March 30, 2010

What is Cat Hyperthyroidism?

A common cat health condition, hyperthyroidism is characterized by the overproduction of thyroid. The thyroid gland is found in your cat’s neck and is usually responsible for maintaining a healthy metabolism. With an increased production of the hormone thyroid, your cat’s metabolism speeds up and many internal organs are affected. While hyperthyroidism is a fairly common condition in older cats, it should not be left untreated. Cat hyperthyroidism is frequently associated with high blood pressure because the increased metabolism causes the heart to pump faster and harder.

There are various symptoms that you can look out for if you suspect your cat may be suffering from hyperthyroidism. Most affected cats are at least 12 years of age or older and cats with hyperthyroidism tend to lose weight because of their increased metabolism. In many cases, cats with hyperthyroidism will have an increased appetite as they’re trying to make up for the calories being burned by their accelerated metabolic rate. Weight loss may be rapid or gradual so it’s not always obvious that your cat may be suffering from a condition like hyperthyroidism. Other signs of cat hyperthyroidism include excessive drinking and urination, vomiting, diarrhea, and anorexia.

Some serious complications are associated with cat hyperthyroidism, namely hypertension and thyrotoxic cardiomyopathy. Because of the excess pressure put on the heart by increased metabolism, serious heart conditions are a major risk which is why you should always seek treatment from a veterinarian. In most cases, your veterinarian will try to control the amount of thyroid hormone being released by the thyroid gland. This usually involves either drug therapy, surgery, radioactive iodine treatment or some combination of the three.

March 29, 2010

Diabetes in Dogs

diabetic dogJust like for humans, when left untreated diabetes can be a very serious illness for your dog. There are two types of diabetes in dogs: Type 1 and Type 2. The difference between these two types has little to do with the symptoms or treatment for the disease except that dogs with type 1 diabetes are insulin dependent while dogs with type 2 diabetes are not. Generally speaking however, the symptoms of type 1 and type 2 dog diabetes are the same. High blood sugar, extreme thirst, excessive urination, weight loss, poor skin and coat, and dehydration are all common symptoms of dog diabetes.

If you know or suspect your dog has diabetes, it’s important to discuss treatment options with your veterinarian. The main treatments for diabetes usually involve lifestyle changes. Your diabetic dog should be put on a low fat diet that is rich in whole foods, vegetables, and nutrients. A dog with diabetes should eat a diet that is also full of fiber and complex carbohydrates as this can help to lower blood sugar levels. Moreover, you should also start your dog on a regular exercise program. A healthy diet and routine exercise are two of the best ways to control type 1 and type 2 diabetes, but as already mentioned dogs with type 1 diabetes will also require insulin treatments.

Most importantly, proper care and monitoring of your dog will be important and you should build a comfortable relationship with your veterinarian. It will be important to communicate openly with your vet about your dog’s health and the future treatment outcomes for your diabetic dog. Remember that dogs with diabetes can continue to live a relatively normal life but as the pet owner it will be your responsibility to ensure that your dog adheres to a healthy diet and exercise plan.

March 28, 2010

Ear Infections in Dogs

Have you ever noticed that your dog’s ears have a terrible smell or that your dog constantly scratches his ears? These are two of the most common symptoms of ear infection, or Otitis externa in dogs. Ear disease can be caused by any number of factors from bacterial to trauma and they can cause a considerable amount of pain and discomfort for your dog. The problem with treating ear infections is that there are myriad causes and dispensing antibiotics may or may not be an effective treatment. Nevertheless, ear infections in dogs are fairly common and are not usually serious and with a quick visit to the veterinarian you can usually clear up a dog ear infection quickly.

Before visiting your veterinarian, try to identify whether or not your dog is suffering from an ear infection. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Odor
  • Discharge in the ears
  • our dog constantly scratches or rubs his ears and head
  • Inflammation of the ear flap or canal
  • Repetitive shaking or tilting of the head
  • Pain in the ears
  • Behavioral changes such as depression or irritability

Otitis externa is a type of ear infection that causes inflammation of the outer ear canal and some 20% of dogs will suffer from this condition at one time or another. The causes of ear infections in dogs are numerous and include but are not limited to:

  • Allergies
  • Parasites
  • Bacterial or yeast infections
  • Foreign bodies
  • Trauma
  • Hormonal problems
  • Immune conditions
  • Heredity
  • Tumors

While dog ear infections are typically minor conditions, they can cause an extreme amount of pain for your dog and therefore must be taken seriously. In addition, ear infections can be signs of more serious illnesses so it’s best to have them looked at by your vet.

March 26, 2010

The benefits of making your own dog food

While commercial pet food is usually healthy and meets the nutritional requirements for your pets, the fact is that you don’t always know what’s in this food. In the past couple of years there has been a surge in the number of pet deaths related to commercial pet foods. These deaths were almost always the result of some kind of bacterial contamination and while the risk of illness associated with commercial pet food is low, it’s still nice to have the option to make your own pet food from home.

