Your pets and the holidays

Silly season has arrived, which means the end of the year is in sight. Some of you will be going away on holiday, some will have friends and family over to visit, while others may take time off work, stay in and get some much-needed ‘me-time’. Whatever your plans are for the holidays, they spell a change for your pet/s.

In this article, we offer a friendly reminder to be mindful of how the holidays may affect your pet’s emotional and physical wellbeing, and what you can do about it.

When pet parents go on holiday

Thankfully, there’s more and more pet-friendly accommodation available in South Africa, which means that your furry family can accompany you on holiday. While many pets prefer the comfort of the home and routine they’re used to, going on holiday with you is by far the preferred option to being boarded at kennels.

If your pets can’t go with you, ask a reliable friend or family member to pet-sit for you in your own home. Another option is to ask the vet to refer a reliable pet-sitter in your area and interview them well in advance of your travel plans. Introduce the pet-sitter to your pets and allow them to spend time together in your presence so your pets feel (quite literally) at home with them.

Tips for travelling with pets

  • Get a car seat (for small dogs) or a car seat hammock (for larger dogs) to keep them comfortable and safe during the car ride. Pets should not have free access to the entire vehicle – this can be very distracting to the driver, which makes it dangerous on the road.
  • Never drive with a dog on your lap – for the safety of you, your dog, and other road users.
  • A cat should travel in a carrier or crate to help them feel safe. Make sure they are comfortable in the crate long before they need to travel in it for the first time.
  • Make frequent stops to give your pet/s a pee break and let them stretch their legs. Always put them on a leash before you exit the vehicle.
  • If they take the opportunity for a poop break, pick up and dispose of their waste responsibly.
  • Keep a water bowl and fresh water in your vehicle to keep pets hydrated.
  • Feed your pets a yummy treat a few times throughout the trip to positively reinforce their experience, especially if they are calm and well-behaved.
  • Make sure your pets are microchipped and wearing a collar with an ID tag clearly showing your contact details. Make it as easy as possible for your pets to find their way back to you should they go missing in an unfamiliar environment.

Tips for your pet’s routine at your holiday destination

  • Pet-friendly accommodation comes with conditions – for instance, that pets are calm and well-trained, and don’t cause any damage to property. Your pet must be under your control at all times, especially on someone else’s property.
  • Take your pet’s bedding, grooming tools, food and water bowls, and any other necessities with you. This will give your pet a feeling of familiarity in an unfamiliar environment.
  • Try to keep your pet’s routine as consistent as possible. Keep their feeding times, playtimes and nap times consistent – this reinforces your pets’ confidence and reduces any fear or anxiety. Even if his environment is unfamiliar, just knowing he will be fed, walked and played with consistently is enough to keep him calm.
  • Make sure you take enough pet food and treats along with you to last the whole holiday. If you run out of food while away from home, it might be difficult to find the same food brand and variety in an emergency.
  • Make a note of the nearest veterinarian at your holiday destination and save their contact details and emergency/after-hours phone number in your phone. Just in case.

When pet parents have friends and family over

Most pets prefer the comfort of their own home and thrive on the consistency of a daily routine. If you’re going to enjoy the holidays at home and host friends and family, keep the following in mind for your pets:

  • There will be more people around, which can either be very exciting or very scary for your pet – depending on how well-socialised they are or whether they prefer a quieter environment.
  • Advocate for your pets – if they become distressed with too many people around, remove them to a quiet space while the humans are socialising.
  • Visiting adults and children should respect your pet’s space and need for proper handling. Do not tolerate teasing or indiscriminate feeding of your pet/s.
  • Let your guests know that some foods are poisonous for dogs and cats, and that to ensure your pets are safe, they must not offer table scraps or any other treats to your pets (to avoid this, teach your pets to not beg for food at the dinner table). The only one who should feed your pet anything is you.
  • Fireworks are dangerous to pets and people. Do not allow your guests to light fireworks on your property. Not only could they be contravening municipal bylaws, but they could injure and traumatise your pets.
  • Under normal circumstances, household cleaners, medications, alcohol and other toxic substances should be kept away from your pets. When guests are staying temporarily in your house, it increases the risk of your pets getting hold of something they shouldn’t. Make sure your guests understand these risks and keep their belongings safely stored away.
  • Ask your guests to be mindful of small objects like Christmas tree decorations, children’s toys, deflated balloons and other objects that may be dangerous should pets swallow them. It’s also a good idea to train your pets to leave non-food objects alone and to not eat anything unless it’s in their food bowl.
  • If fireworks shows are unavoidable on New Year’s Eve, ask the vet about which calming medications are best suited to your pet’s needs. Calming sprays, gels and collars containing pheromones can be given in the week or two leading up to a stressful event, to help keep pets calm on the evening of the fireworks.
  • If your guests want to bring their own pets to your property, it’s crucial that both parties’ animals are suitably socialised. Trying to keep pets separated on the same property for the duration of your guests’ stay could be unpleasant and stressful.

Tips regarding ‘holiday food’

The festive season is about rest and relaxation, but mostly it’s about enjoying festive food. Many Christmas foods are highly toxic to our pets, so while it’s a treat to have these on our table, they must be kept far away from pets at this time of year:

  • chocolate
  • alcohol
  • raisins/sultanas
  • garlic/onion
  • citrus fruits
  • xylitol
  • bones
  • avocado
  • macadamia nuts

When pet parents stay in for the holidays

If you’re staying at home and getting some high-quality downtime at the end of this year, your pets may be overjoyed at this prospect. They may take full advantage of you spending more time at home and obviously you’ll enjoy all the benefits of being around them more during the holiday (lowered blood pressure, reduced stress levels, slower heartrate and deeper breathing, muscle relaxation, etc. – all documented effects of petting your furry friend for just 10 minutes).

Having more time available for your pets means more playtime and opportunities for training; but their companionship in general offers huge benefits and can make your holiday at home absolutely worth it. Keep in mind, however, that any new routines that get established while you’re spending more time at home will need to be maintained in the new year. What happens to your pet’s wellbeing and expectations when you return to work? Most pets are highly adaptive, but they thrive on a consistent routine, so be mindful of any changes implemented during the holidays and how they may affect your pets in the long run.

