Lice in Dogs and Cats

Lice are an uncommon parasite in dogs and cats in the U.S. Lice infestations can occur in animals in any environment, but they’re more common in animals that live in crowded or filthy conditions, in animals that aren’t observed as closely or often, etc. (Frequent, close examination of the animal’s skin and hair helps prevent one louse from having the opportunity to turn into an infestation.) Lice are host-specific. Human lice affect only humans. Dog lice affect dogs. Cat lice affect cats. Rarely, a dog or cat louse might end up on a human, but it doesn’t stay there. Children who have head lice get them from other humans.

Lice are flat, six-legged, wingless insects that can be seen with the naked eye. (This makes diagnosis easy.) Lice don’t move much or quickly. They spend their entire 21-day life cycle on a pet. They lay eggs, which are called nits, on the shafts of the hair. Nits are easy to see. They attach only to the pet’s hair and look like white flakes on the hair shaft.

There are two kinds of dog lice. One (Trichodectes canis) chews skin; the other (Linognathus setosus) sucks blood. The blood suckers cause more skin irritation than the chewers do because they break the skin.

There is one kind of louse (Felicola subrostrata, a chewing louse) that affects cats.

What you will notice with either type of louse is severe itching and a scruffy dry coat with bald patches. Lice generally congregate around the ears, neck, shoulders, and anus, so those areas will be most affected.

Because puppies have a small volume of blood compared to adults, they are more likely to become anemic as a result of the blood sucking lice. In severe cases, a dog could lose about one-fourth of his blood to lice within a few months, and end up anemic or in shock.

Transmission

Both types of dog and cat lice are transmitted by direct contact with an infested dog or cat, or by contact with nit-contaminated grooming equipment, bedding, etc.

Diagnosis

Your veterinarian can diagnose a louse infestation just by looking at your pet.

Treatment and Prevention

Lice are usually fairly easy to eliminate because they haven’t yet built up any resistance to insecticides.

There are several treatment options your veterinarian may employ. The veterinary clinic employees may bathe your dog with an insecticide shampoo to quickly eliminate the adult lice, and then use an insecticide spray or powder to continue the job. They may use fipronil (Frontline) or Selamectin (Revolution). Whether insecticide powder, fipronil, or selamectin are used, treatment will be repeated to kill lice that have hatched from the eggs. Commonly, the pet will be treated every two weeks for three to four treatments. However, in some cases, treatments may be needed every seven days for two to four treatments. If your pet continues to have louse infestations after that point, your veterinarian may switch to another treatment, and may suggest environmental control.

If the coat is matted, the matted areas (or even the entire pet) should be shaved.

Clean grooming equipment after every animal. Places that have larger turnover, such as rescues, shelters, and boarding kennels, may encounter more animals that carry lice so sanitation is particularly important.

Dispose of or wash bedding.

Although it’s not usually necessary to use a fogger for environmental control of lice, it might be needed in a severe infestation.

cat-skin-problems

Southern Hills Animal Hospital
3827 Hite St. SW
Roanoke, VA 24014-2377
540-343-4155
Southern Hills Animal Hospital

Advertisements

Dental Care and What to Expect if your Pet Needs it

Root canals, dental x-rays, braces, crowns, caps, implants, and periodontal surgery for pets? You must be kidding! Not at all. Dental procedures are performed daily in veterinary practices. How does a loving pet owner know if dental care is needed, and where can a pet owner go for advanced dental care?

Examination is the key to diagnosis and helps determine the type of treatment needed. The veterinarian needs to know what to look for. A pet owner can help by examining their pet’s teeth and mouth at least monthly. First smell your pet’s breath. If you sense a disagreeable odor, your pet may have gum disease. Periodontal disease is the most common ailment of small animals and is treatable.  Gum problems begin when bacteria accumulates at the gumline around the tooth. Unless brushed away daily, these bacteria can destroy tooth-supporting bone, cause bleeding, and tooth loss. Usually the first sign is bad breath.

If your pet is experiencing frequent pain or refusing to eat, has changed chewing habits, or has moderate to severe mouth odor, then an oral problem is probably the cause.

When examining your pet’s mouth, look for tooth chips or fractures on the tooth’s surface. Contrary to their popularity, chewing on cow hooves, antlers, rocks, bones, or other hard materials may break teeth. If the fracture is deep you may notice a red, brown, or black spot in the middle of the tooth’s surface. The spot is the tooth’s nerve and inside vessels, which when exposed to the oral cavity may eventually lead to a tooth painful abscess.

