How Serious is Feline Leukemia (part.2)

What happens to a cat after being exposed to FeLV?

If the cat becomes infected from exposure to FeLV, 2-4 weeks later, in the acute stage of infection, large numbers of the virus can be found in the bloodstream (viremia). Cats in the acute phase may not show signs of disease. If they do, the signs are usually fever, lethargy, diarrhea and swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy). When a cat is exposed to FeLV, several things can happen:
  • Some cats will not be infected due to inadequate exposure and a good immune response.
  • Some cats will develop a latent infection; these cats will not be able to destroy all of the viral RNA and DNA, but will be able to hold it in check. This is called a latent or regressive infection. These cats show no signs of infection and usually do not shed virus in their saliva or other body secretions.
  • Some cats will become persistently infected; these cats will not develop an adequate immune response and will remain permanently infected with FeLV. This is called a progressive infection. These cats will shed large amounts of virus in their saliva and often develop FeLV-associated diseases within a few years.
Age is a very important factor in determining what will happen after a cat is exposed to FeLV. Almost all FeLV-exposed kittens less than 8 weeks of age will have persistent viremia, show signs of disease during the acute phase, and become permanently infected.

What diseases are associated with FeLV infection?
FeLV can cause:
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Immunodeficiency and infections
  • Anemia
  • Immune-mediated diseases
  • Reproductive problems
  • Gastrointestinal disease
  • Neurologic disease
  • Platelet disorders
  • Lymphadenopathy (enlarged lymph nodes)
  • Cancer
  • Respiratory and eye problems
  • Oral disease
FeLV can decrease the effectiveness of the immune system and result in increased susceptibility to bacterial, fungal, protozoan, and other viral infections. Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), for instance, is much more common in FeLV-infected cats. The first indication of FeLV infection in some cats is recurrent bacterial infections of the mouth. Recurrent skin or respiratory infections can also occur.

FeLV often affects cells in the bone marrow. As a result, most FeLV-infected cats have a nonregenerative anemia.

Immune-mediated Diseases
Large amounts of the FeLV antigens combine with the cat's antibodies and form complexes which can be deposited in the kidneys, blood vessels, or joints.

Reproductive Problems
FeLV infection is often associated with infertility in cats. Abortions, stillbirths, and fetal resorption are also more common in FeLV-infected queens. "Fading kitten syndrome" may result from FeLV infection of the fetuses or newborn kittens.

Gastrointestinal Disease
FeLV-caused cancers of the stomach or intestines. FeLV-associated changes in the intestinal wall can cause anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. Parasites and bacteria more commonly multiply and cause diarrhea in FeLV-infected cats.

Neurologic Disease
Seizures, blindness, paralysis, changes in behavior, and ataxia (loss of balance) can be seen in FeLV-infected cats. These symptoms may be caused directly by FeLV or by parasites (Toxoplasma gondii) and fungi (Cryptococcosis), which occur more often in immunosuppressed animals.
Platelet Disorders: A decrease in the number of platelets, (thrombocytopenia), or a dysfunction of platelets sometimes occurs in cats infected with FeLV.

Lymph nodes in the abdomen and other parts of the body are often enlarged.

Approximately 30% of FeLV-infected cats will develop cancer. Usually, the cancer is in the form of tumors of lymphocytes or red blood cells, and includes lymphosarcoma, lymphoid leukemia, myeloid leukemia, and erythremic myelosis. Not all cats infected with FeLV will develop leukemia or lymphosarcoma, and not all cases of leukemia and lymphosarcoma are caused by FeLV.

Respiratory and eye problems
Cats may show signs of upper respiratory disease, especially nasal discharge (runny nose). Eye discharge may also be seen.

Oral disease
Ulcers in the mouth and infections of the mouth (stomatitis) and gums (gingivitis) are common.

How Serious is Feline Leukemia (part.1)

I thought I saw a puddy cat....Image by law_keven via Flickr
What is feline leukemia?
Feline leukemia is a cancerous disease caused by feline leukemia virus (FeLV). FeLV causes diseases other than leukemia including other cancers and immunodeficiency. Cats may not start to show signs of disease for months or years after being infected with FeLV. Infection with FeLV is a major cause of illness and death in domestic cats. Approximately 2.3% of cats in the United States are infected with FeLV.

What are the characteristics of feline leukemia virus?

FeLV is a type of virus called a retrovirus. That puts it in the same family as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, the virus that causes AIDS).
  • Retroviruses are species-specific. This means a feline retrovirus will only infect cats; a human retrovirus will only infect humans.
  • Retroviruses are made up of RNA. In the host, the RNA is transcribed into DNA and incorporated into the DNA of the host's cells.
  • Retroviruses are fragile, being easily inactivated by ultraviolet light, heat, detergents, and drying.
  • Retroviruses are widespread in nature, and have occurred for many millions of years.
How common is FeLV infection?

It is estimated that 1-2% of otherwise healthy cats are infected with FeLV. Males are more commonly infected than females, and cats with access to the outdoors are more at risk of becoming infected than indoor cats. Kittens are much more susceptible to FeLV infection than adult cats.

How is the FeLV transmitted?

Large amounts of FeLV are excreted in the saliva. Therefore, the most common mode of transmission is through mutual grooming. Nose-to-nose contact, and shared food and water bowls can also be sources of infection. Bites are a very efficient way to transmit FeLV.

