Friday, February 24, 2012

Feline Obesity

Just a few extra pounds can be dangerous to a cat's health, and many cat owners find that helping their cat shed that weight can be a challenging endeavor. Decreasing the amount of food is usually the first step, and owners should be aware that prescription weight loss diets are also an option. In addition to adjusting the cat's food intake, it is also a good idea to increase her activity level.

Here are some tips on how to get your cat motivated to exercise:

  • Put the food dish on an upper level of the house, so the cat has to climb the stairs to get to it.

  • If your house doesn't have an upper level, feed the cat on a platform, or split the meal into several bowls so the cat has to walk around the house to get the whole meal.

  • Play games with toys that encourage the cat to use her predatory instincts. Laser pointers and fishing rod toys are irresistible to most cats.

  • Use a puzzle feeder. These toys are designed so the cat has to roll them around to get the food out.

  • Set aside a portion of the cat's meals to use as post-playtime snacks. A cat will be more likely to play if she learns she will be rewarded.

If you are feeling frustrated with your cat's weight loss plan talk to your veterinarian, or come see us here at Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Onions: More Than Just Bad Breath!

Pet owners are often tempted to give table scraps to their pets as a special treat. While there may be human foods our pets can eat just fine, there are some that can be toxic. This blog will be focused on the genus allum, which consists of onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, and chives.

Pieces of onion, onion powder, or even cooked onion can cause damage to red blood cells which could result in anemia in both dogs and cats. Cats are especially sensitive to toxicity because their liver is missing an enzyme normally found in dogs and humans. The primary toxic component in onions (n-propyl disulfide) is in all members of the onion family to varying degrees. Garlic for example is often used as a natural substitute for flea repellent. Garlic contains a much smaller amount of n-propyl disulfide than onions, however it is still not recommended given the potential for toxicity.

Clinical signs associated with onion poisoning include anemia, hemoglobinuria (the presence of hemoglobin in the urine), vomiting, weakness, and pallor. Treatment of onion poisoning will generally begin by inducing vomiting and feeding activated charcoal, depending on how much time has passed since the onions were ingested. Afterwards, the animal should be monitored for the development of hemolysis (the destruction of red blood cells) and azotemia (a condition in which the patient's blood contains abnormally high amounts of urea, creatnine and other compounds rich in nitrogen). Critical patients may require whole blood transfusions and fluid diuresis.

The best way to avoid food toxicity in pets is to avoid table scraps altogether. However, sometimes our pets find ways of getting food even when we don't want them to. When this happens, it is important to take the right steps early on to avoid a serious medical condition later. If you suspect your pet may have ingested something toxic, you can always call the pet poison helpline at 1-800-213-6680, then call your veterinarian!