April 24, 2013

Hairballs in Cats

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. Amber Reed @ 7:44 pm

Cat HairballHairballs: a cat’s worst enemy.

No cat owner enjoys the site of seeing their poor kitty vomiting up foam and moist balls of hair. Though hairballs are a notorious cat trademark, they have the potential to cause serious health problems.

Hairballs are created due to activities like grooming, where hair enters the digestive system. Although the feline digestive system is unable to digest hair, a diet with a good amount of fiber, fat, and oil will allow some hair to pass through. When there is too much hair that enters the digestive system, or if a cat has a lack of fiber, fat, and oil in his diet, this is when hair is vomited out of the system in the form of a hairball.

Now this may seem all fine – a hairball will be vomited out, cats are known for this; so what’s the big deal? Well, hairballs can have serious health implications that include:

• Eliminating appetite
• Acting as a cork in the intestinal tract, leading to a serious infections
• Causing diarrhea or constipation
• Inducing vomiting all year long
• Requiring surgical removal (severe cases)

As a cat owner, what can you do to help ease the stress of hairballs in your cat?

• Groom your cat more often
• Provide a high quality diet, rich in essential vitamins and minerals
• Administer a vet-approved oral lubricant 2-3 hours before a meal
• Feed your cat ½ tsp of butter daily
• Rub Vaseline onto the roof of your cat’s mouth or onto his fur
• Offer a pinch of psyllium powder to your cat

Of course, every cat is different. You may need to try different products and remedies for different cats. When unsure about a product or remedy, always consult your vet.

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April 16, 2013

Cushing’s Disease in Dogs

cushing's disease in dogsRead the following symptoms:

  • • Urinating often
  • • Drinking and eating very often
  • • Loss of body hair
  • • Thinner skin
  • • Bumps on the skin
  • • Increased energy
  • • Weight gain

Though these are common symptoms for many pet related illnesses, they are particularly linked with Cushing’s disease in dogs. Cushing’s s the overproduction of a hormone called glucocorticosteroids, by the adrenal glands.

There are surprisingly only two known causes of the overproduction of hormones by the adrenal glands. One cause is that the pituitary gland, a gland in the brain that is directly related to the adrenal gland, triggers the overproduction. Many animal health practitioners believe that this could be related to psychological and physical stress. The second cause, and a less occurring cause, is that a tumor on the adrenal glands causes the over production. In most cases the tumor is benign, but there have been cases where the tumor is cancerous.

To treat the disease, there are conventional options where a veterinarian will prescribe medication. There are also natural options where a license practitioner will alter a pet’s diet, provide herbal supplements, or administer homeopathic drugs.

It is important to know that there is no singular way to prevent Cushing’s disease in dogs. Often, health practitioners recommend feeding your pet a nutritious diet, while also ensuring that your pet does not feel psychological or physical stress.

Cushing’s disease is more common in dogs than in cats. Nonetheless, if you suspect that your cat or dog has Cushing’s Disease, request your veterinarian to perform a blood test in order to check your pet’s hormone levels and adrenal functioning. Leaving Cushing’s disease untreated in your pet can lead to further health problems that may be severe.

We’re social! Do you have a comment, question, or concern about Cushing’s Disease? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or the comment box below.

March 15, 2013

Kidney Disease Awareness for Cats and Dogs

Did you know that it is National Kidney Awareness Month? Similar to how kidney disease can affect humans, it can also develop in pets. As a matter of fact, kidney disease is the second leading cause of death in cats. This is pretty scary if you’re a cat owner, right?

What do kidneys even do? Well, they are organs that have two main jobs:

1. Remove waste/toxins from the blood
2. Maintain bodily fluids

The job that kidneys perform is just as important as the job of our hearts. Without kidneys, animals, as well as humans, would die.

The problem with kidney disease is that it is hard to detect until it is too late. When you begin to see symptoms of the disease in your cat or dog, it is likely that 75% of their kidneys are already damaged. Such symptoms include:

• Increased thirst
• Increased urination
• Cloudy urine
• Loss of appetite
• Weight loss
• Bad breath
• Ulcers in the mouth and on the tongue
• Dull coats with heavy shedding

Since kidney disease is hard to detect until most of the damage is done, you have to take care of your pet’s kidney health (and all aspects of their health) the moment you become a pet owner. In order to do this, make sure that you take your furry friend for yearly check-ups with your vet, and ensure that your vet is doing yearly blood work. It is easier to detect illnesses, like kidney disease, through blood tests than relying on symptoms.

