My pet is battling to pass a stool

Ever notice your dog or cat in a hunched-up position either in the garden or in their sandbox and just not being able to “come right” with passing whatever it is they want to pass? In cats and female dogs, the posture of the animal when passing stool and passing urine is the same. It is therefore important to try and establish whether they are battling to pass a stool or alternatively if they are struggling to urinate. Both conditions may require veterinary attention and if the animal repeatedly hunches and strains with no apparent relief, it may be a sign that they need to see the vet.

Male cats are prone to an obstruction of the ureter which will cause this kind of repeated behaviour and if left unattended, can lead to death.

In this article, we will be looking more closely at constipation. Constipation is the absence of passing stool or struggling to pass stool regularly. This is not a disease in itself, but a cause of other disease processes, leading to constipation. It is always important to seek medical advice for this reason, as it is important to find the cause of constipation to be able to treat it correctly.

If solid waste stays in your pet’s colon for too long, the moisture gets absorbed by the gut and it leaves hard dry stool that is difficult to pass. It is commonly found in dogs and especially cats. The clinical signs to look out for are the following:

  • Listlessness
  • Anorexia (loss of appetite and not wanting to eat)
  • Vomiting
  • Straining in a hunched position
  • Arched back
  • Bloating and abdominal pain
  • Howling when trying to pass a stool

Seeing your animal in a hunched position, struggling to pass stool, or passing small hard balls of stool gives you a good indication that your animal might be constipated. Often animals can have diarrhoea, which is on the opposite of the spectrum to constipation where the animal has a loose or watery stool, and strain due to an irritated bowel, giving the owner the impression that they are constipated. Constipation can be acute or chronic. Chronic constipation can stretch the wall of the colon so much that it affects the movement of the colon permanently, leading to a condition called megacolon. This is often irreversible and can have a major impact on the animal’s quality of life. The causes of constipation can range from something as simple as insufficient fibre intake to more serious causes like tumours causing obstruction in the colon. By bringing your pet to the vet for a quick check-up, constipation can be confirmed relatively easily. If your animal is constipated, remembering that constipation is not a disease in itself but rather a symptom of the disease, the vet will then continue to look for the cause of constipation. This might require more advanced diagnostic procedures like blood tests and radiographs. Let’s discuss a couple of causes of constipation: 

Diet and water intake

This is the most common reason for constipation, and the easiest to fix as well. A shortage of dietary fibre can lead to constipation. Fibre adds bulk to the stool and causes the colon to increase its movement. On the other hand, too much fibre can give stool too much bulk and also lead to constipation. In these cases, an easily digestible diet will solve the problem.

Water intake is very important, especially in cats. Water intake can sometimes be too low when cats are on dry food only and adding wet food adds extra moisture to the diet.

Foreign material

Material like hair, sand, rocks, plant material or bones can dry out and form a mass in the large intestines, leading to obstruction and constipation.

Obstruction

Any mass in the colon or around the anus can cause an obstruction if it is big enough. Anything that decreases the space through the pelvic canal can push into the colon, causing constipation, for example, The prostate gland in intact male dogs can become diseased, increase in size and push onto the colon. These patients often find it hard and painful to pass stool. In small pets, any pelvic fracture that heals with scar tissue formation, can lead to a decrease in the pelvic canal diameter and cause constipation. Anal or perineal (the area next to the anus) masses and anal gland abscesses can also obstruct the rectum and anus enough to cause constipation.

Pain

To pass a stool, dogs and cats go into a hunched position with their backs and hips. In animals with chronic pain in the back or hips, this pain may prevent them from going into this hunched position. Old, large breed dogs often suffer from hip dysplasia and severe arthritis, leading to constipation due to pain. The severe pain from arthritis makes passing stool a painful process for these animals which lead to them retaining a stool rather than going when nature calls. The stool retained in the colon becomes dry and increases in size and as a result of this, they can become constipated. Anal gland problems, like anal gland abscesses, may be so painful that the animal does not want to pass a stool. 

Environment

Some animals will not pass a stool if not left alone quietly, or if they are not on grass. Pets that are staying at boarding facilities can often struggle with this problem. If exercise is reduced and they are kept in cages for long periods of time, bowel movements are slowed down tremendously. The stress and change of food can contribute to the problem. Cats can also get an aversion to their litter boxes, either to the location, litter type or cleanliness. They then retain their faecal mass until it leads to constipation. It is important to vary the litter type you use and make sure there are enough litter boxes in different areas of the house. Litter boxes need to be cleaned out daily.

These are a few of the many causes of constipation. It is important to realise that the cause has to be discovered first before treatment can be instituted. After the cause of constipation is resolved, treatment of the actual constipation is usually easily achieved depending on severity. This can vary from a change of diet and over the counter products to soften stool, to multiple enemas and faecal manipulation on awake animals, or in severe cases under anaesthesia. An enema is a usual treatment for constipation, and this can be done with warm water, lubrication material or soapy water. Never give your dog an enema at home before consulting your vet. This may worsen the situation and can cause severe damage. Some small changes at home can also prevent constipation:

  • Regular exercise
  • Plenty of clean water
  • Appropriate space to eliminate
  • Appropriate diet and making sure foreign material are not ingested
  • Avoiding medication that can cause constipation

If in doubt, rather seek veterinary advice before taking matters into your own hands.

© 2018 Vetwebsites – The Code Company Trading (Pty) Ltd.

What is the brownish yellow discolouration on my pet’s teeth?

Just like humans, dogs and cats have two different sets of teeth. The first set, known as the deciduous teeth or “baby teeth", erupt between three to six weeks of age. The permanent or “adult” teeth start erupting around three months of age and are all present around six months of age.

The teeth are also very similar in structure to human teeth, with the crown that sits above the gum line and the root which is located below the gum line. All teeth are made up of an outer protective coating of enamel. Enamel is a very hard structure that protects the more sensitive dentin. The dentin sits over the even more sensitive pulp cavity which contains nerves and bloods vessels, which nourish the tooth.

A discoloured tooth is any variation from the normal colour. A normal and healthy tooth can be various different shades of white or cream and the gum should sit tightly around it. The normal colour can vary depending on the shade, thickness and translucency of the enamel. There are several different reasons for teeth to discolour and these reasons may be due to factors affecting the tooth from the outside or inside. Outside factors are referred to as extrinsic and mainly affecting the enamel. Inside or instrinsic factors affect the sensitive dental pulp or can affect the development of the tooth in general. Trauma or chronic wear, infection or inflammation, metabolic disease, some developmental conditions and certain drugs can all causes changes to the teeth.

