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    HUSH LITTLE KITTY DON'T YOU CRY..    

 

         Most of us that have ever lived with a cat can agree that cats seem to have a concept of time that is often out of sync with that of our own. Take for example their preferred sleep-wake cycle. Cats want to sleep through most of the day rousing themselves mostly just to change their body position, eat or visit their facilities. Then they start to liven up in the early evening and want to play and solicit from us our undivided attention, which is most often the time when we humans are wanting to read, spend some time on our computer devices or simply put up our feet and relax.    If gently rebuffed, many cats will then resort to pawing delicately at our books or newspaper pages or standing on the zzzzzzzzzzzzzz of our keyboard, all the while plaintively meowing and staring directly at our faces until we give up and give them the attention they want.

 

          Fortunately, there are numerous quite simple and inexpensive solutions that can solve the problems associated with the demand for entertainment from a bored cat.   Of course, ultimately, direct owner interaction is what most cats want.  Thus, the majority of young cats and many athletic adult cats enjoy fetching cat toys for their owners and chasing after objects that are swung about. Very inexpensive, homemade chase objects are often appreciated even more than commercial ones.   For example, paper towel or toilet paper roll ends cut into small sections and scissor-fringed then tied to long laces can make great interactive chase toys.

 

       For evenings  when direct interaction is not possible,  cat-feeding toys, puzzle toys and cat treat mazes are available commercially to help keep them entertained.  Much less expensively, ice cube trays containing frozen food or plastic soda bottles with cutout holes to periodically release food can serve as an entertainment centre for cats prone to boredom.

 

      Another example of common discord between a person’s natural circadian rhythms and a cat’s is that the majority of cats are early risers.  It doesn’t matter a hoot to them, of course that you may have been tossing and turning most of the night suffering from insomnia and have finally managed to drift off in the early morning hours,  or perhaps are trying to catch up on some sleep from a late evening out.  In  the early hours of the morning they want food and attention; period the end.   A cat can become very irritating or even frantic until his or her needs are met.  Most cat owners can relate to the experience of having their cat jumping onto their stomach or pawing at their face to attract their attention in the early hours of the morning.  If they are kept in a separate room, cats can demonstrate mild to extreme behavior ranging from plaintive non-stop meowing to howling, scratching at doors, jumping up at door handles and even banging into walls until their needs are met. 

 

      Again, fortunately, there are effective methods available, should the need arise, to help calm the early riser and to help him or her sleep a little longer. Sometimes all that is required is additional play and vigorous exercise sessions just prior to their bedtime.   For the more laid-back cats that prefer to sleep through the majority of the day, waking them up or keeping them more active throughout the day will benefit their overall health as well as help to keep them asleep a little longer in the mornings. It also may help to modify a cat’s feeding schedule to include bedtime feeding or to use a timed automatic feeder that will deliver a pre-measured amount of food at a programmed early hour.

 

     For the more frantic early risers, there are alternative relaxation agents such as pheromone sprays and diffusers and medications such as tranquilizers, antihistamines and hormones such as melatonin that can help. Of course, it is important to consult with your veterinarian before considering giving any of these or  any other medications to your furry friend.

 

     “ So hush little baby, (“Kitty”) don’t you cry,

       Daddy loves you and so do I”.   

 

   

 

 

             

                                 Our Case of the Month:  “ Jacko, the “paper snatcher”

       Earlier this month Jacko, a very attractive three-month-old male Aussiedoodle arrived at our clinic.   An Aussiedoodle, as you probably already have guessed, is a mix of genes of two breeds, the Australian shepherd and a Standard Poodle.  We learned from his proud owners that he was born in Stonefort, Illinois at a professional breeder’s facility and had received his first set of vaccines and preventive deworming on schedule prior to his day of adoption.   

     It was easy to determine during his physical exam that Jacko was an even-tempered and clever dog in good overall condition.  He was a little shy and introverted at first then his playfulness took over and he made us all laugh when he snatched from my hand a page of my physical report and waited for my response! 

 

      A snatched paper is not one to cause any harm but certainly illustrates a common and endearing trait of pups that learn about their world and test their capabilities primarily using their mouths for the gathering of information.  Most pups consider any object that flutters, rolls, flits, buzzes makes noises or has an unusual smell to be fair game for oral exploration.    This can include fingers and pant legs, flying insects, soap bubbles, whatever falls of the dinner table, and rotting dead thing! As with kids this can, at times, be a behavior that leads to disastrous consequences since it takes time for pups to learn of any taste or object that is best for them to avoid to protect themselves from harm.  

    

     Mouthing of human fingers is a common behavior in pups Along with being unhygienic and gooey, it is a behavior that must be addressed promptly to avoid persistence of this behavior into the dog’s adult years. In fact, this applies to a pup’s behavior overall since the proverbial idiom “ as the twig is bent so is the tree inclined” certainly applies to dogs as much as it does to humans.

