Saturday, November 30, 2013

Pet Health Tip #33- Seizures

Seizures in pets can be caused by a number of underlying issues.  The most common causes are:

Idiopathic Epilepsy
Kidney Failure
Liver Failure
Toxins- Insecticides, chocolate, and antifreeze
Brain Tumors
Heat Stroke
Encephalitis- Inflammation of the brain usually caused by an infection such as Distemper

There are several types of seizures.  A grand mal seizure usually begins with a period of altered behavior, such as staring, restlessness, and crying out.  This is followed by the symptoms we usually associate with seizures, such as loss of consciousness, paddling of the feet, urinating, and defecating.  This part of the seizure usually only lasts 1-2 minutes.  It is followed by a period of confusion and incoordination.

Seizures can also be localized in the brain and cause a more localized reaction such as muscle twitching, blinking, and chomping.

Diagnosis is often made based on historical information, such as exposure to toxins, age of the animal, recent illness, etc.  Blood work will also be done to check for liver function, kidney function, and blood sugar levels.

During the seizure, the first impulse is to reach out and comfort your pet by talking to him and petting him.  However, it is best to turn out the lights, keep quiet, and not to touch him.  Sensory input can prolong the seizure.  This includes the period of disorientation that follows the main part of the seizure.  Once the seizure has ended, it is important to get your pet to a veterinarian for a diagnosis.

Treatment is usually based on treating the underlying problem.  For epilepsy, the treatment is based on the frequency and severity of the seizures.  It is important to keep track of when seizures occur and how long they last in order for you and your veterinarian to decide when to start your dog on anti-seizure medications.  Many of these medications have other side effects, so most veterinarians do not want to start anti-seizure medications until the seizures are happening at a regular frequency or the individual seizures are severe.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Coming Soon! TO LOVE A CAT

I am happy to announce that I'm about halfway through with my next novel, "To Love A Cat." For those of you who read "Dogs Aren't Men", you'll be happy to hear that Rebecca, Derrick, and Mitch all appear again in this one. I know many of you wanted to hear more about these characters, so STAY TUNED it's coming soon!!!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pet Health Tip #32- Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs

Diabetes mellitus, also known as sugar diabetes, affects all breeds of dogs.  However, the most commonly affected breeds are Golden Retrievers, Miniature Schnauzers, and Poodles.  Obesity is a predisposing factor that contributes to the development of diabetes.

Diabetes mellitus is caused by the pancreas’s inadequate production of insulin.  This causes the cells to be unable to absorb glucose.  The glucose levels rise in the blood stream and will eventually spill over into the urine, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels and glucosuria.

Early symptoms of diabetes include: increased appetite, increased thirst, and weight loss.  More severe symptoms include: lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, cataracts, and coma.

Most diabetic dogs will need to be treated with a combination of insulin and dietary changes.  The proper dose of insulin depends on how the dog’s body reacts to it.  Dogs are started on an insulin regimen for about a week.  They will then need to come back into the vet clinic to have a glucose curve run to watch the body’s reaction to the insulin.  The dose will then be adjusted based on this reaction.  The dog will have to make regular visits to the vet clinic in order to monitor the blood glucose levels.  In addition, most dogs will need to be placed on a high fiber and high carbohydrate diet.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pet Health Tip#31- Diabetes Mellitus in Cats

Diabetes mellitus affects approximately 1 in 400 cats.  Obesity is the number one contributing factor to feline diabetes.  However, not all cats that develop diabetes will be overweight.  Early symptoms of diabetes include: increased appetite, increased urination, increased drinking, and unexplained weight loss.  Advanced symptoms include: loss of appetite, vomiting, ketone breath (sweet odor), and diabetic coma.

Diagnosis of feline diabetes mellitus is based on symptoms, elevated blood sugar levels, and glucose in the urine.  When the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin or the cells fail to respond to insulin, the body cannot properly handle blood sugar.  This leads to elevated glucose in the blood, which spills over into the urine.  The inability to properly use blood glucose can lead to an increased level of ketones.  Ketoacidosis is a life-threatening condition caused by elevated ketones in the blood.

There are three types of diabetes mellitus in cats.  Type I diabetic cats are insulin dependent, meaning their pancreas is not producing enough insulin.  These cats will need to receive regular insulin injections.  In cats with type II diabetes, the cat’s pancreas may make enough insulin but the cat’s body does not use it properly.  This is the most common type of feline diabetes.  Often, these cats will respond to oral medications and dietary restrictions.

Some cats are Type II, but initially need insulin injections.  However, eventually, their system re-regulates and they can go off insulin.  These cats will still require a special diet.

Treating diabetic cats can be an expensive and frustrating endeavor.  The best treatment is prevention.  By maintaining your cat at a healthy body weight, you will significantly reduce the chances of her developing diabetes.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Pet Health Tip # 30- Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is an issue that primarily affects cats.  The thyroid gland becomes hyperactive and gives off too much thyroid hormone.  Hyperthyroidism in cats often goes undiagnosed.  However, in severe cases, the most common symptom the owner sees is a cat who has a voracious appetite, but is losing weight.  Often times, they will have an unkempt hair coat.  They also have a very rapid heart rate.  Other possible symptoms include: increased urination, vomiting, restlessness, and diarrhea.

The thyroid gland sits in the throat.  A normal thyroid gland should not be big enough to feel.  However, an enlarged thyroid gland will be palpable.  It will feel like two small peas on either side of the trachea (wind pipe).

Treatment for hyperthyroidism includes daily medication.  However, as most cat owners know, pilling a cat can be a very difficult job.  Some cats will take the pills if they are hidden in food (i.e. hotdog, bread, cheese).  Another good way to pill a cat is to put it in the back of the throat and then squirt water into the cat’s mouth.  This accomplishes two things.  First, the cat will be forced to swallow; and second, the water will cause the pill to slide down the cat’s throat making it more comfortable for the cat.

Irradiation of the thyroid gland is another treatment option that is safe and is actually a cure.  There are special clinics that will irradiate the thyroid gland.  It is a completely painless process.  The cat usually stays in the hospital for a few days in order to eliminate any radioactive waste.  Then they can go home and resume a normal life.  This treatment is the ideal treatment for hyperthyroidism.  However, it is also the most expensive and there are not that many clinics that are licensed to do it.