Posts Tagged ‘cat’

The Importance of Microchipping your Four-Legged Friend

Everyone has lost something at some point; your wallet, your phone, your keys. Some things however, are far more precious and it’s devastating if they go missing — we’re talking of course, about our pets. Hopefully this has not happened to you but sometimes, things out of our control mean that there is a possibility that our pets can run and often find themselves ‘lost’.


Thankfully, there are ways that help your pet find their way home should they find themselves in this situation and the most important of which, is getting them microchipped.

Pet Microchips

A microchip is a tiny glass capsule, about the size of a grain of rice, which is filled with electronic components giving a unique 15 digit number. Giving a pet a microchip is a relatively simple procedure. Microchipping is generally done by a vet, though there are other places that offer microchipping, such as Dogs Trust, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, and Blue Cross Centres.

The microchip is injected via a needle under the skin of your dog or cat, usually between their shoulder blades, so it does not move around. You and your pet’s details are stored in a microchip database along with the microchip’s unique 15 digit code.

When a missing pet is found, they will be scanned (usually by a vet or dog warden for example), revealing the microchip’s code and contact, the microchip database your pet is recorded with. The customer care staff will perform some security checks before releasing your contact details to the animal professional so that your pet can be reunited with you. It is your responsibility to keep these details up to date.

To help those who cannot afford microchipping, some of the charities listed above offer free microchipping. A pet can generally be first microchipped from a few weeks of age, or then any time after that, and it should last a lifetime.

Microchipping Laws

Since 2016, it has been mandatory to have every dog over the age of 8 weeks microchipped in England; Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have similar laws. There is a £500 fine if this is not done within 21 days of being identified by authorities. It is also mandatory to have your pet microchipped if you are entering or leaving the EU (though laws may change post-Brexit), so a non-microchipped pet cannot travel abroad. These laws were brought in to try and reduce the number of stray dogs who end up with charities, though they are naturally also helping to reunite lost dogs with owners.

Currently, it is not mandatory to have your cat microchipped. However, as we said above, it is always strongly recommended as many cats roam far from home, and many do not have any collars or other form of identification. Please do consider getting your feline friends microchipped at the same time as any canine ones, especially at this time of year where loud firework and bonfire noises, can easily frighten them away.

Does it hurt?

The needle is quite large compared to other needles, and some young pets can feel a little discomfort when it is implanted; however the vast majority do not notice. Occasionally, a pet can have a minor reaction to the injection, and the site can become temporarily inflamed. The microchips themselves are made to be non-reactive so should not be irritating, and it usually settles down in a day or so.

What’s important about that unique number?

Having a microchip means that anyone with a scanner can check a lost pet for a microchip, look up the number, and identify who the pet belongs to. This means if your pet is lost and brought into a charity or vets, you can easily be contacted and hopefully reunited. It can also help police track stolen animals and return them to their rightful owners. It is important that all details are kept up to date — if you move house, buy a new pet or give one away, make sure the database is updated, to make identifying your lost friend easier.

Final Thoughts

We all lock our doors, check our pockets for our phones, and keep track of our savings — people are generally very careful not to lose things. However, sometimes we forget to be careful with our precious four-legged friends, who are arguably irreplaceable! Every dog or cat microchipped has a much better chance of making it home, should the worst happen.

It is always heart-breaking to see separated owners and pets, so do your part by making sure your dog is microchipped, and seriously consider getting your cat microchipped as well. One small chip can mean a lifetime of security and peace of mind.

Looking after your new kitten

Why is it important?

To grow and develop properly kittens need the right nutrition, socialisation, and preventative care. Follow our guidelines on how to look after your new kitten and give them the best start to life possible.

Vaccinations

In kittens, vaccinations are vital to prevent many severe diseases. They will usually need 2 vaccinations 3 weeks apart with the first one being at 8-9 weeks of age. If you get your kitten from a rescue centre it is likely that they are already fully vaccinated and should come with their vaccination record so your vet will be able to tell you if everything is up to date.

Microchip

We would recommend getting all cats microchipped as they often tend to wander and get lost. When you pick up your kitten if they are already microchipped you will need to change the details to be in your name. If they haven’t been microchipped already, you can do this alongside the vaccinations, or when they are being neutered.

Feeding

Kittens grow fast so they need lots of energy and minerals to reach their full potential. A balanced or “complete” kitten diet has everything your kitten will need. As a result, they should be on that until they are one year old to ensure they have done all their growing before going onto adult food. Read more advice on caring for your kitten through each development stage via Royal Canin.

