Saturday, May 28, 2011

Weight Loss For Kitty

Last week, we talked about Maude, our slightly plump older cat.  While Maude knows she’s perfect just the way she is, we as owners know our overweight cats would lead longer, healthier lives if they could take off a few pounds.  As with any creature (dog, cat, human J), the best way to take off pounds is to reduce calories and increase exercise.  Now that the weather is finally improving, we have the desire to be outside and move around a little.  Maude can see the outside just fine from her comfortable window seat, thank you very much.  She thinks watching you weed your garden is as close as she needs to get to exercise. 

How do we encourage Maude to take off a few pounds?  First of all, take it slow.  Don’t deprive a cat of food or try to reduce intake too quickly.  Starting a diet program should always be discussed with your veterinarian.  It’s not healthy for a cat to lose too much weight too quickly.  If you’re switching to a lower calorie food (or any new diet), gradually wean your cat(s) onto it over a 5 to 7 day period.  “He’ll eat when he’s hungry” does not work in cats.  If your cat turns his nose up at food for more than a day or two, he can develop serious health problems.  If your cat doesn't want to eat the mix with the new food, back off to a mix with more of the old food.  If the new diet is absolutely unacceptable, see if another diet might work better.

There are a few tricks of the diet trade to help manage kitty's food intake.  First, feed kitty for the weight you want her to be, not the weight she is now.  Second, make sure you have a measuring cup to accurately measure food.  When you actually measure the makeshift serving cup you use, you may find that it holds a lot more food than you thought.  You can also use a kitchen scale for even more accurate measurements.   Also, consider feeding your cat a few times a day rather than letting her forage all day.  This way, you can keep track of what she's eating.  This may also help you notice more quickly if she ever starts to lose her appetite-one of the few signs cats give us when they're ill or injured.

Now for the fun bits:  If you want get a little creative, you can kill two birds with one stone.  Consider fashioning 'foraging toys' for your plump cat (and maybe a few for your overactive kitty).  Foraging toys are simply toys that help our cats work a little more for their dinner.  This provides mental stimulation, excitement, and that much-needed exercise.  A foraging toy can be made out of something as simple as an old egg carton.  Sprinkle some dry food inside the container and then poke a few paw-sized holes in the top.  Your cat will do the rest.  For more ideas, read this article on feline foraging. 

Finally, here’s a simple answer for a frustrating challenge.  What if I have more than one cat?  How can I let my thin cat(s) have food without my overweight cat acting as a self-appointed cleanup crew?  First, you can have several different feeding stations (which will also cut down on intimidation around the food bowls for cats like Violet).  You may also consider feeding your thinner cats on a counter the overweight cat can't reach.  What about the motivated fat cat who can spring amazingly well?  Try a box with a hole cut in the side through which only your thinner cat can fit!

Kelley Wagner, C.V.T.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My Constant Companion

So, why does Fluffy have to leave the exam room when it's time to get her blood drawn or her nails trimmed?  Will she be OK without me?

We often get asked these questions by our clients.  You bring Fluffy to the veterinarian anticipating that she'll be traumatized by the whole ordeal.  Then, you're asked to allow her to leave your side when she needs you most, right?  The fortunate truth of it all is that nine out of ten pets are far calmer and easier to handle while not face to face with their owners.

Being a loving owner, there is a certain amount of anxiety that goes along with taking Fluffy to the veterinarian - an anticipation of how frightened Fluffy is going to be.  What we don't realize, as pet owners, is that this fear and anxiety is transferred to your pet through body language.  This raises the level of anxiety for your dog or cat.  By removing the stimulation, Fluffy is actually able to calm down, which makes her veterinary visit more enjoyable and less scary. 

From a technical perspective, things such as blood draws and nail trims are able to be accomplished more quickly with the assistance of other technicians in the treatment area.  We all want to think that our pets are incapable of hurting anyone, but sometimes we have to do things to them that may not be comfortable.  As animals, they only have a few ways to let us know that that wasn't cool, so proper, yet gentle restraint by another trained technician helps everyone stay safe.  If Fluffy is still stressed or needs a potentially painful procedure, we will recommend sedation.  With this option, Fluffy comes to see us, takes a nap, and then goes home.

Our favorite part is bringing Fluffy back to you when treatments are done since our pets love their owners better than anything else in the world, and it's the best treat we can give them!

