Posts

Putting a Halt on Feline Halitosis

Having your beloved cat go under the extreme lengths of anaesthesia for a mere teeth cleaning procedure is a stressful ordeal for you both. Then after all the trauma and perhaps a few tooth extractions along the way, your cat often still suffers from the foul-smelling breath they started with.

Read on as there is far more than meets the eye when it comes to feline halitosis…

What causes feline halitosis?

One of the main causes of feline halitosis is the accumulation of bacteria on teeth that emits an unpleasant odour. Plaque is produced when this bacteria bonds with the teeth and, if not removed in time, it will develop into tartar. Tartar is far more challenging to eradicate from the teeth than plaque. This conglomeration of plaque and tartar can quickly progress to halitosis if overlooked.

Your cat’s diet could also be a contributing factor to the unwanted onset of halitosis and it could be as simple as an allergy to the ingredients in what they’re consuming. Halitosis could also merely be caused by a piece of food stuck in the teeth. Baby teeth could also be lurking in your adult cat’s mouth, harbouring unwanted plaque and bacteria.

Some cats are predisposed to inflammation and infection of the gums. Bacteria plagues the gums as well as the supporting tissues of the teeth, resulting in gingivitis or periodontal disease which also contributes to halitosis.

Whilst halitosis is usually quite manageable, it also could be a warning that something more sinister is disrupting your cat’s health and may become a critical medical problem if not treated. Conditions such as cancer, metabolic disorders (sugar diabetes), respiratory, gastrointestinal, liver and kidney problems may manifest as halitosis and these conditions should be investigated.

What symptoms should I be cautious of?

  • Unusual smelling breath:
    • Abnormal sweet or fruity breath could indicate diabetes, especially if your cat has unusually increased their fluid consumption or urination frequency.
    • Urine-smelling breath can be a sign of kidney disease.
    • A peculiar foul odour associated with yellowing of the corneas and/or gums, vomiting or loss of appetite could indicate a possible liver problem.
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Drooling
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Loss of mouth control, difficulty opening or closing
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhoea
  • Excessive brownish tartar on your cat’s teeth

If your cat is displaying any of these signs, consult your veterinarian straight away.

Treating feline halitosis:

Treatment of halitosis is determined by the root cause/s thereof. If halitosis is triggered by periodontal disease, the vet will probably schedule your cat in for a dental cleaning procedure because tooth loss may result if left unattended. In some cases, tooth extractions may have to be performed if the supporting bone and tissue have lost significant volume. The vet may also prescribe odour reducing medication that controls the bacteria production in the mouth. 

If periodontal disease is not a contributing factor to your cat’s halitosis, the vet will then need to run tests to discount any other possible triggers. The appropriate treatment plan will depend on the underlying cause/s identified. 

Preventing feline halitosis:

It’s essential to be proactive rather than reactive regarding your cat’s health and wellbeing by adhering to the following preventative tips:

  • Frequently monitor your cat’s breath and the associated symptoms of halitosis
  • Schedule regular check-ups with your veterinarian so they can observe and track your cat’s dental condition.
  • Brush your cat’s teeth daily to prevent plaque build-up (tips on Brushing Your Feline Friend’s Teeth)
  • Ask your vet about supplementary oral health products that you can use at home.
  • Discuss with your vet a diet that will assist in keeping halitosis at bay.

You know your cat best, so any changes in odours or behaviour should immediately be reported to your vet so that you allow your cat a healthy, prosperous life. Don’t underestimate the significance of your feline friend’s “bad breath”, it could be far more ominous than you realise.

For Your Infurmaton:

Small cat breeds and brachycephalic breeds, for instance Persians and Himalayans, have closely set teeth and are consequently most predisposed to periodontal disease.

 

Written for inFURmation
by Taliah Williamson

Breaking the Heartworm Disease Cycle

Heartworm disease, also known as dirofilariasis, is a potentially fatal illness in pets worldwide. Heartworms living in the heart, lungs and related blood vessels of infected pets can eventually cause cardiac failure, lung disease and impair other vital organs in the body.

Transmission
Adult female heartworms residing in an infected dog or cat, breed microfilaria, which are microscopic baby worms that pass into the bloodstream.