FeLV can also be found in lesser amounts in tears, urine, and feces. Thus litter boxes could be a source of infection in multi-cat households or catteries.

FeLV can also be transmitted across the placenta (in utero) and through the milk.
It takes large amounts of virus to infect an adult cat, so usually prolonged contact or a bite is necessary for transmission.

What is Feline Infectious Peritonitis?

FIP is a viral disease of cats that can affect many systems of the body. It is a progressive disease and almost always fatal. It is found worldwide and affects not only domestic cats, but many wild ones as well, including cougars, bobcats, lynx, lions, and cheetahs.

Recovering HugoImage by joey h via Flickr
What causes FIP?
FIP is caused by a virus. Cats can be infected with feline coronavirus (FCoV). There are two types of this virus which cannot be distinguished from each other in laboratory tests. One is avirulent (does not cause disease) or only mildly virulent and is called feline enteric coronavirus (FECV). Infection with this virus does not produce any signs other than maybe a very mild diarrhea. The other type is virulent (produces disease), is the cause of FIP, and is called feline infectious peritonitis virus (FIPV). It is believed that FIP occurs when FECV mutates to FIPV in the cat and starts to replicate in the cat's cells. What causes this mutation is unknown.

How common is FCoV infection and the development of FIP in cats?
Studies have shown that approximately 25-40% of household cats, and up to 95% of cats in multi-cat households and catteries are or have been infected with FCoV. The development of fatal FIP occurs in 1 in 5000 cats in households with one or two cats. In multi-cat households and catteries 5% of cats die from FIP.

How is the virus transmitted?
FCoV can be found in the saliva and feces of infected cats. Therefore, cat-to-cat contact and exposure to feces in litter boxes are the most common modes of infection. Contaminated food or water dishes, bedding, and personal clothing may also serve as sources of infection.
FCoV may possibly be transmitted across the placenta. The significance of this is unknown.
FCoV can live in the environment 3-7 weeks. After 3 weeks, however, the number of virus particles present is probably too small to cause infection. Many disinfectants will kill the virus, including household bleach diluted 1:32 in water.

How does the virus cause disease?
When a cat is exposed to FCoV, four things can happen, depending on a number of factors including age, health status, and strength of the cat's cellular immune system. The strain and dose of the virus can also influence the outcome.
Mammals' immune systems can be divided into two parts: the antibody-producing part, and the part in which cells kill invaders through direct contact or chemicals they produce. It is this second part of the immune system, the cellular immune system which plays a very important role in determining the result of exposure to FCoV.
  1. If a cat's cellular immunity is very strong, the cat can usually fight off the infection.
  2. If a cat's cellular immunity is moderately strong, the cat may be unable to kill all the virus, but is able to keep it in check. This results in a "latent" infection. If the cat is severely stressed or becomes ill from other diseases, the latent infection can be reactivated and the cat can develop FIP.
  3. If a cat's cellular immunity is relatively weak, the virus continues to multiply slowly, FIPV becomes the predominant virus and FIP develops. In this form of disease, called "dry FIP" nodular lesions called granulomas slowly develop in one or multiple places in the body.
  4. If the cellular immune system is very weak, the virus can multiply virtually uncontrolled. A "wet" form of FIP develops. In this form, large amounts of fluid accumulate in the chest and abdomen due to damage to blood vessels and subsequent leaking of fluid and protein into the surrounding tissues.
The damage to the body from FIPV is not so much due to the virus itself, but to the body's response to it. Complexes of FIPV and antibodies the cat produces against it are deposited on the walls of blood vessels. Macrophages, which are cells that eat cellular debris and foreign material, consume the virus and the virus replicates inside these cells. These macrophages are also deposited along blood vessels and in tissues. When they accumulate in large numbers they can form granulomas.

Which cats are more likely to develop FIP?
As you would imagine, the cats most likely to develop FIP are those with the weakest immune systems. This includes kittens, cats infected with feline leukemia virus (FeLV), and geriatric cats.
The largest number of FIP cases occurs in young cats. Kittens are often infected when they are 4 to 6 weeks old, when the antibody protection they received from their mothers through the milk is declining. Kittens usually start showing signs of FIP when they are between 3 months and 2 years of age. Most of the kittens with FIP die between 8 and 18 months of age.
When infections with feline leukemia virus (FeLV) were more common, infections with FeLV and FIPV were often seen together because FeLV suppressed the immune system. Now that FeLV is less common only 5% of cats with FIP are also infected with FeLV.
We rarely see FIP in cats between 3 and 10 years of age. However, starting at 10-12 years of age, the immune systems of these older cats apparently decline, making them more susceptible.
FIP has been shown to be more common in certain breeds and lines. It appears to be more common in Persians, for example. It is unclear whether these breeds are more susceptible because of their genetics or whether they are exposed to FCoV more often since many of them live or come from catteries.