Stephanie Severson, CVT

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Maude's Long Journey

In our imaginary family, Maude is our oldest cat.  Life has been pretty easy for Maude.  She has food readily available, she can always find a warm spot to curl up, and she’s mellow enough to find Sparky the kitten to be only moderately annoying.  This life of ease has led Maude to become a bit plump, and she’s a bit slower to get up from naps due to some developing arthritis.  When Maude has to use the litter box, it can be a bit of a challenge for her because she has to make it all the way from her sleeping spot in the family room to the basement steps where she creaks her way downstairs and around the corner to the litter boxes.  Once there, she has to step over the high side of the box to get inside and maneuver into a good spot to eliminate.  This seems to get more challenging every year, especially since Maude now seems to have to urinate more often.  It’s easy to imagine a time when Maude doesn’t quite make it to the litter box before she absolutely has to find another spot to ‘go’.

     How can we make it easier for our older cats to use the litter box?  Here are a few ideas.  First, it’s great idea to have a litter box on every level of the house.  This way, our older (or larger) cats don’t have to deal with stairs every time they have to use the litter box.  Also, our older cats can sometimes deal with declining eyesight and hearing as well as mental confusion (much like our older relatives).  We want to make it as easy as we can to find a litter box.  If you have a litter box with higher sides, it might be nice to cut a ‘doorway’ into the side of the box so the cat can simply step into the box rather than having to climb in.  Finally, note whether the boxes seem to need to be cleaned more often than usual.  Kidney disease, diabetes, and other conditions can creep up on our pets.  A wetter litter box may be one of the few signs we have to warn us that kitty needs to see her veterinarian to diagnose an underlying medical condition (and perhaps discuss some arthritis medication).  We’ll work to make sure our ‘Maude’ kitties have comfortable golden years.

Kelley Wagner, C.V.T.

Next week: Weight loss?  Who needs it?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Seminar Recap

There are any number of continuing education opportunities out there for our technical staff.  Here is a review of a recent one that our technician assistant Sue attended...

Working as a registered nurse for the past 13 years, I have been to numerous seminars and conferences.  Some have been very informative and educational, while others have proved less than stellar.  Now that I am working as a veterinary technician assistant, I felt that continuing education in this field is just as important as in human health care.  I attended a seminar presented by the Veterinary Specialty Center located in Buffalo Grove, Illinois.  I must say, it was one of the finest seminars that I have ever attended. 

Everything was first class.  The presenters and material presented enhanced my knowledge and left me feeling very positive about my career change.  Lectures were informative and addressed many of the diseases seen on a daily basis here at Belle City.  Topics that were covered included: osteoarthritis in dogs and cats, performing the initial assessment, infectious disease, ECG interpretation, wound care, skull radiographs, lymphoma, and the difference between Cushings and Addisons diseases.  As you can see the topics were varied and the Cushings vs Addisons presentation was extremely helpful as we frequently see both diseases at our hospital.

The staff at the Veterinary Specialty Center was very prepared and presented the material in an organized and efficient manner.  Everything about this seminar was impressive and our breakfast and lunch were included.  The entire seminar was FREE and after attending this year, I would gladly go again.  It was a wonderful opportunity to increase my knowledge and I would highly recommend any veterinary technician attend if at all possible.  I am looking forward to next year's seminar!

Sue Trefny

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Your Pet Should Use Heartworm Preventative

Why do veterinarians and staff always recommend heartworm testing and prevention?  After all, have you ever seen it?  Maybe your pet has never had problems.  Why is it important for all pets?  Let's start at the beginning.

Heartworm disease is caused by a parasite that grows in the heart and lungs of dogs and cats.  This parasite is spread by mosquitoes, so every dog and cat is susceptible, even indoor cats.

Most infected pets show no signs at all, so it is important to test periodically.  For those dogs that do show signs, coughing and exercise intolerance are most common.  For cats, coughing and vomiting are the most common signs.  Both dogs and cats can also suddenly die because of heartworm disease.

IF your dog tests positive for heartworm, it can be treated.  However, treatment is much more expensive than a monthly preventative.  It is also more risky in terms of side effects.  There is no accepted treatment for cats that develop heartworm disease.

Thankfully, we have wonderful preventatives available.  Administering one preventive a month will keep your dogs and cats free of this terrible disease so they can live longer, happier lives.

Todd Whitney, DVM

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Monday Funny on a Tuesday!

Raising Duncan Classics

Because sometimes a Tuesday can feel like a Monday! :) 
Happy Tuesday!