When your home exam reveals dental problems or if you are still uncertain, a trip to the veterinarian is in order. The veterinary oral examination will begin with a complete visual examination of the face, mouth and each tooth. Frequently pet’s mouths have several different problems that need care. The veterinarian will usually use a record chart similar to the one used by human dentists to identify and document such dental problems.

A more detailed exam then follows. Unfortunately cats and dogs cannot point to dental abnormalities with their paws, and to determine the proper treatment plan, other tests are usually necessary. General anesthesia is essential for a proper tooth-by-tooth evaluation. There is a wide array of safe and effective anesthetics and monitoring equipment that make anesthesia as safe as possible.

Expect your veterinarian or dental assistant to use a periodontal probe to measure gum pocket depths around each tooth. One or two millimeters of probe depth normally exists around each tooth. When dogs or cats are affected by periodontal disease, the gums bleed and probing depths may increase, which require additional care to save the teeth. Unfortunately by the time some pets come in for dental care, it is too late to save all of the teeth. Your veterinarian may also take x-rays of the entire mouth. X-rays show the inside of the tooth and the root that lies below the gum line. Many decisions are based on x-ray findings. Usually the veterinarian will visually examine the mouth, note any problems, take x-rays under anesthesia, and then tell you what needs to happen to treat the problems found if any.

Plaque removal and preventative care with periodic check ups should help hinder the loss of additional teeth. Plaque and tartar preventative products can be found at the Veterinary Oral Health Council. http://www.vohc.org/accepted_products.htm

If your dog or cat needs advanced dental care, where can you go? Many veterinarians have taken post-graduate dental training in order to better serve their patients. Some veterinarians have passed advanced written and practical examinations given by the American Veterinary Medical Association, which certifies them as dental specialists. If you need one, your veterinarian can refer you.

Dogs and cats do not have to suffer the pain and discomfort of untreated broken or loose teeth or infected gums. With the help of thorough examinations, x-rays, dental care, and daily plaque prevention, your pet can keep his teeth in his mouth where they should be.

dog-teeth-cleaning-cost

Southern Hills Animal Hospital
3827 Hite St. SW
Roanoke, VA 24014-2377
540-343-4155
Southern Hills Animal Hospital

Secondhand Smoke Around Dogs and Cats

We all know the hazards of smoking tobacco in humans and that even secondhand smoke has been shown to cause illness and death in non-smokers.  Now, Veterinary News Network indicates there is a concern that secondhand smoke may cause severe disease in our dogs and cats.  Cigarette smoke contains many harmful and carcinogenic ingredients and these chemicals are found in high concentrations on the furniture and carpeting in the homes of smokers.  Pets will get these toxins on their fur and ingest them when licking their fur.  Also, pet’s noses are very close to the ground and they will breathe in a lot of toxins that have settled on the carpet.  Exposure to these toxins has been shown to lead to an increase in the number of dogs with nasal cancer who live with smokers in the home, and it may increase the risk of lung cancer as well.

Cats are especially susceptible to the toxins of secondhand smoke as they are very close to the floor and commonly groom themselves and ingest smoking toxins.  It has been shown that cats who live in homes with smokers are two to three times more susceptible to a malignant cancer called lymphoma than cats who live in a home without smokers.

Another serious cancer with links to secondhand smoke is one of the mouth called squamous cell carcinoma, which can occur in dogs and cats.

So obviously secondhand smoke causes a major problem in our pets and the best option is to quit smoking.  Of course this is difficult and if you are unable to quit and have pets and children in the house, at least smoke outside.  Don’t smoke in the car if your pets and kids are with you as rolling down the window does very little to decrease secondhand smoke.
If you note any masses in your pet’s mouth, or coughing, contact your veterinarian.

orange-cat-laying-on-bed

Southern Hills Animal Hospital
3827 Hite St. SW
Roanoke, VA 24014-2377
540-343-4155
Southern Hills Animal Hospital

Nosebleed: First Aid

A nosebleed (epistaxis) is bleeding or hemorrhage from the nose. It is important to stop a nose bleed, but is equally important to get to the bottom of why it’s happening.   Stopping nose bleeds in pets is often the easy part, but finding out why a nose is bleeding may sometimes be more challenging.

