Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Help! My cat is peeing outside of the litter box!

Many cat owners have had trouble with their cats urinating outside of the litter box.  This is the most common complaint among my clients with cats.  Sometimes it will go on for years before they seek help! 

Neutered male cats seem to have the most trouble with "inappropriate urination."  Questions to consider:
  • Is he spraying urine onto an object?  (This is a territorial behavior- although it may be medical, it is usually behavioral related.)
  • Is he squatting in the litter box (or around the house) and little to no urine is coming out?  Straining to urinate?  (This is a medical problem!  He needs to be seen by a veterinarian ASAP!)

Here are some things that may cause a cat to start spraying:
  • New cat/dog/baby/person in the house
  • Animals outside the house that can be seen by your cat
  • Changing litter
  • Changing food
  • New noises outside
  • Recently moved into house with old pet stains
  • Any other source of stress
The usual causes of straining to urinate:
  • Urethral spasms- (can be a result of holding urine too long or urine chemistry abnormalities)
  • Urethral blockage by stones
  • Urethral blockage by a mucus plug
  • Urinary tract infection (more of a problem in females) 
  • Kidney disease
  • Can be stress linked as well
My first recommendations to clients to help encourage their kitties to use the little box a bit better is to start with Dr. Elsey's Cat Attract litter.  It has natural herb attractants to help cats to the box.
 If your cat is indoor only, I recommend going around the outside of the house (preferably in the dark) with a black light to look for urine marking from other cats in the neighborhood on your house.  Your cat can smell that from inside!  Clean it with a peroxide based urine odor remover.  Also do the same inside.  Your cat will continue to spray urine in the same places over and over if the scent is not completely removed.
Urine-Away Pet Urine Eliminator, 8 oz Spray
If there is a possibility your cat is stressed by new people or pets in the house, sometimes an herbal "calming collar" or pheromone diffuser may calm them.

Environmental enrichment can work wonders with cats that are stressed or bored.  Increasing play each day, giving them mentally stimulating activities, and providing them with good nutrition can help tremendously when battling with inappropriate urinating caused by stress.  (Cats may not express anxiety in ways that humans do so it is important to note subtle behavioral changes).

This one is a little strange but be creative!

Give them a place high off the floor so they can assess their surroundings or have a place to escape dogs if you have them!

So, what if your cat DOES have a medical urinary condition?  Your veterinarian may recommend:
  • A special diet to adjust the pH of the urine
  • Pain medication to alleviate a spasming urethra
  • Antibiotics if an infection is detected
  • Passing a urinary catheter to dislodge a possible obstruction
  • Potentially surgery if urinary tract stones are present
Once your cat is on the mend, sometimes using long-term herbal treatments (along with those recommended by your vet) such as Saw Palmetto can help dilate the urethra to help prevent future obstructions.

If they are actively having urinary difficulty give 3-5ml orally every 15-30 minutes until urine passes normally.  Long-term 1ml one to three times daily can help prevent future problems.

Friday, August 24, 2012

West Nile-Protect yourself!

The incidence of West Nile Virus is increasing this year!   West Nile virus (WNV) activity reported to ArboNET, by state, United States, 2012 (as of August 21, 2012) from the CDC website
  Map of West Nile Virus activity describing United States that describes No WNV activity, Any WNV activity, WNV human disease case or presumptive viremic blood donor information.

The basics that you need to know are:
Spread to humans through mosquito bites and symptoms include:

  • Serious Symptoms in a Few People. About one in 150 people infected with WNV will develop severe illness. The severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.

  • Milder Symptoms in Some People. Up to 20 percent of the people who become infected have symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms can last for as short as a few days, though even healthy people have become sick for several weeks.

  • No Symptoms in Most People. Approximately 80 percent of people (about 4 out of 5) who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Another declaw thought...

I have copied the AVMA's (American Veterinary Medical Association) article on declawing cats in the U.S.  Please at least glance at the blue text for some of the important points.