As a female mosquito bites and feeds on the blood of an infected animal, it ingests the microfilaria. Within 10 to 30 days, they mature into “infective stage” larvae inside the mosquito. When the infected mosquito bites another animal, the infective larvae passes into the pet’s system.

The infested larvae pass into the bloodstream, moving to the heart, lungs and surrounding blood vessels where they develop into adult heartworms over a period of roughly seven months. Adult heartworms can survive for up to 7 years in dogs whilst they can only live for up to 3 years in cats. A dog may carry as many as 250 worms in its body and they can measure up to 30 centimetres in length.

Infection in Dogs and Cats Compared
Heartworms thrive in a dog’s system because they can develop into adults and reproduce in their host. Heartworms cannot grow to adulthood in cats and therefore don’t survive as long. However, even baby worms can cause a severe condition in cats called heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD). Medication that efficiently treats heartworm in dogs, doesn’t render itself as effective in cats, therefore prevention is key when safeguarding cats from heartworm disease.

Signs and Symptoms:

DOGS: Infected dogs will usually have a mild, unproductive cough as well as reduced appetite that leads to weight loss. A sudden intolerance to exercise may be experienced, marked by shortness of breath and fatigue, even with regular exercise.

As heartworm advances, heart failure may result as well as a swollen abdomen because of excess fluid therein. Caval syndrome is when the blood flow in the heart is severely constricted when dogs are infected by large numbers of heartworms and this can ultimately lead to cardiovascular collapse. Death is almost a certainty if the heartworm blockage isn’t removed quickly.

CATS: Infected cats may display reactions associated with an asthma attack along with intermittent vomiting. They may have fainting spells or seizures and experience trouble walking. Reduced appetite also leads to weight loss. A build-up of fluid in their abdomen is also a possibility, however, in some cases, the initial symptom is sudden collapse followed by death.

Heartworm Testing

DOGS: Even if your dog is on preventative medication, testing for heartworm should be conducted annually. Testing requires a non-invasive blood test administered by your veterinarian that identifies the existence of heartworm proteins. Positive results from the initial test will necessitate further testing.

CATS: Detecting the presence of heartworms in cats involves using both an antigen and an antibody. X-rays or ultrasounds may also be an option. Prevention of heartworm disease in cats is essential as there is currently no approved treatment available.

Treatment for Dogs?
Several treatments of medication called melarsomine hydrochloride (Immiticid®), are required to eradicate adult worms. The treatment is injected into the lower back muscle, but the associated pain is excruciating which is why patients are ideally admitted to hospital for 1 – 2 days to receive pain control, anti-inflammatory medication as well as intravenous fluid therapy.

The majority of microfilariae are only killed when a second injection is given to the host roughly one month after the initial treatment.

Your pooch will then need to begin a year-round heartworm preventative medication. If a dog has been severely laden with heartworm disease, they are likely to have permanent heart damage which will demand long-term therapy.

Caval syndrome, as mentioned above, necessitates the mature heartworms be removed surgically via a surgically cut opening in the jugular vein. This can almost always be avoided through early diagnosis and treatment.

If a dog is undergoing treatment for heartworm disease, it’s imperative that they are kept calm and quiet at all times, and exercise is prohibited for a full month after the treatment has been administered.

A mild cough can be expected for two months after treatment if a dog was heavily infected. However, if they display shortness of breath, heavy coughing, depression and fever, consult your vet immediately.

Prevention
The good news is that heartworm disease is preventable in both dogs and cats. The bad news is that current heartworm preventative medication is ineffective on adult heartworms so it’s crucial to eradicate heartworms before they mature into adults. Heartworm preventative medication must be given according to a precise schedule, so not to give baby worms (or microfilaria) a chance to develop into adults.

Heartworm disease is easily preventable but expensive to treat. Unfortunately, in contrast to their canine counterparts, there is currently no conclusive cure available for cats. With this said, the best approach to defeating heartworm disease is by safeguarding your cats and dogs with heartworm preventative medicines that your vet will prescribe to you.

Written for inFURmation
by Taliah Williamson

Six problems your dog’s diet could be causing

Six problems dog’s diet causing - image

You’ve played fetch, gone for a walk, dewormed, bought a new comfortable bed, and provided an endless supply of squeaky toys, and your fur-kid still seems a little down, which leaves you with that helpless feeling and no clue what’s wrong with them.