 

 

      Owners often inquire during routine exam visits if I have some suggestions to offer to help them deal with the exuberant mouthing behavior exhibited by their pup. Occasionally, I have felt motivated to bring up the subject myself after observing punctures on the owner’s arms that look suspiciously like sharp little teeth marks!   For these folks, I often need to encourage them to not excuse their pup’s behavior as “ just playing a little rough” or “ just by accident’.  For these folks I like to point out to them that sharp little baby teeth are eventually shed and powerful and strong adult teeth will soon take their place!   

 

      Often, exuberant mouthing behavior can be controlled verbally if the mouthing is immediately followed by the exclamation of a high-pitched “OWW” followed by withdrawal back of the hand and play interruption.   This is actually close to how a pup in a litter communicates their distress to another pup so, after a few lessons pups interpret the response correctly and alter their behavior. Essentially they have to learn that their sharp little teeth can do harm, especially to a human’s unprotected skin.  Most pups consider the stopped play session enough punishment to deter them from further finger play.  

 

   Another quite effective approach is to provide to the pup a more acceptable object such as a favorite toy or chew object for them to focus on and redirect their mouthing behavior away from the finger play.    If these two methods seem to be ineffective, then another approach is to have one’s fingers coated with a distasteful substance such as bitter apple or citronella.   If, after a number of training sessions this mouthing behavior continues unabated then a squirt of lemon juice from a plastic lemon container often will do the trick but it is best to try less punishing methods first to avoid weakening your pup’s trust bond to you.

 

        To finish this brief discussion, I would like to refer back to my previous mention of the use of chew objects to help divert a pup’s attention from playing with human fingers.   For a large majority of dogs, chew objects can provide an emotional release from the tensions of their day or, more simply, help them occupy their time if they are bored.

 

    

          When mentioning acceptable chew objects to clients I always like to emphasize that any object can be harmful to a dog’s teeth and it is always best to oversee the condition of the chew object to ensure that it is not developing sharp points or becoming fragmented and presenting a choking risk.  A rule of thumb endorsed by veterinary dental specialists is if you wouldn’t feel comfortable hitting your kneecap with an item then it is not safe for your dog to chew on it.

 

   On my “o.k with supervision list” are: Kongs, Greenies, rope toys, rubber balls (be sure that they larger than what your dog could swallow), knotted/rolled rawhides and edible veterinary dental chews.  Animal bones, (cooked or raw) are definitely NOT on my acceptable list, neither are sticks, rocks, corncobs or ice cubes.

 

     Like skydiving, allowing your dog to have a chew object unsupervised carries with it a degree of risk.  However, if the trade-off is unrelenting barking from boredom or modification of your doorframe or interior decorating if you are away from home, than the risk is probably worth taking.

      

     Remember Jackson?

 

    Followers of my Vedder Mountain Veterinary clinic page will likely remember the story of Jackson; not meaning Michael, the chart-topping pop artist, but Jackson the cat, a long-haired grey Persian who was adopted, very fortunately, by a compassionate Chilliwack couple about eight years ago.

 

   To refresh on the details, he had shown up in their yard one day as a badly injured stray and was warmly welcomed into their home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               At the time he was suffering from a seriously injured right eye and was tolerating other bothersome problems as well, including, a heavily matted, greasy hair condition and a very empty stomach. However, even with these problems his gentle and trusting personality had seemed evident.  He was clearly the kind of cat used to toughing it out in tough times yet one who had a gentle, sensitive side and an innate trust of humans.

 

  At the time, his eye was so badly damaged that it was pushed backwards into his head with pus in his eye socket obscuring a collapsed eyeball underneath.  This eye injury had probably occurred during a very intense dispute with another cat over territorial rights. One can easily imagine that as a hardened road warrior he had probably bravely stood his ground but unfortunately the head-on conflict had resulted in the sacrifice of an eye.

 

     Despite all medical measures and very conscientious and sustained efforts to salvage this eye it became a source of increasing discomfort to Jackson and it soon became clearly apparent that the kindest approach would be to have it removed.  We performed this procedure early in March, 2007.

 

   Jackson enjoyed about four years relatively problem-free before he started to show evidence that his remaining eye was not looking normal. Unusual chocolate colored cloudy strands started to appear behind his shiny cornea.  He also started to be experiencing loss of more vision.  A visit to the eye specialists in the summer of 2012 confirmed a diagnosis of a persistent inflammation inside Jackson’s one remaining eye.

 

     A variety of long-term eye medications were prescribed to be administered daily.                                                          Again, the risk factor was very high that in the foreseeable future Jackson would develop a cataract and eventually suffer from a totally blind, very painful eye.