Backgrounder: Welfare Implications of Declawing of Domestic Cats
Printer-friendly version (PDF)
Declawing is the surgical amputation of all or part of a cat's third phalanges (toe bones) and the attached claws.1,2 Most often the procedure involves the front paws only, but sometimes the claws are removed from all four paws.2,3 The surgery may be performed using sterilized nail trimmers, scalpel blades, or surgical lasers.1,2,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 If only part of the phalanx is removed the claw may occasionally regrow.11,12 However, it has been suggested that retaining a portion of the phalanx allows the paw to retain more of its normal function and appearance.13,14 Declawing may be performed at the same time as spaying or neutering. 2,15,16,17,18,19,20,21
Human Benefits—Many owners choose to have their cats declawed to protect their furniture or other household possessions.4,5,15,20,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29 Scratching is a normal behavior of cats, but destructive scratching represents approximately 15 to 42% of feline behavior complaints.8,22,30,31,32,33,35 The act of scratching serves many purposes; it conditions the claws by removing aged cuticle, serves as a visual and scent territorial marker, provides defense from attack, and stretches the muscles of the limbs, thorax, and back.8,30,31,34,35 After declawing cats continue to show the same frequency of scratching behavior.31 Surveys of cat owners who declawed their cat report a perceived increase in the quality of the owner-cat relationship as a result.21,26,27,30 Declawing may also be performed to protect people, particularly those who are geriatric, diabetic or have compromised immune systems and so may suffer life-threatening complications from cat scratches; 5,13,15, 20,22,27,35 declawing decreases this risk while allowing the cat to remain in the home.15,26,30 Overall, owners who chose to declaw reported that the procedure met or exceeded their expectations.20 A survey found three (of 273) owners reported that their cats exhibited negative behavioral changes (house-soiling, resentment of having paws handled, and refusal to cover feces); but only the owner of the house-soiling cat was dissatisfied with the declawing procedure.20 Ten respondents reported the cats may have bitten harder or more frequently, but biting was considered less problematic that the previous scratching behavior. Another survey, of 60 cat owners, indicated that the only behavior problem observed significantly more often in declawed cats than clawed cats was jumping on counters or tables; this was also the most commonly reported misbehavior exhibited by clawed and declawed cats.32

Cat Benefits—In some cases declawing may be an alternative to relinquishment, outdoor housing or euthanasia.15,31 For example, in a 1991 survey of Ontario veterinarians,20 respondents indicated that approximately 50% of their clients would no longer own their cat if it had not been declawed. Unacceptable behaviors such as daily scratching increase the risk of relinquishment of an animal to a shelter, and declawing decreased the risk of relinquishment. As approximately 72% of cats relinquished to animal shelters are euthanatized,36 owners may feel they are faced with the choice of declawing their pet cat or potentially condemning it to death.3,4,28,31 Because outdoor cats are exposed to predators, street traffic, inclement weather, and diseases (e.g., feline leukemia, feline infectious peritonitis), owners may not consider keeping a scratching cat outside to be a viable alternative.3,6 Thus declawing may sometimes be necessary to ensure that a pet cat keeps its home.6,20,26,27,31,32 In addition, supporters of the procedure assert that a properly performed declaw is no less humane than spaying/neutering. 6,37 Declawing is also indicated for the benefit of some cats affected by disease conditions such as paronychia and neoplasia of the nail bed.5
Acute painDeclawing is a painful procedure, although there is debate about the degree of pain experienced under ideal or typical conditions.8,15,17,18 29,37,38,39 Objective assessment of pain in cats is difficult, due to their stoic nature and relatively subtle behavioral indicators of pain.4,16,18,25,38,39,40,41,42 Clinical signs of pain following declawing include a "guarding" posture, reluctance to bear weight on the declawed limb(s), and reluctance to move.2,40 Nine of 163 (5.5%) declawed cats were non-weight-bearing on the affected limbs for one day after the operation, and another cat was non-weight-bearing for three days. The risk of non-weight-bearing lameness was increased by the use of adhesives to close the surgical wounds, especially if nail trimmers were used to amputate the third phalanx.2

Some physiological parameters, such as heart rate, respiratory rate, and rectal temperature, have been determined to be poor indicators of postoperative pain in cats38 and other parameters have yielded mixed results. Systolic blood pressure increases were reliable indicators of increased cortisol concentrations and pain following declawing of laboratory cats,42 but failed to correlate with cortisol increases for client-owned cats following ovariohysterectomy.43 Painful stimuli are known to elicit an adrenal response,42,40 and declawing induced significant increases in epinephrine and/or norepinephrine concentrations in adult cats.40,44 Postoperative administration of morphine or xylazine significantly attenuated the catecholamine response, while postoperative administration of salicylate had no effect. 40 In contrast, Cambridge et al (2000)38 did not observe increased catecholamine concentrations following declawing or tenectomy (resection of tendon to leave claws permanently extended and impede normal scratching). Although increases in plasma cortisol concentrations were good indicators of pain following ovariohysterectomy,42,43 they were not significantly elevated by declawing18,45,38 or tenectomy.38