From rumbly tummies to skin allergies and changes in mood and behaviour, not being able to help them feel their best is heart-wrenching. However, half the battle is won if you’re confident that the food you’re feeding them on the daily isn’t the root cause of bringing them down.

Head Behaviourist at Dogtown South Africa, Gordon Banks, offers these helpful tips to better understand how your dog’s food and diet could lead to unwanted conditions:

  1. Unexplained changes in behaviour
    One of the biggest reasons for behavioural changes in dogs comes down to inconsistencies in their diet. To ensure that your beloved fur-child always feels their best, focus on feeding them a scientifically-formulated and balanced food that is nutrient rich and filled with high-quality proteins.

    Do some research on the various dog food offerings out there and stick to a specific, good-quality brand to prevent unexplained behavioural issues.

    “Nutrients in the food need to be balanced and in the correct ratio,” says Banks. “Any changes to a dog’s diet – whether it’s switching to a new brand or adding some home-made extras – can alter the balance of the food, resulting in both physiological and behavioural issues.”

  2. Depression, tiredness and irritability
    If you’ve noticed that your dog has become less playful and energetic, preferring instead to lie around or sleep longer hours, or perhaps even lashing out at you or family members, it’s time to investigate the nutritional content of their food.

    “An excess or deficiency in protein, carbohydrates, and fat content can all be attributing factors in behavioural disorders like depression, lethargy, irritability and aggression,” says Banks. “In addition, physiological disorders like obesity, cardiovascular problems, mobility, joint problems and neurological changes can also be attributed to improper diet.”

  3. Excessive weight gain or loss
    Too much food can cause breathing problems, joint issues and even heart disease, while too little food at meal times not only impacts energy levels but may also result in nutritional deficiencies.

    “It is vital that your dog receives the recommended quantity according to breed, size and activity levels. Not feeding your dog enough can leave them feeling irritable, and excessive feeding is also a contributing factor in unwanted behaviours like depression and aggression.”

    Be sure to check the back of food packaging for recommended daily portions or consult an expert for help. Look for products that mimic the ancestral diet of dogs as closely as possible, as these diets would not have included the quantities and additives found in many of today’s foods.

  4. Destructive chewing and ‘guarding’
    Dogs that chew up everything from your shoes to the living room sofa or tend to ‘growl’ and become territorial of their food are often stressed or even bored.  Stress and boredom are the most common causes of destructive chewing in domestic household dogs, but it could also be the case that they need more food at mealtimes.

    “Most experts recommend feeding adult dogs twice a day to help with their digestion and stabilise their metabolism. Dogs that experience an empty stomach for a large portion of the day will often display these and other adverse behaviours,” Banks says.

  5. Stomach torsion
    Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV), more commonly known as stomach torsion, is when the stomach twists and dilates into itself. This causes excessively bloated tummies in dogs and puts pressure on the internal organs.

    “While feeding dogs just one meal a day in the morning might seem like a good way to get them to burn off the energy during the day, this also places their digestive systems at risk of being ‘overloaded’ with too much food in one serving,” says Banks. “This can lead to an inefficient processing of nutrients in the longer run, which gives them a greater chance of developing a stomach torsion.”

  6. Allergic reactions due to incorrect ingredients
    Animal protein contains essential amino acids required in a good healthy diet. A dog’s digestive system, by nature, is designed to process protein from meat sources rather than from grains, which are known to lead to skin irritation and eczema in canines.

    “Diets that include an excess or unbalanced amount of grain content can place strain on internal organs that are not intended to readily process it, and many allergies – skin related allergies in particular – can be attributed to a high grain content in the diet,” says Banks.

    A balance of protein, vegetables and good fat content is essential for ensuring your dog has the best chance at a healthy, happy life!

When your fur-kids aren’t feeling their best, start by taking a closer look at their diets, and be sure to look at the nutritional information on the pack before deciding which dog food to feed them. Look out for ingredients and related information on protein sources to ensure your pet receives the right amount of nutrients on a daily basis.

Field + Forest for adult dogs and puppies is a complete range of pet nutrition products for pet owners who want to feed their companions the best very that their money can buy. The grain-free signature recipe flavours come in Turkey + Duck, Salmon + Tuna, and Game + Lamb and the Protein Centric, grain-free formulations, contain no less than 60% premium proteins where meat is the primary ingredient for a well-rounded nutritional diet for puppies and adult dogs alike.