Tips for keeping pets safe during fireworks

Many pets become extremely frightened and traumatised during fireworks displays and thunderstorms. Some pets will go to extremes to escape this experience – jumping through windows, escaping their yards, getting stuck in fences, running into traffic, etc. There are a number of ways to try to keep your pets calm during fireworks and thunderstorms:

  • ‘ThunderShirts’ or anti-anxiety wraps
  • calming pheromones (which need to be administered in the lead-up to an event to reduce anxiety)
  • prescription medications
  • desensitisation training
  • distracting your pet with music and/or playtime and treats before, during and after a stressful event

Each pet will respond differently to noise and lights stressors, and therefore will respond differently to the above calming methods. If you are concerned about your pet’s safety during fireworks displays and thunderstorms, speak to the vet about the most appropriate solution for your pet’s wellbeing.

© 2023 Vetwebsites – The Code Company Trading (Pty) Ltd

Managing your pets’ anxiety

The holiday season is fast approaching and while for many people that means spending more time at home with your furry friends, it also means that your and your pets’ routine is about to change. Perhaps extended family are coming to visit (or you and your pets are going away to visit them). If so, more people (potentially strangers) will be in your pets’ space; there will be more noise and longer days of visiting. Your pets are even sensitive enough to detect any changes in family dynamics – especially around holiday time!

All of this, as well as the danger of the loud noises and bright lights of fireworks and thunderstorms, mean that your pets may get anxious. Mild anxiety may be easily overcome with reassurance from you, but for many pets, anxiety can feel like the end of their world. Here’s what you can do when pets are suffering from anxiety.

What are the signs your pets are anxious?

Dogs are quick to explicitly show how they are feeling. If you have an anxious dog, you will immediately notice some or all of the signs:

  • panting
  • yawning
  • trembling
  • drooling
  • whale eyes with their ears pressed back
  • irritability
  • snappiness or even aggression
  • urination or defecation in the house
  • tucked tail

Different dogs will display different types of anxious behaviour. It’s important to notice whether your dog’s behaviour is out of the ordinary during an anxious episode. Is your normally indifferent dog now very needy and unable to leave you alone? Maybe they are hypervigilant and sensitive to even the smallest changes or movement in the room. You’ll notice when your pup is acting out of sorts.

Cats may show similar signs of anxiety and will display behaviours such as:

  • hiding
  • excessive grooming
  • vocalising (mewling or growling)
  • trembling
  • drooling
  • dilated pupils/hypervigilance
  • excessive licking of the nose
  • rapid breathing
  • pica (eating things that are not food)
  • diarrhoea/vomiting

What causes pets to become anxious?

When your pet has a consistent routine and a predictable environment, they are calm and confident because they know what to expect. When new variables are introduced to their comfortable routine, they may become anxious because suddenly they don’t know what to expect. Things feel unpredictable and scary, which can be perceived as physically threatening.

If your quiet home is filled with new people during holiday time, your cat may feel like she’s lost control of her environment, or your dog may feel unsure of how to behave, who needs protecting, and how to deal with new people. Pets may feel overwhelmed by new stimuli, especially if they are approached by pet-friendly strangers who want to pet and engage with them. Sometimes even the most socialised pets will become anxious by this.

Loud noises – whether from fireworks, Christmas crackers, or jovial socialising – can be very scary to your extra sound-sensitive pet. Pets can be photosensitive too, which, coupled with loud noises, can be particularly fear-inducing for your dog or cat.

How do you calm a fearful dog?

From as early on as possible, puppies need to be socialised with as many different people and animals as possible in a range of different environments. Ultimately, this will help them to build confidence and not be so fearful of new situations, people and other pets. That being said, even the most well-socialised animals can still experience anxiety in unpredictable situations. The following solutions can help to decrease their anxiety levels:

Take them out of the stressful environment

If you’re having a dinner party, remove your dog to another room, away from the noise and lights, and give him a chew toy or a comforting plushie. If he’s trained, give him the ‘place’ command and reward him with some treats for going to his bed.

Do a quick training routine

With a handful of treats, give your dog the ‘sit’ command and reward him. ‘Down’, ‘stay’ and other behavioural commands with rewards for obedience can completely change your dog’s demeanour and bring him out of his anxious state.

Don’t reward the stress

It’s important to give your dog a job to do (‘sit’, ‘down’, ‘paw’) before giving him treats as a comfort for his anxiety. By giving him treats or a toy without a command, it could be seen as rewarding the anxiety, which can become problematic in the long run.

Exercise and play

If you’re anticipating your pup getting anxious around the guests and noise, spend some time exercising and playing with him earlier in the day. Pent-up energy can worsen the effects of anxiety, so tire him out first. The serotonin from the enjoyment of playtime can help your dog to relax. If your dog is nervous and withdrawn while your guests are around, spend time playing with him afterwards to get rid of his anxious energy. 

Pheromones in the environment

Calming collars, diffusers, sprays, gels and tablets can help to regulate your dog’s anxiety with the distribution of pheromones. If you’re anticipating a large dinner party, family members coming to stay, or a fireworks display, start giving your dog pheromone therapy for a week or two in advance. This can help to keep him calm when these holiday events arise.

Calming music  

Dogs respond well to calming music – classical music works exceptionally well and can be used to calm a dog down ahead of time or during an anxiety-inducing event.


If you’re anticipating a thunderstorm or fireworks and you know your dog is going to be terrified, try a desensitisation strategy a few weeks in advance. Play the sounds of a thunderstorm – quietly at first and gradually increase the volume over time (hours or days) as your dog does not display signs of anxiety. If he becomes aware of the sounds, reward him with a treat or playtime – this will help to change his response to the noise. Done thoughtfully and consistently, desensitisation can offer your dog relief from the anxiety associated with loud noises.

Veterinary assistance

If your dog is extremely anxious and shuts down completely or is uncontrollably stressed, arrange a visit with the vet to address the problem. Make a note of all the strategies you’ve adopted that have not been effective. The vet may prescribe anti-anxiety medication and suggest behaviour therapy and counter-conditioning with a behavioural specialist.

How can you help your cat with anxiety?

Cats can do equally well with socialisation and exposure to different people and animals. However, cats – more so than dogs – are either sociable or more independent and will choose when they prefer the company of others (or not). If your cat is anxious when there are lots of people around and especially lots of noise, try some or all of the following to relieve her anxiety:

Take her to a safe space

If you often find your cat hiding in the linen cupboard or behind the couch when you have company over, it should give you an indication that she needs a safe space away from the crowds and the noise. Provide a comfy cat ‘cave’ if your cat likes to hide; or a tall cat tree or window perch if she likes to be away from the party, but to still observe her surrounds.

Exercise and play

Engage your cat’s hunting instincts with a feather toy, laser pointer, wind-up mouse or catnip toy. This will encourage engagement with reward-based behaviours, which help to reduce her anxiety.