What are the clinical signs of disease?
Although we separate FIP into 2 forms, wet and dry, there is really a gradient between the two forms, and we may often see signs of both forms.
Dry or Noneffusive Form: Dry FIP occurs in approximately ¼ of the cats with FIP. Generally, the signs of the dry form come on more slowly. Nonspecific signs such as chronic weight loss, fever, loss of appetite and lethargy appear. Other signs occur depending on which organs are damaged by the granulomas. Ten to twenty-five percent of cats will have neurological signs. When granulomas occur in the central nervous system we see paralysis, disorientation, loss of balance, tremors, convulsions, behavior changes and urinary incontinence. The liver and kidneys are often affected, and this is reflected in chemistry tests that evaluate these two organs. Granulomas can occur in the chest, as well. Sometimes the eye is the only organ affected. The pupil may appear irregular and the eye may appear discolored because of the inflammation that is present. Some cats with the dry form can live up to a year after first showing clinical signs.
Wet or Effusive Form: Early in the disease we can see similar signs to the dry form including weight loss, fever, loss of appetite, and lethargy. Anemia with resultant pale mucous membranes (e.g., gums) is often seen. Constipation and diarrhea can also occur. The wet form of the disease progresses rapidly and soon the cat may appear pot-bellied in appearance because of the fluid accumulation in the abdomen. Generally, the cat shows no signs of abdominal pain. Fluid may also accumulate in the chest causing respiratory difficulties. Most cats with the wet form of FIP die within 2 months of showing signs of disease.

What are the laboratory findings in FIP?
Chemistry Panels: Chemistry panels are used to assess the function of the liver and kidneys. If the kidney is involved, or the cat is dehydrated, we can see elevations in creatinine and BUN. These compounds are eliminated from the body by the kidneys. If they are elevated, the kidneys are not adequately filtering the blood. Liver enzymes including alanine transaminase and alkaline phosphatase are elevated when liver damage has occurred, and bilirubin will increase if the liver is not functioning normally.

One of the most common abnormalities is an increase in serum protein to levels over 7.8 g/dl. Most of the increase is caused by elevations in certain proteins called globulins (the other major serum protein is albumin). Spinal fluid also has an elevated protein level.
The abdominal fluid in cats with wet FIP is high in protein (5-12g/dl), yellow, viscous, froths when shaken, and may clot when exposed to air.

Complete Blood Count

 A complete blood count may help to support a diagnosis of FIP. Many cats will have a mild to moderate anemia. Initially, the white blood cell count is low, but increases later in the disease. The increase is due to an increase in the type of white blood cells called neutrophils. These are scavenger-type cells. There is actually a decrease in the type of blood cells called lymphocytes. This can be important in determining the diagnosis.

FIP Testing

 A test that detects antibody to FCoV is available. This test can NOT differentiate between FECV and FIPV. The test result is reported as a "titer." A titer of 1:100 means we still get a positive reaction after diluting the serum sample 1:100. It has been found that a high titer alone does not mean a cat has FIP. A high titer could mean:
  • The cat was exposed to FCoV (either FECV or FIPV) and has eliminated the virus
  • The cat was exposed to FCoV and is a carrier
  • The cat was recently vaccinated against FIP
  • The cat was exposed to FCoV and has developed FIP
A negative test could mean:
  • The cat has not been exposed to FECV or FIPV
  • The cat is infected with FIPV but is so early in the disease process antibody is not yet detectable
  • The cat is infected with FIPV but can no longer make antibody
  • The cat is infected with FIPV but all the antibody that is made is bound in complexes to FIPV and is not detected by the test
  • The test was not sensitive enough to detect the antibody present
How is FIP diagnosed?
Because we can not rely totally on the antibody test for a diagnosis, we must combine the history, clinical signs, laboratory results, FCoV test result, and possibly radiographs to come to a "probable" diagnosis. The only way to be absolutely sure of an FIPV infection is to biopsy affected tissues and have them examined by a veterinary pathologist. As a result, most often the diagnosis is made after the cat has died, a postmortem examination has been performed and tissues have been examined.

In an attempt to try to make the best diagnosis we can while the cat is still alive, we can follow these criteria for a cat with clinical signs of FIP:
  1. The cat has a low number of lymphocytes: 1.5x103 cells/┬Ál.
  2. The cat has a positive FCoV test result (titer > 1:160).
  3. The cat has elevated globulins in his blood > 5.1 gm/dl.
If the cat meets all three criteria, the probability the cat has FIP is 88.9%. If the cat does NOT meet all three criteria, the probability the cat does NOT have FIP is 98.8%.
In those cats who have fluid in the thorax or abdomen that can be analyzed:
  • If the gamma globulin fraction in the fluid is greater than 32%, the chances that the cat has FIP are almost 100%.
  • If the albumin fraction is greater than 48% or the ratio of albumin to globulin is greater than 0.81, it is almost 100% certain that the cat does NOT have FIP.
From this discussion, you can see that a certain diagnosis of FIP is not made very easily. Remember, the "gold standard" for diagnosis of FIP is through microscopic examinations of biopsies (a procedure called histopathology).

How is FIP treated?
There is no cure for FIP. A survivor of FIP is very rare. We can give the cat supportive care which will make her more comfortable and possibly extend her life for a short amount of time. Because the dry form of FIP progresses more slowly, cats with this form can sometimes live longer than those with the wet form. This is especially true if the eye is the only organ affected by granulomas. Cats who have an appetite, no neurological signs, and no anemia usually respond better to the supportive care.