Source: Field + Forest

 

 

Ceasing Sudden Weight Loss in Cats

Ceasing Sudden Weight Loss in Cats

Ceasing Sudden Weight Loss in Cats

Just like us humans, your feline friend’s weight (whether over or underweight) is an indicator of existing or impending medical conditions, and any associated indications should be addressed in a timely manner. As pet parents, we seem to worry more about the weight our feline friends are accumulating than the weight they may suddenly be losing. Sudden weight loss or cachexia in cats should be managed with the same level of concern as drastic weight gain.

If you witness a sharp fall in your cat’s weight which exceeds ten percent of their usual body weight (when fluid loss is not responsible), this should be a cause for alarm. Read on to find out why drastic weight loss in your cat is menacing to their health and how to stop those shedding kilo’s in their tracks before causing permanent damage.

Causes of Weight Loss in Cats

If you notice a sudden drop in your purry pal’s appetite and they have simultaneously experienced drastic weight loss, chances are that they may be suffering from anorexia. This is a concerning medical situation for your feline friend as anorexia leaves feline’s prone to developing fatty liver syndrome, a potentially fatal condition in which the liver is required to metabolise large quantities of stored fat to provide the body with the energy it needs to function adequately.

In some cases, a cat might continue to retain their normal appetite and still undergo weight loss which may seem inexplicable. However, a number of reasons could clarify this mysterious observation. Excessive noise, dirty food bowls, bowls being too close to the litter tray, or other pets being present in your cat’s feeding quarters could set off psychological issues in these sensitive creatures, such as depression and stress, that could spur on sudden weight loss.

Medical conditions that could be related to this case include:

  • neurologic disorders making it challenging for them to pick up or swallow food
  • oesophagus paralysis
  • fever
  • diabetes
  • heart, liver or kidney failure
  • intestinal parasites
  • gastrointestinal problems such as obstructions
  • cancer
  • hyperthyroidism
  • dental problems
  • chronic blood loss
  • pet food or diet quality
  • feline infectious peritonitis
  • pancreatic disease
  • gallbladder disease
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • surgical removal of segments of the bowel
  • infections (bacterial, viral, fungal or chronic etc)
  • Addison’s disease (where the adrenal glands underproduce the necessary corticosteroid hormones the body require)
  • pregnancy or nursing
  • prolonged exposure to cold
  • skin lesions leading to significant loss of protein

Symptoms

Weight loss itself is a symptom of an underlying medical condition. A viable diagnosis will allow your vet to establish the root cause behind this symptom and how it presents itself with other clinical signs.

Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will initiate their diagnostic examination with a series of tests to identify the primary cause for the weight loss. After conducting a general check-up of your feline companion, your vet may prescribe one or more of the following tests:

  • ultrasound of abdomen, liver and gall bladder
  • fecal studies
  • biopsy
  • detailed assessment of the pancreas
  • bile acids test
  • X-rays to check the condition of heart, abdominal organs and lungs
  • Complete Blood Count (CBC)
  • urinalysis
  • comprehensive biochemical profile

Treatment

Based on the results of the physical exams and prescribed diagnostic tests, your vet may proceed to treat your kitty’s symptoms if they are too severe in nature for your cat to endure. Nonetheless, a treatment for the condition which is contributing to the weight loss will also be prescribed. This treatment will most likely be administered in association with dietary modifications to restore your cat’s physique to the optimal weight it once was. If your cat is experiencing conditions that make absorbing food challenging, your vet will recommend an easily-digestible dietary solution. Similarly, if your kitty is allergic to certain ingredients contained in their food, removing the offensive components could solve the weight loss problem entirely.    

Continue Reading Below

If your kitty has lost their appetite and is consequently losing weight, it may even be necessary to intervene by way of force-feeding your cat with feeding tubes or intravenously to ensure they receive the necessary nutrients until the vet can treat the cause of anorexia. Appetite stimulants may also be prescribed to trigger hunger pangs.

Management

As a responsible pet parent, ensure that you schedule regular physical examinations with your vet. Follow-up visits are also essential to closely monitor any changes in weight and keep track of your kitty’s treatment progress.