Keep the litterbox clean

Some cats’ anxiety is elevated by a soiled litterbox. Double up on the frequency of scooping the litterbox or even put out another litterbox just in case.

Pheromone therapy

As with dogs, cats may respond well to the relaxing effect of pheromone diffusers, sprays, food additives and tablets.

Natural remedies

From catnip to CBD oil and valerian herbal remedies – there are a range of natural remedies that can help to calm down anxious cats. Speak to the vet about which remedy could be most effective for your cat. Be very careful of essential oil diffusers, as these may release fumes that are toxic to pets.

Calming music  

Like dogs, cats also have super-sensitive hearing, and respond positively to soft, calming music. When playing music to counter the effects of thunderstorms or fireworks, also close the curtains and make sure your cat’s environment is safe and muted.

Veterinary assistance

If your cat does not seem to be responding positively to your anti-anxiety efforts, schedule a visit to the veterinarian to discuss possible solutions. The vet may prescribe anti-anxiety medication, but a long-term strategy will need to be devised to reduce your cat’s anxiety in a healthy way, and increase your cat’s quality of life in the long run.

© 2023 Vetwebsites – The Code Company Trading (Pty) Ltd

Mange in cats

What is mange?

Mange is a skin condition that develops when there is an infestation of parasitic mites or an overpopulation of mites on or in a cat’s skin. The presence of these mites, some of which burrow into your cat’s skin, causes itching, redness, and other uncomfortable symptoms. As with dog mange, cats can suffer from different types of mange based on the types of mites present on their skin. In this article we explore the different types of mange that cats can get, how the different types of mange are diagnosed and what can be done to treat the mange. 

Types of mange

Cats can experience a number of different types of mange, caused by different types of skin mites. These include:

  • Sarcoptic mange (canine scabies)
  • Notedric mange (feline scabies)
  • Demodectic mange (demodex or red mange)
  • Otodectic mange (ear mange)
  • Cheyletiellosis (walking dandruff)
  • Trombiculosis (chiggers)

What causes mange in cats?

The different types of cat mange are caused by tiny mites that infest the skin surface or burrow into the skin. These mites usually come from the outdoors and contact with other animals, or cats pick up the mites from the environments where other carrier animals have been. Mange is not as common in cats as it is in dogs, but its effects on cats’ health is just as serious. Here, briefly, are the causes of the various types of cat mange:

Sarcoptic mange 

Sarcoptic mange is caused by an infestation of the scabies mite (Sarcoptes scabiei) that is typically found in canine scabies. The mite has a flat round body and is known for burrowing into the skin to lay its eggs. It’s this burrowing that causes an intense and insatiable itch; and the combination of burrowing and the cat’s persistent scratching causes inflammation, redness, hair loss and other skin symptoms. Cats usually contract canine scabies from infected dogs, which is why all animals in the home should be checked and treated for scabies even when only one animal is showing symptoms. 

Notoedric mange 

Notoedric mange is caused by an infestation of another type of scabies mite, Notoedres cati. This is also a burrowing mite and, while rarer than sarcoptic mange, notoedric mange is highly contagious among cat populations when it does occur. It is also contagious to humans, but – as with sarcoptic mange – the mites cannot burrow into human skin to complete their lifecycle, and only cause intense itching and redness for a few days. When humans are no longer around cats with notoedric mange, their own symptoms subside.

Demodectic mange

Similar to demodex in dogs, feline demodicosis is caused when the cat’s immune system is compromised by another illness or malnutrition, and is not strong enough to control natural populations of demodectic mites – Demodex cati and Demodex gatoi. These mites are a natural part of the cat’s skin microbiome, but without proper immune control, mite populations can become excessive and cause skin issues. Signs of demodex include hair loss on the legs, paws and around the eyes, which is accompanied by a severe itch.  

Otodectic mange

Otodectic mange occurs in and around the cat’s ears and is characterised by itching and redness in their ear canal. These mites – Otodectes cynotis – can be found on the rest of the cat’s body, but primarily affect the ears, and can put the cat at risk of damage to their eardrums, especially when they scratch persistently. A telltale sign of ear mites is a lot of ear scratching and head shaking. 


Unlike demodex and the scabies mites, ‘walking dandruff’ – as Cheyletiella mites are known – are visible on the cat’s fur and skin, and appear as small white flecks in motion. They live off of skin oils, dander and other skin matter; feeding and breeding on the skin’s surface. Walking dandruff is very contagious to other animals as well as people, creating a skin rash that lasts a few weeks. 


Cats are also susceptible to Trombiculidae mites – more commonly known as ‘chiggers’ during their larval stage. These tiny red-orange mites cause a nasty bite through which they feed on blood before dropping off their feline host when they’re satiated. They leave red bumps, crusty skin, and severe itching even long after they’ve departed. Chiggers are also contagious to humans and are responsible for bites commonly seen around the waist and ankles.

What are the symptoms of mange? 

If you’re curious as to how you would know if your cat has mange, the signs and symptoms for the different types of mange are relatively similar. Despite a specific skin mite being responsible for each type of mange, their presence on your cat’s skin will trigger the same kind of response:

  • severe itch – whether due to the mite burrowing into the skin, or the cat’s immune system producing an allergic response to the mite
  • scratching the head and ears
  • debris in the ear canal and on the skin
  • redness and inflammation
  • bumps and pustules
  • hair loss
  • thickened skin, where scratching and hair loss takes place
  • restlessness (a result of the itching)
  • excessive grooming

How is mange diagnosed?

Just because a cat is very itchy, scratches a lot, and has patchy hair loss doesn’t mean the vet will diagnose them with mange and send you on your way with a skin cream. Each type of mange will require a specialised treatment, so it’s crucial that the vet find out exactly which type of mite is affecting your cat. 

The vet will consider all the physical signs of mange as well as take a skin scraping from your cat and identify the mite by looking at the skin scraping under a microscope. From there, they will diagnose your cat’s specific type of mange and suggest the best treatment to get rid of the mites and help your cat’s skin to heal.

How do you treat mange?

Depending on the type of mange the cat has as well as the intensity of the infestation, the vet may prescribe any number of medications – from an antibiotic to an anti-parasitic, anti-inflammatories, topical cream, a spray, shampoo and/or dip. Many tick and flea medications can also be used to combat mite infestations on your cat. 

Take special note of the veterinarian’s advice on isolating your infected cat from other pets in the house, but make sure your other pets’ parasite control medication is up to date. Wash and sterilise all pet bedding, toys and socialisation areas to ensure all traces of the mites that caused the cat’s mange have been eliminated. 