Your pet should be kept calm, as excitement may cause an increase in blood pressure that will make control of the nosebleed difficult.  As a pet owner, you too must remain composed; if your pet sees you getting frantic, he will become further distressed.

Place an ice-pack over the bridge and on the side of the nose to help to control bleeding as that constricts the blood vessels in this area.  If possible, look in the mouth to see if there is blood or if the gums are pale.  In either case, your pet should be evaluated by a veterinarian immediately.

What to Do

  • Notice if the blood is coming from one nostril (note which one) or both.
  • If your pet is sneezing, note how often.
  • Attempt to keep your pet calm. Encourage your pet to lie down and relax.
  • Place an ice pack (covered by one or more layers of clean cloth) or cold compress on the bridge and side of the nose.
  • If the nose is bleeding profusely and/or the bleeding lasts more than 5 minutes, seek veterinary attention.

What NOT to Do

  • Do not put anything up the nose, as this will likely cause your pet to sneeze. Sneezing will dislodge a clot (if one has formed), and the bleeding will resume.

A bloody nose in a cat or dog may be associated with foreign bodies (foxtail awns are common), polyps, infections, poisoning, bleeding disorders, or even cancer. It is a sign whose significance should not be underestimated, and veterinary medical attention should be sought as soon as possible.

dog-nose-hero

Southern Hills Animal Hospital
3827 Hite St. SW
Roanoke, VA 24014-2377
540-343-4155
Southern Hills Animal Hospital

Itch Relief for Dogs and Cats

The Itching Pet: Alternatives to Steroids

Excessive licking, chewing, and scratching can make a pet’s life miserable for month after month, even year after year. No one likes to see their pet uncomfortable; furthermore, the constant licking, chewing, and scratching can keep a pet owner up at night from the noise. Clearly, uncontrolled itching is a problem to solve before it gets out of hand.

For reliable rapid relief of itch and inflammation, nothing matches the corticosteroid hormones such as cortisone, hydrocortisone, triamcinolone, methoprednisolone, prednisonedexamethasone, and others. There are some animals that seem unable to live with any degree of comfort without these medications. Unfortunately, these hormones have widespread and potentially dangerous actions throughout the body when they are used for inappropriately long periods and it is generally desirable to minimize the use of these hormones when possible to do so. Ideally, corticosteroids are used for a few really tough itch weeks and other forms of itch management are used for general itch maintenance.

Of course, this is easier to write about than to actually do. When your pet is scratching and chewing raw spots on his skin, practical advice is what is called for. The following list includes assorted non-steroidal methods for relieving itch and reducing the amount of corticosteroid hormones needed.

Infection Control

When an animal becomes suddenly itchier, there is a tendency to assume there must have been a new or sudden allergen exposure. While this is possible, most of the time what has actually happened is an infection has taken root in the skin as a result of scratching and chewing. In many cases, controlling the infection will bring the pet back into its comfort zone and many allergic animals are managed by simply having their infections treated when they flare up.

The usual infections involve the Staphylococci bacteria and/or the Malassezia fungi that normally live on the skin surface. When the environment of the skin changes (allergic skin loses water and may have more oils), these organisms multiply and can gain access to deeper layers of the skin through abrasions caused by scratching and chewing. Soon there is a rash and/or an odor. Antibiotics generally handle these infections, though sometimes culture is necessary to determine what antibiotic is needed. Expect an itchy animal to have some skin samples reviewed under the microscope to check for infection. Some itchy pets need continuous management for these infections while, as mentioned, others only need periodic treatment.

Oral Medications

Antihistamine and Antihistamine Trials
Histamine, a biological chemical, is the chief mediator of inflammation in humans, hence the proliferation of antihistamines available for people both by prescription and over the counter.  Histamine is not the major mediator of inflammation in dogs, thus these medications are not as reliable for dogs as they are for us.

The International Committee on Allergic Diseases in Animals writes guidelines to manage atopic dermatitis, and they divide their recommendations in terms of two situations: itchy acute flare ups and more chronic daily levels of itching. They found little benefit from antihistamines for acute flare ups except for mild cases and consider that the drowsiness side effect may be responsible for any reduction in scratching. For more chronic cases, daily use of antihistamines fared better with the idea that regular use might be preventing flare ups even if antihistamines were not so good at actually treating flare ups. Responses were variable between individuals.