Flea treatment

In young kittens a flea infestation is not just an annoying itch, it can be life threatening. The fleas suck their blood and kittens can quickly become anaemic. Both to prevent and treat this you can use a flea product from your vets, this will ensure it is safe and effective as many products cannot safely be used in young kittens. Shop bought flea products often are not meant for such small kittens, so it is usually best to go to your vet for advice.

Worm treatment

High worm burdens in kittens cause them to lose weight and get a ‘pot belly’. It is important you stay on top of worming treatment, especially in the first year of life because the immune system is not fully developed, and the kitten is more susceptible to worm infestations. Getting a product from your vet will ensure that the product is safe and effective.

Neutering

With the stray cat population ever increasing in the UK we would strongly recommend neutering your cat, boy or girl. In most cases, you can book in neutering for your kitten any time from 4 months of age. The benefits are not only that there are no accidental kittens but also that they are less likely to fight and pick up feline aids (FIV). Also, this may calm any behavioural spraying or other territorial behaviour.

Training

Litterbox training

Kittens learn very quickly and can be quickly litterbox trained in most cases. It is important that the litter tray is kept as clean as possible otherwise the kitten may refuse to use it. Also keep the litter consistent, otherwise this can lead to confusion and them stopping using the litter tray. Positive reinforcement is needed, so treat your kitten when they use it successfully. Cats are private creatures so having the litter tray slightly out the way, away from their food and water bowls, and possibly hidden or sheltered, will often make it more comfortable for them to use it.

Socialisation

When they are young, kittens explore the world with curiosity and not fear. This ‘socialisation window’ is when they learn what to be afraid of and what is safe. Generally, this is before 12 weeks of age. It is important that you expose your kitten to as much as possible in this time with positive experiences. In the same vein also reduce bad experiences, so if there is a dog that is not cat friendly do not try to introduce them.

Environment

You want your kitten’s home environment to feel safe and secure. Cats unlike dogs need alone time so plenty of hidey holes in cardboard boxes and beds in several places around the house is a must. When they feel scared, cats and kittens will try and take refuge higher up, if there is a place for you to put a cat bed on a higher surface then most kitten will appreciate that. Take care with children and make sure they give the kitten plenty of breaks. A scratching post is a must if you don’t want them to scratch your furniture! This is a natural behaviour so you must allow them a place where they can display that behaviour.

Insurance

Of course, we never expect anything to go wrong with our kittens but unfortunately accidents happen, and they do sometimes get sick. Please consider if you want to get your kitten insured if anything were to happen, many vets will give you 4 weeks free cover whilst you make up your mind in case anything goes wrong in the meantime.

What do I do if I want to know more?

To find out more, use this link to find details of your local branch, then just contact your local Goddard vet. Don’t forget, you can save money with your new kitten by signing up to our ProActive Pets preventative health plan.

Can diet really affect my pets health?

Your pet’s diet has a big impact on their health and wellbeing. The wrong diet could lead to your pet developing health issues such as obesity, diabetes, pancreatitis, allergies or dental problems — so getting it right is crucial!


DOGS

  • It’s important to feed your dog a complete, balanced, high-quality diet. High-quality commercial dog food will contain all the right nutrients and vitamins, and in the right amounts. The best way to recognise a decent quality diet is to take a look at the list of ingredients. The first item should be an animal protein e.g. chicken or pork. If the item is, for example, chicken ‘derivative’ or ‘meal’ this tends to imply a lower-quality diet. Avoid any diets where the kibble is a range of bright colours which means there are likely to be added colourants and additives. These are added to make the food look more appealing to you, whilst your dog doesn’t care what colour his food is!
  • It’s also key to feed a diet appropriate to life stage and age of your pet. As you can probably imagine, a Great Dane puppy has a completely different calorific and growth requirement compared to say, an elderly Chihuahua. You should feed a good quality puppy or junior food up to the age of about 1 year (sometimes longer for large breed dogs – usually to about 15-18 months), then gradually switch to an adult diet, then to a senior food from the age of 8.
  • If you have a large breed dog, then you should feed your dog a diet specially formulated for large breeds. This is because joint problems tend to be more common in larger dogs, so these diets contain additional joint supplements to support bone and joint health. Small breed dogs can be more prone to dental disease so generally diets suited to smaller breed dogs have a smaller kibble size and contain supplements to reduce tartar build-up (which can lead to dental disease).
  • Once your dog has been spayed or castrated, it’s a good idea to feed a neutered diet. These diets are calorie restricted to help prevent post neutering weight gain. It’s vital to maintain a healthy weight and body condition score (BCS) – extra weight puts your pet at health risks including diabetes, arthritis and heart problems. If your pet is a little on the porky side and is already carrying a few extra pounds, then special prescription weight loss diets are available.

