Hyperthyroid disease in cats is common and is usually discovered in older cats that lose weight but yet eat well, and seem otherwise healthy. Take a look at Hyperthyroidism in cats as explained by an experienced veterinarian...
There are a number of options for feline patients that need treatment for Hyperthyroidism, including radiation therapy and oral medications. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian regarding specific treatment and therapy for your cat if hyperthyroidism is a problem.
“Doctor, is there something wrong with my cat, Tigger? She's losing weight but she can’t be too sick because her appetite is terrific!”
I encourage this concerned pet owner to bring Tigger in for an examination. Further questioning revealed some important clues to solving her health problem. The owner told me that Tigger has seemed restless for several months, wandering around the house at night, yowling and making a terrible racket. The owner also told me that Tigger has had occasional diarrhea and vomiting, and these symptoms have become more frequent.
During the physical exam, several abnormal findings are noted. Tigger is very thin with a poor, dull haircoat. She is very Weight loss, rapid heart rate, good appetite, poor coat... could be Hyperthyroidism in this cat. anxious and restless on the exam table and her heart rate is very fast... more than 200 beats per minute! (average is 110 - 140 beats per minute.) As I continue the examination, I think I can feel a lump in the neck area. At this point, I am pretty sure that I know what is causing Tigger to be ill, and I explain to the owner that some blood tests will help confirm the diagnosis. When the blood test is back, we discover that the Tigger’s thyroid hormone level is more than twice what it should be. We have our answer- feline hyperthyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism is one of the most common diseases of the middle-aged and older cats. It is a disorder that ultimately affects many of the body systems. It is caused by an increase in the amount of thyroid hormones produced by enlarged thyroid glands. First documented 30 years ago, the actual cause of the disease remains a mystery. In most cases, the enlargement in the thyroid gland is caused by a non-malignant tumor called an adenoma. In very rare cases, a malignant form of this disease is seen.
The thyroid glands are located in the front of the neck on each side of the trachea (windpipe). Normally, they are tiny, about ¼ inch long, and difficult to feel through the skin. If the glands begin to enlarge, the veterinarian may be able to feel them. Hyperthyroidism is diagnosed by checking levels of the thyroid hormone in the blood. Since these levels can fluctuate daily, sometimes repeat testing or special thyroid function testing may be necessary for diagnosis.
The most common symptoms of this disease include weight loss, increased appetite, increased thirst, restlessness, unkempt hair with excessive shedding and matting, vomiting and/or diarrhea (although these symptoms are often sporadic). Because of the effects of the thyroid hormone levels on the heart, these patients have a fast heart rate, and may have a heart murmur, high blood pressure, difficulty breathing, and other heart problems. It is important to note that not all of these symptoms may be present in every cat. Therefore, any middle-aged to older cat that presents with any of the above symptoms should be screened for hyperthyroidism.
This virus, for which there is a very effective vaccine, is transmitted by cat-to-cat contact. It severely limits the cat’s immune systems ability to ward off all sorts of infections. Cats affected with FeLV may be carriers of the virus for long periods without displaying any ill effects. Occasionally, if stressed by surgery or being lost outside or injury, a cat that is harboring the virus–and seemed to be healthy–will develop clinical signs. Sick cats may have periods of time when they will seem healthy only to have relapses of illness. If not defeated by the animal’s immune system, It is commonly fatal over a period of time.
But what has this got to do with my pet you say? In a word - ALLERGIES!
Itching, scratching, chewing, sneezing dogs and cats everywhere. All this wet, warm weather has brought the plants out of their winter snooze weeks earlier than usual, and many of our allergic pets are starting to react.
It's that thump, thump at two in the morning as your dog frantically tears at his ears, or that annoying slurping sound as he chews the fur off his rump that has you calling your veterinarian for the first available appointment.