While the chance of any one antihistamine being effective is small (about 15% on the average), trying several antihistamines sequentially often leads to finding one that works. It is important to note that many antihistamines have a drowsiness side effect. Antihistamines commonly used for such trials include:

Fatty Acid Supplementation
The discovery of anti-inflammatory properties of evening primrose oils and fish oils in humans has led to similar products on the market for our pets. These products are not analogous to the oil supplements that are recommended to make a pet’s coat shiny; instead these are true anti-inflammatory medications capable of relieving joint pain, cramps, and itchy skin.

They are not at all useful for acute flare ups of itching as they require weeks to build up in the body in order to exert an effect. Instead, they are used for long-term management in making the skin less able to generate inflammatory mediators. (Essentially, they make the skin less reactive to allergens).
The supplement alone is mild in its ability to prevent itch but it can be used to boost the effects of other anti-itch medications.

Cyclosporine (Atopica) 
Cyclosporine is an immuno-modulating drug originally developed for use in organ transplant patients but also useful in other immune-mediated diseases.  Since allergy is an immune-mediated condition, cyclosporine was investigated as an alternative to corticosteroids and found effective for most patients.  A good four to eight weeks are needed to see a good response to cyclosporine which makes it fairly useless for acute flare ups. Typically it is combined with a medication that yields rapid itch relief so that by the time the itch is controlled, the cyclosporine can take over. Cyclosporine tastes bitter and commonly generates a mild upset stomach when it is first used. Cyclosporine is available for both dogs and cats.

Oclacitinib (Apoquel®)
This relatively new medication represents a new approach to itch relief. It is called a JANUS- kinase inhibitor and it exerts its effects in the skin just as rapidly as do corticosteroids. This makes it helpful for both acute flare ups as well as long-term management of itching. It is important to realize that its effects seem to be only on the sensation of itch and, unlike steroids, there is no anti-inflammatory result. This means that the patient’s itch can be controlled in the face of even advanced skin infection. This might sound like a good thing but there is concern that if the patient is not itching, the pet owner may not be motivated to perform the therapy needed to control the actual skin disease. At this time, oclacitinib is a new drug with a side effect spectrum that is still being defined so most veterinary dermatologists recommend selecting cases for this medicine judiciously. Oclacitinib is for dogs only.

Pentoxifylline
This medication works by making red blood cells more flexible so as to allow better oxygen delivery deeper into tissues. This medication turns out to have many disease applications and has been used in the management of chronic itch (but not useful for acute flare ups). It is best used in conjunction with omega 3 fatty acids.

Long-Acting Injectables

Lokivetmab (Cytopoint®, Canine Atopic Dermatitis Immunotherapeutic, Cadi)
Another new product is lokivetmab, a monoclonal antibody genetically engineered to target the canine version of a biochemical called interleukin 31. Interleukin 31 is a type of cytokine and is an important mediator of itching so when it is inactivated by antibodies, relief from itch is rapidly achieved (usually beginning 8 hours after injection and readily apparent after 1 day). For over 80% of dogs receiving the lokivetmab injection, results are sustained for at least 4 weeks. That said, it does not work for every dog and while some dogs experience more than 4 weeks of relief, others experience less.

Lokivetmab has no effect on pre-existing infections other than to make them not be itchy. It represents symptomatic relief only but for many itchy dogs, stopping the itch/scratch cycle is needed to curtail the vicious cycle and stop the perpetuation of skin infection.

Topical Therapies

We now know that topical steroids (cortisone crèmes, sprays, and related products) are absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream, but the systemic hormonal side effects achieved with topical use do seem blunted and probably only of significance for very small dogs. This makes topical steroid use a much safer long-term approach relative to oral or injectable steroids. Of course, the entire animal cannot be enrobed in topical steroid cremes but for small irritated areas (hot spots), topicals can provide excellent relief without the systemic effects of hormones. They are best used for acute flare ups.