If a tooth does not appear normal or changes in colour, it is important to have your pet’s mouth examined by the veterinarian to determine whether one or multiple teeth are affected. It is important to consider the pet’s age and stage of dental development and whether the dentition is deciduous, mixed or permanent. It is also important to note how long the tooth has been discoloured for. All these factors will help determine potential causes as well as treatment. Some conditions may need further testing, such as X-rays to help with the diagnosis.

What are the different causes of tooth discolouration?

Trauma – dogs can be quite persistent when chewing objects such as toys or bones. Some dogs get into a bad habit of chewing rocks or other very hard things. These can cause chips and fractures but can damage the tooth without breaking it. Accidents such as being hit by a car, or cats falling from a height, can also cause tooth trauma.

Initially the pulp becomes inflamed and bleeds. This results in a pink colour to the tooth and is referred to as pulpitis. The pulpitis may resolve and the tooth can return to normal but more commonly the tooth changes to purple, tan, brown, black or any intermediate colour. It can be painful initially but the pain usually resolves with time. The tooth often can become infected with bacteria and this infection can spread throughout the body.

Plaque – Just as with humans, animals can also suffer from plaque and calculi build up on teeth. Plaque formation is due to bacteria that naturally occur in the mouth that, together with the cells on the inside of the surface of the mouth which are replaced with new cells, create a film over the surface of the teeth. This film thickens and hardens with time. In very severe cases, it can cover the whole tooth. The bacteria present in plaque can penetrate below the gum line and start to affect the tooth root too.

Calculi – Calculi is the hard yellowish brown substance that “grows” on teeth when the plaque is not properly removed from the teeth and starts calcifying and hardening over a period of time. Imagine the results of not brushing your own teeth for months on end. The harder and more irregular the surface becomes, the more plaque tends to build up leading to a vicious cycle of the dental health deteriorating.

Foods and medications – some pigmented foods and certain medications can cause discolouration to teeth. Tetracyclines which is an antibiotic (which by the way is very rarely used these day any more) used in young dogs while the teeth are erupting cause a distinct yellow discolouration as they affect the formation of the enamel.

Systemic infection and fever – In young dogs and cats, illness while teeth are erupting can cause defects in the enamel. As the enamel is the protective layer of the tooth, any defect makes the rest of the tooth more susceptible to infection and damage. In some dogs, a distinct line in the enamel may be noted and this usually correlates to the time of infection.

Developmental conditions – amelogenesis imperfecta is a condition in which the enamel does not calcify enough and so is softer than it should be which may cause discolouration. Dentinogenesis imperfecta is a condition where the dentin does not develop properly and the structure and integrity of the tooth is compromised and once again may cause a change in colour of the affected teeth.

What can be done?

The treatment for discoloured teeth will depend on the cause. Sometimes all that needs to be done is a “dental” by the vet which entails an ultrsasonic scaling and polishing of the teeth to remove the plaque and calculi build up. Unfortunately with dogs and cats, this needs to be done under general anaesthetic as we cannot ask them to sit still and keep their mouths open. Brushing teeth with special pet tooth paste and giving dental treats and chews can delay the buildup of calculi but unfortunately some pets are more prone to developing dental calculi and plaque than others. In some cases, if the root is exposed or infected it will need to be extracted.

It is very important that if you do brush your pets’ teeth that you do not use human toothpaste but instead get a special veterinary toothpaste from your vet.

If the tooth is traumatised, some cases may require root canal treatment. This is where the pulp is cleaned out, disinfected and then filled with a hard substance that sets. This is not suitable in all cases and is considered a specialist dental procedure. In most cases the veterinarian will advise extraction of the affected tooth or teeth.

Defects in the enamel can be difficult to correct and manage. The vet should be equipped to deal with most of these conditions but may recommend that you seek a veterinary dental specialist’s advice for complicated cases. The veterinary dentist specialist may attempt to remove the affected enamel and apply a bonding agent but the success of this will depend on the extent of the lesions.

Discoloured teeth in animals instead of a “bright and healthy set of pearlies” in most instances indicate that something is wrong with the animal’s teeth. Always ask the vet for advice and rather be pro-active and have it addressed properly than wait and in the end let the animal lose their teeth.

© 2018 Vetwebsites – The Code Company Trading (Pty) Ltd

I found a loose stool with blood and what looks like jelly on the kitchen floor this morning – what do I do?

What is Acute Colitis?

Acute colitis is a common condition in pets and is characterised by a sudden onset colonic inflammation with a diarrhoea that may contain mucous and/or fresh blood.

Clinical signs

The most common symptoms are straining when defecating, mucous (the jelly you noticed) and/or blood in the stool, and increased frequency of defecation. Systemic signs of illness are generally absent and most animals are still alert, active and have normal appetites in spite of having colitis.

What causes acute colitis?

Various parasitic (like worms), bacterial, fungal and dietary causes can be identified as the cause of acute colitis in animals.

Diagnosis

Firstly a physical examination is performed which includes the vet feeling thoroughly and as deeply as possible without hurting the animals which his or her hands up and down the stomach area (abdominal palpation) as well as physically checking the animal’s backside with their finger (digital rectal examination) and the collection of stool, if there is any present. Parasites like worms can be diagnosed with relative ease by doing a fecal flotation to check for worm eggs under the microscope. The vet may also decide to do what is called a wet prep where a small stool sample is put on a microsope slide and either examined as is or with a special stain and then examined. The main causes of acute colitis in puppies and kittens are dietary indiscretion (garbage), bacterial infections and parasites. Puppies and kittens, the same as human babies, tend to explore the world with their mouths, chewing and biting on many things in their environment, some of which are not always clean or hygienic.

Treatment

If parasites are diagnosed during the faecal examination, the veterinarian will treat your pet with the needed medication to kill the parasites. If a dietary cause for colitis is suspected the veterinarian might start your animal on a bland diet for 3to 5 days. It is best to avoid all treats and food supplements during this period. These diets are highly digestible and reduces the workload on the gastrointestinal tract. Fiber supplementation may also be beneficial in the healing and repair of colonic tissue. Bacterial colitis is best treated with antibiotics based on faecal culture results. The use of probiotics for 3 to 5 days can be beneficial. If an animal fails to respond to therapy based on initial tests, further advanced tests may need to be performed.

