Archives for August 2012

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) in Cats

Feline chronic kidney disease is a type of debilitating disease where the kidneys start to shut down and lose their function to get rid of certain toxins, absorb or get rid of certain electrolytes, and produce certain enzymes that are important the for daily functioning of a cat’s body.

A veterinarian may not know the initial cause of why a cat’s kidneys have started to lose their ability to work, but certain risk factors that can cause a cat to be predisposed to this disease include old age, chronic urinary tract infections, certain genetic breeds (Maine Coon, Abyssinian, Siamese, Russian Blue, and Burmese cats), toxins that can damage the kidneys (such as the ingestion of lilies or ethylene glycol), kidney stones or any stones that may obstruct the urinary tract, cancer within the kidneys or urinary tract, or certain immune mediated diseases that can attack the kidneys. Please note, however, that cats of any age or of any breed can be affected by chronic kidney disease.

Early on in this disease, some cats may not show signs of illness. This is in part due to the fact that either one kidney has started to take over the job that the other kidney has not been doing or for the fact that toxic metabolites that are normally excreted by the kidneys have not built up at high enough levels to cause a cat to feel sick. In the later stages of the disease process, however, a cat that has been experiencing chronic kidney disease for several months may show signs of illness that can include not eating, vomiting, weight loss, increased volumes of urination, drinking a lot more water than usual, appear lethargic or very weak (like in the picture illustrated), have foul breath, or have seizures. If your cat has been experiencing any of these clinical signs, it is extremely important that he or she gets checked out by a veterinarian for further assessment.

If a veterinarian thinks that a cat has chronic kidney disease, he or she will run blood work and will obtain a urine sample in order to provide incite as to the extent and/or cause of why of the kidneys have started to lose their functioning. The blood work may show elevations in certain kidney enzymes and electrolytes. This is due to the fact that as the kidneys lose their function, they also lose their ability to excrete these enzymes or electrolytes from the body and therefore, they start to build up in larger, toxic levels in the blood. The build-up of these enzymes and electrolytes can cause a cat to feel very sick. This is why once a diagnosis is made of chronic kidney disease; a veterinarian will typically recommend immediate treatment within the hospital in order to help the cat’s kidneys get rid of these toxic metabolites that are building up at high levels within the blood.

The mainstay treatment that is recommended by most veterinarians is to provide fluids through a catheter that is placed into a cat’s vein. This route at which these fluids are administered provide the best means of helping the cat’s kidneys to flush out the toxic metabolites in the blood as quickly as possible and it will provide fluids to the cat’s body that maybe dehydrated. A veterinarian may also elect to administer antibiotics that can help to treat any infectious causes within the urinary tract that may have been the initial cause of the disease. They may also elect to administer some medications that can help to prevent a cat from vomiting if the cat has been experiencing this clinical sign prior to presentation into the hospital. Cats with chronic kidney disease can also develop anemia or low red blood cell numbers as a result of the kidneys not producing a certain enzyme that is responsible for telling the bone marrow to make more red blood cells. A veterinarian can help to treat this anemia with either injections of this enzyme once a month or with blood transfusions in severe cases of anemia.

Although chronic kidney disease is a treatable disease, please be aware that it can take several days in the hospital in order to bring these toxic metabolites in the blood down into or close to normal blood levels. Therefore, a veterinarian will discuss with the owners the progress that a cat with chronic kidney disease makes on a daily basis while in the hospital. In addition, not every owner can afford several days in the hospital for the treatment of this disease and therefore, a veterinarian can work with the owner to discuss other options for treatment in order to help make their cat feel less sick and provide a better quality of life for as long as possible.

In general, the relative outcome for recovery from chronic kidney disease after treatment really all depends on how severely damaged the kidneys are and on the ability of the kidneys to continue to perform their job. This means that if a kidney is too severely damaged to the point where it cannot perform its job correctly, the less likely that a cat is to survive for a prolong period of time. However, if the disease process is caught early enough and if it can be appropriately managed in conjunction with the supervision of a veterinarian, many cats can live normal, healthy, happy lives for several years.

Chronic kidney disease is a debilitating disease that is not a fun disease to have for cats, because it can make them feel very ill. This is why it is important that cats get checked regularly during annual examinations and especially when they get of old age for any signs of this disease. Because the sooner that this disease process is caught, the easier it is for a veterinarian to help a cat feel better and to help to prevent future progression of this disease.