CATS

  • Cats are obligate carnivores, so it’s important that they are dependent on their diet containing meat to thrive and survive. In a similar way to dogs, they should be fed a life stage-specific diet based on their age.
  • Most adult cats are lactose intolerant (they lack the main enzyme required to digest lactose in milk) so it’s best to not feed your cat milk.
  • Prescription diets are available for certain health concerns including – kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, arthritis, overactive thyroid (cat), skin problems, urinary problems and cystitis, obesity and many more.

RABBITS

  • The bulk of a rabbit’s diet should be hay (fibre) or dark green leafy vegetables – a minimum of 80%. This should ideally mimic what a rabbit would eat in the wild. A small amount of dry concentrate food can be offered, usually about 1 tablespoon per rabbit.
  • It’s important to feed a complete pellet concentrate, as muesli mixes promote selective feeding and can lead to dental problems. Diet is particularly important for rabbits to wear down their teeth, which continuously grow. Feeding an unsuitable diet can lead to overgrown teeth, weight problems, fly strike and lack of grooming.

If you require further advice please contact to your local Goddard vet who can share details on what’s best for your pet.

Common Toxins Dangerous To Your Pet

Certain types of food and household items can be unknowingly toxic to your pet — read our list of the most common toxins dangerous to your pet below.

If you think your pet has ingested one of the following please contact your vet immediately. If you are concerned your pet has eaten something poisonous not listed please use our online poisons guide for advice.


FOOD AND PLANT TOXINS

  • Chocolate – causes heart rhythm abnormalities and nervous system signs (eg excitement, tremors, seizures). Just 15g of dark chocolate can be toxic to a 10kg dog.
  • Onions – cause anaemia by destroying red blood cells.
  • Garlic – believed to have a similar effect to onions.
  • Macadamia nuts – in dogs, cause weakness, inability to stand, vomiting, depression.
  • Avocado – fatal in birds and rabbits. Avocados contain a substance called persin which is highly toxic.
  • Grapes and raisins – can cause kidney failure in dogs.
  • Raw or undercooked meat – diarrhoea and/or vomiting (due to Salmonella or e.coli bacteria).
  • Fungal toxins (mouldy food) – diarrhoea, tremors, seizures.
  • Bread dough – disorientation, depression, weakness, coma.
  • Acorns – diarrhoea, kidney failure.
  • Lilies – have been shown to cause kidney failure in cats.
  • Brunsfelsia – (“yesterday-today-and-tomorrow”) – diarrhoea, seizures.
  • Oleander, rhododendron, azalea, crocus, foxglove, hyacinth bulbs – Heart problems.

HOUSEHOLD TOXINS

  • Antifreeze – causes kidney failure, cats and rabbits need to ingest only very small amounts to show symptoms.
  • Tea Tree Oil – depression, weakness, incoordination, muscle tremors.
  • Pyrethrins, Permethrins – usually found in supermarket / pet shop flea products, toxic (especially to cats) if ingested; causes salivation, tremors, and seizures.
  • Paracetamol (panadol) – toxic to the liver and interferes with oxygen transport, can be very quickly fatal in cats.
  • Ibuprofen (nurofen) – depending on amount eaten, can cause gastrointestinal ulcers, kidney failure, and/or seizures.
  • Aspirin – can cause gastrointestinal ulcers.
  • Bleach and other cleaning products – many of these chemicals are highly acidic or alkaline, and can cause tongue and mouth ulcers when licked by dogs or cats.
  • Rat poison– causes blood clotting problems, seen most commonly as internal bleeding, or blood in stools or urine, or vomiting blood.

What is haemangiosarcoma?

Haemangiosarcoma is an aggressive type of cancer which arises from cells that line blood vessels. In this blog we will focus on haemangiosarcoma in dogs as, although it can occur in other species such as cats, this is very rare.

Where do dogs get these tumours?

These tumours have a point of origin (primary tumour), but very often metastasise (spread) to other organs causing tumours elsewhere (secondary tumours).

As blood vessels are almost everywhere in the body, they can occur in many places. Primary tumours most commonly appear on the spleen, but they are also frequently seen in the heart, liver, skin and subcutaneous tissue.