Supportive care includes:
  • Periodic draining of abdominal or thoracic (chest) fluid in those with the wet form. If the fluid is drained too often, the cat loses large amounts of protein which can exacerbate the condition.
  • Fluid therapy
  • Quality nutrition
  • Antibiotics for secondary bacterial infections
  • Blood transfusions in cases of severe anemia
Cats with FIP are often treated with prednisone at an immunosuppressive dose of 2-4 mg/kg daily to decrease the virus-antibody complexes in the blood vessels. In cats with eye involvement, ophthalmic solutions containing corticosteroids, and injections of steroids into the inner side of the eyelid (conjunctival sac) can be used.
Research is ongoing to find other immunosuppressive drugs that may slow down the course of the disease. Attempts are also being made to find antiviral drugs that will kill or slow down the replication of the virus.

How is FIP prevented and controlled?
Managing a Cattery or Multi-cat Household:
  • Litter boxes should be kept clean and located away from food and water dishes. The litter should be cleaned of feces daily and totally removed at least once weekly when the box is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
  • Cats should be divided into families with 4-5 cats per group and kept separate from each other. These groups should also be divided according to age, with cats less than 4 months old separated from older cats.
  • Newly acquired cats and any cats that are suspected of being infected should be separated from the other cats.
  • Caretakers of the cats must use extreme care to make sure they are not bringing contaminated clothing, dishes, or other articles from one area to another. In general, kittens should be cared for first, and any suspect animals cared for last to minimize possible transmission to those most susceptible.
  • Eliminating FeLV from all cats is important.
  • Using the FIP test to identify potential carriers or immune animals is NOT possible.
Managing Litters:
  • Pregnant and nursing queens should be kept separate from all other cats in the cattery (only one litter per room).
  • If the queen is suspected of being a carrier, kittens should be weaned and removed from the queen at 4-6 weeks. They should also be kept separate from other cats in the cattery.
  • Queens who repeatedly produce litters of kittens which eventually die of FIP should be removed from a breeding cattery.

There is currently only one licensed FIP vaccine available. Primucell FIP, produced by Pfizer Animal Health, is a temperature-sensitive, modified-live virus vaccine that is given as an intranasal vaccine, and is licensed for use in cats at least 16 weeks of age. The vaccine appears to be safe; however, this vaccine has minimal if any effectiveness in preventing FIP, and it is not generally recommended by the American Association of Feline Practitioners Feline Vaccine Advisory Panel. Cat owners should consult their veterinarian to help them decide if their cat should be vaccinated.
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Animal Tooth Disease - Common but Treatable

Feeling Ruff...HBWE Everybody..:O))Image by law_keven via Flickr
According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats are affected by periodontal disease by the age of three.

Modern veterinary medicine addresses dental disease early in its progression and helps pets live longer, healthier, happier lives. Periodontal disease is common, but it can easily be treated by well-equipped and well-trained veterinary hospitals.

Periodontal disease is defined as the infection or inflammation of the tissues surrounding the tooth. Periodontal disease follows a very predictable pathway in pets as it does in humans. The mouth is a place that is full of bacteria. We as humans brush, floss, and rinse away these bacteria 2-3 times daily, and the bacteria continue to build up quickly. In pets, without at home dental care periodontal disease progresses rapidly. Soon the bacteria create plaque and calculus, creating an effective hiding place for the bacteria. At this point in the periodontal disease pathway the gums become inflamed and reddened. This painful condition is known as gingivitis. The bacteria will often then start to move up the tooth root, loosening and eventually killing the tooth. Often this process creates a tooth root abscess. In some cases the tooth eventually falls out. We know from human medicine this is a very painful process. Large amounts of bacteria living under calculus and in abscesses can spread bacteria through the bloodstream to other organs such as the heart, kidneys, and the liver.

Regular dental cleanings are extremely important to the health of your pet. The veterinary team will remove calculus, clean under the gum line, and polish your pet’s teeth. Dental radiographs (x-rays) should be taken to detect changes in the structures under the gum line or inside teeth. In more advanced cases of periodontal disease it is sometimes necessary to treat abscesses with long lasting antibiotic gels, systemic antibiotics or with the removal of infected teeth.

In pets, complete dental cleanings should be performed under anesthesia for several reasons. It is impossible to perform a thorough job while the pet is moving and awake. Secondly, it is important to keep the massive amount of bacteria in the mouth from entering the lungs. During anesthesia a balloon is inflated in the trachea to prevent pneumonia. If vital signs of the patient are monitored while performing anesthesia, the procedure becomes much safer and the risk of complication if significantly decreased.

If you notice bad breath, yellow/brown or black tartar, reddened gums, or loose tooth, visit your veterinarian for an exam. Your veterinarian can recommend treatment, and then show you how to provide at home dental care to prevent periodontal disease in the future. Common at-home dental care includes regular brushing, dental rinses, specific types of chewable treats, and certain types of food. Consumers should look for the Veterinary Oral Heath Council (VOHC) seal of approval when shopping for products to help prevent periodontal disease.
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Vets Warn Dog Owners About Dangers Of Artificial Sweeteners