Chronic pain—Sixty-one of 163 cats exhibited signs of pain for one to 42 days after declawing; however, the median duration of signs was two days.2 Lameness was observed in 43 of 163 (26%) cats, and was observed for one to 54 days (median, two days).2 The risk of lameness increased with longer surgical time and the use of a scalpel blade for disarticulation of the third phalanx.2 Thus, postoperative analgesia should be provided on the day of surgery and for a minimum of one full day after surgery.16 Measurements obtained from use of a pressure-sensitive mat to assess weight-bearing after declawing suggested that mild lameness was still present 40 hours after surgery despite administration of analgesics.19 Declawing with a surgical laser or using sharp dissection with a scalpel blade produced observable lameness for eight days after surgery.46 Limb function in 27 declawed cats was still significantly reduced 12 days after surgery in one study, leading the investigators to recommend analgesia for the duration of this period.39 A review of onychectomy studies reported that persistent lameness was observed in less than one percent of declawed cats (five of 582, or 0.86%).28
The reported incidence of postoperative complications ranges from rare to 50%.1,2,8,20,24,47 An examination of medical records at a veterinary teaching hospital revealed that two of 76 (3%) cats developed postoperative complications.21 In another study, one or more surgical complications were observed during the immediate postoperative period in approximately 50% of 163 cats, and the overall complication rate was higher when scalpel blade disarticulation was performed than when guillotine nail trimmers were used (complications during the immediate postoperative period were more often associated with the use of a scalpel blade for disarticulation of the third phalanx, whereas later-onset complications were more frequently associated with the use of guillotine nail shears).2 Complications that arose after discharge from the hospital were observed in 24 of 163 (20%) cats.2 A survey of private practice records reported a higher postoperative complication rate associated with spaying/neutering when performed in conjunction with declawing.21

Hemorrhage—Hemorrhage is the most commonly reported complication of declawing,1,2,28 and older cats may bleed more profusely than kittens.6 Intermittent hemorrhage was observed in 51 of 163 cats (31%) for one to 13 days following surgery, and was more often observed in older cats.2

Claw regrowth—Claw regrowth is a consequence of incomplete removal of the ungual crest, and can result in abscess formation and pain.1,2,11,12,28,30 Approximately 3% of declawed cats exhibit claw regrowth,30 but a 10% incidence was reported with a technique that left the flexor surface of the third phalanx in situ.11

Wound dehiscence—Reopening of the surgical incision resulting in lameness was observed in 17% of cats that underwent declawing at a veterinary teaching hospital.11 Although the differences were not statistically significant, dehiscence occurred more frequently following scalpel dissection and disarticulation, and was attributed to increased surgical time, greater soft tissue dissection, and tissue handling techniques.11

Paralysis—Neuropraxia or radial nerve paralysis from improper tourniquet application has been reported.2,12,28,29 The animal may not be able to bear weight or extend the paw normally on the affected limb(s).12 The paralysis is usually transient, and normal function is often regained in 5 to 30 days.12

Distal limb ischemia—Distal limb ischemia secondary to improper bandage application has been reported as a potentially serious complication.1,2,28,30,48 Bandages are usually removed approximately 24 hours after surgery.1

Disease—Pain activates the stress response, which can reduce immune function and potentially increase the animal's susceptibility to disease.45 Opponents of declawing claim that the procedure can worsen or induce chronic illnesses such as skin disorders, asthma, and cystitis.26,28,30 Neither clinical evidence nor anecdotal reports support this assertion to date.

Other reported complications include wound infection, draining tract formation, sequestration of the third phalanx, and exposure necrosis of the second phalanx.1,2 Bilateral flexor tendon contracture following declawing of two cats was reported by Cooper et al;24 the affected cats were unable to extend the digits of the front limbs, and fibrosis and adhesions between the deep digital flexor tendon and the soft tissues surrounding the second phalanx were observed in one cat. Deep digital flexor tenectomies were necessary to return normal forelimb function in both cats.

Impairment of normal behaviorBecause scratching is a normal feline behavior, opponents state that declawing causes emotional stress when the animal cannot scratch.15 However, between 59 and 78% of declawed cats will continue to exhibit scratching behavior with a normal appearance.22 Critics also claim that declawing adversely affects balance, climbing, and feline social interactions.20,26,30 Because scratching is considered a means of stretching and using the muscles of the forelimbs, shoulders, and torso, it has been suggested that declawing eliminates the normal isometric resistance associated with the claws pulling against a stationary surface and so may produce weakening of these muscles.20,26,28 Neither clinical evidence nor anecdotal reports to support this assertion have been reported to date.