Prognosis

The prognosis for discovery from colitis is generally excellent with most animals recovering in a short period of time (3 to 5 days) if the correct treatment is given.

What is chronic colitis?

Chronic colitis is characterised by persistent colonic inflammation for longer than a 3 weeks duration.

What causes chronic colitis in pets?

Middle-aged and older dogs and cats are affected by infiltrative mucosal (the superficial surface of the colon) disorders such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and cancer (neoplasia). Infectious causes (bacteria, worms and parasites) are usually seen in younger dogs and cats, but are less common causes in chronic cases. Some diseases that affect the motility of the colon (e.g. irritable bowel syndrome in dogs and colonic constipation/obstipation in cats) can mimic signs of colonic inflammation and cause animals to present with signs such as loose stools and straining (diarrhoea and tenesmus). These symptoms are due to functional defects in the motility of the colon and there is no mucosal disease present. Colonic cancer can also cause large bowel diarrhoea in dogs.

What are the clinical signs of chronic colitis?

The most classic sign is an animal that keeps trying to pass stool but only passes a very small amount or alternatively no stool. There is continuous straining, many times looking as if something is stuck in the back end which they cannot pass.

If they manage to pass something it may contain mucous and/or blood.

Large bowel diarrhoea is the most common clinical sign noted in dogs and cats where food intolerances are the cause for chronic colitis.

How is chronic colitis diagnosed?

The veterinarian will start off by doing a physical examination, where the abdomen is palpated, a rectal examination performed and a stool sample collected. The stool sample will be examined under a microscope. Abdominal imaging can be done to aid in the examination of the colon and the rest of the abdomen either through X-rays or ultrasound or sometimes both. Advanced diagnostic tests include colonoscopy and proctoscopy. Blood tests may also be performed to determine the extent of infection or to rule out other possible conditions which may present with similar symptoms. During these procedures biopsy samples of the colon can be obtained.

Treatment

The most simple and straight forward approach will be that suspected parasites must be treated. Follow-up faecal examinations are done to confirm efficacy of treatment. If your animal has a more serious condition like Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) which may be related to an immune condition or a diet responsive disorder, a hypoallergenic diet is fed. Animals that do have colitis but don't need a hypoallergenic diet will benefit from being fed a low-fat, fibre rich diet. The vet will be the best person to advise on a suitable therapeutic diet and there is not a one size fits all as some animals need higher fibre whilst other may need a different type of carbohydrate or protein. Antibiotics can be used in cases that have confirmed bacterial causes of colitis. In animals with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), immunosuppressive drugs are the first  choice of drugs for therapy.

Chemotherapy and radiation can be considered for certain colonic cancers, but surgical resection would be the treatment of choice.

Anti-fungal treatment is indicated for chronic colonic diarrhoea of fungal origin. 

Prognosis

The prognosis for chronic colitis depends on the underlying cause. Acute bacterial infections tend to have a better prognosis than dietary responsive disorders and normally respond to short term treatment which may resolve the condition completely compared to dietary responsive disorders which tend to require a much longer and more intensive treatment approach where the condition may never be resolved but at the very least contained and managed. Colon cancer, as in humans, carry a much more grave prognosis and the stage and extent of the cancer at the time of making the diagnosis will determine the outcome of treatment.

© 2018 Vetwebsites – The Code Company Trading (Pty) Ltd

 

 

What do I feed my dog, how much and when?

Feeding your dog an appropriate well balanced diet for its life stage is vital to good health and wellbeing. Nutrient requirements differ depending on the breed and age of the dog and there are a few important factors to take into consideration.

Many people see dogs and cats as a similar kind of animal and therefore it is useful to understand the difference between the two species to better understand how to feed your dog properly.

Dogs and cats are classified in the order Carnivora. This word stems from Latin – carõ (stem carn-) "flesh" and vorãre "to devour". Within this order, there are two suborders: feliforms ("cat-like") and caniforms ("dog-like"). Their nutritional requirements are quite different.

Cats, unlike dogs, need meat to fulfil all their dietary requirements (they are referred to as obligate or true carnivores).

Dogs on the other hand, similar to human beings, can utilise a mixture of plant and animal products and are therefore also sometimes referred to as being omnivorous).

What nutrients do dogs require?

Dogs require a combination of macronutrients and micronutirents. Macronutrients are those that are required in large quantities and include protein, carbohydrates and fats. Micronutrients are required in small quantities and include vitamins and minerals. The source of the proteins and fats is less important than the quality and digestibility of these essential nutrients. On an experimental basis, dogs can thrive if they are fed a properly balanced vegetarian diet because they have the ability to use plant sources to synthesize taurine, arachidonic acid and vitamin A from precursors present in plants. Cats on the other hand, do not have the ability to do this and therefore have to get these essential amino acids and micronutrients in directly through their diet. Because dogs are omnivores (everything eaters) they do best if they are fed a diet which is derived from both animal and plant sources. A pure meat diet without extra supplements would be unbalanced and would not provide all the nutritional requirements for the dog.

Water is the most important nutrient and is essential to life. It accounts for 60-70 percent of an adult pet’s body weight. Food can provide some of the daily water requirement but all pet’s need to have fresh and clean water available at all times.

As research into canine nutrition has grown and expanded, we know that a well-balanced diet must include appropriate amounts of minerals, vitamins, certain essential amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and specific essential fatty acids (the building blocks of fats).  These components are needed to build and maintain healthy tissue and carry out important biological functions within the body. The requirements for these nutrients and the necessary amounts vary with the different life stages (puppy, adult, pregnant, nursing or mature dog).

To meet their energy needs, dogs are able to utilise fats and proteins as energy sources but they can also use carbohydrates. The dog’s digestive system does contain enzymes that can break down starch and sugars. However more complex carbohydrates such as grains are better utilised when they are cooked.

What should you feed your dog?

The best advice that can be given is to feed your dog the highest quality food that you can afford. There are a multitude of dog foods out there and it can often be confusing trying to choose one. The best way to choose a food is to ask your veterinarian what would suit your particular dog at a certain age.