If your cat, dog, or any other pet has kidney disease, it is likely that your doctor will recommend the following treatment options:

1. Diet change
2. Fluid therapy
3. Various medications

Make sure you do the research regarding the pros and cons of all treatments. There are even natural options to help with kidney disease that you may find more suitable for your pet.

Below is a list of cat and dog breeds that are the most susceptible to kidney disease:


• Abyssinian
• Persian
• Siamese


• Beagles
• Bull and Cairn Terriers
• Chow Chows
• Dalmations
• Doberman Pinchers
• English Cocker Spaniels
• German Sheperds
• Minature Schnauzers
• Poodles
• Shar-Peis
• Samoyeds
• Shih Tzus

We’re social! Do you have a question, comment, or concern? Let us know by leaving a comment below or by clicking the following links to our social media pages: Facebook and Twitter.

March 5, 2013

Breed of the Month: Newfoundland

Filed under: Dog Breeds,dogs,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:00 am

As a child, did you ever watch Peter Pan and thought to yourself “I wish I could have a dog like Nana that would take care of me.” Well, it’s possible. Nana wasn’t some made up dog; she was a Newfoundland. The Newfoundland (aka: Newfie, Newf, or Greater St. John’s Dog), is named from its origins in Newfoundland, Canada, is a working breed known as the ‘Gentle Giant’ (obviously gentle as we saw in Peter Pan).

The breed is classified as large, with males weighing anywhere from 130-150lbs and females weighing from 100-120lbs. Their thick, water-proof coats and webbed feet, make the Newfoundland excellent swimmers and resistant to harsh cold climates. Their long coats require brushing several times a week, and may be black, brown, or gray.

Though the breed is large and could make an intimidating first impression, Newfoundlands are noble, honest, and hard working. They are said to be sweet tempered and as a result are good family dogs. However, as a puppy, the Newfoundland may not be aware of its own size, so be cautious if this breed is around small children. The large dogs must be trained at a young age in order to avoid bad habits and to build socialization skills.

The breed requires to be walked a few times a day, but should not participate in rigorous exercise. Intense exercise can create stress on their joints and may result in future health problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia. Other health problems Newfoundlands may develop are cystinuria and a heart condition called Subvacular Aortic Stenosis (SAS). The life span of the breed is from 8-10 years.

For more information about Newfoundlands visit the Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada.

Do you have a Newfoundland? Maybe a question, comment, or concern? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or the comment box below.

February 14, 2013

Dog Stories That Inspire Us to Love

Filed under: Dog Stories,dogs,Uncategorized — Tags: , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 12:00 pm

There are so many stories that we hear about people, heroes who risk their lives. Well there are four legged heroes that rescue us every day. Here is the story of Wendy Young and Izabelle from Lakeland, Florida. Her story, and more, can be found on Pet Place.

Yes, dogs do sense when people need them. I have seen it in action with my Golden Retriever Izabelle on our therapy visits. When she was just nine months old we went to visit the residents at a nursing home with a therapy dog group. The residents were brought into a room and we took the dogs around to meet them. Izzy kept trying to make her way over to a gentleman sitting by the door in a wheelchair. None of the others in our group was paying any attention to him. Finally she just pulled me over to this man. She sat down beside his chair and laid her head in his lap. He tried to pet her but his hands kept shaking, so she gently laid her head on his hands to stop the shaking and just sat there with him like that for the longest time. He lowered his head to her ear and kept whispering to her, “beautiful baby,” he kept repeating that in a whisper over and over to her. I looked up at the nurse standing behind his wheelchair and she had tears in her eyes. It seems this gentleman had not spoken a word to anyone or anything in the four months he had been in the home. She was so happy that my Izabelle had brought some comfort and joy back into his life. When we went to leave, he touched my hand and thanked me for bring Izabelle to meet him. She seems to have a gift for knowing the one person who needs her the most when we visit nursing homes.

Pets are amazing. We love pets and would love to hear an amazing pet story from you! Share your story in the comment box below, on Facebook, or send us a link to a story on Twitter.


February 12, 2013

Pet Health: Smoking and Your Furry Friend

Filed under: cats,dogs,pet health,pets,puppy health,Smoking,Uncategorized,Your Pet — Tags: , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 1:00 pm

At one point or another, we have all been told that smoking is bad for our health. We have been shown the impact of tar on human organs, we have been told about the many cancers that can result from smoking, and time after time we are informed of the dangers of secondhand smoke. Full of this knowledge on the health risks related to smoking, have you ever consider the impact that smoking may have on your pet?