Jonathan MacStay, DVM

Why You Should Spay or Neuter Your Pet for Their Health

Why should I spay my pet?
We’ve all heard of breast cancer in women. With approximately one in eight women falling victim to this form of cancer, what many pet owners do not know is that the incidence of breast cancer development in dogs and cats is higher with one in four intact female dogs/cats affected. By spaying your pet before they have their first menstrual cycle there is ZERO chance they can ever develop this disease. The average age a dog has their first heat is 6 months of age, but can be as early as 5 months in small breeds. The average age of a cat’s first heat cycle has their first heat is 6 months of age, but can be as early as 4 months.

If you cannot spay your pet before this time, there are still numerous advantages to having the procedure done as soon as possible. Some of the benefits include prevention of potential life threatening complications with birthing of puppies/kittens, uterine infections, diabetes, bone marrow toxicity, hair loss, pyometra (the uterus becomes very infected, fills with pus and becomes life threatening), behavior problems and of course, pet population

Why should I neuter my pet?
Neutering, or removing your pet’s testicles, is paramount in their behavioral development as well as their health. Much of a male canine or feline’s behavior is driven by a hormone called testosterone, which is primarily made in the testicles. This hormone increases their sense of being leader of the pack and behavior that follows including, urinating in the house, mounting/humping, and inter-animal aggression. Research has shown that the #1 behavior decreased by neutering your cat is running away from home or “wandering”.

As in human males, there are numerous testosterone related problems with the prostate. Luckily in pets you can stop this hormone from being produced by shutting down the factory. This will eliminate your favorite boy from developing prostatic abscesses, enlarged prostate (BPH), and cancers that can all be extremely painful and make it very difficult to even urinate. In addition to these infections, keeping your pet’s testicles intact dramatically increases the chance of developing painful ulcerative lesions around their anus as well as hernias.

In conclusion, there are many beneficial reasons to spay or neuter your pet which may be further discussed with your veterinarian at Encina Veterinary Hospital in Walnut Creek, California.

Jared Jaffey, DVM

Pet Emergency Kit Assembly

As the only 24 hour emergency veterinarian in Walnut Creek, Encina Veterinary Hospital believes that each family should have an emergency plan in place, and that includes for our pets too. With some help from US Disaster Animal Response Team (DART), we’ve put together a list for supplies to be kept in a pet emergency pack.

You can also purchase a pre-assembled kit online as well by doing a simple search in Google. Also, feel free to give your veterinarian a call to see what he or she suggests you keeping in your kit, in addition to what we have listed below. Depending on your area, a heating blanket, tick twister, booties, poncho and more may be some of the things you should keep in your kit for your furry friends.

First Aid Kit and Emergency Pack for Cats and Dogs:
· conforming bandage (3″ x 5″)
· absorbent gauze pads (4″ x 4″)
· absorbent gauze roll (3″ x 1 yard)
· cotton tipped applicators (1 small box)
· antiseptic wipes (1 package)
· emollient cream (1 container)
· tweezers and scissors
· instant cold pack
· latex disposable gloves (several pairs)
· crates and leashes in an easy to access area
· 2 weeks worth of food and water stored in airtight containers
· 2 weeks worth of any medications your pet may be on
· toys and blanket that smell like home to comfort your pets
· photos of you and your pets together for identification purposes should you become separated
· copy of latest medical records
· hand sanitizer and liquid soap
· collapsible food and water bowls
· cat litter, pooper scooper and dog poop bags
· properly fitted muzzles (a disaster is stressful and a dog may decide to bite for the first time)
· a bag, suitcase or box to store all of the above in for an easy grab-n-go should an emergency arise

ASPCA also offers a free pet safety pack you can order here: Free Pet Safety Pack via ASPCA

As always, we are open 24 hours, 7 days a week for your pet emergency and urgent care needs. Give us a call anytime: (925) 937-5000

Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

Cat owners often hear of FeLV and FIV but aren’t too sure exactly what they are and how they may affect their beloved fact. We’ve put together this blog to help explain and break down what each of these viruses are and how they can cause great damage to our pets and our lives.