 

Written for inFURmation
by Taliah Williamson

Taking Feline Diabetes Down

Feline diabetes

Diabetes mellitus is being found in a startling number of cats and if left untreated, the consequences can be fatal. It’s essential to be attentive of the signs potentially suggesting the presence of this condition so you can give your cat the best possible treatment at a chance of a quality life.

What is diabetes mellitus?

In a healthy cat, sugar in the form of glucose, is required by the body for energy. The pancreas produces the hormone, insulin, which attaches to cells and indicates when to absorb glucose. This absorption provides essential fuel to the liver, muscles and cells in fat deposits, simultaneously reducing the glucose levels in the blood. Diabetes mellitus is a disease in which some feline bodies are unable to produce or respond to the hormone insulin, thereby causing a dangerous surge in sugar glucose levels.

Type I diabetes is when the pancreas is unable to produce sufficient levels of insulin, resulting in higher concentrations of glucose. Type II diabetes is caused by the body’s cells’ inefficiency to respond properly to insulin. Cats with diabetes typically suffer from Type II.

Clinical Signs

  • Weight loss irrespective of increased appetite
  • Excessive thirst and urination, thereby causing a possibility of dehydration
  • In neglected cases, nerve damage to the hind limbs may occur
  • Depression
  • Coma
  • Death

Diagnosis

Your vet will not only enquire about potential symptoms your cat maybe experiencing, as mentioned above, but they will need to test blood and urine to establish the glucose concentrations therein. Although these symptoms could signal your kitty has diabetes, they may also be the result of several other diseases.

Blood tests to diagnosis diabetes are not always clear-cut because even healthy cats may display elevated glucose levels in their blood, resulting from stress onset by a veterinarian visit, otherwise known as hyperglycemia. Therefore, healthy cats that don’t have diabetes, may have temporary heightened blood glucose concentrations when tested by a vet. To avoid this misconception, veterinarians will alternatively measure the levels of fructosamine in the blood. Cats with acute diabetes will show increased levels of fructosamine which is assumed not to be considerably influenced by stress levels. Fructosamine levels are therefore, accurate in ascertaining the valid blood glucose measures, thereby establishing an accurate diagnosis of diabetes in cats.

Treatment

Treatment of cats with diabetes aims to:

  • Reduce and/or prevent any further weight loss
  • Reduce and/or prevent any further indications of excess thirst and urination
  • Regulate appetite
  • Re-establish blood glucose to normal levels

Insulin Therapy

Diabetic cats are typically treated with injectable insulin and owners can learn to execute the procedure at home. With practice, owners and cats will feel more at ease with the process. Insulin preparations vary in terms of duration and the outcomes associated with fluctuations of blood glucose. Your vet will periodically administer insulin over a duration of between 12 – 24 hours, as a control to determine the type of insulin and dosage rate that ideally manages your cat’s particular blood glucose concentrations.

Diet

Low carbohydrate diets have proven to control blood glucose concentrations in the body. If your cat is underweight, because of the diabetes, ensure to feed them numerous meals a day or allow them unlimited access to their food, both day and night. On the other end of the spectrum, ask your vet to prescribe a diet suitable for an overweight cat which will likely assist their bodies in maintaining more balanced glucose levels.

Management and Monitoring

Although there is no cure for feline diabetes, it can be managed if the owner is well-informed and dedicated to treating the condition. If the disease is treated with commitment, a cat can live a high-quality life for an extended number of years. In some cases, cats may go into remission, no longer depending on insulin treatments. However, owners should still be consistently vigilant of any clinical symptoms of diabetes and maintain a low carbohydrate diet.

Parents of diabetic cats should closely watch their purry pal’s appetite, body weight, water consumption, urination frequency, the quantity of insulin given as well as blood or urine glucose levels. All this information should be recorded and conveyed to your veterinarian on a regular basis. Weakness, lethargy, tremors, seizures and vomiting are signs of hypoglycaemia. In such cases, a glucose solution, dextrose gel or honey should be smeared onto your kitty’s gums followed by an immediate consult with your veterinarian.

As daunting as feline diabetes appears, it really is manageable, and your cat can still live a long, high quality life. With some research and education from reputable sources; commitment to administering the necessary treatments and keeping a watchful eye on your kitty, you’ll be able to take feline diabetes down!

Written for inFURmation
by Taliah Williamson