Just as smoking may affect the people around you, studies have shown that it may also impact your pets. When someone smokes, toxins are released into the very same air that your pet breathes in. When breathing in air, the toxins move through your pet’s mouth, into their lungs, and throughout their circulation system. This process is repeated every time your furry friend takes a breath. Moreover, toxins that are released into the air come in contact with your pet’s fur and skin. When grooming themselves, pets lick their fur, fur on which toxins like nicotine and tar may collect. The nicotine and tar enters your pet’s mouth and digestive system each time they lick themselves.

Smoking effects and pet health

Studies have shown that a few effects that second-hand smoke can have on your pet are:

  • Cancers: lymphoma, lung, and nasal
  • Respiratory problems
  • Allergies
  • Skin diseases
  • Eye infections
  • Vomiting
  • Salivation

It is common for us to hear the effects that smoking has upon humans, that we may forget to think about how our pets are impacted. Next time you think of lighting up near your pet, think about the effects that smoking might have on their health.


We’re social! Leave a comment, question, or story about smoking and pet health on Facebook, Twitter, or the comment box below.

April 21, 2012

5 New and Unusual Cats

Filed under: Cat Breeds,Uncategorized — Tags: , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 8:14 am

an exotic cat Cats have been around for thousands of years, and in that time they have had a chance to evolve into some interesting varieties. Sometimes you can see a cat with an odd color, or really large or with a crooked tail. Well, the following breeds are unique to say the least; in fact, they take unusual to a whole new level.

  • Khao Manee is actually a very old breed that has been in the Philippines for over 650 years. It is considered to be a very lucky animal to own and as such was kept by the Indonesians until finally a breeding pair was allowed to leave to the United States in 1999. The cats look like a Siamese cat but are pure white and have one gold eye and one blue. They are so valuable that kittens can sell for $8-10,0000 dollars apiece.
  • American Bobtail is a large sturdy cat that is very playful and can be easily taught to play fetch. Although it resembles a bobcat, it does not have any of that breeding in it, although to be a registered cat, it must have a short stub tail that stands up straight. It can be trained easily to walk calmly on a leash. They are very clever and can free themselves from almost any crate or enclosure, and this may reflect their strong bond onto their owners.
  • Don Sphynx was just developed in 1980 in Russia. It is a genetically bred hairless cat where the hairless gene is dominant unlike the regular Sphynx cat where it is recessive. Being dominant assures that this cat loses its hair by the age of 2. Being hairless, their skin does require extra care and a daily bath is recommended. They have elongated toes, which they can use much like fingers to play with their toys. They have higher body temperature which makes them more immune from disease, but increases their caloric demands.
  • Peterbald is a cross between a Don Sphynx and Oriental Shorthair and is a very new breed that was just recognized by the International Cat Association in 1997. It is a friendly breed that gets along with other cats and pets. It can be hairless, but also comes in 3 other coat types including a curly haired coat. They have a medium build with a whip like tail, long ears and almond eyes.
  • Tea Cup Persians are actually regular Persians that have been bred to be very small by selection. They are not genetic mutants but can have more problems if highly inbred to be this small. They grow to be only 6 lbs or less at adult weight. They have become increasing popular in the last few years along with the popularity of teacup pigs, teacup dogs and miniature horses. They have the same features as the full size Persians along with the same health problems Persians have. Due to their rarity, they can be more expensive than full size Persians.

A good place to see many exotic cats and their enthusiastic owners is a local cat show. The exhibitors are always ready to share their knowledge and years of experience with visitors and it is amazing to see the variety of cats being exhibited at even a small event.

August 16, 2010

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus Vaccine

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. Amber Reed @ 7:59 am

feline immunodeficiency virus treatmentLike HIV, feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is a highly contagious disease that eventually results in the development of an AIDS-like syndrome.  The prevalence of FIV in North America hovers around 2.5 per cent, although the virus may be much more prevalent in other countries (up to 44 per cent in some locations).  It is generally believed that there are five strains of FIV that each causes an AIDS-like syndrome in cats.  In fact, FIV is the only non-primate variation of immunodeficiency viruses that are associated with AIDS.  While not usually fatal in cats, the effect of FIV on the immune system of house cats has justified the development of a vaccine.