There are a few important considerations to make:

  • Select a diet with recognisable, whole food ingredients. If the majority of ingredients sound foreign to you then it is best to select another diet.
  • Select a low calorie diet. Most dogs that spend a lot of time indoors and are spayed or neutered have lower energy requirements. Obesity, just like in people, is becoming a real problem in our pets. If your dog is particularly active, there are diets to suit their needs.
  • Feed for the life stage. Much research has gone into the food requirements at different stages of your dog’s life. Puppies have different requirements to adult dogs. In the same way a nursing dog compared to an older mature dog has very different nutritional requirements. Only a few decades ago, we were making the mistake of supplementing large breed puppies’ diet with extra calcium and carbohydrates, reasoning that the fast growth these animals experience requires some extra nutrition. We now know that this is one of the worst things one can possibly do and new generation diets for large breed pups are actually restricted in these ingredients to ensure a slower and more solid growth curve for these animals. There are a multitude of different foods available to suit your dog’s particular life stage and you would do well to discuss your particular dog’s requirements with your vet.

How do you know how much to feed?

All good quality dog foods will have a feeding guideline on the back of the bag. This is based on the average dog and a range is often given, depending on the weight and activity of your dog. Sometimes you will have to play around a little to find the right amount of food for your dog. Treats also form a part of the daily intake, so remember to take this into consideration when working out how much to feed.

Is it okay to feed your dog once a day?

Dogs were originally hunters and their digestive tracts had evolved to allow the intake of large meals, followed by a period of fasting. However, feeding your dog twice a day is recommended these days. It has been suggested that large meals once a day can be a predisposing factor to large breed dogs developing bloat. Not all dogs will eat the same amount twice daily and most will prefer either morning or evening to feed. Exercise should be restricted immediately after food, to avoid any digestive upsets and reduce the risk of conditions like bloat or intestinal obstruction. A dog should also have access to fresh and clean water at all times.

What do you need to know about feeding puppies?

For the first four weeks of your puppy’s life, they will be solely dependent on their mom for milk and they will feed every few hours. From three to four weeks, puppies will be introduced to solid food but still need to have access to their mom’s milk. Puppies are generally weaned at about six weeks but it is important that they stay with their mom and littermates until about eight weeks.

Puppies need relatively large amounts of food as they grow very fast. However their stomachs have limited space. Initially a puppy may need to be fed four to six times a day. Between three and six months the frequency of feeding can probably be reduced to two times a day.

Good quality puppy foods have been specifically formulated to take into consideration the rapid growth of baby dogs. They contain the correct amount of energy and protein as well as important minerals such as calcium. It is important to remember that what you feed your puppy will have an effect on his or her health later on in life. Feeding the best quality food you can afford will definitely be beneficial to your dog and provides a good basis for a dog that can thrive. In small and medium sized dogs, growth is generally complete by eight to ten months, so puppies can be moved to an adult food from twelve months of age.

What is special about large and giant breed puppies?

A large breed dog is generally defined as any dog that will have an adult weight greater than 25 kg and giant breeds generally have an adult weight of greater than 50 kg (adult weight reached at 12 – 24 months of age). Large breeds include breeds such as Labradors, Golden Retrievers and German shepherds. Great Danes and Irish Wolfhounds are examples of giant breed dogs. Given the size of these breeds, they are at a higher risk for developing conditions such as elbow and hip dysplasia and other growth abnormalities.

It is very important to feed these puppies a large or giant breed puppy food. These foods have been specifically formulated and contain the right amount of macronutrients as well as calcium (they typically have restricted levels of fat (total calories)) and calcium, to ensure that they do not grow too rapidly. Feeding a normal puppy food to these breeds may lead to joint abnormalities as they may grow too fast. It is often recommended to feed large and giant breed puppies on a puppy food until they are 18 months old. Maintaining their body condition at this stage is also important, as being overweight will also put extra strain on their joints.

What should older dogs be fed?

Dogs are considered mature after seven years of age. Their nutritional needs change as they become older. Mature dogs require fewer calories, so foods will contain fewer carbohydrates and fats. Excess protein and sodium can put extra strain on the kidneys so they require a diet with an adequate amount of high quality protein and lower sodium. Foods should also contain antioxidants and Omegas 3 and -6 to combat inflammation and keep systems like the brain, skin, kidneys and intestinal tract healthy. Probiotics and some fibre helps with intestinal health, and joint supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate helps to combat arthritis. Modern high quality pet foods have the correct balance of these supplements and nutrients to provide optimal health for your dog.

What are the important things to remember?

There are a huge variety of good quality foods available to feed your dog and choosing one can be overwhelming and confusing. It is important to feed for the life stage and size. With the aid of your veterinarian or veterinary health care provider, try to select a food that is based on sound scientific research and principles. There are foods available for different ages and conditions and nutrition remains one of the most important aspects to maintaining a healthy and happy dog.

© 2018 Vetwebsites – The Code Company Trading (Pty) Ltd.

My dog is scooting on its backside and I think it has worms

Many veterinarians are presented by concerned pet owners about the animal’s scooting or dragging their backsides along the ground by holding the back legs up in the air and pulling themselves forward by the front legs whilst remaining in a seated position. The owner often thinks that the animal may have worms and is trying to get the worms out their backside by dragging it along the ground. Although this is quite possible to be the case, especially in the case of tapeworm infestation, it is unlikely to be the cause. The most common cause for this behaviour is uncomfortable anal glands.

Anal sac disease is the most common disease entity of the anal region in dogs. The anal sacs, commonly referred to as anal glands, are located on either side of the anus at 4 ’o clock and 8 ’o clock and are present in cats and dogs. The sacs are reservoirs for a secretion produced by glands within the wall of the sacs. The sacs have little ducts, which open just within the anus and connect the sacs to the outside. The secretion is released when the animal passes stool or when they are scared or nervous. It is often yellowy brown to grey and foul smelling to us, but it is an important scent marker in dogs. These are the same glands that are responsible for the foul smell secreted by skunks when they are threatened.

The sacs can become inflamed, infected and blocked and occasionally tumours can form within them. Small breed dogs appear predisposed to anal sac disease, although medium and large breed dogs can be affected too.

Why do the anal sacs cause a problem in dogs?

Anal sac disease is relatively common in dogs. The anal glands become blocked or impacted due to the ducts becoming inflamed. The anal gland secretion thickens and the sacs become full and swollen. The glands can be described as being inspissated. It can become painful for the animal to pass a stool or defaecate. If the sac is not emptied, the contents are a perfect medium for bacterial growth and for an abscess to form. The abscess will appear as a red, painful and swollen area on one or both sides of the anus. Sometimes, the abscess can burst. If left untreated, the abscess can spread infection to the anus and rectum.