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is usually transmitted through grooming and social behaviors – sharing water dishes, food bowls, litterboxes etc. Kittens become infected during either development in mom or when mom starts to groom and nurse her kittens. Saliva and nasal discharge is how this virus is transferred among cats. Cat’s often do not primarily pass away due to FeLV, but they instead acquire an infection or cold that their body cannot fight off and pass away from the infection they acquired, due to their body being unable to fight it off because of FeLV.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) transmission is usually associated with cats that fight over territory and roam outdoors. As the name implies, FIV is similar to the human form of HIV, where the virus primarily attacks the immune system – therefore these cats generally present to the veterinary hospital with signs not directly associated with the virus. Like FeLV, the cat typically acquires an infection or wound that will not heal which leads to the cat’s death.

Both of these feline viral diseases are preventable. While neither of which have a “cure”, cats with these diseases can live relatively normal lives until they become clinically sick and show signs of illness. Usually secondary illnesses are what “unmask” their underlying condition (you may notice your cat sneezing, you bring him or her into the veterinarian and after some blood work is done, it is learned that while your cat is sick [sneezing], the bigger issue is that he or she also suffers from FeLV or FIV).

Approximately 5% of cats can be infected with both FIV and FeLV. Cancer risks increases 6x with FIV, 60x with FeLV and 80x with FeLV and FIV infections. In the United States approximately 2 – 3% of cats are infected with the leukemia virus. Infection rates increase when cats are very young and sick, or have increased exposure to viruses. The age groups commonly affected are cats between 1 to 6 years of age with a median age of 3 years.

Prevention: keeping cats indoors is one way to prevent your cat from exposure. When introducing new cats to the household, temporary segregation is always recommended to reduce residents from becoming exposed to bacterial and viral disease present at shelters. Vaccines are also available to prevent both of these viruses to be picked up by your cat (please continue reading for more information).

Disinfection: both viruses are easily killed by household detergents and do not last in the environment.

Vaccination: Generally FeLV vaccination can be administered to kittens at 8 – 9 weeks of age with a second booster 3 – 4 weeks later. Vaccine booster is administered once yearly. A vaccine is available for FIV cats, however this particular vaccine will yield a positive result on routine testing. Therefore, young kittens that test positive are generally retested at 6 months of age.

In conclusion, these viruses are not a death sentence for your cat and you can prevent your cat from obtaining these viruses. Annual blood work, exams and indoor only cats will help your cat stay healthy, virus free and alive! If you would like to discuss your cat’s health, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Jill Christofferson, Dr. Blythe Jurewicz or Dr. Wendi Aengus today: (925) 937-5000

Caroline Li, DVM

A Day In the Life of an Intern at Encina Veterinary Hospital

Each year, Encina Veteirnary Hospital welcomes about 6 newly graduated doctors of veterinary medicine for a 1 year rotating internship with our specialists where interns gain more clinical experience and see quite the diverse palate of cases which will help with his or her career down the road.

At Encina Veterinary Hospital in Walnut Creek, an intern typically starts his or her day by waking up early in the morning for a very busy and productive day at work. The morning of the work day begins with daily rounds at about 7:00am regarding the cases that are currently in the hospital with the overnight, attending emergency clinician and the internal medicine specialists. After the daily morning hospital rounds, some mornings are filled with topic rounds given by the various specialist and general practitioners. These topics can range from general veterinary medicine to emergency medicine to specialized topics. The interns are challenged during these topic rounds to answer questions about the subject in order to ensure they understand important points about the covered topic.

After topic rounds or after morning cases rounds, the interns then work for the remainder of the daytime with their designated veterinary specialist to observe the daily appointments, go over the history and physical examination findings for each case, review the most common differentials for each of the cases, review how these cases are treated, and discuss the relative outcome of these cases. During part of the daytime, some of the interns may be challenged to see emergencies that might walk through the door, they may have to help the specialist with various procedures like endoscopy or surgery, or they may have their own surgeries to perform on certain designated cases.

At the end of the day when all the appointments have been seen and all the pets have been treated or cared for, the interns are responsible for helping senior doctors write up some of the medical records for the patients seen today, review and ask questions about the cases with their attending clinician, and help to round the cases that are transferring over to the overnight emergency doctor.

After nearly 12 hours of hard work, it’s about time for an intern to start heading home for the night, rest up and repeat the next day. This is a typical day in the life of a veterinary intern but day-by-day, there are always new changes to the daily schedule that could always challenge an intern to change his or her thinking or be presented with new cases that could challenge the way they learn. This is the life of a veterinary intern.

Jonathan MacStay, DVM