwormsociety.org

Dr Diana Lafer

Dr. Diana Lafer founded Cats Limited in 1995. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Wesleyan University and her veterinary degree from Cornell University. Dr. Lafer has a cat (Sparky), and a dog (Lucy). She enjoys spending time with her daughters, horseback riding, skiing, hiking, participating in triathlons, and volunteering for the Lakeville Pony Club.

Cats Limited Hospital
1260 New Britain Avenue
West Hartford, CT 06110

Phone: (860) 561-9885
Email: cats@catslimited.com

Website: http://www.catslimited.com/
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Oh No!!! Easter Lilies!

Apr 4, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

We’ve set our clocks forward and have seen crocuses poke their heads up from the frozen earth, and the first thing that many of us want to do is to celebrate spring with some lovely, fragrant lilies – especially the beautiful white trumpet-shaped Easter lilies that appear everywhere this time of year. Unfortunately, for those of us with cats, this is probably the worst way to usher in good weather.

Easter lilies (Lilium longiflorum) are incredibly poisonous to cats. Well, all lilies, really – Tiger Lily ( Lilium henryi and lancifolium spp.), Day Lily (Hemerocallis spp.), Asiatic lily (Lilium asiatica), Stargazer lily (Lilium orientalis) and the rest of the Lilium family. (Not sure if you have a lily? Wikipedia has images of many of the lily species which will help with identification.) All parts of the lily plant are dangerous, including the flowers, stamens, stems, leaves and roots – even the pollen. If a cat gets pollen on its coat and then grooms, it could still cause fatal illness. Cats that get pollen on themselves should be thoroughly bathed as soon as possible.

Most of the time, we only know that a cat has eaten a lily because some part of the lily appears in a very inconveniently placed puddle of vomit. Many people may even initially write it off, thinking, “Oh well, Fluffy got into the spider plant again. Guess I’ll go get the carpet cleaner.” (Spider plants are non-toxic, by the way, so Fluffy can eat away at them all she likes!) However, when it comes to lilies, it is imperative that you seek emergency medical treatment for your cat as soon as possible to ensure proper and effective treatment. In approximately 2-4 days after ingestion of the plant, your cat may begin to show signs of kidney failure. If enough toxin is absorbed to cause acute kidney failure, then the likelihood that your cat will respond to treatment is poor.

A cat affected by lily intoxication will initially show signs of an upset stomach (gastritis): vomiting, a lack of interest in food and lethargy. These initial signs may appear within 2-12 hours of ingestion and may disappear after 12 hours. The cat may improve briefly or appear to act normal before the condition progresses to serious acute renal failure within 48 to 72 hours.

Once a cat’s kidneys have been damaged to the point of failure, they will show a variety of signs such as lethargy, vomiting, increased thirst, and urinating large quantities (in some cases, urine production may stop altogether – anuria). Affected cats are also likely to be dehydrated. If left untreated, death can occur in as little as 3 days.

Diagnosis and Treatment:

There is no “lily poisoning test”, diagnosis is usually made due to someone witnessing the cat eat the lily or vomit part of the plant. Blood tests that check the kidneys (BUN and creatinine levels) will help confirm ingestion, though severe increases are not likely to be seen immediately. If your cat’s kidney values are normal after eating part of a lily plant, this is GOOD! It means that treatment is more likely to be successful.

Within 6 hours of exposure, depending on how quickly the cat is brought to the veterinary hospital, doctors and staff may try to induce vomiting and/or give medications to prevent further absorption of the toxin. Even if blood values are normal and the cat vomits up the lily parts you will likely be advised to hospitalize your cat for monitoring and IV fluid administration for a minimum of 24 hours. If your cat is treated immediately after ingestion, prognosis is good.

Up to 48 hours post-exposure, immediate hospitalization and intensive IV fluid therapy will be recommended. The length of time that your cat will need to be hospitalized depends on how badly his kidneys have already been affected, and how he responds to treatment. Prognosis is guarded to poor – mild to moderate kidney damage may be permanent.

Two to four days post-exposure, depending on laboratory testing of the kidneys, humane euthanasia to end suffering may be the only option. Prognosis is very poor – severe, irreversible kidney damage may result in the inability to produce urine. Left untreated for longer than 18 hours, one can expect death in almost 100% of cases.

If you or anyone in your household suspects that your cat may have ingested any part of a lily, no matter how small, please seek immediate veterinary attention. Hesitation may mean the difference between life and death for your cat!

 

Calla Lily

 

Peace Lily

Note: While Calla lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica) and Peace lilies (Spathiphyllum spp.) are not true lilies, they are still toxic to a lesser degree and can cause oral irritation, intense burning and irritation of mouth, tongue and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing

 

Lily of the Valley

 

Peruvian Lily

Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) is also not a true lily, however, it is also toxic and can cause vomiting and cardiac problems such as irregular heart beat, low blood pressure, disorientation, coma, and seizures. Peruvian lily (Alstroemeria spp.) is another lily to be aware of. While many florists advertize it to be non-toxic, large amounts of this lily-lookalike can cause stomach irritation, vomiting and diarrhea. Peruvian lilies come in all colors and are also valued in floral arrangements due to their long life as a cut flower.

For further information:

Dr Steven Bailey

Dr. Steven J. Bailey founded Exclusively Cats Veterinary Hospital in 1992. He obtained his Bachelor of Science and Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Michigan State University in June of 1986. After graduation, Dr. Bailey practiced emergency medicine for 8 years prior to establishing Exclusively Cats. Dr. Bailey is one of two veterinarians in the state of Michigan and the only veterinarian in Southeastern Michigan that has been board certified by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners as a Feline Specialist (ABVP). His special interests include complicated medical/surgical cases as well as critical care, advanced dentistry, and behavioral medicine. Dr. Bailey is an active member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), he is a current council member of the Southeastern Michigan Veterinary Medical Association (SEMVMA). He is also an Associate Editor of the Feline Internal Medicine Board on the Veterinary Information Network (VIN), invited member of VMG #18 (The only feline exclusive Veterinary Management Group) and MOM’s group (Macomb/Oakland Management Group). In his free time, Dr. Bailey is an avid kayaker (some may even call him “obsessed”) and an instructor in both canoe and kayaking sports. He also enjoys running and spending time with his family. Dr. Bailey and his wife Liz have 2 adult children, Christopher and Kayla, 3 cats, Tic Tic, Sapphire and Lacey, and one dog, Charlotte.

Exclusively Cats Veterinary Hospital

6650 Highland Road

Waterford, MI 48327

Phone: 248-666-5287

Fax ‎206-333-1135

ecvh@exclusivelycats.com

Website: http://www.exclusivelycats.com

Directions:
Google
| MapQuest
| Yahoo!

More PostsWebsite

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