What clinical signs can you expect?

Clinical signs are associated with pain when the patient sits or passes a stool. Commonly, anal gland disease will present with the dog licking the area around the anus, scooting (rubbing the anus along the ground) and the animal may experience pain when passing stool. Sometimes, an abscess may form that then bursts. Blood or pus may be seen around the anus.

What treatment is there for anal sac disease?

On clinical examination, the veterinarian will perform a digital exam of the rectum. This is very useful as the sacs can be nicely felt or palpated. The vet will try and express the glands. If there is an abscess or a tumour, this is not always possible. Normal anal sac fluid is thin and the sacs are easily expressed. The anal sac fluid can become very thick and difficult to express. If the sacs are just inflamed, they may need to be expressed manually over a few days. In the case of an abscess, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories may be required. Sometimes, antibiotics may be instilled into the sac for a few days. In some very severe cases and in the case of anal sac tumours the sac and duct will need to be removed surgically by a veterinary surgeon.

Can anal sac disease become a chronic problem?

Some dogs can have recurrent anal sac impactions or abscess. Overweight dogs tend to be overrepresented, as the sacs do not always empty completely. With each impaction or abscess, the sacs can become scarred and so making emptying even more difficult. The anal sacs may need to be manually expressed more regularly and in chronic cases surgically removing the gland may be an option. Adding fibre to the diet to bulk up the faeces may assist in emptying the sacs as the stool passes through the anus. Speak to your vet about your pet’s nutrition to ensure you are using the best diet possible to counter this disease.

Although the anal sac secretion is an important territorial scent marker, it is not important in the domestic dog, so removing the sac should not cause any adverse effects if done correctly.

Even though anal sac disease is the most common reason dogs scoot, one has to always ensure that it is not in actual fact worms that cause this behaviour. It is sound practice to deworm your dogs and cats at least three to four times a year with a good broad spectrum dewormer you can get from the vet.

© 2018 Vetwebsites – The Code Company Trading (Pty.) Ltd.

A sugar substitute fit for humans, which can be lethal to your dog

What is xylitol and where can it be found?

Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol that is commonly used as a sugar substitute in human foods. It is found in and extracted from corn fiber, birch trees, hardwood trees as well as other fruits and vegetables.

Xylitol is a sugar substitute most commonly found in chewing gum, candies, breath mints, baked goods, cough syrup, children’s edible vitamins, mouth wash and tooth paste (all of the sugar free variety). There are many more human products on the market that may contain xylitol. It may also be purchased in a granulated form to be used for baking, or as a sweetener over cereals and in beverages. As society’s pressure to look lean and slim, and the need to diet increases, this sugar free alternative has grown drastically in popularity over the last decade.

The German chemist Emil Fisher first identified Xylitol in 1891. During the Second World War it was first produced in large quantities as sucrose was not available. Xylitol has become more popular in recent years as it has only two-thirds the calories of sugar. Xylitol in humans does not require insulin to enter cells, making it very useful as a dietary supplement in diabetics.  It is associated with very little insulin release in people.

Even though this product is safe for human consumption, and may even have a health benefit, it is unfortunately very toxic to our pets. 

What does xylitol do to our pets and how much is dangerous?

There are 2 major side effects of xylitol in our dogs, namely hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) and severe liver damage.

Hypoglycaemia: xylitol is rapidly absorbed from the intestinal tract following consumption. What then follows is a potentially life threatening series of events. As the xylitol is absorbed it stimulates the release of large amounts of insulin from the pancreas. Insulin’s function in the body is to stimulate the absorption of blood glucose (sugar) by the cells of the body for energy. Unfortunately with xylitol, there is no increase in blood glucose following the meal and the released insulin then removes all the remaining glucose from the bloodstream causing a drastic drop in the blood sugar. This may occur within 10-60 minutes after ingestion. Low blood sugar levels can result in weakness, collapse, and even seizures. If not treated quickly this may even cause the death of the dog. Insulin also decreases blood potassium levels as this is taken up with the glucose into the cells. Low phosphorus levels may also be found as insulin increases the cells’ permeability to phosphate ions allowing them to enter the cells more easily.

More recently they have found that when xylitol is consumed, a more severe and challenging complication may arise – acute liver damage. Following ingestion of xylitol, it enters the blood stream and passes through the liver. In the liver it causes cell death and destruction of the normal liver tissue which can result in acute liver failure. The exact reason why this happens is yet to be determined but the effect does seem to be dose dependent, i.e. it is proportional to the amount of xylitol consumed. This sudden and devastating liver damage can result in jaundice and bleeding tendencies along with the vomiting and lethargy commonly seen with this intoxication. This occurs within 72 hours (3 days) after consumption.

The amount of xylitol needed to cause these complications starts from only 0.1g/kg. Many of the common chewing gum brands contain as much as 1 g per piece of gum. As little as 2 pieces of gum eaten by a 20 kg dog is enough to cause toxicity. In others word, very little is needed before your pet’s life may be threatened.

What should you do if you find your pet eating something containing xylitol?

If you are lucky enough to find your pet while they are eating the offending food, stop them and try to remove as much of the substance out of their mouths as you can. Next step is to take your dog to your veterinarian. Once there, the vet will mostly induce vomiting by placing a medication in either their eye or nose. Within about 15 minutes your dog will start to vomit and hopefully get as much of what they ate out as possible. As mentioned previously, xylitol is absorbed very quickly so most likely your pet will have to be admitted to monitor the blood glucose levels.

In dogs xylitol causes the release of insulin from the pancreas within 10 to 60 minutes after ingestion and can be life threatening if not treated. Xylitol has been estimated to be 100 times as toxic as chocolate to dogs.

If caught early enough and hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) is minor or avoided, it is still important to monitor your pet closely as they may still undergo liver damage. Blood tests done at 24, 48 and 72 hours after consumption may be necessary to check if there is any liver damage. These blood tests measure the levels of enzymes (functional proteins) that are released from the liver following a toxic insult such as xylitol ingestion. 