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) is warning dog owners of the danger that the artificial sweetener, Xylitol, can pose to their pets. Xylitol is not considered harmful to humans, but if ingested by a dog the substance is dangerous because it triggers a sudden release of insulin which causes a dramatic drop in blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) and can lead to liver damage.
Xylitol is increasingly used as a sweetener in sugar-free chewing gum and other confectionary; it is used in dental hygiene products and is also found as an excipient in many medicines. Of particular concern are the sugar substitute products that contain Xylitol which are used in home baking as well as in manufactured goods. Cakes, biscuits and other goodies made with it are toxic to dogs. Owners may not be aware of these dangers and may not associate clinical deterioration with ingestion of these foodstuffs.
Other animals such as ferrets and cats may be similarly affected and the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) is monitoring all referred cases.
BVA Past President Nicky Paull commented:
“While most dog owners are now aware that foods such as chocolate and grapes can be toxic to their pets few are aware of the dangers if their dog eats a cake or muffin containing Xylitol.
“If you think your dog may have eaten chewing gum or a sweet or cake containing Xylitol and appears unwell, perhaps vomiting or lacking coordination, then contact your vet for advice immediately and be ready to provide information on what’s been consumed.”
The BVA Animal Welfare Foundation and the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) have produced an easy reference guide to keeping pets safe from harmful substances. The ‘Pets and poisons: keeping your animal safe’ leaflet can be easily downloaded from the BVA AWF website at or you can request a copy from the Foundation.
Alexander Campbell, Head of Service at VPIS, added:
“With the increasing number of products containing Xylitol on the market the VPIS recognises the extreme importance of raising awareness of the danger to dogs of ingesting this substance, particularly in the light of a case we handled the other evening which involved a dog eating a muffin made with this sugar substitute.
“This is yet another instance where a food or food additive deemed safe for human consumption proves to be dangerous for other species. Pets should really only be given foodstuffs formulated for them.
“It is possible that other animals such as ferrets or cats might be affected similarly, but few cases are yet documented. The VPIS continues to monitor all referred cases in all animals with the aim of clarifying the situation in other species as and when more data become available.
“The VPIS would like to see manufacturers of these products provide some visible warnings and information on the packaging and to inform the retail outlets they supply of the potential risks to dogs.”

source: K9 Magazine

Cat Facts and Myths

Myth: Cats should drink milk everyday.
Fact: Most cats like milk, but do not need it if properly nourished. Also, many will get diarrhea if they drink too much milk. If it is given at all, the amount should be small and infrequent.
Myth: Cats that are spayed or neutered automatically gain weight.
Fact: Like people, cats gain weight from eating too much, not exercising enough or both. In many cases, spaying or neutering is done at an age when the animal's metabolism already has slowed, and its need for food has decreased. If the cat continues to eat the same amount, it may gain weight. Cat owners can help their cats stay fit by providing exercise and not over-feeding.
Myth: Cats cannot get rabies.
Fact: Actually, most warm-blooded mammals, including cats, bats, skunks and ferrets, can carry rabies. Like dogs, cats should be vaccinated regularly according to local laws.
Myth: Indoor cats cannot get diseases.
Fact: Cats still are exposed to organisms that are carried through the air or brought in on a cat owner's shoes or clothing. Even the most housebound cat ventures outdoors at some time and can be exposed to diseases and worms through contact with other animals feces.
Myth: Putting garlic on a cats food will get rid of worms.
Fact: Garlic may make the cat's food taste better but has no effect on worms. The most effective way to treat worms is by medication prescribed by a veterinarian.
Myth: Cats heal themselves by licking their wounds.
Fact: Such licking actually can slow the healing process and further damage the wound.
Myth: A cat's sense of balance is in its whiskers.
Fact: Cats use their whiskers as "feelers" but not to maintain their balance.
Myth: Tapeworms come from bad food.
Fact: Pets become infected with tape worms from swallowing fleas, which carry the parasite. Also, cats can get tapeworms from eating infected mice or other exposed animals.
Myth: Cats always land on their feet.
Fact: While cats instinctively fall feet first and may survive falls from high places, they also may receive broken bones in the process. Some kind of screening on balconies and windows can help protect pets from disastrous falls.
Myth: Pregnant women should not own cats.
Fact: Some cats can be infected with a disease called toxoplasmosis, which occasionally can be spread to humans through cat litter boxes and cause serious problems in unborn babies. However, these problems can be controlled, if the expectant mother avoids contact with the litter box and assigns daily cleaning to a friend or other family member.

How to Train your Cat

Cats are very intelligent, and respond well to positive training methods. One of the most successful methods of training cats is clicker training that relies on use of rewards and food to reward your cat for doing the right thing. Rewarding a cat for it's good behavior will encourage it to exhibit good behaviors.

Clicker training, and in fact most positive training methods, use a food reward during training. Though cats are much fussier than dogs, and it can be hard to find a treat that they find worth working for. Some suggestions include little pieces of raw meat, cooked chicken, or small fish treats.

To start clicker training your cat, sit with your cat and click, then immediately follow with a treat. Repeat that several times, and it won't be long before your cat understands that a click means something yummy is coming. Two or three five minute sessions a day is better than one twenty minute session - cats don't always have a long attention span, especially if something else catches their eye.

If your cat doesn't find food particularly rewarding, you can use toys. A little laser is popular with cats. So, in this instance, you can click, then point the laser and allow him to chase it. Again, he'll soon learn that a click means he can have a game.

Clicker training your cat is so useful because you can pinpoint the exact behavior you are rewarding.  That makes it easier for your cat to understand what you are asking of it, and he's much more likely to repeat the behavior you are after. The best part of clicker training is that you can't really get it wrong. If you click at the wrong time, the worst you can do is give your cat a free treat.

You know your cat understands the click when you click and his ears prick up. You can then start to use this training method. When your cat does something you like, click and treat. If you're using food, you can use a treat to lure him into position, then click. For example, if you want your cat to lie in his bed, lure him in with a treat, then click. Repeat this several times, and it won't be long before he's voluntarily going to his bed, hoping to hear the click.