 

      The benefits of the medication, administered by very dedicated, conscientious owners held his problem at bay for close to two years before it became apparent that another enucleation (eye removal) was necessary to improve Jackson’s enjoyment of his life.

 

      Routine blood tests to ensure that Jackson’s main body organs were functioning well prior to the operation revealed a good overall health status but for one complicating factor…he was determined to be carrying a virus very similar to the human H.I.V. virus!

 

  This virus, called FIV, is most commonly acquired by cats during exchange of infected saliva during cat fight battles.  Much less commonly, it can be passed from a mother cat to her kittens.   Like the AIDS virus in humans, this virus causes a disease that lurks in the body and which eventually erodes a cat’s immune system to such an extent that he will succumb to secondary infections.  Fortunately, an affected cat often can live many years totally unaffected by its effects. There is no evidence at all that this virus, as similar as it is to the human AIDS virus, can be transmitted to people.

 

   After considering the odds, and because of their love of a once stray cat with a personality that sparkled, the owners elected to proceed with Jackson’s surgery to remove his remaining left eye on Dec 16/2014.

 

      Since then, Jackson hasn’t looked back (no pun intended!). 

 

     Blind cats in general, are very perceptive and compensate extremely well to vision loss. After an initial period of adjustment they learn the lay of the land very capably by relying on their remaining tuned-up senses especially their senses of smell, hearing and “whisker-touch”. Stairs can bother them at first, possibly because of the rising air currents off the various stairs confusing them, but they soon adjust.  

 

 

Jackson proved to be a very quick learner!  Apparently, as reported by his owner, scarcely a week had passed before he went missing from her office. (She had been taking him with her after the surgery to her workplace each day so that she could keep her eyes on him and give him his medications).   When she couldn’t find him anywhere in her office she expanded her search and found him sitting at the top of the stair stoop having climbed over the kid gate that had been his room barrier and gone exploring, totally blind and still recovering from his surgery.    

 

     Jackson’s owners have reported that they are very pleased with the outcome of their decision.  They also have uncovered an element of humor to this event.  Very playfully, they now can ask:  “how can we know that he is sleeping?”  And also comment that now there will be no red-eye to eliminate in family photos! 

 

   As for Jackson, he just keeps on keeping on!  It seems that to him his latest surgical experience is just a tumble off the table.  Never one to give up and roll over but rather, he just keeps on keeping on!  A good example to us all don’t you think?

 

PhotoPhoto Jackson checking out his back yard a few weeks after his enucleation.


 

                     “AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION IS WORTH A POUND OF CURE”

                                  Subtitled: how to keep your veterinary bills down! 

   

      Had Benjamin Franklin, the famous American who “tamed lightning” been alive during the time of my writing of this article I like to think that he would have approved of my use of his wise and familiar saying in the veterinary context.

 

     A very large proportion of the preventative measures I am about to list below apply to all companion pets, furry, feathered or otherwise. By adhering to these measures you can significantly improve the likelihood that you will have a pet that lives a long and healthy life that is much less burdened by experiences of injury or disease.

 

    I will start each point defending against common myths that many people cling to about the authentic value of these measures.  

 

           Myth 1: “My new puppy or kitten has been dewormed and received his first shots and looks healthy and therefore don’t need a physical exam”.

 

 

     The importance of a complete physical exam of newly adopted pets cannot be overemphasized. This enables vets to pick up on the presence of any pre-existing problems and also allows for exchange of valuable information regarding optimum nutrition, parasite prevention and other preventive measures to address the immediate and future needs of the newly adopted pet.

 

            Myth 2:  “Ruff looks healthy, seems happy, is eating well, and is                                               not due any vaccines this year therefore why waste money and time taking him to the vet?” 

 

      It is important to have your pet of any age examined by a veterinarian on a yearly basis and even more often in the case of pets that are middle-aged and older.  This is because pets age at a rate that is significantly faster than do humans. Physical examinations allow for identification of dental, ear or other lurking diseases that you may have missed. The great majority of health problems are better addressed at an early stage rather than later on, often when other complicating factors have developed.

 

 

 

             Myth 3: “I have heard a lot on T.V. (or read online testimonials or my favorite pet store has been promoting…) “X” Brand of food being the BEST there is!”

 

 

         It is well worth your time to research your pet’s nutritional needs to become as informed as possible. Don’t fall for the most expensive fad diet but at the same time; don’t reach for the cheapest on the shelf either.  Like people, a pet’s overall health status is influenced significantly by what he or she eats daily.  Your vet, a trained professional can offer you the best guidance.  There is no “Best” pet food” on the market for any individual pet just as there is no single best food for humans.

 

 

               Myth 4:  “Fluffy is always with me on a leash on walks and is very healthy and is rarely in contact with other dogs so she doesn’t need any vaccines.  Or “Rover has had his puppy series and now that he is an adult dog he doesn’t need them anymore”.