How to prevent mange

Many cats are roamers, so it’s not always possible to keep them out of environments where they may contract certain types of mites. It’s therefore recommended to keep your cat’s parasite control medication up to date, but to also make sure your cat is healthy and their immune system is functioning optimally. High-quality cat food, adequate exercise, fresh water and even health supplements may all work together to boost your cat’s immune health. Keep their environment clean and healthy, and also groom your cat regularly to take the opportunity to examine their skin condition.

Mange in dogs

What is mange?

Mange is a skin condition in pets caused by an overpopulation or infestation of parasitic mites. The mites burrow into an animal’s skin (sarcoptic) or over-populate the hair follicles (demodex), causing either itchiness and thickened skin, or skin changes and hair fall. There are different types of mange caused by different species of microscopic mites – the most common being demodectic mange and sarcoptic mange. In this article, we’ll explore the symptoms of mange, how the different types of mange are diagnosed and treated, and whether mange is contagious to humans.

Types of mange

Dogs can get demodectic mange or sarcoptic mange. The type of mange is determined by the type of mite infesting your dog’s skin or hair follicles. Demodectic mange is the most common type, while sarcoptic mange is the more devastating type and is highly contagious to other dogs and even to humans. Left untreated, both demodectic and sarcoptic mange can be fatal.

What causes mange in pets?

Demodectic mange

Demodectic mange is caused by an overpopulation of the skin mite Demodex canis (or other varieties Demodex injai and Demodex cornei). Dogs and humans both have a natural population of demodex mites living in their hair follicles, kept in check by a healthy immune system. If the immune system is compromised (due to illness, complications from a medical condition, or genetics), demodex mites are free to flourish and can cause mange. It’s possible for dogs with chronic conditions like cancer or diabetes to develop mange while their immune systems are weak.

Puppies can sometimes experience demodectic mange, since they acquire the skin mites from their mother. Normal, healthy puppies host demodex with no problems; sometimes experiencing bouts of overpopulation that need a simple topical treatment to bring back under control. However, puppies with a genetically weakened immune system can develop juvenile onset demodectic mange, which is very serious and needs immediate and intensive treatment.

Sarcoptic mange

Sarcoptic mange is caused by an infestation of the skin mite Sarcoptes scabiei. Sarcoptic mange is also referred to as canine scabies, and it occurs when the mite buries itself deep within the skin, causing severe itching and skin changes. Dogs with canine scabies will bite and scratch their skin incessantly, trying to get at the source of the irritation. This causes primary and secondary symptoms, which we will discuss below.

What are the symptoms of mange?

Since the different skin mites take up residence in different parts of the skin, the symptoms of scabies and demodex may differ. Let’s look at both:

Symptoms of demodectic mange

  • hair loss (alopecia) on the face, especially noticeable around the eyes
  • itchiness (though not as severe as with sarcoptic mange)
  • red, scaly skin patches
  • acne-like bumps
  • skin crusting
  • skin thickening and darkening
  • swelling
  • pain and fever if the condition has progressed
  • ear infections

The dog may appear lethargic and have leaky wounds if the demodectic mange is generalised (all over their body and not confined to the face) and has progressed quite far. They will need immediate treatment.

Symptoms of sarcoptic mange

  • intense itching and persistent scratching
  • hair loss as a result of the scratching
  • secondary bacterial and yeast infections
  • red, inflamed skin
  • skin thickening
  • crusting skin

In advanced canine scabies infections, the dog’s lymph nodes will be inflamed and they will become lethargic and malnourished.

How is mange diagnosed?

A veterinarian will do a skin scraping and look at it under a microscope to identify the presence of skin mites or their eggs. The demodex mite is elongated and slightly tapered, while the scabies mite is rounded.

How do you treat mange?

The treatment for both types of mange will depend on how far the infestation has progressed. There are oral medications as well as topical treatments and medical baths, both to kill the mites and promote the healing of the dog’s skin.

The sarcoptes mites may still be in the dog’s bedding and living environment, so it’s important to keep them away from these areas until they’ve been disinfected and bedding has been thoroughly cleaned. Also keep other pets away from the infected dog, to prevent the spread of canine scabies and the animals reinfecting each other.

In the case of demodectic mange, the veterinarian may also identify the systemic illness that’s weakening the dog’s immune system; be it old age, chronic disease or a genetically underdeveloped immunity. They will want to ensure the demodex is kept under control, since a compromised immune system may result in an overpopulation of demodex again in future. If the systemic illness is not being managed, demodectic mange can be fatal. Severe demodectic mange may take a long time to treat, and all dogs respond differently to treatment, but generally the prognosis is good.

Can mange in dogs spread to humans?

We have our own population of skin flora (including demodex mites) to keep our skin microbiome in balance, and cannot be infected with canine demodex mites. Demodectic mange is not contagious to humans or other dogs with healthy immune systems, but sarcoptic mange is a zoonotic disease and highly infectious. What does mange do to humans? Canine scabies mites cannot complete their life cycle in human skin, but people with canine scabies will still experience redness, itching and what appear to be inflamed welts – symptoms that will last until the mites die off. (Be aware that canine scabies is not the same as human scabies, which is caused by Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis or the human itch mite, and needs immediate treatment to kill the mites as it is highly infectious).

How to prevent mange

Pet owners can prevent demodectic mange by ensuring their dogs are healthy and not suffering from other diseases. Regular vet check-ups give the veterinarian the opportunity to screen your dog and potentially pick up any health conditions that may compromise your dog’s immunity and lead to demodex overpopulation.

You can prevent sarcoptic mange by ensuring your dog is contained within your yard (not exposed to stray animals or unknown environments where a sarcoptes infestation may put them at risk). By keeping your pets away from dogs with known sarcoptic mange, you prevent infection.

© 2023 Vetwebsites – The Code Company Trading (Pty) Ltd


Uveitis – pronounced ‘yoo-vee-i-tis’ – refers to inflammation inside the eye. The disease can occur in dogs and cats of any age and breed. Patients with uveitis will show signs of pain, redness and cloudiness of the eye. There are many potential causes and sometimes the cause is never found. Prompt treatment is necessary to avoid severe long-term consequences; even blindness. In this article we will discuss the possible causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of uveitis in pets.

What causes uveitis in animals?

The causes of uveitis are classified as being ocular (as a direct result of a disease or injury to the eye) or systemic (as a result of a disease elsewhere in the body).