Cats are wonderful companions, and enrich our lives in so many ways. How much fun can we have, and how much closer can our relationship be, if we can teach it tricks, and have a lot of fun together.

Are You A Responsible Dog Owner?

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 15:  Dog enthustiast Beatr...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeYou may have a dog and you may not. But you know that dogs are good at one thing, and that's pooping. If you live in a neighborhood that has dogs, you might find an unpleasant surprise in your lawn next time you go to mow it. It might even be hiding in your rocks. Yet all you can think is, "This could have been prevented with the proper poop bags."

That's right, it's all about the poop bags or pooper scooper. Nothing is more frustrating than either finding remains of the neighborhood dog or having you be the proud owner of that dog. You need to make sure that you are prepared every time you go out because dog's bowel systems are unpredictable. Not only that, dog poop that has been sitting out for a long time can lead to bacteria and disease. This can be harmful to your own family as well as the families around you. Rather than take that chance, you should make sure you have doggie bags at the ready each time you take your canine out.

Poop bags have been around for years, saving lawns from yellow spots and other over fertilization. Dog waste bags come in all shapes, sizes, scents, and colors, but the key to a good dog waste bag is its strength and durability. No one wants to be on a walk to find that his or her recently stuffed poop bag has developed a snag that is allowing the contents to escape. This is not a pleasant surprise for anyone.

So next time you're out and about with your dog, don't forget to bring the dog waste bags along for the ride as well. Don't embarrass yourself by leaving your dog's mess for someone else to deal with. And make sure that your poop bags can get the job done right, looking good and staying strong.

Pet Article courtesy of
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Pet Medical Insurance In Alberta, Canada

Greyhounds make great pets tooImage via WikipediaRocket Articles | Pet Medical Insurance In Alberta, Canada

By: Al Mann

Are you a pet parent who is concerned about the health of your beloved cat or dog? Have you ever had to pay high veterinary bills that you didn’t know where the money would come from? Consider pet insurance for the health care your dog or cat deserves.

In Calgary, pet medical insurance is one of the fastest growing types of insurance protection. Pets will all need some form ofmedical care sometime in their lives, either due to an injury or the onset of an illness. Life Guard Insurance Alberta, a Alberta based insurance brokerage, is pleased to partner with Petsecure, Alberta’s #1 pet insurance provider. They have been insuring pets like yours since 1989 and have paid out over $112 Million in claims.

Getting a quote online for petcare insurance is easy. When you visit Life Guard Insurance, Alberta, Canada website there is lots more information about how Petsecure has designed petcare insurance plans to meet your pet’s medical care needs. By clicking on the links or the banners you will be taken to the Petsecure website. From there you can get an online quote for your particular breed of pet (dog or cat).

If you decide to enrol in a pet medical insurance plan, you can get that done easily online as well. Petsecure is the fastest and easiest way to get your pet insurance, FAST. From the date of enrolment, your pet will have coverage starting in 48 hours for injuries and two weeks for illnesses. This waiting period is to prevent fraudulent claims for pets who are already suffering from an injury or illness. Remember – you have to buy insurance for your pet while it is still healthy. Waiting until something happens is like trying to buy fire insurance once the house is burning.

Petsecure offers a wide variety of pet health insurance plans. There are some very affordable that are less than $12 per month. The very best level of coverage is Secure For Life, Secure 4. This pet medical insurance plan offers UNLIMETED financial coverage for sicknesses and accidents; $600 per year for your pet’s dental care, and $350 per year for specialty medical services. Secure 4 also comes with Annual and Lifetime Wellness Care for ongoing preventative medical care.

Petsecure is 100% Canadian. It is operated out of Ontario, and only Canadian pets are eligible for this coverage. So, in Alberta, if you live in Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Lethbridge, Fort Mac, Grande Prairie or any points in between, you too can quickly and easily get insurance for your dog or cat. Give them the quality medical care they deserve, and protect your finances.

Article Courtesy of Rocket Articles
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Can Cats Become Diabetic?

Profile feline ...Image by claudiogennari via Flickr

Feline Diabetes strikes 1 in 400 cats, though recent veterinary studies note that it is becoming more common lately in cats. Symptoms in cats are similar to those in humans. Diabetes in cats occurs less frequently than in dogs. 80-95% of diabetic cats experience something similar to type-2 diabetes, but are generally severely insulin-dependent by the time symptoms are diagnosed. The condition is definitely treatable, and need not shorten the animal's life span or life quality. In type-2 cats, prompt effective treatment can even lead to diabetic remission, in which the cat no longer needs injected insulin. Untreated, the condition leads to increasingly weak legs in cats, and eventually malnutrition, ketoacidosis and/or dehydration, and death.

What are the sypmtoms?