Incidence of problem behavior—Opponents of the procedure state that declawing increases undesirable behaviors, including inappropriate elimination and biting.15,26,28,30,31 Empirical studies show that behavioral changes may occur, but do not provide strong support for a net increase in problem behaviors. One study of 122 cats revealed no significant difference in serious behavior problems between declawed and clawed cats.32 Another, of 877 cat owners, suggested that declawed cats were not more likely to bite than clawed cats.49 One smaller study found that 3 of 25 (12%) cats exhibited increased biting behavior following declawing and one began to defecate outside the litter box; however, declawed cats had better scores for overall good behavior than did clawed cats.23 In a study comparing declawing to tenectomy, one of 18 (5%) declawed cats exhibited inappropriate elimination for two days after discharge. A survey of 57 owners of declawed or tenectomized cats reported that three of 18 (16%) tenectomized and 13 of 39 (33%) declawed cats developed at least one behavioral change following surgery, but the difference was not statistically significant.35 Six of 39 (15%) cats house-soiled following declawing;35 because the overall incidence of house-soiling in cats (clawed and declawed) was reported to be 16%,32 there did not appear to be an increased risk of house-soiling following declawing. Finally, a study addressing risk factors for relinquishment of cats to animal shelters28 did not observe a statistically significant difference in aggression or inappropriate elimination between declawed and clawed cats. Therefore there is not strong evidence that declawing increases the risk of undesirable behaviors or decreases the observance of desirable behaviors.23
Indoor housing of declawed cats—A 2003 survey of 181 cat owners identified that approximately 31% of declawed cats were allowed outdoor access.50 A 1991 survey of 276 owners of declawed cats reported that 41% of the declawed cats were allowed outdoors, and no problems were reported by the respondents.20 Owners in this study,20 and anecdotally,3,13,22 report that declawed cats allowed outdoors climb well, hunt well, and are able to defend themselves successfully. However, in general, declawing of outdoor cats is still not recommended.1,32

Early age declawing— It has been suggested that declawing is best performed on young cats because it is more emotionally traumatic for adults to be declawed.15 Although age-related psychological repercussions of declawing have not been empirically reported, younger animals may experience fewer complications.31 In a survey of 276 owners of declawed cats, respondents reported that cats declawed at one year of age or less exhibited fewer postoperative problems and faster recoveries than those declawed when they were older than one of age.20

Surgical tool selection— Declawing using a surgical laser resulted in improved subjective pain assessment for eight days after surgery compared to scalpel blade dissection, but both treated groups were walking normally within nine days after surgery.51 Although anecdotal reports claim that postoperative pain level and the recovery period are improved by use of a laser, the clinically observed effect was minimal in ten cats that underwent scalpel onychectomy on one paw and laser onychectomy on the other paw.5 Despite a potentially reduced level of pain postoperatively, analgesic therapy is still recommended for laser onychectomy.10 Use of guillotine nail trimmers was associated with an increased risk of infection.2
Preoperative analgesic administration is often considered superior to postoperative administration because it prevents the central hypersensivity response that prolongs and amplifies sensitivity to noxious stimuli.38,17,18,19 However, in a 1994 study of 163 declawed cats,2 administration of narcotics before or during the operation was associated with a significantly increased occurrence of postoperative pain.

Local anesthetics—Bupivacaine or lidocaine block nerve transmission and are inexpensive and safe when used at appropriate doses.4 However, a 4-point regional forelimb nerve block using bupivacaine in addition to preoperative administration of buprenorphine did not decrease discomfort scores when compared to cats treated only with buprenorphine prior to onychectomy.4 Evaluation of a lidocaine-bupivacaine combination, which should result in a shorter onset of action and a longer duration of action, has not been performed.4 Postoperative topical application of bupivacaine to the incisions did not provide sufficient analgesia, and was not recommended.39,29

Transdermal fentanyl—Patches provide sustained release of fentanyl for prolonged periods with few adverse effects, and are well tolerated by cats. 45,19 Transdermal administration of fentanyl and intramuscular administration of butorphanol produced similar degrees of analgesia following onychectomy.39 There is a time lag between application of the patch and fentanyl reaching therapeutic concentrations in serum, so it is recommended that the patch be placed at least six hours before recovery.19 Use of transdermal fentanyl patches in this manner produced serum fentanyl concentrations in excess of 4 ng/ml and significantly improved recovery, pain, and lameness scores, when compared with postoperative administration of butorphanol.19 Fentanyl patches placed 18 to 24 hours prior to induction of anesthesia produced serum fentanyl concentrations of less than 2 ng/ml and were not superior to butorphanol.45 There may be wide variation in absorption and response to transdermal fentanyl patches among cats.39,45

Opioid agonists—Many veterinarians are concerned about the safety of potent opioid agonists in feline patients, and this concern may affect their use of analgesics. 45 Postoperative administration of the opioid butorphanol did not significantly affect cats' physiologic parameters, but reduced postoperative lameness scores and improved quality of recovery quality.16 Cats that received butorphanol were more comfortable, less lame, and ate better than untreated cats.16,28 Butorphanol was superior to oxymorphone in preventing the postoperative catecholamine increase associated with onychectomy.44 One of 42 (2%) onychectomized cats that received butorphanol was non-weight-bearing or minimally weight-bearing at time of discharge from the hospital, compared to 4 of 21 (19%) of untreated cats.28