Ocular causes of uveitis

  • Corneal ulceration: Wound or an open sore on the outer surface of the eye
  • Necrotising scleritis: Severe inflammation of the tissues surrounding the eye
  • Deep keratitis: Inflammation of the surface of the cornea (the clear outermost layer of the eyeball)
  • Cataracts
  • Trauma to the eye, either penetrating injuries or blunt trauma
  • Lens luxation: Dislocation of the lens (clear structure within the eye that focuses incoming light on the retina)
  • Tumours inside the eye

Systemic causes of uveitis

  • Infectious diseases:
    • Septicaemia or toxaemia: Blood poisoning caused by bacterial infections
    • Canine ehrlichiosis (tick disease)
    • Toxocariasis (worms)
    • Toxoplasmosis (parasites)
    • Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
    • Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV)
    • Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP)
    • Canine distemper virus (CDV)
  • Immune-mediated inflammatory disease
    • Immune-mediated thrombocytopaenia (IMTP): The body’s immune system attacks blood platelets
  • Metabolic disorders
    • Diabetes mellitus
    • Hyperlipidaemia (high blood fat levels)
  • Systemic hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Cancer

One of these underlying causes will trigger an inflammatory cascade that can permanently damage the structures within the eye. Unfortunately, in the majority of cases a cause cannot be identified, so the disease is considered idiopathic (with no known cause) and treated symptomatically. See below for the various forms of treatment.

Symptoms of uveitis

The symptoms of uveitis are either acute symptoms (those that are seen when it initially starts) or chronic symptoms (those that occur as the inflammation continues over a period of days to weeks). The symptoms of uveitis can be seen in one or both eyes.

Acute Symptoms

Chronic Symptoms


Deformity of the pupil


Discolouration of the iris

Pain (face rubbing, squinting or keeping the eye shut)

Attachments of the pupil to other structures in the eye



Photophobia (avoiding bright light)

Lens luxation

Small or constricted pupils

Swollen or shrunken eye

Blood or pus within the eye


If your pet is showing any discomfort, redness or discharge from the eye, make an appointment with the vet immediately.

How is uveitis diagnosed?

The veterinarian will start by taking a careful history of how your pet’s condition developed, followed by a thorough physical exam. Be sure to provide as much information to the vet as possible, as this will help to determine possible causes and assist with the diagnosis. A systematic ocular exam will be performed, which may include the following:

  • Schirmer tear test: Determines if your pet’s tear glands are functioning adequately
  • Ophthalmoscopic exam: Careful examination of all structures of the eye using magnification
  • Fluorescein stain: Test to detect corneal ulceration
  • Tonometry: Test for intraocular pressure
  • Ocular ultrasound: To visualise internal structures of the eye

Depending on the findings, further specific tests on the eyes may need to be performed. Since uveitis can have systemic causes elsewhere in the body, it is important to do various blood and urine tests in order to identify a potential underlying cause.

If there is any indication of a specific condition that may be causing the uveitis, other tests may be necessary, such as chest X-rays, abdominal ultrasound or sample collection from other organs such as lymph nodes.

The veterinarian will be able to perform most of these tests; however, referral to an eye specialist is often recommended as some of the tests are more specialised in nature.

How do you treat uveitis in dogs?

If the underlying cause of the disease can be identified, it needs to be treated. However, often the cause is not found, so the vet offers treatment for the various symptoms.

The mainstay of treatment is the use of anti-inflammatory drugs such as corticosteroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These can be given topically in the form of eye drops or systemically in the form of injections or tablets. As the disease is driven by the immune system, other immune-suppressive drugs may be needed.

If a bacterial infection is present in the eye or in other parts of the body, topical or systemic antibiotics will be given to treat the infection.

Mydriatics are drugs that are used topically to relieve the pain response (known as blepharospasm). The most commonly used mydriatic drug is atropine. Topical morphine may also be used for this purpose. Lubricant eye drops may be necessary to keep the cornea moist.

If concurrent conditions such as glaucoma (increased pressure inside the eyeball) are present, it will need to be addressed with additional treatments. Patients should be kept indoors in dark areas as they will be light sensitive. If the patient has a lens-associated uveitis due to a lens luxation or a cataract, they will need surgery to remove the lens.


Uveitis is a severe condition of the eye that can result in chronic glaucoma, blindness or the loss of one or both eyes. Many cases recur or relapse and will require ongoing treatment. If you see any abnormalities with your pet’s eyes, make an appointment to see the vet as soon as possible.

© 2023 Vetwebsites – The Code Company Trading (Pty) Ltd

Allergies to cats

What are allergies?

Allergies are your body’s immune system over-reacting to a substance or material that is innocuous and shouldn’t cause a reaction (referred to as an allergen). When the body then encounters this allergen it launches an excessive immune response resulting in symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, wheezing, itchy or swollen eyes, and rashes or hives.

How do cats cause allergies?

Allergies to pets are very common and allergies to cats are twice as common as to dogs. There are 8 allergens produced by cats of which secretoglobulin Fel d 1 is the most important. This substance is produced by sebaceous glands, anal glands and salivary glands in cats. It is found in the saliva and in cat dander and fur.

Which cat breeds are hypoallergenic?

These Fel d 1 allergens are present in all cats which means that unfortunately there is no such thing as a “hypoallergenic cat”. We do know however, that certain breeds of cats produce less Fel d 1, which means that they tend to elicit less severe symptoms in individuals allergic to cats.

It may seem counterintuitive, but many of the breeds that are considered less allergenic are long-haired cats. The theory is that the gene governing the production of Fel d 1 is associated with the gene for medium to long hair.

Studies have also found that female cats produce less allergens that males and that neutered males produce less than intact males.
Based on studies and owner experiences the following cat breeds are considered to be less allergenic:

  • Siberian
  • Balinese
  • Devon Rex
  • Cornish Rex
  • Abyssinian

How can I decrease my allergy symptoms with a cat in my household?

Apart from the breed you choose to own, there are also other methods to ameliorate symptoms of cat allergies.

  • Ensure that your cat is fed a high quality diet, particularly one high in Omega 3-and 6 fatty acids. These fatty acids help to promote healthy skin and coat and decrease dander being shed.
  • Ensure that your cats are treated against external parasites such as ticks, fleas and mites at all times to minimize scratching, which will release more dander into the air.
  • Consider choosing smooth flooring instead of carpeting and furnishings such as blinds instead of curtains. Carpets and soft furnishings, particularly those with a thick pile, are far more inclined to accumulate dander.
  • Vacuum clean your home regularly with a vacuum cleaner that filters fine particles (so that they are not simply recycled back into the air).
  • Clean hard furnishings and furniture with damp cloths, avoid feather dusters which will simply lift all the dust and dander back up into the air.
  • Air filters with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters will help to decrease allergens in the air.
  • Ensure good ventilation in the home.
  • Bathing your cat will decrease the amount of dander on their body and in the air. However the levels of dander will return back to normal on your cat within two days and the effect in the home is less than 24 hours. Bathing your cat every week or two may decrease the amount of allergens in your home over time.