Cats will generally show a gradual onset of the disease over a few weeks, and it may escape notice for a while. The condition is unusual in cats less than seven years old.  
  • The first obvious symptoms are a sudden weight loss (occasionally gain), accompanied by excessive drinking and urination; for example, cats can appear to develop an obsession with water and lurk around faucets or water bowls.
  • Appetite is suddenly either ravenous (up to three-times normal) or absent. In cats the back legs may become weak and the gait may become stilted or wobbly (peripheral neuropathy). A quick test at this point can be done using urine keto/glucose strips (the same as used on the Atkins diet) with the animal. If the keto/glucose strips show glucose in the urine, diabetes is indicated. If a strip shows ketones in the urine, the animal should be brought to an emergency clinic right away. Testing can also be performed with a home glucose meter by obtaining a blood sample with a lancet via an ear prick or paw prick.
  • Owners should watch for noticeable thinning of the skin and apparent fragility: these are also serious and indicate that the animal is metabolizing (breaking down) its own body fat and muscle to survive.
  • Lethargy or limpness, and acetone-smelling breath are acute symptoms indicating likely ketoacidosis and/or dehydration and demand emergency care within hours.


Diabetes can be treated but is life-threatening if left alone. Early diagnosis and treatment by a qualified veterinarian can help, not only in preventing nerve damage, but in some cases, in cats, can even lead to remission.Cats usually seem to do best with long-lasting insulins and low carbohydrate diets.
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Top 10 Tips to Holistic Dog Care

Below is a brief list of things to consider if you want to care for your dog holistically. Holistic Pet Care, in its essence, is the overall care for a pet. The focus of health is to consider all areas of your pet’s life that is contributing to their health and well being. Of course this topic is lengthy and gets very granular, as do each item listed below. But, hopefully, the tips below will challenge you to take care of your pet in a holistic, more natural way.

1. Feed a healthy diet. I have written numerous articles and papers on diet. The purpose here to emphasize that all health (physical, mental and emotional) starts with good nutrition. In a nut shell, stay away from processed food. All dry dog food is merely a people product. It’s cheap and convenient and targets lazy Americans. Fresh and or raw foods (with lots of meat for our carnivores), along with appropriate supplements are far superior and healthier for your dog.

2. Offer high quality drinking water at all times. The body is made up mostly of water. Water helps dogs rehydrate and detoxify their bodies. Spring water is good but is sold in plastic bottles, which isn’t good. Purified water via filtering systems is fine too. Tap water contains chemicals and chlorines that could impact the life and efficacy and internal organs.

3. Use stainless steel bowls only if possible. Plastic bowls contain toxic materials that can seep into food and water. Plastic and ceramic bowls have also been linked to allergies and facial acne. Stainless is the best choice.

4. Use meat-based treats and recreational chews bones only. I realize this may be challenging for many non-meat eaters. I do have the utmost respect for the vegetarian and vegan lifestyle. Our dogs need meat. And, crunchy dog biscuits and green chew treats cause more harm than any good they may be marketed to do. Heavy grains and starches cause periodontal disease as well as vast types of intestinal and digestive upset. Crunchy treats also impact behavior due to their high sugar content!

5. Exercise. Exercise. Exercise your dog. Runs in the yard and walks around the block are great. However, dogs also need to travel. Longer walks are much better mentally, as it stimulates their natural desire to travel. Even our domestic dogs need to travel and set their territory. How do feel when you’re cooped up in the house for a while? Stir crazy, right? Well, that’s amplified when our dogs don’t get to go for walks. If walking is a problem, hire a trainer and fix it!! Both you and your dog will benefit from this activity.

6. Practice good, consistent leadership over your pack animal. Positive reinforcement, shaping, marking…these are all human psychological terms that make us feel better about dog training. The bottom line is that your dog doesn’t understand human or English or whatever your native language is. They speak dog. To be a good leader you need to speak dog as well. Use your eyes and your posture to communicate with your dog. Make your dog earn all of its resources by performing commands for you. Food, treats, affection, playtime, toys – all these are resources that you should control by making your dog earn them. If he doesn’t do something, he doesn’t get anything. Pretty simple!

7. Groom your dog as much as possible!! Long, short or no hair, brush your dog as much as possible. Brushing allows dead skin follicles to be removed and allows the skin to breath. This helps tremendously with detoxification. The skin, also an organ, is crucial in pet health. Grooming, petting and massaging all fall under this category and also do wonders for your relationship. Also, brush the teeth too if need be. Of course, if you are feeding a fresh diet, you likely won’t need to do it all that much. But, if you must, do it! It is challenging, I know. But, it is better than putting your dog under anesthesia just for a teeth cleaning.

8. Avoid chemical flea and tick topical and pesticides. That’s right; those little tubes you squeeze on your dogs are filled with harmful pesticides. And, what’s worse, they’re not 100% effective against anything. The only they do 100% is destroy your pet’s immune system. There are many natural alternatives to flea, tick and heartworm protection. Seek them and out.

9. Now the BIGGY!! DO NOT OVER-VACCINATE your pet. If your veterinarian tells you your pet need to annual vaccinations, go find another vet, one that actually keeps up on medical journals and bulletins. All the studies being done nowadays prove yearly vaccines are NOT REQUIRED!! Well, not all the studies. Of course, the pharmaceutical industry will scare you into doing otherwise. And they have shareholders to answer to. I only have my pets to keep happy and healthy. One of my pit bulls died in 2004 from Vaccinosis. That’s right, there’s even a disease named after the collateral damage that vaccines do. Some studies suggest one vaccine booster after a certain age provides protection for the ENTIRE life of your pet. This topic is very lengthy and controversial. But, the fact is simple. Vaccines, especially yearly, do more harm than good. Beware!!!