Buprenorphine, an opioid, is considered 30 times more potent than morphine, and has a reported duration of action of 8 to 12 hours.18 Postoperative administration of buprenorphine significantly reduced the cumulative postoperative pain score when compared to saline (control), oxymorphone, or ketoprofen.18

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs—Historically, veterinarians have avoided the use of preoperative NSAIDs due to concerns about adverse effects in feline patients.16,17,42 However, newer generation NSAIDs are associated with fewer adverse effects. Preoperative administration of meloxicam produced superior analgesia compared to butorphanol during the 24-hour postoperative period, and significantly fewer meloxicam-treated cats required rescue analgesia during the immediate postoperative period.17
Behavior modification—The use of suitable attractive scratching surfaces such as dedicated posts and boards, positive reinforcement training methods, remote punishment such as a squirt bottle filled with water or a rattle, and pheromone sprays are recommended and successful methods of correcting undesired scratching behavior in cats.8,20, 22,30

Frequent claw trimming—Frequent nail trims do not alter a cat's scratching behavior, but can lessen the damage resulting from scratching.8 Weekly trimming may be required to maintain optimal nail length,8 however, some cats strongly resist nail trimming and some owners are uncomfortable with the procedure.

Nail caps—As with nail trimming, covering the claws with plastic caps will not alter scratching behavior, but lessens the potential damage.8 The caps must be replaced every four to six weeks.8 Although most cats will tolerate cap placement, sedation is required in some cases; this may be undesirable for some owners due to the stress of transporting and sedating the cat.8

Deep digital flexor tenectomy—Tenectomy of the deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT) has reportedly been associated with shorter hospitalization, less pain, and the elimination of the need for postoperative bandaging.1,8,33,35 This procedure removes five to10mm sections of the DDFT of each digit, resulting in the cat's inability to protrude the claw.1,8,33 Because the claws cannot be protruded, they may overgrow; this can result in the return of a limited ability to scratch. The claws are often rough because the aged cuticle cannot be removed by scratching.1,8,33 In addition, overgrown claws may grow into footpads, causing pain and infection, if they are not regularly trimmed.1,8,33 Cats' claws must be trimmed regularly following tenectomy to avoid these problems.8,33

Pain levels were observed to be the same38 or higher for tenectomy compared to declawing. In a 2001 survey of cat owners, respondents indicated that tenectomized cats exhibited less postoperative pain and faster recoveries, but no significant difference was observed for owner satisfaction with tenectomy compared to declawing.35 Tenectomized cats were typically reported by their owners to be walking normally in two to four days up to a maximum of 30 days; declawed cats required six to seven days up to a maximum of 21 days (not a statistically significant difference). Similar complication rates were reported for onychectomy (24%) and tenectomy (26%) in a study of 38 feline patients.

Overall, owner satisfaction at five months after surgery was greater with declawing (89%) compared to tenectomy (70%). Dissatisfaction with tenectomy resulted from a continued ability of the cat to scratch following tenectomy, long-term lameness, excessively thick claws that appeared to irritate the cats, and difficulty in trimming the claws. Two tenectomized cats were later onychectomized. Although the initial manuscript describing the tenectomy technique reported no complications during the one- to five-year follow-up period for 17 tenectomized cats,33 more recent anecdotal reports have suggested that the forelimbs of tenectomized cats become stiff and appear painful several years after surgery.8,52 No significant differences were observed in behavioral changes following declawing or tenectomy in an survey of 57 cat owners.35

In the United States in 1991, it was estimated that approximately 14.4 million, or 24.4% of approximately 59 million owned cats, were declawed.28 Both the Cat Fancier's Association and the Canadian Cat Association forbid declawed or tenectomized cats to be shown.20,26,30

In April 2003, the city of West Hollywood, California passed an ordinance banning the onychectomy of domestic cats which is currently in force after being upheld by the appellate court.15

The current AVMA policy on Declawing of Domestic Cats recommends that the procedure only be performed after exhausting other methods of controlling scratching behavior or if it has been determined that the cat's claws present a human health risk. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association's policy is similar to that of the AVMA.