Depending on the severity of your allergies, you can take antihistamines to treat the symptoms. Should you be planning on visiting a household with cats in, it would be beneficial to start taking antihistamines a few weeks before your visit.

If your symptoms are very severe, speak to your primary health care practitioner about allergen specific immunotherapy. This consists of periodic injections to gradually desensitize your body to a particular allergen. This type of gradual desensitization may explain why certain people with mild symptoms may develop tolerance to the cats in their household.

© 2023 Vetwebsites – The Code Company Trading (Pty) Ltd

Nutritional Supplements for Pets

I’m concerned that my pet’s diet may be deficient in vitamins and omega-3s. Can I give her supplements?

High-quality nutrition

We know that people who eat healthily and have an active lifestyle have a longer life expectancy than those who do not. The same is true for our pets. If you want your furry friend to live a longer, healthier life, it’s crucial that you feed them a high-quality, veterinary-approved diet. These diets have been scientifically formulated and balanced to meet each type of pet’s specific needs. Choose the right diet for your dog’s breed, size, age and activity levels to give them optimal nutrition. Cats need feline-specific nutrition designed to meet their needs based on age, breed, activity levels and other explicit conditions (obesity, sensitive tummy, dental health, hairball-prone, etc.). When purchasing pet food, you get what you pay for. There is no degree of nutritional supplementation that can compensate for feeding a cheap, poor-quality diet.

Supplements are available for various conditions

Nutritional supplements are vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are added to your pet’s diet to balance and enhance it. Various nutrients serve specific functions in the body, and these may be incorporated directly into the food or may be given as tablets, powders or liquids.

General health and condition supplements

If you are feeding your pet a high-quality commercially produced diet that is appropriate for their condition, you should not need to add any supplements, provided that your pet is healthy. Home-cooked diets may be provided with the best intentions towards your pet’s health, but they can, however, be deficient in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients for overall good health. These diets may need to be supplemented, in which case it’s very important to use a species-specific supplement to avoid deficiencies or toxicities.

Joint supplements

These supplements are prescribed for pets that are predisposed to and/or suffering from osteoarthritis (a chronic inflammatory condition of the joints, which causes pain and loss of mobility). Joint supplements contain ingredients that have anti-inflammatory effects in the joint, protect cells from free radical damage, and provide building blocks for cartilage and joint fluid. Important ingredients to look out for in joint supplements are glucosamine, chondroitin, EPA and DHA (omega-3 fatty acids), vitamins E and C, and green-lipped mussel extract.

Skin supplements

Skin supplements are typically prescribed for pets with skin allergies or dry, flaky, itchy skin. These supplements are designed to provide nutrients essential for maintaining a healthy skin barrier. They also have an anti-inflammatory effect. Important ingredients include omega-3 and 6 fatty acids (found in flaxseed, evening primrose and marine fish oils), vitamins A, C and E, biotin, nicotinamide and zinc. Humans and animals have different requirements for omega-3 and 6 fatty acids; therefore, you should not use a human supplement for your pets.

Geriatric supplements

As our pets age they may start to experience deteriorating eyesight, a decline in cognitive function, decreased mobility and a deterioration in general body condition. They can also become deficient in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients as they tend to eat less due to their decreasing appetite. Supplements for geriatric animals contain ingredients that aid brain function, provide joint support and help maintain lean muscle mass. Important ingredients include omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, glucosamine, chondroitin, carotenoids and flavonoids, vitamin E, L-carnitine, antioxidants and taurine.

Calming supplements

Anxiety in dogs and cats can manifest as behavioural problems as well as medical conditions. Some dogs are prone to stress-induced tummy upsets, where cats are prone to urinary tract problems. Ingredients in calming aids that are useful include theanine, tryptophan, vitamins B1, B3, B6 and B12, and milk hydrolysates such as alpha casozepine.

Liver supplements

Liver supplements are used for liver failure, hepatitis and damage to the liver as result of toxin exposure. They contain ingredients that support liver function, decrease inflammation and provide nutrients that the liver may struggle to produce if it’s under strain. Important ingredients are milk thistle, thioctic acid, pangamic acid, L-carnitine, vitamins E and K, and B-complex vitamins.

Kidney supplements

Kidney supplements are used for pets at risk of and/or suffering from chronic kidney failure. They contain ingredients that bind phosphate in the intestine (as excess phosphate levels worsen kidney failure) and have protective effects on the kidneys (anti-inflammatories and antioxidants). Ingredients to look out for are omega-3 fatty acids, co-enzyme Q10, chitosan, vitamin C, B-complex vitamins and vitamin E. Interestingly, the addition of omega-6 fatty acids to the diet has been shown to be detrimental to patients suffering from kidney disease. Be very careful when selecting any supplements for patients with kidney failure as they have very specific nutrient requirements and restrictions. Giving an inappropriate supplement may negatively affect your pet.

Digestive supplements

Most digestive supplements are given to patients suffering from gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea. Important ingredients are prebiotics, probiotics, glutamine, gastrointestinal adsorbents, vitamins and minerals. Probiotics are live healthy bacteria, whereas prebiotics are special fibres that feed those healthy bacteria. Glutamine is an amino acid that is used by the intestinal lining cells to regenerate. Kaolin, pectin and diosmectite are intestinal adsorbents that help to mop up toxins from the intestine (such as those produced by bacteria during infections). Vitamins and minerals are added to replace those lost during vomiting or diarrhoea.

Calcium supplements

Calcium supplements are to be used with extreme caution and only under instruction from the veterinarian. They may be prescribed to lactating bitches and queens showing symptoms of inadequate calcium levels. However, if these supplements are fed to animals that do not have a calcium deficiency, the body’s natural processes that balance calcium are disrupted, which may lead to more severe signs of hypocalcaemia (low calcium levels) when the body’s need is at its highest. Supplementing calcium in especially large breed puppies can lead to growth abnormalities.