Shampoo Therapy

There are many benefits to shampoo therapy: luke warm water is inherently soothing, crusts and dandruff that could be inherently itchy can be removed, pollens and other allergenic substances can be washed away, the skin can be either moisturized or stripped of excess oil depending on what is needed and, of course, medications can be delivered in the shampoo lather itself. Skin can be moisturized with shampoo therapy, which reduces the sensitivity of the skin to itch stimulation. (The itch threshold is raised through skin hydration). As technology advances, new products are introduced and ways to prolong their effects are developed. Here are some general choices that might be helpful:

  • Colloidal Oatmeal Shampoos and Creme Rinse – At first, these products were only available for human use, as powdered soaks to pour into bath water.  Once their value in itch management was determined, their use quickly spread to the veterinary field.  Colloidal oatmeal has an unknown method of action but generally yields one to three days of relief. The creme rinses are meant to yield longer acting relief. They are available plain or combined with local anesthetic formulas (usually pramoxine) to soothe itch.
  • Phytosphingosine-Containing Products Recently a French company called Sogeval® has brought its Douxo® line of products to the U.S. These products contain phytosphingosine, a natural skin biochemical important in maintaining the skin’s natural barrier to infection and inflammatory substances. Phytosphingosine is moisturizing, anti-inflammatory (both directly and by fortifying the skin’s barrier function), and has antimicrobial properties (preventing and treating bacterial as well as yeast infections). The Douxo® line is available in shampoos, sprays, and a top spot formula. Generics are also on the market as well.
  • Lime Sulfur Dip – This product kills parasites, ringworm fungi, and bacteria.  It also dries moist, weeping skin lesions and helps dissolve surface skin proteins that are involved in itchiness. Many veterinary dermatologists recommend it regularly to control itch; however, it has several disadvantages. IT SMELLS TERRIBLE.  The sulfur ingredient smells like rotten eggs and this is how your bathroom or bathing area will smell during the pet’s bath. This dip can stain jewelry and clothing and will temporarily turn white fur yellow.
  • Other Shampoos – Itchy skin can be the result of skin infection, excess oil accumulation, yeast infection, even parasitic infection. The list goes on. The shampoo products listed above can be used against any itchy skin disease but it should be noted that there are many other shampoo and creme rinse products that can be used against the specific conditions.

TEN MINUTES OF SKIN CONTACT IS THE MINIMUM REQUIREMENT
FOR ANY MEDICATED SHAMPOO.
PREMATURE RINSING WILL NOT ALLOW FOR THE THERAPEUTIC BENEFIT TO BE REALIZED.

Respect the Steroid

Severe itching amounts to a reduction in life quality. It is important not to develop the mindset that corticosteroids should be avoided at all costs. This would not be fair to the itching pet. Steroids are valuable tools in the relief of pain and suffering and have an important place the therapy of the itchy pet.

The goal is not to avoid steroid use if possible but to avoid long term dependence on steroids if possible.  Despite all of the above management tricks, some pets will still require long term steroid use to achieve any reasonable comfort. There are monitoring protocols in place for such cases.  It should also not be forgotten that underlying allergies and recurring skin infections can be addressed specifically and that as these conditions are managed, the itch is also managed.

Steroid hormones have many side effects and, as helpful as they are for allergic skin diseases, it is best to reserve them for only the most itchy episodes.

A Few Words about Flea Control

We receive email on a daily basis from people with itchy pets who are convinced that fleas are not involved in the problem. When we examine such pets, we find fleas actually are contributing to the itching in at least 50% of cases and the owner is invariably surprised to see the live fleas when they find them. Since any itchy skin disease is made worse by fleas, good flea control is imperative and it is important not to assume that not seeing fleas means they are not there. For example, if your pet’s itchiest areas include the lower back, this is a strong indicator that he has fleas whether you see them or not. Often, becoming diligent with flea control is the least expensive and least labor-intensive way to control a pet’s itch symptoms.

A-close-up-of-a-cat-itching-scratching

Southern Hills Animal Hospital
3827 Hite St. SW
Roanoke, VA 24014-2377
540-343-4155
Southern Hills Animal Hospital

Poisonous Plants for Dogs and Cats

Lilies
Members of the Lilium spp. are considered to be highly toxic to cats. While the poisonous component has not yet been identified, it is clear that with even ingestions of very small amounts of the plant, severe kidney damage could result.

Marijuana
Ingestion of Cannabis sativa by companion animals can result in depression of the central nervous system and incoordination, as well as vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, increased heart rate, and even seizures and coma.

Sago Palm
All parts of Cycas Revoluta are poisonous, but the seeds or “nuts” contain the largest amount of toxin. The ingestion of just one or two seeds can result in very serious effects, which include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures and liver failure.