Declawing is not performed in the United Kingdom unless it is carried out for therapeutic purposes. Article 10 of the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals prohibits declawing for "non-curative purposes," but exceptions are permitted if the veterinarian considers the procedure "necessary for veterinary medical reasons or for the benefit of any particular animal."
Some commentators compare declawing to cosmetic procedures such as ear cropping and tail docking20 because it is typically performed primarily to benefit the owner rather than the cat.4,28,53 In a 1991 survey of 276 owners of declawed cats, 2% of owners were dissatisfied with the declawing procedure because they felt guilty about declawing their cats.20 Because of the controversy surrounding the procedure, the veterinary profession is divided. Some veterinarians vehemently oppose declawing, while others feel that the procedure is a veterinary service that can preserve and improve the human-animal bond. Many veterinarians neither encourage nor discourage declawing, but chose to inform the clients of the benefits, risks, and alternatives and allow the client to make the choice.

There is limited scientific evidence to support or refute these claims about the implications of declawing. In many of the studies involving larger numbers of cats, the procedures were performed by senior veterinary students;2,11,16,17,19,29,35 although supervised by experienced clinicians, the impact of inexperienced surgeons on the data collected complicates its interpretation. Although owner perceptions of the procedure are important, surveys are subject to self-selection and respondent bias. Accurate determination of the long-term behavioral effects, age-related effects, and complication rates following declawing or tenectomy by experienced practitioners requires further investigation.
1. Bellah JR. Surgical management of specific skin disorders. In: Slatter D. Textbook of Small Animal Surgery. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: WB Saunders Co, 1993; 341-354.
2. Tobias KS. Feline onychectomy at a teaching institution: a retrospective study of 163 cases. Vet Surg 1994; 23: 274-280.
3. Price DA. Feline onychectomy. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1961; 139: 577-578.
4. Curcio K, Bidwell LA, Bohart GV, et al. Evaluation of signs of postoperative pain and complications after forelimb onychectomy in cats receiving buprenorphine alone or with bupivacaine administered as a four-point regional nerve block. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2006; 228: 65-68.
5. Mison MB, Bohart GH, Walshaw R, et al. Use of carbon dioxide laser for onychectomy in cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2002; 221: 651-653.
6. Goodyear MD. A technique for onychectomy in the cat. Vet Med Small An Clin 1977; 72: 569-572.
7. Nagle AC. A technique for feline onychectomy. Vet Med Small An Clin 1976; 71: 1685-1687.
8. Swiderski J. Onychectomy and its alternatives in the feline patient. Clin Tech Small An Pract 2002; 17: 158-161.
9. Weege J. Onychectomy in the cat using the White nail trimmer. Vet Med Small An Clin 1974; 69: 194-195.
10. Young WP. Feline onychectomy and elective procedures. Vet Clin North Am Small An Pract 2002; 32: 601-619.
11. Martinez SA, Hauptman J, Walshaw R. Comparing two techniques for onychectomy in cats and two adhesives for wound closure. Vet Med 1993; 88: 516-525.
12. Fowler ME, McDonald SE. Untoward effects of onychectomy in wild felids and ursids. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1982; 181: 1242-1245.
13. Miller RM. The declawing controversy: stepping into the ring. Vet Med 1998; 93: 1043-1045.
14. Peddie JF. A technique of onychectomy for exotic felidae. Vet Med Small An Clin 1979; 74: 1347-1351.
15. Atwood-Harvey D. Death or Declaw: dealing with moral ambiguity in a veterinary hospital. Soc Anim 2003; 13: 315-342.
16. Carroll GL, Howe LB, Slater MR, et al. Evaluation of analgesia provided by postoperative administration of butorphanol to cats undergoing onychectomy. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1998; 213: 246-250.
17. Carroll GL, Howe LB, Peterson KD. Analgesic efficacy of preoperative administration of meloxicam or butorphanol in onychectomized cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2005; 226: 913-919.
18. Dobbins S, Brown NO, Shofer FS. Comparison of the effects of buprenorphine, oxymorphone hydrochloride, and ketoprofen for postoperative analgesia after onychectomy or onychectomy and sterilization in cats. J Am An Hosp Assoc 2002; 38: 507-514.
19. Franks JN, Boothe HW, Taylor L, et al. Evaluation of transdermal fentanyl patches for analgesia in cats undergoing onychectomy. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000; 217: 1013-1020.
20. Landsberg GM. Cat owners' attitudes toward declawing. Anthrozoos 1991; 4: 192-197.
21. Pollari FL, Bonnett BN, Bamsey SC, et al. Postoperative complications of elective surgeries in dogs and cats determined by examining electronic and paper medical records. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1996; 208: 1882-1886.
22. Beaver BV. Feline communicative behavior. In: Beaver BV. Feline Behavior: A Guide for Veterinarians. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: WB Saunders Co, 2003; 118-126.