Quality and safety of supplements

There is no legal requirement for the quality control of supplements. Studies have shown that a large proportion of supplements do not contain the ingredients they claim to on the packaging. Some products have even been found to contain toxic substances. This is why you should always only use products that have been recommended by the veterinarian.


Good nutrition is a cornerstone of your pet’s health. Speak to the veterinary team about which diets they would recommend for your individual pet’s needs. The veterinarian can recommend any additional supplements that they feel are necessary for your pet’s wellbeing. Only use products from reputable companies and never use human supplements for your pets.

© 2023 Vetwebsites – The Code Company Trading (Pty) Ltd

How to manage a pet that is having seizures

It’s a frightening experience to witness your dog or cat having a seizure. In everyday life, pets are conscious and aware of their owners, responding to your words and actions, but during a seizure, a dog or cat may be standing up or lying on their side, staring blankly, twitching, convulsing and drooling, or making some seemingly terrifying sounds. You may feel scared and helpless, not knowing what’s happening to your pet or what you can do to ease their seeming discomfort.

In this article, we’ll explore what pet seizures are, what the symptoms are, what triggers them, how they are diagnosed and what you can do to manage your pet’s seizures.

What is a pet seizure?

A seizure in a pet is a burst of abnormal brain activity or a temporary disruption of normal brain function. It results in the loss of control of an animal’s motor function, which is why their muscles stiffen and/or twitch or they experience convulsions. Having a seizure is fairly common in dogs, but rarer in cats. Seizures can be a once-off or they can happen fairly regularly, depending on the cause.

What causes seizures in pets?

Epilepsy is the most common cause of seizures in pets. When all other causes are ruled out, your pet may be diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy. ‘Idiopathic’ refers to the nature of the condition in that it happens spontaneously with an unknown cause. Idiopathic epilepsy is the most common cause of seizures in dogs younger than eight years old, but there may be other causes of seizures such as:

  • blood abnormalities: anaemia; low blood sugar; stroke; poor blood circulation in the brain; high or low blood pressure
  • head trauma
  • calcium deficiency
  • infectious disease
  • kidney or liver disease
  • brain tumour
  • poisoning/ingesting toxins

Most dog seizure conditions have genetic causes, while in cats, seizures are more commonly caused by disease, tumours, or traumatic head injury. Cat diseases that can cause seizures include feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), feline leukaemia virus (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), toxoplasmosis, and cryptococcus. Cats can also experience seizures when they’ve ingested toxins – such as pesticides or being given tick and flea medication that’s indicated for dogs – or due to metabolic disorders like diabetes.

What are the symptoms of pet seizures?

There may be different symptoms with different seizures, as no two experiences will be the same. Pets having a seizure may include some or most of the following signs and symptoms:

  • trembling, convulsing
  • standing motionless
  • running in circles
  • falling down
  • stiff legs/legs sticking straight out
  • paddling of limbs
  • staring/glazed look
  • drooling
  • persistent/rhythmic barking
  • loud vocalisation in cats
  • unprompted aggression
  • losing bowel control

What can trigger a seizure?

Seizures can be triggered by conditions that change the pet’s brain activity. From a drop in blood pressure or blood sugar, to the effect of liver and kidney function on the brain, to a pet’s excitement, reaction to feeding time, or falling asleep – there are many situations that may trigger a seizure.

Seizures caused by poisoning or an acute condition may be a once-off, while epileptic seizures can occur regularly, but with no warning signs.

Are seizures painful for pets?

Pet seizures are generally not painful for pets, even though it may look or sound like it. Seizures may be potentially harmful if they cause the pet to fall down a flight of stairs, run into something, or knock something over that can cause injury, but the seizure itself is not painful. Your pet may get confused or panic, but rest assured that they are not in pain.

What to do during a seizure

As a pet owner, you may want to do everything you can to prevent your pet’s discomfort during a seizure, but we recommend the following:

  • remain calm
  • keep your hands and face away from your pet’s mouth – they may bite
  • sit near your pet, but don’t try to touch or comfort them – they may be confused or panicked when they ‘come to’ and accidentally bite you
  • speak in a low, calm tone if you need to offer comfort
  • don’t worry about your pet swallowing their tongue – this won’t happen
  • do not touch your pet unless this is required to move them away from stairs or any objects with which they might injure themselves
  • time the seizure – this will give the vet important information with which to diagnose or monitor your pet’s condition
  • film the seizure – it may be difficult to re-experience, but filming your pet’s condition during the seizure will once again offer the vet critical information that will help with a diagnosis or monitoring your pet’s condition

If your pet has not yet been diagnosed with epilepsy or you have not seen the vet regarding their condition, it’s time for a veterinary appointment. Your pet’s seizure may last a few minutes, after which they will need some time for recovery. If they experience a seizure cluster, one seizure will follow another with a short recovery period in between. They may appear confused or exhausted afterwards. Once they have recovered enough to be transported, make an appointment with the vet for a thorough examination.

How are pet seizures diagnosed?

It is vital that you give the veterinarian as much information as possible about your pet’s seizure/s as well as their history, diet and lifestyle leading up to their first seizure. The vet may ask questions such as:

  • When did your pet experience their first seizure?
  • How long did it last?
  • Do the seizures occur frequently?
  • Have you noticed a pattern in the seizures, such as they occur only when your pet is excited, or after a meal, etc.?
  • Is your pet’s parasite medication up to date?
  • Do you think your pet has ingested something toxic (such as a poisoned rodent, rotten food, another animal’s faeces, etc.)?
  • Has your pet shown any other signs of illness or poorliness?

The vet will perform a physical examination of your pet and may do a full panel of blood tests to rule out any other possible illnesses that may be causing the seizures. X-rays and other imaging tests may be necessary, depending on each individual case.

How are pet seizures treated?

Treatment options will depend on the diagnosis reached. In the case of idiopathic epilepsy – the most commonly diagnosed cause of seizures in pets – treatment will focus on the underlying condition and reducing the risk of triggering seizures as well as reducing their severity. It is vital to follow the vet’s instructions for medicating and treating your pet. Any sudden changes to medication may worsen your pet’s condition or trigger more severe seizures.

Keep the vet up to date with your pet’s condition and record their symptoms and any information relating to their illness/seizures that would be relevant at your next visit to the vet.

© 2023 Vetwebsites – The Code Company Trading (Pty) Ltd

Book your pet’s dental procedure and SAVE R1000!

Your pet’s dental health is one of the cornerstones of their overall health and wellbeing. Keeping your canine or feline friend’s teeth sparkling clean is not only good for their teeth, but for their whole constitution. Plaque and tartar build-up cause gingivitis and periodontal disease which can then lead to tooth loss. Periodontal disease has been linked to many diseases in cats and dogs, including heart and kidney disease. These diseases are common causes for decreased life spans in dogs and cats.