In the unfortunate situation where you may not have been able to stop your pet from eating the xylitol containing food, here are some clinical signs too look for:

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Incoordination
  • Ataxia (your pet will be wobbly on their feet swaying from side to side when they walk, almost as if they are drunk)
  • Depression
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Yellow gums, eyes and skin in severe cases
  • Buildup of fluid in the body especially the abdominal area (ascites)
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Bleeding gums

In the event that your pet is far advanced and collapsed by the time you get them to the vet, consultation will involve assessment and treatment of the hypoglycemia by intravenous administration of glucose and careful monitoring. They may need to be placed on a drip to maintain blood pressure and to treat and prevent dehydration. Monitoring of phosphorus and potassium blood levels is important and any abnormalities will need to be corrected as needed. Should the liver be affected, unfortunately the prognosis is generally not good. The damage to the liver is irreversible and it depends on the proportion of the liver damaged. If a large area of the liver has been destroyed there is less chance of survival, and vice versa. Treatment involves intravenous fluid therapy, liver supportive medication, antioxidants, regular monitoring of liver enzymes and intensive monitoring.  If a bleeding tendency develops they may require a plasma or blood transfusion.

How to prevent this from happening to my pet?

If you use xylitol or any product containing xylitol always keep it in a safe place where your dogs may never reach it. You should not share any product containing xylitol with your dog.

There are some veterinary products that contain xylitol such as mouthwashes. At prescribed doses they are safe for your pets. Just as with many other chemical compounds, the dose is critical. Many medications which are used on a daily basis in veterinary medicine can be fatal if used in too high quantities. Therefor the formulation of any medication is critically important in the safe management of many medical conditions in pets. Other sugar substitutes such as mannitol, sorbitol and aspartame have been found to be safe in dogs to date.

© 2018 Vetwebsites The Code Company Trading (Pty) Ltd

Battle of the Bulge

Overweight catMost people, at some point in time, struggle to shed some extra weight. Obesity in humans has reached epidemic proportions and in a study released two years ago, South Africans were classified as the third fattest people on earth. Worse than this, is the fact that obesity in pets is following this trend and fast becoming a disease on its own. Some studies show that more than 50 % of pets are overweight. This alarming figure effectively means we are “killing our pets with kindness.” Obesity is defined as an accumulation of excessive amounts of body fat. Body fat increases when the amount of energy taken in (by eating food) exceeds the amount of energy used (by exercising). Vets classify a pet as obese if the animal weighs more than 15 to 20 % of his/her ideal body weight.  Body Mass Index or BMI which is commonly used in humans to define obesity is not commonly used in animals, because there is such a huge variation between and within different breeds. In animals, a Body Condition Score or BCS is referred to in terms of the animal’s ideal weight.

Factors that can influence the ease with which pets pick up weight include:

  • neutering or spaying, sex hormones like testosterone and estrogens have a regulatory effect on the animal’s metabolism;
  • breed disposition – Labradors, Dachshunds, Dalmatians and Spaniels, to name but a few, are breeds that tend to become overweight more easily;
  • diseases such as hypothyroidism (a lazy thyroid gland) lead to a decrease in metabolism (the rate at- which the body burns fat and uses energy to maintain body functions);
  • medication such as corticosteroids, which can lead to an increase in appetite;
  • owner related and environmental factors – overfeeding, excessive treats, and no exercise.

Obesity in humans predisposes us to conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Animals are no different and as in humans, there is a myriad of other diseases and conditions which stem from being overweight. Statistically, humans and animals that are overweight have a shorter lifespan and a reduced quality of life. Apart from the excess weight which has to be carried around by an overweight pet, leading to conditions like arthritis and muscle fatigue, there is also the side effect of fat accumulation in organs and everywhere else around the body, which leads to organ failure and weak muscles. A classic example of over-accumulation of fat in an organ is fatty liver syndrome in overweight cats. The cat’s body loses the ability to metabolise fat (use up it fat resources) properly which leads to excessive fat accumulating in the liver which in turn leads to premature death. Other conditions and diseases which stem from obesity are diabetes, hypothyroidism, hyperadrenocortisism also called Cushing’s disease (overproduction of cortisone by the body), slipped intervertebral disks, cruciate (inner knee) ligament rupture, collapsing of the airway, hypertension or high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, skin abnormalities, bladder stones, urinary tract infections, dystocia (difficulty in giving birth), heat intolerance and being an anaesthetic risk.

For veterinarians an overweight pet is often a difficult patient to examine, assess and diagnose as the vet cannot feel all the structures properly in your pet’s abdomen or hear his/her heart and lungs optimally. This may cause the vet to miss a subtle problem (like a growing tumour) and not diagnose it well in advance.

So how do you know if your pet is overweight? All breeds have an ideal weight range which has been published in numerous books and articles on the internet. A useful tool to use is the Body Condition Score. Ideally, your pet should have a Body Condition Score of 3. This means that your pet’s ribs can be felt when you stroke their chest lightly with the back of your hand. If the skin and musculature underneath your fingers are completely smooth, the animal may be overweight. If the skin is tight against their ribs and you feel every bump, they may be underweight. Dogs must have a waist and abdominal tuck. Cats should also have a waist and an overweight cat can immediately be spotted because of a fat pad developing on the lower abdomen (tummy) between the back legs. If an animal has a body condition score of 3, their body fat percentage should be somewhere between 1 and 24 %. If you are not sure if your pet is overweight, you can ask your vet to show you how to do a body condition score.

Body condition Score in dogs and cats

Fortunately, there is help out there if your furry friends need to lose weight. Keep in mind that weight loss in animals can be just as difficult as weight loss in humans. Our pets have one advantage though……. they cannot go to a store and buy food. They rely on their owners to feed them, and of course to exercise them!

Exercise

As with human weight loss programmes, exercise forms a pivotal role in weight loss. Feeding the correct diet and the correct amounts of the right food are central to weight loss, but the overall results are so much better if it coincides with a proper exercise regimen. Taking your dog for a 30 min walk 3 to 4 times a week can make a world of difference in reducing weight, and once that weight has been lost in maintaining the ideal body weight. If at all possible, walking off the lead or walking on a longer lead tends to give the animal more exercise than walking right next to the owner on a short lead. Playing on the lawn or beach, or throwing a ball to an overweight pet can be very effective exercise. Dogs that suffer from arthritis or any other joint problems can be taken for a swim. Swimming is excellent exercise and does not have the same impact on the joints as walking or running. Cats can be exercised by being lured up and down stairs (or jumping up and down a table or chair) a few times around feeding time. Some cats will also chase a laser light and this too can be used to get them more active.