Haemangiosarcoma is the most common type of tumour affecting the heart, accounting for around 69% of heart tumours. It is also the most common malignant tumour to affect the spleen. Much of this blog will relate to haemangiosarcoma of the spleen (splenic), as this form often creates the most discussion, concern, and questions.

Why did my dog get this?

We do not know why certain individual dogs are affected, although we know that, in skin, haemangiosarcoma is linked to sun exposure.

Certain breeds are predisposed. While German shepherds and golden retrievers are prone to the visceral (organ related) forms, whippets, dalmatians and bull terrier breeds are prone to the skin forms.

What signs might my dog have?

The signs depend on where the tumour is.

Haemangiosarcomas of the skin usually appear as a small red or bluish-black lump. They can also occur in deeper subcutaneous tissues, often sitting under normal looking skin.

Haemangiosarcomas located in the liver or spleen often grow rapidly, forming cavities containing blood, often only revealing signs when they rupture causing bleeding. This sudden blood loss can lead to weakness or collapse, and is the most common way dogs with this condition present to vets for the first time. Collapse can also be caused by disturbances in the rhythm of the heart, which can happen in primary heart tumours, but also those in the spleen. Occasionally these tumours are picked up early due to swelling of the abdomen or vague signs of illness. Because the tumour and blood loss can cause clotting issues, bleeding from the nose, or another area, may occur.

How will my pet be diagnosed?

The appearance of skin or subcutaneous masses may lead to our vets advising a biopsy, or removal of the mass. Samples sent to a lab can confirm a diagnosis.

With the visceral (organ) forms, diagnosis can be challenging. Dogs we suspect of having a heart, splenic or liver haemangiosarcoma often arrive as an emergency, with severe internal bleeding. Suspicion may be increased by finding a mass via ultrasound scan of the heart or abdominal organs. However benign tumours, malignant tumours (such as haemangiosarcoma), or non-tumours can look similar on an ultrasound scan, but would all carry very different outlooks. If there is evidence of more than one organ being affected, metastasis is suspected, increasing the likelihood of haemangiosarcoma. There is currently no concrete way of confirming the mass type until tissue samples are examined after surgery. A recent study showed that 63-70% of dogs that present to the vets with abdominal bleeding (not caused by trauma) have haemangiosarcomas.

Occasionally a mass is picked up during an ultrasound scan for a different problem. This gives more time for decision making and surgical planning.

How are these tumours treated?

The skin and subcutaneous tumours can be surgically removed with margins of normal skin. As 30-60% of these tumours will metastasise, it is important to remove them. However they may have already spread at the time of diagnosis. Tumours extending into deeper tissues may benefit from chemotherapy (anti-cancer drugs), or radiotherapy, in addition to surgery.

Treatment of splenic haemangiosarcoma involves surgery to remove the spleen, with an additional option of chemotherapy. These drugs are usually well tolerated but can sometimes have side effects like lethargy, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhoea, and fever. Mild to moderately low white blood counts occur in up to half of dog cases but usually do not require treatment.

Because splenic masses often present as an emergency, decisions regarding surgery often have to be made before a clear diagnosis, and thus prognosis, can be given. Removing the spleen is a major operation and can be risky, with some dogs not surviving the procedure. If the dog is subsequently diagnosed with haemangiosarcoma then the outlook is very gloomy.

Factors such as age, other illnesses and signs of spread must be taken into consideration with decision making. All situations are individual, but for some dogs euthanasia may have to be considered as a treatment option, especially if the outlook is poor.

What is the prognosis?

Skin and subcutaneous tumours, once removed, can be examined to give better information on the severity or ‘stage’ of the tumour. Stage I tumours just affect the skin and are associated with an average survival rate of 2 years, whereas stage II and III tumours that either involve the subcutaneous tissues or muscle have a worse prognosis if treated with surgery alone. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy may improve this.

Sadly haemangiosarcoma of the spleen tends to carry a poor outlook. They are often malignant, and most individuals survive less than 3 ½ months with surgery alone, with very few living beyond a year. If there is no evidence of spread, or tumour rupture, and chemotherapy is used, there is an average life expectancy of around 8 months. If the tumour has ruptured, it can be expected to reduce to an average of 6 months.

Although haemangiosarcomas can be found in many places, the splenic form often creates most difficulties in decision making. Our team will be there to support you, talk you through all of the options, and help you through any difficult decisions. If you have any questions on what you have read, or need more information, please talk to one of our vets.