23. Bennett M, Houpt KA, Erb HN. Effects of declawing on feline behavior. Companion An Pract 1988; 2: 7-12.
24. Cooper MA, Laverty PH, Soiderer EE. Bilateral flexor tendon contracture following onychectomy in 2 cats. Can Vet J 2005; 46: 244-246.
25. Jankowski AJ, Brown DC, Duval J, et al. Comparison of effects of elective tenectomy or onychectomy in cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1998; 213: 370-373.
26. Landsberg GM. Declawing revisited: controversy over consequences. Vet Forum 1994; 13: 94-95.
27. Landsberg GM. Declawing is controversial, but still saves pets. Vet Forum 1991; 10: 94-95.
28. Patronek GJ. Assessment of claims of short- and long-term complications associated with onychectomy in cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001; 219: 932-937.
29. Winkler KP, Greenfield CL, Benson GJ. The effect of wound irrigation with bupivacaine on postoperative analgesia of the feline onychectomy patient. J Amer An Hosp Assoc 1997; 33: 346-352.
30. Landsberg GM. Feline scratching and destruction and the effects of declawing. Vet Clin North Am Small An Pract 1991; 2: 265-279.
31. McKeown D, Luescher A, Machum M. The problem of destructive scratching by cats. Can Vet J 1988; 29: 1017-1018.
32. Morgan M, Houpt KA. Feline behavior problems: the influence of declawing. Anthrozoos 1989; 3: 50-53.
33. Rife JN. Deep digital flexor tendonectomy—an alternative to amputation onychectomy for declawing cats. J Am An Hosp Assoc 1988; 24: 73-76.
34. Landsberg GM. Feline behavior and welfare. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1996; 208: 502-505
35. Yeon SC, Flanders JA, Scarlett JM, et al. Attitudes of owners regarding tendenectomy and onychectomy in cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001; 218: 43-47.
36. Zawistowski S, Morris J, Salman MD, et al. Population dynamics, overpopulation, and the welfare of companion animals: new insights on old and new data. J App An Welf Sci 1998; 1: 193-206.
37. Hauptman J, Curcio K, Bidwell L, et al. Questions ethics of onychectomy in cats (authors' response). J Am Vet Med Assoc 2006; 228: 503-504.
38. Cambridge AJ, Tobias KM, Newberry RC, et al. Subjective and objective measurements of postoperative pain in cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000; 217: 685-690.
39. Romans CW, Gordon WJ, Robinson DA, et al. Effect of postoperative analgesic protocol on limb function following onychectomy in cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2005; 227: 89-93.
40. Benson GJ, Wheaton LG, Thurmon JC, et al. Postoperative catecholamine response to onychectomy in isoflurane-anesthetized cats. Vet Surg 1991; 20: 222-225.
41. Romans CW, Conzemius MG, Horstman CL, et al. Use of pressure platform gait analysis in cats with and without bilateral onychectomy. Am J Vet Res 2004; 65: 1276-1278.
42. Smith JD, Allen SW, Quandt JE, et al. Indicators of postoperative pain in cats and correlation with clinical criteria. Am J Vet Res 1996; 57: 1674-1678.
43. Smith JD, Allen SW, Quandt JE. Changes in cortisol concentration in response to stress and postoperative pain in client-owned cats and correlation with objective clinical variables. Am J Vet Res 1999; 60: 432-436.
44. Lin HC, Benson GJ, Thurmon JC, et al. Influence of anesthetic regimens on the perioperative catecholamine response associated with onychectomy in cats. Am J Vet Res 1993; 54: 1721-1724.
45. Gellasch KL, Kruse-Elliott KT, Osmond CS, et al. Comparison of transdermal administration of fentanyl versus intramuscular administration of butorphanol for analagesia after onychectomy in cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2002; 220: 1020-1024.
46. Holmberg DL, Brisson BA. A prospective comparison of postoperative morbidity associated with the use of scalpel blades and lasers for onychectomy in cats. Can Vet J 2006; 47: 162-163.
47. Pollari FL, Bonnett BN, Bamsey SC, et al. Postoperative complications of elective surgeries in dogs and cats determined by examining electronic and paper medical records. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1996; 208: 1882-1886.
48. Anderson DA, White RAS. Ischemic bandage injuries: a case series and review of the literature. Vet Surg 2000; 29: 488-498.
49. Borchelt PL, Voith VL. Aggressive Behavior in Cats. Compend Cont Educ Pract Vet 1987; 9: 49-57.
50. Clancy EA, Moore AS, Bertone ER. Evaluation of cat and owner characteristics and their relationships to outdoor access of owned cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003; 222: 1541-1545.
51. Holmberg DL, Brisson BA. A prospective comparison of postoperative morbidity associated with the use of scalpel blades and lasers for onychectomy in cats. Can Vet J 2006; 47: 162-163.
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This information has been prepared as a service by the American Veterinary Medical Association's Animal Welfare Division. Redistribution is acceptable, but the document's original content and format must be maintained, and its source must be prominently identified.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Declawing Cats

My personal opinion on declawing cats is that it should ONLY be performed as a last resort to inappropriate scratching.  Many declaw procedures could be avoided by trying some simple training tools with cats and weekly nail trims. 