First of all, it’s never advisable to feed your pet table scraps. Dogs or cats that are fed from the dinner table tend to develop begging behavior not to mention the fact that human food isn’t always appropriate for animals. However, if you’re interested in making your own pet food, speak to your veterinarian about which foods are healthy for your animal and which are not. Online you can find a variety of recipes that are good for your animal but you need to keep a couple things in mind. First of all, the size of your pet will determine the size of portions. Moreover, if your cat or dog gets a lot of exercise, they’ll need to eat more. But you want to be careful to balance your pet’s caloric intake with expenditure so that weight gain isn’t a concern.

While making your own pet food can be time consuming, animals generally prefer fresh meals and they can be much better for their health as well. Commercial pet foods often contain preservatives and additives but with homemade pet food you have total control over what your pet is eating. Just remember to feed your animal a balanced diet with proteins, vitamins, and other nutrients.

March 25, 2010

It’s time to say goodbye – Pet Euthanasia

Filed under: euthanasia,euthanize a pet,pet euthanasia,putting your pet down — Dr. Amber Reed @ 10:03 am

When you first bring home your puppy or kitten, you probably feel overwhelmed with love and you’re definitely not thinking about the day when the end comes. Nevertheless, one of the most traumatic experiences of pet ownership is the death of your beloved animal. In some cases, your dog or cat may become so sick that you have to decide whether your pet should be forced to live through the pain anymore. Many pet owners turn to euthanasia to prevent their pet from unnecessary suffering, but it is still an incredibly difficult action to take.

Obviously, not all cases of illness in pets should be treated with euthanasia and as the pet owner you’ll need to make some very serious considerations.

  • Has your pet been suffering through incurable pain?
  • Has your veterinarian advised that treatment is not an option?
  • Has your dog or cat suffered from severe injuries where recovery is not likely?
  • Is your pet suffering from an age-related condition that is likely to get worse over time?
  • Does your pet have a terminal illness that will cause great pain and discomfort?

euthanasia for petsThe decision to euthanize a pet is never an easy one but is often the best option for your pet. Never take these decisions lightly and always try to consider the quality of life of your dog or cat. You can try to evaluate the happiness of your pet before continuing. There are several signs that your dog or cat is miserable, and probably ready to give up on the fight. Loss of appetite, social withdrawal, lethargy, self-neglect, incontinence, and cries of pain are all indications that an ill or elderly cat or dog may be nearing the end of life. It’s time for you to prepare your goodbyes and let your beloved companion rest in peace.

March 24, 2010

The best bed for your puppy

You like to sleep in a nice comfy bed so why wouldn’t your puppy? When you have a dog, you should provide him or her with their own bed so they can rest and relax, and so they stay out of your bed. Moreover, a puppy bed is not only good for comfort but it’s better for your dog’s fur as well. Regardless of your reasons for getting a dog bed, there are a few different styles and you want to select something that will be good for the life of your dog.

First of all, there are very simple doggy mattresses that come in different shapes. These dog bets can sometimes fit nicely into a dog house and can even be used indoors. Buy something that is resistant to chewing and that can be easily cleaned in your washing machine. Also, consider the full size of your dog and not their current puppy size. Obviously, most puppies will grow so you want to get a bed that will be big enough for them as an adult.

Another style of doggy bed is the pet tent which combines the mattress with a dog house. Especially if your puppy is crate trained, and this is always recommended, she’ll get comfortable having a private place to relax alone. A pet tent provides the best of both worlds for your puppy: a nice cozy place to sleep and a private enclosure to escape a noisy house. Just remember that you have to consider the adult size of your dog when purchasing a pet tent as well.

Your dog’s bed is not only a place for sleeping but helps protect their muscles, bones, and fur for the long term. Just as you wouldn’t want to sleep on the floor every night of your life, neither does your dog. Get a proper puppy bed so your dog can get a good night’s rest.

March 23, 2010

Choosing A Veterinarian

Filed under: learning about veterinarians,veterinarian,vets,your vet,your veterinarian — Dr. Amber Reed @ 5:36 pm

Whether you’re new to a neighborhood or you’re a new pet owner, choosing a veterinarian is one of the most important things you’ll do for your pet. Ideally, your veterinarian will have superior medical skills but will also have excellent people and animal skills. Your relationship with your veterinarian should be based on open communication, trust, and mutual concern for your pet’s health.

One very effective way of learning about veterinarians in your area is to speak to friends or family members with pets. Word of mouth is often the only way you’ll really be able to evaluate the skills of a veterinarian. If you haven’t got many friends in the area try speaking to groomers, trainers, or other professionals that care for animals. Try to compile a list of recommended veterinarians that you can then visit to ask a few questions.

Unless you’re in an emergency situation, always visit a vet’s office before taking your pet in to see him or her. You want to see that their facilities are clean and organized and that the staff members are friendly and helpful. The best veterinarians will give you a tour of their facilities and will be happy to cooperate in an initial interview.