Tulip/Narcissus bulbs
The bulb portions of Tulipa/Narcissus spp. contain toxins that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation, drooling, loss of appetite, depression of the central nervous system, convulsions and cardiac abnormalities.

Azalea/Rhododendron
Members of the Rhododenron spp. contain substances known as grayantoxins, which can produce vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, weakness and depression of the central nervous system in animals. Severe azalea poisoning could ultimately lead to coma and death from cardiovascular collapse.

Oleander 
All parts of Nerium oleander are considered to be toxic, as they contain cardiac glycosides that have the potential to cause serious effects—including gastrointestinal tract irritation, abnormal heart function, hypothermia and even death.

Castor Bean
The poisonous principle in Ricinus communis is ricin, a highly toxic protein that can produce severe abdominal pain, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, weakness and loss of appetite. Severe cases of poisoning can result in dehydration, muscle twitching, tremors, seizures, coma and death.

Cyclamen
Cyclamen species contain cyclamine, but the highest concentration of this toxic component is typically located in the root portion of the plant. If consumed, Cylamen can produce significant gastrointestinal irritation, including intense vomiting. Fatalities have also been reported in some cases.

Kalanchoe
This plant contains components that can produce gastrointestinal irritation, as well as those that are toxic to the heart, and can seriously affect cardiac rhythm and rate.

Yew
Taxus spp. contains a toxic component known as taxine, which causes central nervous system effects such as trembling, incoordination, and difficulty breathing. It can also cause significant gastrointestinal irritation and cardiac failure, which can result in death.

Amaryllis 
Common garden plants popular around Easter, Amaryllis species contain toxins that can cause vomiting, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, anorexia and tremors.

Autumn Crocus
Ingestion of Colchicum autumnale by pets can result in oral irritation, bloody vomiting, diarrhea, shock, multi-organ damage and bone marrow suppression.

Chrysanthemum
These popular blooms are part of the Compositae family, which contain pyrethrins that may produce gastrointestinal upset, including drooling, vomiting and diarrhea, if eaten. In certain cases depression and loss of coordination may also develop if enough of any part of the plant is consumed.

English Ivy
Also called branching ivy, glacier ivy, needlepoint ivy, sweetheart ivy and California ivy, Hedera helix contains triterpenoid saponins that, should pets ingest, can result in vomiting, abdominal pain, hypersalivation and diarrhea.

Peace Lily (AKA Mauna Loa Peace Lily)
Spathiphyllum contains calcium oxalate crystals that can cause oral irritation, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty in swallowing and intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue in pets who ingest.

Pothos
Pothos (both Scindapsus and Epipremnum) belongs to the Araceae family. If chewed or ingested, this popular household plant can cause significant mechanical irritation and swelling of the oral tissues and other parts of the gastrointestinal tract.

Schefflera
Schefflera and Brassaia actinophylla contain calcium oxalate crystals that can cause oral irritation, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty in swallowing and intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue in pets who ingest.

12565491_1041426825921028_4591588360064562355_n

 

Southern Hills Animal Hospital
3827 Hite St. SW
Roanoke, VA 24014-2377
540-343-4155
Southern Hills Animal Hospital

10 Most Common Illnesses for Cats

Cats may have nine lives, but you want to make sure kitty hangs on to all of them for as long as she can. No matter how much love and care you give your furry companion, things happen. But by knowing how to recognize the most common conditions affecting cats, you may just be able to save your pet’s life.

10. Hyperthyroidism. The most likely cause of hyperthyroidism is a benign tumor on the thyroid gland, which will cause the gland to secrete too much of the hormone. Take your cat to the vet if it starts drinking and peeing a lot, shows aggressive and jittery behavior, suddenly seems hyperactive, vomits and/or loses weight while eating more than usual.

Treatment depends on other medical conditions but can range from using drugs to regulate the overactive gland, surgical removal of the gland, and even radioactive treatment to destroy the tumor and diseased thyroid tissue.

 

9. Upper Respiratory Virus. If your kitty is sneezing, sniffling, coughing, has runny eyes or nose, seems congested and has mouth and nose ulcers, chances are it has an upper respiratory virus. The two main forms of the virus are the feline herpesvirus and calicivirus. Once at the vet’s office, the cat may receive nose drops, eye ointments and antibacterial medication, especially if it has a secondary infection.