My favorites:

When training kittens to scratch on these, sprinkle with cat nip and place them on the object.  It is also important to offer them both vertical and horizontal scratching surfaces.

These are my favorite nail trimmers:

I have also included a couple of videos to help illustrate the actual procedure of declawing a cat.  Remember, this is an AMPUTATION of the joint at the end of the toes!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

How clean are your pet's teeth?

Dental care can be a daunting task for pet owners.  Neglecting it however, can lead to serious problems such as severe dental infections, abscesses, liver, heart and kidney disease.  

First, let's explore some definitions.
Plaquea sticky material made of bacteria, mucus, and food debris that develops on the exposed parts of the teeth
Tartar/Calculus: the hard deposit that forms at the base of the tooth if you do not remove plaque

Gingivitis: inflammation of the gums- this can be around one tooth or all of them
Click to view larger image

Periodontitisinflammation and infection of the ligaments and bones that support the teeth
Click to view larger image (this tooth may be slightly loose)

Periodontal disease:inflammation and infection that destroys the tissues that support the teeth, including the gums, the ligaments, and the tooth sockets
Click to view larger image (these teeth most likely wiggle when touched)

According the the American Animal Hospital Association, in a small breed dog without home dental care, periodontal disease can begin as early as 9 months!

Dental disease is staged 1-4 depending on severity.  How would you stage your dog or cat's dental status?

Great dental health starts at home with products you can get from your veterinarian.
C.E.T. HEXtra chews, Veggiedent tartar control chews, Enzymatic oral hygiene chews, Aquadent drinking water additive and oral rinse, Greenies dental chews.  The C.E.T. product also include flavored pet toothpaste and brushes.  DO NOT USE REGULAR HUMAN TOOTHPASTE!  It is not meant to be swallowed and can make your pet sick!

How to brush your cat's teeth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ok_9RaRCmg

How to brush your dog's teeth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsNlLLSBWLU

If your pet has bad breath and/or you see visible tartar build-up you need to see your veterinarian immediately.  You pet may need professional dental treatment.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

'Tis the Season for Parvo

The canine parvovirus (or just "parvo") infection is a highly contagious virus affecting dogs.  The most common form affects the intestinal tract causing lethargy, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and loss of appetite. 
The less common form affects very young puppies and can attack the heart muscle, usually leading to death.  The intestinal form is usually seen in puppies six weeks to six months old.  I have, however, diagnosed Parvo in dogs 9 months to 1 year old that have not been vaccinated.

The virus is transmitted either by direct contact with an infected dog, or indirectly, by the fecal-oral route. Heavy concentrations of the virus are found in an infected dog’s stool, so when a healthy dog sniffs an infected dog’s stool, it will contract the disease. The virus can also be brought into a dog's environment by way of shoes that have come into contact with infected feces. There is evidence that the virus can live in ground soil for up to a year. It is resistant to most cleaning products, or even to weather changes. If you suspect that you have come into contact with feces at all, you will need to wash the affected area with household bleach, the only disinfectant known to kill the virus.  This virus only affects dogs; it cannot be transmitted to people or other animals however, people and other animals can carry the virus between dogs.

If you suspect your puppy may have Parvo, the quickest way to diagnose it is a rectal swab snap-test that takes approximately 10 minutes to complete in the clinic.  There are also confirmatory tests available through external laboratories if a false negative is suspected.  Diagnosis is important to predict length of illness and treatment needed.  

There is no cure for Parvo.  The only treatment is supportive care including fluids to re-hydrate, antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections, and medication to combat nausea and diarrhea.  This virus can cause death, even despite treatment.

No one can predict the severity of illness for each puppy.  Some puppies may need minimal treatment and some may need intensive care including hospitalization, intravenous fluids and medications for a week or more. 

Vaccination is THE ONLY way to prevent illness from Parvovirus!  Please vaccinate your dogs!  
Puppy Vaccination Schedule
My 2 Cents
I get very upset when I see puppies with Parvo because it is preventable.  If you have recently adopted a puppy, try to avoid public places like dog parks, kennels, and pet stores.  Even though a dog may be adequately vaccinated for Parvo and not currently ill, they can carry the virus. 
If your puppy has had a vaccination at 8 weeks old, this is NOT ADEQUATE PROTECTION!  They need boosters every 3-4 weeks until they reach 4 months old to be protected.  If you don't know the vaccination status of your new puppy, assume they have never been vaccinated.