Diet

Overweight dogDecreasing the amount of food, and starving your animal, is almost as detrimental as overfeeding them. With the help of the vet you can establish which diet is the correct one for your pet and exactly how often, and what quantity to feed your animal. Maintenance diets are balanced and formulated to provide the correct amount of minerals and nutrients. A controlled decrease of a maintenance diet will certainly contribute to weight loss; however animals that are obese or more than 5 to 10 percent overweight need special diets and special attention. For these animals there are specially formulated light and weight reduction diets, which usually have reduced fat and reduced refined carbohydrate components, but are still balanced to ensure proper nutrition. Light diets are usually effective for animals that are mildly overweight or for animals that have lost weight and where the lower weight now needs to be maintained. In certain instances a light diet may even be used to keep animals which are at the correct weight, at that weight, and to prevent them from picking up weight again. The approach to put an animal on a light diet, can be especially useful for breeds which are prone to becoming overweight once they have been sterilised. A veterinary weight loss diet, or calorie restricted diet, is formulated for dogs or cats that are more than 5 % overweight and contains ingredients that help them burn fat and keep the weight off once they have lost it. Some weight reduction diets contain more fibre which helps them to feel fuller for longer as it works in the satiety centre of the brain (the part in the brain that tells them that they have eaten enough). Some weight reduction diets have a low glycaemic index (Low GI), which allows energy from the diet to be released over a longer period of time, which in turn stabilises the blood sugar levels and allows fewer calories to be converted to fat. Ask the vet or staff at the veterinary practice for more information if you are not sure which diet your animal should be using.

In a controlled weight loss program environment, your pet’s goal is to achieve a 1 to 2 % body weight loss per week. For example, a Labrador weighing 45 kg, the ideal weight loss per week should be between 450 and 900g. This converts to a 1.8 to 3.6 kg loss per month. If your pet does not achieve this goal with the adjusted diet and regular exercise, ask the vet to do a general check-up, as a medical condition may be prohibiting the pet from losing weight. Most veterinary practices run weight loss clinics and diet and nutritional assessment programs (backed by excellent research from veterinary pet food companies). At these clinics, a structured feeding and exercise plan can be designed especially for your pet and your pet’s progress will be monitored with a weigh in on a one to two weekly basis, until your pet has reached his/her desired weight.

There is nothing cute about a podgy pet. A lean and healthy pet is a happy pet.

© 2018 Vetwebsites – The Code Company Trading (Pty.) Ltd.

When is it more than just a tummy ache?

The pancreas is a small gland that is situated next to the stomach and first part of the small intestine in the front of the abdomen. As in humans, it performs two main functions in dogs and cats.

  1. It is responsible for producing some of the special chemicals called enzymes which aid in the digestion of food. Enzymes are usually inactive within the pancreas. They are activated when they are released into the small intestine through ducts. Enzymes break down the food into smaller particles which can then be absorbed through the intestinal wall into the blood stream.
  2. The other main function of the pancreas is to help regulate blood sugar. The pancreas produces special messengers called hormones. Insulin is one such hormone. These hormones tell the body when to release or store glucose into the cells.

Sometimes the digestive enzymes are released within the pancreas, instead of within the small intestine. When this happens, it causes severe inflammation and death of some of the pancreatic cells. This can affect surrounding abdominal organs, such as the liver. When inflammation occurs it is usually very painful and is described as pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can be acute, where the inflammation is not associated with permanent damage or it can be chronic. A chronic pancreatitis results in the pancreas becoming smaller and harder than normal and this affects the function of this important organ. Pancreatitis can become very severe very quickly and cause your pet to suffer with intense pain so it is important for your pet to receive veterinary attention as soon as you suspect there may be something wrong.

What causes pancreatitis?

One of the well-known causes for pancreatitis is when an animal eats a fatty meal. The condition normally starts fairly shortly after the animal has eaten such a high fat meal and requires urgent attention. Overweight patients have also been shown to be more at risk than those with a lean body weight. Conditions, such as shock or kidney failure that compromise the blood supply may also predispose the patient to developing pancreatitis. Certain drugs and some diseases such as tick fever or Babesia (Biliary) in dogs have been associated with causing pancreatitis. In many cases, the underlying cause cannot be found and this is described as idiopathic. Some small breeds, such as the miniature schnauzer have been found to be more prone to developing pancreatitis than other breeds.

What does pancreatitis look like?

Pancreatitis can affect any age or breed of dog or cat.

In dogs, the typical clinical signs of acute pancreatitis include:

  • Stomach cramps or abdominal pain. The pain may be so severe thatthe animal may adopt the prayer position where the head is placed on stretched front legs, the front part of the chest is on the floor and the back legs are raised
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Depression or listlessness
  • Diarrhoea

Dogs may not show any obvious pain until the abdomen is felt and examined. In these cases they will pull the stomach muscles together when you touch the underside of their belly or flanks and they may even groan or try and bite when you press too hard.

In cats, the most common signs include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Dullness and being slow to move or act (Lethargy)
  • Possible vomiting and diarrhoea

Cats may also show signs of dehydration, decreased body temperature, jaundice, fever and abdominal pain in severe cases. Cats are generally more subtle at showing disease compared to dogs so clinical signs in early stages may not always be seen.

Acute pancreatitis can be very severe, causing collapse due to a drop in blood pressure. This drop in blood pressure may cause extensive damage to vital organs such as the liver, kidneys, heart and blood vessels.

How is Pancreatitis diagnosed?

Pancreatitis is not always a simple diagnosis as it may look like several other diseases and conditions affecting the abdomen. The diagnosis is usually made based on taking several things into consideration like the history, clinical signs and diagnostic tests. The history may include being fed a fatty meal or the animal being very overweight. Clinical signs would include some or all of the signs described above. The most helpful tests aiding the diagnosis, which the veterinarian may have to do include:

  • X-rays of the stomach area
  • Ultrasound of the stomach area
  • Blood tests. Apart from some general blood tests which may point to Pancreatitis there are a number of bloodtests which specifically test the pancreatic enzymes. These tests are very useful.

Some of the tests are readily available but for others the vet may need to send blood to an external lab which may delay the diagnosis. In most cases if the vet suspects pancreatitis, even before the diagnosis has been confirmed, the vet will most likely start treatment on the suspicion of pancreatitis given the clinical signs and history. The reason for this is that acute pancreatitis can deteriorate dramatically over a number of hours leading to death. Therefor no time should be wasted in starting treatment. In some cases the veterinarian may be required to do an operation and do exploratory surgery of the abdomen and take samples of the pancreas in order to confirm the diagnosis.