While there are many different ways an allergy may manifest in your dog and many different treatments, one of the tests your veterinarian may recommend is a RAST test - (Radioallergosorbent test). A small vial of blood is drawn and submitted to a laboratory for analysis. Two primary screens are usually performed. The first is a regional test which checks for any sensitivity your dog may have to the common grasses, trees, shrubs, molds and fungi found in your part of the country. The second is a food allergy screen to determine sensitivity to some of the common ingredients in your dog's diet.
Since the very best way of treating an allergy is to stay away from the causative agent altogether, your veterinarian will then be able to recommend certain diets free of ingredients to which your dog tested positive.
What is Cancer?
Cancer is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells on or within the body. Cancer may be benign or malignant. It may be localized or it may invade adjacent tissue and spread throughout the body.
How Common is Cancer?
Cancer is common in pet animals and the incidence increases with age. Cancer accounts for almost half of the deaths of pets over 10 years of age. Dogs get cancer at roughly the same rate as humans, while cats get fewer cancers.
How is it Diagnosed?
Strong circumstantial evidence of cancer can be attained from x-rays, blood tests, ultrasonography, the pet's physical examination and medical history. Most cancers, however, will require a biopsy (a removal of a piece of tissue) for confirmation that cancer exists and to grade the level of severity from benign to aggressively malignant.
Is Cancer Preventable?
This disease of cats and other mammals is caused by a parasitic protozoan, Toxoplasma gondii. Protozoa are single-celled organisms but are not in the same classification as bacteria. They are among the simplest creatures in the animal kingdom. Cats that hunt and consume raw meat will have the greatest chance for contracting Toxoplasmosis. Ingestion of tissue cysts in infected prey or in other raw meat is probably the most common route by which cats are exposed to Toxoplasma.
Although infection with Toxoplasma is fairly common in cats, actual disease caused by the parasite is relatively rare. Cats are able to shed Toxoplasma in their feces for a few weeks after they are first infected with the parasite. And as in humans with the disease, cats rarely have symptoms when first infected. A cat can remain healthy appearing and yet have the organism within their bodies. There are no good tests available to determine if your cat is passing Toxoplasma in its feces.
Acutely infected cats might display lethargy, depression, poor appetite, lesions in the retinas of the eyes, weight loss and fever. Liver and lung abnormalities may occur. Any cat that displays a brain disorder such as incoordination, sensitivity to light, constricted pupils, circling, personality changes or other central nervous system abnormalities should be evaluated for Toxoplasmosis.
Photo by lindsey kone, Creative Commons license
Could Your Dog or Cat Be at Risk for Kidney Disease?
Catching an Illness at an Early Stage Is Your Best Strategy
Just like people, animals are susceptible to illness and stress. And, just like people, there is a lot you can do to keep them healthy.
Julie noticed her dog, Zac, was drinking more water. Not just once, but several days in a row. She knew that excess thirst can be a sign of illness, so she took Zac to her veterinarian for tests. Blood and urine tests showed that Zac was in the early stages of acute kidney disease. But Zac was lucky. Because his problem was caught early, Julie’s veterinarian was able to treat the disease successfully and Zac made a complete recovery.
What Is Kidney Disease?
Briefly, kidneys filter and remove waste material from the blood stream. They also regulate the volume and composition of your pet’s body fluids.
There are two types of kidney disease:
Acute – a sudden loss of kidney functioning which is sometimes reversible, and
Chronic – a loss of kidney function that occurs gradually over time. Chronic kidney disease is often progressive, but, depending on the underlying cause and with careful management, animals often live comfortable lives for many years.
The causes of kidney disease can include inherited defects, infections, toxic substances and simply aging. Although the cause of kidney disease can be difficult to determine, with careful testing by your veterinarian, the disease can often be managed. Most treatments are aimed at decreasing the workload of the kidneys, reducing the severity of symptoms, and slowing the progression of the disease.
What Are Its Symptoms?