The good news

Daily brushing can help to delay the onset of periodontal disease, by removing the plague before it starts to calcify, forming dental calculus that can only be removed by scaling under anaesthetic.

Annual dental examinations help your veterinarian to identify potential problems and make the necessary recommendations to prevent further dental disease. In most dogs and cats annual teeth cleaning procedures are necessary to maintain adequate dental health.

This will relieve the pain and inflammation associated with periodontal disease, help prevent tooth loss, delay the onset of some age-related diseases and keep their breath fresh.

Even better news – a great offer!

We at Birnam Veterinary Clinic care about our patient’s wellbeing and for that reason we encourage you to have your pet’s teeth evaluated by our veterinary team and have dental procedures performed as necessary. With that in mind, we are offering R1000 off our already subsidised dental scale and polish procedure.

This is a limited offer:

  • Only valid on appointments from 4 – 26 April 2023.
  • There are only 20 appointment slots available for full dental procedures, so booking is essential!

Please give us a call on 0118878158 to book an appointment for your pet’s dental procedure.

Feline Asthma

Feline asthma is a respiratory condition characterised by a cat having difficulty breathing, frequent episodes of coughing, retching and or attempted (unsuccessful) vomiting. The symptoms are triggered by environmental allergens like dust, pollen and other inhaled particles that activate the immune system. These symptoms are a result of the narrowing of airways due to inflammatory changes, as well as the thickening (hypertrophy) of muscles lining the airways and/or their constriction. Cat asthma can be acute (sudden onset) or chronic (progressive and long-term).

In this article, we want to shed some light on how pet owners can identify the condition in their cat households as well as the risk factors associated with asthma. We also discuss how feline asthma is diagnosed and treated and what an affected cat’s prognosis may be.  

Which cats get feline asthma?

Siamese cats seem to be more prone to developing feline asthma, and will often suffer the more chronic form. However, any cat of any age can be affected by the condition. The average age range of cats diagnosed with feline asthma is two to eight years old. An individual study revealed that female cats are more affected by the condition than male cats are. Overweight and obese cats as well as cats living in environments that have airborne risk factors are also prone to suffering from feline asthma. Roughly, 1 – 5% of the cat population is afflicted by this condition.

What can aggravate feline asthma?

Some cats are more prone to feline asthma than others, but there are also environmental factors that can aggravate an already sensitive immune system and make the cat asthma worse. These include cigarette smoke, cat litter that creates dust, home diffusors, and hair sprays. An often overlooked risk factor is lung disease due to parasites. The veterinarian’s knowledge of the prevalent parasites in the area is useful in the proper diagnosis and management of feline asthma. 

How long should my cat cough for before I worry about asthma?

If your cat is coughing, do not delay in taking her to the vet for an examination. Since this is usually a long-term condition that gets worse over time, experience shows that most clients bring their furry babies for a consultation when they notice the pattern and prevalence of the cough. However, if the condition is left untreated, chronic bronchitis (coughing and wheezing) can result in right-sided heart disease. It is therefore better to err on the side of caution and bring your cat in as soon as you notice any coughing – giving us the chance to assess her in the early stages of the condition.

How do I know if my cat has feline asthma?

The most commonly reported symptom of feline asthma is coughing – identified in approximately 80% of cases. Sneezing has been reported in 60% of asthma cases, while wheezing is observed in 40% of cases. Wheezing, however, is seen in more chronic forms of the condition that would have gone without treatment. Asthma can also present as difficulty breathing, characterised by forceful expiration (exhalation) that involves muscles of the abdomen and/or increased effort in breathing out. Similar to human asthma, feline asthma can be suspected whenever breathing difficulties are observed in cats.

How do vets diagnose feline asthma?

There are other respiratory conditions that cause difficulty in breathing, so the vet has to rule out infectious, parasitic and/or cardiovascular causes of breathing difficulties. It will help if you can provide the vet with an accurate history of your cat’s health – such as when you first noticed her cough or wheezing.

The vet may also perform blood tests, stool examinations, chest X-rays, urine tests, a heartworm test, FIV/FeLV test and airway sampling to evaluate of the types of cells seen. The tests help to rule out possible conditions that might cause similar respiratory signs. Most importantly, tests such as blood tests, chest X-rays and evaluation of cell types from airway samples are useful in reaching the correct diagnosis.

Is feline asthma treatable?

The good news is that feline asthma can be managed on the correct treatment. Managed is the better term, as treatment is usually instituted for life. Currently cortisone is the go-to drug for managing this condition. As always, care needs to be taken when dealing with this group of medications. Their use comes with strict instructions from the veterinarian, which need to be adhered to. Cortisone can be delivered directly to your cat’s respiratory tract via an inhaler – a method that has been proved to be safe and with good success. Bronchodilators are sometimes used in conjunction with cortisone in the management of feline asthma. However, their use is case dependent.

Lastly, nursing care is necessary in the event of an acute crisis where your cat’s breathing is significantly compromised. She will need to receive oxygen, which sometimes means being sedated to minimise movement.

What else can I do to help my asthmatic pet?

Pet owners of cats suffering from feline asthma are encouraged to ask as many questions as possible in order to get a good understanding of the condition. Being armed with accurate knowledge improves the quality of care you can give to your cat, which means a better prognosis for her.

A few nuggets for pet owners to remember:

  • Learn to identify current and new risk factors in your cat’s environment. Since most causes are chronic and progressive, removing your asthmatic cat from triggering environments is warranted.
  • Do not to stop therapy even when the symptoms have subsided. Stopping medication might result in the asthma getting worse in the long run, ultimately affecting other body systems such as the heart. As a rule of thumb, prompt response in the event of an acute respiratory distress incident is a must.
  • Once your cat’s condition has stabilised, regularly follow up with the vet so we can monitor her condition and make adjustments to her treatment to avoid a relapse. Always let the vet know when you notice a sudden increase in symptoms, and also watch out for possible side-effects of medications. Report these to the vet asap.   

What is the prognosis for my cat?

Cats suffering from feline asthma generally live long, healthy lives, as long as they are on medication and their symptoms are managed. Any changes to your cat’s environment must be taken into consideration – they can be affected by the literal air they breathe. Unfortunately, there are those unlucky few cats who have been reported to not respond to medication.

© 2023 Vetwebsites – The Code Company Trading (Pty) Ltd