In March of 2002, researchers announced that they had discovered a vaccine for FIV which was subsequently approved by the FDA.  The discovery of this vaccine was not only of great importance in the veterinary world but was also heralded as a breakthrough in the search for a vaccine for HIV.  The excitement about the vaccine notwithstanding, subsequent researchers and veterinarians have questioned its efficacy.  Indeed, since its introduction to the medical community, the FIV vaccine has been criticized for many reasons.

First of all, all cats treated with the FIV vaccine test positive for the virus.  For many cat owners, this has sparked justifiable fears that if their cat runs away and is found by animal control, it will likely be destroyed because it is FIV-positive.  In addition, the vaccine does not provide full protection against the virus.  At the moment, researchers are aware of 5 subtypes of FIV but the vaccine only protects against two of those strains.  Finally, the FIV vaccine has been shown to possibly cause sarcomas which are equally dangerous to FIV.

Ultimately, whether you should vaccinate your cat against FIV is a very tricky decision and one that should not be taken lightly.  Speak to your veterinarian and make an informed choice regarding the health of your cat.

August 13, 2010

Stress in Cats

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. Amber Reed @ 7:52 am

Stress can have serious implications for the health of your cat.  Just like stress in humans has a negative impact on various organ systems, stress in cats can likewise lead to more severe illnesses.  Moreover, stress in cats is often manifested in behavioral problems like litter box avoidance, scratching, aggression, and even depression.  Because stress in cats is known to exacerbate existing medical conditions while creating behavioral issues, it is important to limit your cat’s exposure to stressful situations.

Like humans, stress in cats may be the result of emotional factors.  Separation anxiety and the associated feelings of loneliness are among the most likely causes of stress in cats.  Furthermore, environmental changes, exposure to new family members or pets, loud noises, and other environmental problems can lead to stress in cats.  The most important responsibility you have as a cat owner is to help your cat alleviate stress and to avoid stressful situations.

Exercise is crucial for cats, humans, and just about any animal for coping with stress.  Our stress responses have developed over many generations as a way to help us avoid dangerous situations and as a result, stress is actually a very natural response.  Too much stress, unfortunately, causes serious health problems.  Exercise is known to reduce stressful feelings while also promoting healthier responses in stressful situations.  Regular play and even walks around the neighborhood are great ways for your cat to get the exercise it needs to reduce stress.

In addition, there are a number of natural remedies available for stress.  The efficacy of such remedies, which are usually developed using plant and herbal extracts, is yet to be seen but many cat owners rave about holly, rock rose, and vine essences for ameliorating stress in their cats.  Still, most importantly, you can reduce your cat’s exposure to stressful situations.  Give your cat time to adjust to new environments and introduce new family members gradually.  Ultimately, your cat will be happier.

July 8, 2010

Protect Your Pet’s Coat and Skin

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. Amber Reed @ 7:55 pm

Vitamins, minerals, protein, and fat are all aspects of your pet’s diet that help them to maintain a healthy coat and skin.  Without proper nutrition, their skin may become dry or too oily.  Your pet’s coat is vital to protecting their skin and body as it can keep foreign bodies out and prevents bacterial and viral infection.  In addition, your pet’s coat is vital for regulating body temperature.  Changes in your pet’s coat are usually a sign of some kind of nutritional deficiency and should not be overlooked.

For the most part, the coat of your dog or cat is made from protein.  When pet’s suffer from a lack of protein in their diet, their coat can become weak, brittle, and dry and you may even notice that their hair is always falling out.  On the contrary, your pet’s skin is composed of flat, tightly packed cells with durable membranes of fat and protein.  When these membranes are weakened because of nutritional deficiencies, water can escape the cells and your dog or cat are more susceptible to viral and bacterial infections.

Ensure that your pets receive an adequate diet rich in protein, fats, and the proper minerals and vitamins.  Animal-based proteins from meat are the best source of protein for your pets.  As far as fats are concerned, your pets need adequate amounts of linoleic acid and arachidonic acid which are both omega-6 fatty acids.  Linoleic acid helps to condition the skin and coat while arachidonic acid prevents the coat from becoming dry.

In addition to proper nutrition, regular grooming helps to maintain your pet’s coat.  Brushing your dog, for example, helps to distribute natural oils through the coat so it is strong and healthy.  As a side benefit, regularly brushing your pets removes loose hairs that often end up on your furniture, draperies, and flooring.

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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.