Any abrasion to the cornea, including an bee sting, rub from a paw, a scratch from a claw or thorn or an invasive infection can abrade the cells on the surface of the dog or cat cornea. Once the surface cells are disrupted the smooth surface of the cornea becomes rough, infective organisms can invaded the spaces between the cells and the area becomes a source of pain and irritation to the animal. Dogs and cats with corneal ulcers commonly will have increased tear production, will squint (called blepharospasm) and rub at their eye. The irritated tissues often become infected.
If infection progresses into the thin cellular layers of the cornea, the ulcer may deepen and widen and eventually break through the membrane at the back of the cornea called Descemet's membrane. In these severe cases, the fluid from the anterior chamber of the eye can escape and the front of the eye collapses. When this occurs, called a descemetocele, the iris will often seal the hole in the cornea. If the iris tissue adheres to the opening and acts as a plug, the anterior chamber may refill and eventually the ulcer may heal and seal the opening in the cornea. This could take many weeks to occur. In unfortunate cases, the interior of the eye can become infected and eventually the eye may be damaged beyond repair.
Once the cornea is abraded, the entire cornea suffers from swelling (called edema) and the cornea takes on a slight haze. Then tiny capillaries begin to move over the cornea from the white of the eye (called the sclera) and seek out the damaged tissue. Within days of the abrasion these tiny vessels are on their way to bring healing tissues and fluid to the ulcer. As specialized corneal cells slide into and fill the defect, the ulcer eventually heals and the surface of the cornea returns to normal. Then the healing capillaries dry up and go away!
The orange-and-white tabby was turned in to the Santa Fe, N.M., animal shelter last month and quickly made international headlines. At first, his story was played for laughs: The 2-year-old cat apparently favored hot dogs, and was so fat that he got stuck inside things. He barely fit into his animal carrier, and was likened to Puss in Boots from the "Shrek" movies.
But Meow's weight underscored a growing problem: Pets in America are getting fatter -- just like their owners -- and all that extra weight can hasten death.
That's what happened in Meow's case, said Mary Martin, executive director of the Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society. The shelter assumed care of Meow when his 87-year-old owner could no longer care for the mammoth feline.
"We are so heartbroken," Martin told the Los Angeles Times. "He had such a big personality. We all fell in love with him."
Ideally, Meow would have weighed 7 to 10 pounds. Carrying 39 pounds of weight on his feline frame was the equivalent of a man weighing more than 600 pounds, experts said. The shelter placed Meow in a foster home and put him on a strict, high-protein diet intended to knock off some weight before he could be adopted by a new owner. Publicized weigh-ins were planned as a way to highlight the problem of obesity in pets, as well as to drum up interest in pet adoptions.
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For those families adding a feline member during Adopt-a-Cat Month this June, keeping your cat young and in good health is a priority. Here are the Animal Medical Center’s top six tips to achieving purrfect health and maintaining a long life for your feline family member.
1. Give your cat a routine. Research has shown changes in feeding schedule or in caretaker can result in “illness behaviors” such as having a poor appetite, vomiting and not using the litter box. Basically, cats don’t like surprises.
2. Provide your cat with an interesting environment. Cats need climbing structures where they have a good view of the room and a window with an outdoor view. The perch should be comfortable for resting. Leave a radio on tuned to quiet music when you are away.
3. Encourage your cat to hunt. Not outdoors, but indoor hunting. Use food dispensing toys such as the FunKitty line. Keeping your cat’s brain active by having her “hunt” for her food will keep her engaged and active longer.
4. Cats may have a “hands off” personality, but when it comes to healthcare you need to be hands on, and the hands should be those of your cat’s veterinarian. Visit your cat’s veterinarian for routine health checks at least once a year and twice a year if your cat is 10 years of age or older.
5. Clean your cat’s teeth regularly. The American Veterinary Dental College and the AMC Dental Service recommend daily tooth brushing and annual cleanings under general anesthesia.
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