Large veterinary offices often have several different vets working at the same time and they often share workloads. You want to know that your pet is going to be well cared for. Make sure the office has the capacity to meet your needs and the needs of your pet. Request to speak to several staff members, veterinarians, and technicians so you get an idea of whether you’ll be comfortable with the people caring for your pet.

You can never take your pet’s health too seriously and finding a good veterinarian can make a huge difference in your pet’s life, sometimes a life-saving difference.

March 18, 2010

Compulsions in Cats

You may have heard of obsessive compulsive disorder in relation to humans but you may not be aware that compulsive behavior can also be seen in cats. Compulsions are behaviors that are driven by an irresistible desire to repeat that behavior and are usually extensions of normal behavior like eating, grooming, or sexual behaviors. Certain behaviors are deemed compulsive when your cat cannot control them and when they occur in inappropriate contexts. Among the most common compulsions in cats are wool sucking or fabric eating, constant licking, and hair chewing or pulling. Many of these compulsions can pose health risks to your cat; for example, cats who eat fabric may suffer from obstructions in their intestines and constant licking can cause skin lesions.

The causes of compulsive behaviors in cats are not exactly clear, but as in with humans, compulsive cats are usually high-stress cats that may also be suffering from some kind of anxiety disorder. In many cases, compulsions replace another behavior that the cat cannot perform. For example, if your cat is stressed because you leave the house and she wants to stop you but can’t she may resort to excessive licking in an attempt to soothe herself. These behaviors first appear in stressful situations but become more common and may occur even when your cat is calm.

It can be very difficult to cure a cat of compulsive behaviors and a combination of behavior modification techniques, drug therapy, and environmental changes may be required. Essentially, you need to teach your cat more appropriate behavior and you may need to remove stressful stimuli. It is important to never punish a cat because of her compulsions as this will often increase her stress and may actually reinforce the behavior. Moreover, restraints are also not very effective for preventing compulsions. Instead, visit your veterinarian and discuss different ways to help your cat overcome her compulsions.

March 17, 2010

What Should I do if I think my Pet has been Poisoned?

Filed under: pet poisoning,poisoned pet,what happens if my pet was poisoned — Dr. Amber Reed @ 1:30 pm

pet poisoningPet poisoning is a very serious issue and one that contributes to thousands of dog and cat deaths every year. The fact is, many of the products we use around the house, from cleaners to car maintenance, can be very dangerous for pets and need to be safely stored to prevent poisoning. Still, from time to time, pets may eat, inhale, or absorb poisons through their skin. While some of these poisons take effect immediately, and are recognized by various symptoms, some poisons may take days or even weeks to appear making them very difficult to diagnose.

Your first step when you suspect your dog or cat may have been poisoned is to call the veterinarian. Preventing further harm is your first priority and your vet is the most qualified person to diagnose poisoning and will suggest the appropriate solution. Because different poisons are associated with different side effects, you will most likely not be able to diagnose the problem yourself. Even if you know the exact name of the poison and how it was consumed by your cat (ingested, inhaled, or absorbed) you may not know what to do to treat it.

feline cancerTypically, your veterinarian will want to get as much information from you as possible. He or she will ask about the name of the poison, how your pet consumed it, how much of the poison was consumed, when it was consumed, the weight of your pet, and the symptoms your pet is showing.

Keep in mind, that different options for different poisons make it dangerous for you to try to self-treat your pet. Some toxins, for example, should be vomited up while for others this can be a life threatening solution. Therefore, if you suspect poisoning in your dog or cat, visit your veterinarian or emergency clinic immediately.

March 16, 2010

How do I know if my dog has a urinary tract infection?

dog behavior problems urinatingDog urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by bacterial infections and are more common in female dogs, with their shorter urethras, than male dogs. Urinary tract infections in dogs can occur in various places. In females, urinary tract infections can affect the vaginal wall and then the urethra while in males they commonly affect the prostate. Left untreated, urinary tract infections in dogs can lead to more serious, even left threatening infections of other major organs. As such, the ability to identify the symptoms of urinary tract infection during its early stages can save your dog a lot of discomfort.

Some symptoms of dog urinary tract infections include

  • Frequent urination attempts
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Fever
  • Tenderness in the abdomen
  • Foul smelling urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Inappropriate or sudden urination

canine urinary tract infectionAs a dog owner, you should be aware of changes in your dog’s urination behavior. If your dog needs to go out more, appears to be straining to urinate, or suddenly urinates in inappropriate places, you should be aware that these are signs of a problem. Should you recognize the above symptoms, a visit to the vet is in order.

Often treating dog urinary tract infections involves antibacterial medications but there are also some preventative measures that you can take to avoid the outcome. Regularly bathe your dog so that their genital area is always clean and make sure your dog drinks plenty of water. Also, make sure that your dog has ample opportunity to urinate. As with humans, it’s unhealthy to hold urine for too long and this can increase the likelihood of urinary tract infections in dogs.

Urinary tract infections needed be serious conditions so be vigilant and visit the vet if you suspect a problem.

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Disclaimer: CritterCures is an educational resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure diseases, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet are taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.