 

   

     It is very important to have your pets vaccinated against infectious diseases on a regular basis (ferrets too!) Vaccines provide effective protection against common infectious diseases, which can be relatively easily acquired during daily activities such as when your pet contacts contaminated soil, grass or contaminated air droplets. Also, it is important to be aware that young animals, especially those a year or younger, cats and dogs older than 8 years old and animals with compromised immune systems are all at a higher risk of acquiring infectious diseases than the general pet population. .

 

               Myth 5:  “Frisky” is always in our fenced yard or with me on outings so he is safe from loss or harm.”

            

 

     Money spent on microchip and tattoo and identifier collars and tags is money very well spent!  One can never second-guess all emergency situations.  For example, pets can escape through undetected holes in fences or improperly latched gates.  Also, they can jump out of partially open car windows and also, on occasion be stolen. 

 

 

              Myth 6: “Ranger loves to ride in the back of our truck and is very smart about not trying to jump out”.

 

        Truck bed harnesses and crates are measures that are essential to protect pets during transport. Unexpected sharp stops and turns can easily result in unsecured pets suffering from dragging incidents resulting in severe injuries, prolonged suffering and occasionally even death. This applies to pets transported inside vehicles as well.  Seat belts and harnesses are designed to protect your pet and any passengers as well from the possibility of your animal passenger being catapulted forward or even out the window of your car in the event of a car accident or unexpected sharp stop. 

 

             Myth 7:  “Rambo would never jump up on to the kitchen table or counter, even to steal a very tempting treat ”(or crack open a prescription pill bottle and sample the contents!) 

 

     For all kinds of pets of any age it is very important to be vigilant about pet- proofing your house to avoid serious and sometimes tragic outcomes.  This includes protecting your inevitably enterprising furry or feathered friend from accessing electrical cords and toxic household chemicals, plants, and human medications. Included in a list of common hazards are household cleaners like laundry and dishwasher soap, toilet bowl cleaners, and carpet cleaners.  Also included are recreational drugs such as marijuana, beverages with high caffeine content and e-cigarettes and their refills.  

 

          Myth 8:  Never assume that little Hamish, who has been vomiting off and on for a few days or has blood in his stools, is o.k. because he still seems bright and alert and still wants to eat.  Or, if Buster seems unusually quiet and withdrawn to assume that he   is just “depressed” from loss of a family pet or favorite person or “getting old”.

 

     The longer a problem exists it is generally more difficult and costly to address.  Age alone is not a disease!  

 

 

 

           Myth 9: “Pets do not experience dental pain the same way humans do.”

 

      This is definitely NOT SO!   All animals are programmed with a survival instinct that ensures that they do not appear vulnerable to outside threats.  Further, they need to eat to survive. Therefore, pets in general put up with dental pain, which may be considerable, and continue to eat and get on with their life because they have no other choice. 

 

      Unfortunately for pets, it is another common misconception that a non-anesthetic procedure involving hand-scaling of teeth is adequate to address a pet’s dental needs,   In fact, within the veterinary community, hand-scaling alone is considered to be beneath the standard of care expected of a veterinarian.  An apt analogy to explain this view is for an individual to attempt to improve a car with a rusted body by painting over the rust with new paint! Although after a hand-scaling your pet’s teeth may look shiny white and appear to be in great shape overall, what is lurking under the gum line where rotten ( and very painful!) roots may be found remains as potentially a much more serious problem to be addressed.

 

 

            Myth 10: “Pets do not have emotional needs or feel emotions like humans do.  They strictly act on instinct and as long as they have food and shelter they are happy.”

 

             Definitely, this is not true!      

 

      

           Love and play with your pet routinely.    This will help you to be in tune with his physical condition.  A daily play routine will please your pet and keep his life more exciting and as a bonus, it will provide health benefits to you as well!

 

 LOVABLE CHARLIE!

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    Cold Laser Therapy is being used therapeutically worldwide in the human field as well as very broadly in the veterinary field.  It is a treatment modality that is very safe, effective, cost efficient and portable. It is reported that many professional football teams transport this technology with them to assist in the treatment of muscle and bone injury that may occur during any of their games.

 

      The term “Laser”, is an   acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation,   This treatment modality provides proven benefits to humans and pets in pain management, wound healing and as an anti-inflammatory mediator.   An excellent source of a multitude of studies of Class 1V technology can be found online at Pubmed.com.  

 

     The following cute image is of Chester, a very personable miniature Schnauzer, wearing mandatory specialized eyewear to protect his eyes from the laser light. 

 

     Chester was suffering from serious gangrenous wounds sustained from an unprovoked dog attack.  Cold Laser Therapy and an appropriate antibiotic facilitated uncomplicated healing.

 

       

                        

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