How is pancreatitis treated?

In cases where the cause for pancreatitis can be established, that will be removed or treated with supportive treatment provided for the organ itself. Because the cause of the pancreatitis sometime remains unknown the treatment protocol then focuses on providing supportive care. In most cases the veterinarian will advise putting the patient on a drip to provide intravenous fluid therapy. The patient will need anti-nausea medication to stop the vomiting. Often if the patient is vomiting, they will not want to eat any food for the first day or two. If the patient does want to eat, a low fat diet is recommended. In very severe cases and where available, patients may need feeding by a tube or intravenously. Pain control is very important as these patients are generally very sore. Opioids, which are drugs like morphine, provide very good pain relief. Antibiotics are not always required but if the patient is showing evidence of infection, it will be administered.

Some patients may recover quickly from pancreatitis but in most cases recovery takes five to seven days. Some severely affected patients may take several weeks to recover and some unfortunately may not survive. In some cases, the veterinarian may advise referring the patient to a specialist facility that can provide 24 hour care for critical patients because this condition can easily deteriorate to such a point.

What happens when your pet goes home?

Your pet will be released from hospital when the veterinarian is happy the vomiting has stopped and the animal appears more comfortable. Generally they will appear brighter and less depressed. Home treatment will depend on how sick your pet was, but it may include some form of pain medication and antibiotic treatment.

Dietary changes play an important role and a low fat diet is essential. There are a few commercial diets available which the veterinarian may prescribe. Feeding small meals frequently is often recommended and the low fat diet will reduce the work load on the pancreas, hopefully reducing the risk of the condition developing again. The diet will also help in weight loss with those pets that would benefit from it.

Some animals with severe pancreatitis may lose some function of the pancreas and this may need to be treated accordingly. Unfortunately, some patients may develop recurrent pancreatitis, even with appropriate diet changes and weight loss at home.

© 2018 Vetwebsites – The Code Company Trading (Pty.) Ltd.

 

What is trichobezoar?

The elusive and very unpleasant hairball is something that every cat owner will experience at some point. Cats in general are very clean and well-kept animals and grooming is an essential routine for them to ensure their cleanliness. A healthy cat is one that grooms.  Hairballs are simply a by-product of your cat’s hygiene.

A trichobezoar, commonly known as a hairball, is a clump of indigestible hair, moistened by bile and digestive fluid that may or may not contain bits of food or other foreign material. Hairballs are not usually round in shape but rather drawn-out and the shape of a sausage. This is due to their passage through the oesophagus, the tube connecting the stomach to the mouth, which is long and cylindrical. Hairballs can occasionally resemble faeces but on closer examination one will notice it is made up of hair. It also does not smell like faeces although it does not have a particularly pleasant odour.

How are hairballs formed?

During your cat’s grooming routine, some of the loose hair shed from their coat is directed backwards into the mouth where it is swallowed and ends up in the stomach. This is an unavoidable complication of grooming as cats have tiny backwards facing hook-like projections on their tongue which acts almost like a one way valve, directing anything that comes into the mouth into the back of the throat. Once in the stomach, the majority of these hairs will pass through the intestinal tract without any problems and come out in the cat’s stool. However, a small proportion can remain in the stomach and collect there, forming a hairball. The hairball will enlarge as more hairs collect until it reaches a point where there is no longer space for it. When this occurs, the hairball irritates the stomach and the will often be retched up but in some instances it may move out of the stomach into the intestine, which may result in complications such as blockages.

Hairballs are more common in long haired breed such as Persians, Maine Coons and Domestic Longhairs. This is purely because there is more hair to swallow. Cats that tend to groom excessively are also prone to hairballs. Often hairballs are only noticed later on in a cat’s life and not as a kitten. The reason for this is that as they grow, cats become more efficient groomers.

How do you know your cat has a hairball?

Sometimes you will discover the hairball and now, knowing what to look out for, you will be able to identify it for what it is. Often though, you can witness one or more of your cats in the process of bringing-up the hairball. This involves hacking, gagging and retching with the delivery of a rather nasty package of hair and digestive juices in short order. It can be alarming to witness, but once the hairball is out your cat will be relieved and will continue with everyday life.

In the event that your cat shows persistent signs of any of the following you should seek the advice of the vet immediately:

  • vomiting
  • gagging
  • unproductive retching or hacking without producing a hairball
  • refusal to eat
  • lethargy
  • constipation
  • diarrhea.

Although these may be signs of a hairball causing complications, such as an intestinal or esophageal blockage, they may be caused by a variety of other factors and only with a thorough clinical work-up can the cause be determined.

How to control hairballs and the associated complications:

  1. Regular grooming: Brushing your cat on a daily basis to assist with his/her grooming routine and removing any loose hairs will go a long way to reducing the incidence of hairballs. After grooming your cat it is a good idea to wipe them down with a damp (not wet) cloth to remove any remaining loose hairs. If you are unable to groom your cat or they will not allow you to do so, taking them to a professional groomer on a regular basis for either grooming or shaving would be the alternative.
  2. Feed your cat a specially formulated hairball food: Almost all major pet food brands have a hairball formula in their range. The basis for these diets is carefully balanced nutrients that insure the general health of cats, helping to control and avoid the formation of hairballs. They are high is natural vegetable fibers that assist in the passage of food and hair through the digestive tract and essential fatty acids that promote a healthy skin and coat, reducing the amount of shedding or hair loss.
  3. The use of a mild laxative: There are several products on the market that can be recommended by the veterinarian. These mild laxatives acting as lubricants by drawing water into the intestinal tract, promote the movement of any hair or small hairballs through the intestinal tract, to be excreted with the faeces.
  4. Distracting your cat from excessive grooming: In the event of a cat being an excessive groomer, along with all the above remedies, one should attempt to train your cat to do other activities besides grooming. This can be achieved in the form of new toys or any alternative activities that will distract your cat and prevent excessive grooming. Although difficult, any small amount of reduction in their grooming can help in the long run.

As a cat owner you now have some ways of controlling or even avoiding the occurrence of those nasty hairballs – monitor your cats for signs of hairballs and act to prevent hairballs from becoming a health risk for your cat. If you are concerned about any aspect of anything which may remotely resemble the presence of a hairball in your cat don’t hesitate to contact the vet immediately.

© 2018 Vetwebsites – The Code Company Trading (Pty.) Ltd.