 

8. Ear Infection. Ear infections in cats have many causes. These might include mites, bacteria, fungi, diabetes, allergies and reactions to medication; some breeds are also more susceptible to ear infections than others. So it’s definitely a good idea to have your kitty checked if it’s showing symptoms such as ear discharge, head shaking, swollen ear flaps, stinky ears and ultra sensitivity to ears being touched. Treatment, of course, depends on the cause, but will include eardrops, ear cleaning, ear and oral medications and in severe cases, surgery.

 

7. Colitis/Constipation. Colitis is a fancy word for inflammation of the large intestine. While the most obvious sign of colitis is diarrhea, sometimes it will hurt the cat to poop. Thus, in trying to hold it in, the cat may develop constipation.

There are many causes of colitis, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, allergies and parasites, among other diseases. Signs include straining to poop, lack of appetite, dehydration and vomiting. Your vet will test for the underlying cause and treat it accordingly. This may include a more fiber-rich diet, de-worming, antibiotics, laxatives and/or fluids.

 

6. Diabetes. Like humans, cats suffer from diabetes, too, though this is usually seen in older, overweight cats. Symptoms include increased thirst and peeing, peeing outside the litter box, lethargy and depression.

While causes of feline diabetes are not really known, there is a link with diabetes and being overweight. Treatment, therefore, includes daily health monitoring, diet changes, exercise, and depending on the cat’s needs, either daily oral medications or injections.

 

5. Skin Allergies. Kitties, like you, are known to suffer from allergies, although their allergies show on the skin. If your cat scratches, or chews on its skin a lot, has a rash or loses hair in patches, a trip to the vet is a good idea.

Causes of skin allergies vary from reactions to food, fleas, pollens, mites, and even mold and mildew. Treatments may include allergy shots, diet changes, medication and antihistamines.

 

4. Intestinal Inflammation/Diarrhea. Diarrhea is a sure sign of an intestinal inflammation. It affects either the cat’s small or large intestine and may due to a variety of factors, including diet changes, eating contraband foodstuffs, allergies, bacteria overgrowth, worms and even kidney disease.

Symptoms include diarrhea, lack of appetite and vomiting. A visit to your vet will sort out the cause, and treatment may include hydration therapy, a bland diet, dietary changes and anti-diarrhea medications.

 

3. Renal Failure. This is a serious condition, which is common in older cats. While the underlying causes are not yet understood, recent research suggests a link with distemper vaccinations and long-term dry food diets. Make sure you request blood tests on your regular wellness checkups, since symptoms often don’t show up until 75 percent of the kidney tissue is damaged.

The main symptom is excessive thirst and peeing, but the cat may also show signs of drooling, jaw-clicking, and ammonia-scented breath. While it’s not curable, renal failure (when not severe) can be managed through diet, drugs and hydration therapy. Kidney transplants and dialysis can also be used.

 

2. Stomach Upsets (Gastritis). An inflammation of the cat’s stomach lining is simply referred to as gastritis. This condition may be mild or severe, but regardless of its type, make sure you bring your cat to visit the vet if it doesn’t show improvement in a day or two, or if the symptoms are severe.

Gastritis has many causes, from eating spoiled food to eating too fast to allergies or bacterial infections. If your cat is vomiting, belching, has a lack of appetite or bloodstained poop or diarrhea, a visit to the vet will help straighten things out. Treatments depend on the cause, but generally include medication, fluid therapy and even antibiotics.

 

1. Lower Urinary Tract Disease. Coming in at No. 1, lower urinary tract disease can turn very quickly into a life-threatening illness for your cat, especially if there’s a blockage caused by crystals, stones or plugs. When total blockage occurs, death can occur within 72 hours if left untreated.

Therefore, whisk your cat off to the vet or emergency center ASAP if you see any of the following signs: peeing outside of the litter box, straining, blood in urine, crying out while attempting to pee, not being able to pee, excessive licking of genitals, not eating or drinking, yowling while moving and lethargy. These signs will generally occur regardless if the urinary tract disease is due to stones, infection or urethral plugs. Treatment includes catheterizing to drain the bladder, medication to dissolve stones or blockages, and in recurring cases, surgery.

1

Southern Hills Animal Hospital
3827 Hite St. SW
Roanoke, VA 24014-2377
540-343-4155
Southern Hills Animal Hospital