Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Last few Days for Special Advantage Multi Pricing!

I know I've said it a few times lately, but I cannot stress it enough. The special on Advantage Multi ends on August 31! This means that a box of 6 doses goes back to it's regular price of $87.96 from it's special price of $58.64. Huge difference! Because we do recommend giving the Advantage Multi year-round, it would make the most sense to stock up now, as it won't expire for a year or more.

I know, I know, historically we've always said to give until after the first frost. However, in the last couple of years we've realized that only treating for part of the year doesn't fully take care of the issue at hand. Fleas and ear mites are perfectly capable of surviving through the winter in a warm house, mosquitoes (the carriers for heartworm) will happily take a snooze until there is a day that they think is warm enough to venture forth again. This means that when we get that warm snap in February, they are ready and waiting to pass on their charming parasites! Plus, fleas grow a tough shell for winter, making a winter infestation much harder to kill than a summer one. Ear mites, while they don't seem to get harder in the winter, they can appear at any time, and cause itchiness and ear infections, which can cause ruptured ear drums if left untreated.

Before anybody starts to say that their cat doesn't go outside, I want to point out that it has absolutely no bearing on whether your cat ends up with fleas, ear mites or heartworm. All of these things can come through an open window, on a shoe, on your clothes, on a mouse that decides to visit. Just because you have never had a flea issue doesn't mean that it cannot strike at any time!

Fleas and ear mites are really the least of the issue, though. They mostly cause itchy bug bites (unless you have a cat allergic to them - then it's a huge issue), but heartworm...that is a big scary deal. It turns out that Michigan has a very high heartworm rate in cats, and about 25% of the cats that are found to have it are indoor only cats. That's right - 1 in 4 cats that are diagnosed with heartworm do not go outside at all. Ah, thank you lovely Michigan mosquito population! The even scarier fact is that many of the cats that likely have had a heartworm, we will never even know it until the damage is done. Unlike dogs, heartworms almost never end up in the blood stream, so we don't have much concern for artery blockage. The issue for cats is that the heartworm ends up in the lungs, causing damage that becomes asthma. By the time the asthma shows up, the worm is already dead, and not necessarily detectable on a test.

Since all of this (plus protection against some intestinal parasites) is available in one easy monthly dose, doesn't it make sense to protect your kitty?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cat in a Box!

For those of you who are not familiar with Simon's Cat, I highly recommend that you wander to YouTube and catch all of the cartoons. You'll be amazed at how well Simon has portrayed our fuzzy buddies!

The most recent offering - Simon's Cat in "The Box"

Monday, August 16, 2010

Food, Part 2: Veterinary Diets

Everybody who comes in to our office has noticed that we have a wide array of wet and dry foods sitting on our shelves. With a couple of exceptions, all of these diets are prescription diets, and dispensed almost the same way a medication is dispensed! This means that somebody coming in off of the streets is not able to purchase it without a written prescription, as the wrong food can harm a sick kitty, depending on the illness and the food.

Why prescription foods? Well, if you had the choice of treating an illness with food rather than medication, wouldn't you jump at the opportunity? While we can't promise your kitty will not need medications if they are prescribed one of these special diets, the diet can help to cut down on flareups, or maybe make an illness more treatable.

What can these diets treat? A huge variety of issues! Intestinal issues, urinary crystals, weight management, kidney issues, food allergies - we have diets appropriate for all of these things, in a variety of brands. The reason we carry so many different types of foods is because every kitty is different, and not all will respond to every food the same way. Several foods also will help to treat more than one issue, which can be very important.

The most varied category is the intestinal foods. They are mostly designed to be a bland diet, and easy to digest. This is very important for kitties that have pancreatitis, and IBD. Some of the foods are also high in fiber, which helps to cut down on constipation, and also helps to bind together diarrhea into stool that is more formed and solid. Yes, fiber really can be magic!

Some of the weight loss diets are also high in fiber. Most, however, are higher in protein, which forces the body to work harder to digest. Even more than humans, kitties need the higher protein, lower carb foods to help cut down on the pudge! These diets also tend to be lower in calories.

Also in the high protein scale are the diabetic diets. These sometimes co-mingle with the weight loss diets, but don't necessarily have the low calorie aspect that the weight loss diets have. For cats (and humans!) that are diabetic, avoiding the starches and carbs is a very important step in keeping their blood sugar down to a normal rate. Some diabetic cats can be managed on food alone, but more often they will still need insulin. Keeping their foods low in carbs will help cut down on the amount of insulin that they will need to be given, and help prevent glucose spikes.

On the other end of the protein scale are the kidney diets. Science has been telling us for years that kitties in renal failure need lower protein diets to help keep their kidneys from fighting to function. Recent research is starting to show that this may not actually be the case, but the renal foods still can be very beneficial, as they also have a lower phosphorus content, and generally help to increase drinking.

Urinary diets are made to help control the formation of crystals in urine, and help maintain a normal pH level. Most formulas have been revamped in the last few years, and will now help prevent the formation of both struvites and oxylates, the two most common types of crystals. While there is no food that will also dissolve oxylates, the foods will dissolve struvites, the type we usually see. Keeping the pH level is also critical, as crystals will form quicker in urine that is too acidic or alkaline.

Allergy diets are made with novel proteins so that a kitty with food allergies can eat and avoid some of the awful symptoms they've been having. Anything from ear and skin infections to diarrhea or constipation can be caused by food allergies! By introducing a novel protein, the kitty's body can start to purge the bad allergens out, and still get all of the nutrition that they need.

If we do end up recommending one of these diets for your cat, please remember that we do this for a good reason: we think it will help. Depending on what food you are feeding now, it may be priced a little higher per bag or can, but if it helps keep your kitty healthier, it's well worth it in the end. It may well help keep your kitty from coming in between well visits!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

When Dryers Attack!

Everybody knows that cats love warm places, but not all warm places are appropriate places for a kitty to curl up. One of the most hazardous warm spots is the dryer, as the tumbling motion can cause internal and external damage, and the heat can cause severe injuries. Unfortunately, one of our patients found this out the hard way. He did survive to tell the "tail", and will happily make a full recovery. His mom gave us permission to share his story and pictures, to help others understand why it's so important to check before starting the dryer, and why you need to check immediately if you hear a thump or odd noise while it is running. Because Skippy is a Sphynx, which is an essentially hairless cat, the damage that can be done is immediately obvious.

Skippy's day began like any other. Eat, wander the house, get into mischief, curl up in a favorite spot to nap. The big problem, though, is that one of Skippy's favorite things to do was to "help" with laundry, and try to sneak in with it. Everybody knew to make sure he wasn't there when it was started, but one missed time is all it took....and Skippy went on a carnival ride he would have preferred to avoid. He only was in there for maybe 3 minutes, but that was more than enough time to do some damage.

At this point, Skippy is on a couple of pain medications, because keeping him comfortable will help him heal faster. He is also on an antibiotic to help prevent infections, as well as a salve for the burns themselves. So far he's doing very well, eating and drinking, although still moving a bit slower than normal. In the end, he'll heal up well, and hopefully remember never to sneak into the dryer again.

For those about to yell about bad kitty parents, let me explain that Skippy's mom is a very good kitty mom - she got him to the vet as soon as she was made aware of the situation. As awful as it all was, it was well and truly an accident. Knowing that Skippy liked to sneak into the dryer, everybody in the family always checked before turning it on, and this one time he was likely hiding amongst the towels, and just got missed. Because bumping and thumping was heard, the dryer was opened, and Skippy was saved. Always remember that accidents do happen, but that prompt medical attention can make all the difference!!!