10. Finally, love your pet in a stress-free environment. Stress can contribute to disease. Love and calm energy in the house, along with everything I mentioned above will provide you and your pet with many happy years together. Spending quality time with our pets does as much for their emotional and spiritual balance as it does ours. They are pack animals and really benefit from being with their pack and pack leaders!!

Well, I hope these simple tips were beneficial to you. As I mentioned, the above topics were merely highlights of how to better care for your pet. I hope I was able to at least get you thinking more about the state of your pet’s health in all areas; physical, emotional, mental and spiritual). Good luck in your quest for optimizing your pet’s life and health!!

Written for Paws for Peace by Author – Jeffrey H Coltenback, President & Founder
Paradise Pet, Inc – Bloomfield, NJ (973)338-0795

Puppies are Vulnerable to Canine Parvo Virus

A Keeshond-Sibirian Husky puppyImage via WikipediaThe canine parvo virus has existed for about than twenty years. It is found almost everywhere. It can be found on the floor, on the carpet, on the grounds, on the walkway, in the garden, and in every place that dogs have access to. In the soil, the parvo virus can protect itself for about seven months. It cannot be destroyed by extremely cold temperatures. Thus, the winter season simply freezes and preserves it.

The usual victims of the canine parvo virus are the puppies. The reason for this is that the puppies are still incapable of defending their bodies from the invasion of the canine parvo virus. The underdeveloped immune system of the puppy cannot produce antibodies that will destroy any foreign material that will enter the puppy's body. The survival of the puppy during this vulnerable stage will depend on the puppy's nursing.

When the puppy is being nursed by his mother, he is getting a special milk called colostrum. This milk contains antibodies produced by the immune system of the mother dog. If the mother dog has immunity against the canine parvo virus, the antibodies against this particular virus will be passed along to the nursing puppy. But the antibodies do not survive long. Every nine days, the number of these antibodies drops to half. This is why the puppies must constantly get a supply from the mother.

The puppy enters the most vulnerable phase of his life when he stops nursing and his immune system is still too young to fight the canine parvo virus. And there is good possibility that the puppy will pick up this virus when he uses his mouth to clean itself or eats food from the floor. Only a small amount of canine parvo virus is needed to begin the life-threatening infection.

Once the canine parvo virus gets inside the body, it searches the nearest organ that contains rapidly dividing cells. Usually, the dog parvo virus navigates towards the lymph nodes of the throat. Here, the virus sets up a sort of camp where it will begin to replicate itself, and make thousands of canine parvo virus.

Obviously, the lymph node is too small to accommodate all the viruses. The canine parvo viruses find the bloodstream where they can search other organs that have the same rapidly dividing cells, such as the bone marrow and the gastrointestinal tract.

Within the bone marrow, the canine parvo destroys the cells of the young immune system. As a result, there will be too few antibodies produced to fight the canine parvo viruses. In the gastrointestinal tract, the canine parvo viruses attack the Crypts of Lieberkuhn. This part of the intestine is responsible for producing the villi and microvilli, which are protrusions that facilitate the absorption of nutrients. When the Crypts of Lieberkuhn are destroyed, there will be no villi and no absorption of nutrients. The puppy suffers from nausea and diarrhea. The puppy may die because he has lost too much fluid.

Fortunately, the damage to the immune system is not as devastating as the one suffered by the intestines. Thus, antibodies can still be produced. The survival of the infected puppy will now depend on how fast can the impaired immune system produce antibodies. 
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Blue Buffalo Recalls Pet Food

Last year, Pet food manufacturer Blue Buffalo announced a voluntary recall of specific production runs of their Wilderness Chicken – Dog, Basics Salmon – Dog, and Large Breed Adult Dog products. The recall resulted from the company’s discovery that increased levels of Vitamin D — above those of the product specifications — may have carried over into specific lots of these products because of an ingredient supplier error.

The lots affected are:

Blue Wilderness Chicken (Dog) — Bag size of 4.5 lb., 11 lb., or 24 lb., with Best Used By Dates of JUL1211B, JUL1311B, JUL2611Z, JUL2711Z, or JUL2811Z

Blue Basics Salmon (Dog) — Bag size of 11 lb., or 24 lb., with Best Used By Dates of AUG2111B or AUG2211B

Blue Large Breed Adult Chicken — Bag size of 30 lb., with Best Used By Dates of SEP 22 11 P, SEP 23 11 P, or OCT 26 11 P

A very small percentage of canines are sensitive to higher levels of Vitamin D
although increased Vitamin D does not present a serious health risk in the majority of dogs. In their statement, Blue Buffalo urged owners to watch for symptoms of an adverse reaction. These symptoms include excessive water intake and/or excessive urination, and sometimes vomiting. Owners of dogs showing any adverse reaction to recalled products should bring them to the veterinarian, and Blue Buffalo will reimburse any veterinary or testing expenses related to illness caused by these products.

In addition to the voluntary recall, all products with the questionable manufacturing dates will be removed from retailer’s shelves. Owners with any products with the codes above should "stop feeding" them immediately. You may call Blue Buffalo at 1-877-523-9114 to arrange for return of the product and reimbursement.”

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Rescue Ink

This unique group is expanding its mission to reach more dogs in need.

When you think of animal rescue advocates, you may not immediately picture tough-looking, tattooed guys educating children and families about the mistreatment of animals. However, that’s exactly what the guys at Rescue Ink are doing.

Rescue Ink is a dedicated animal rescue group focusing on saving animals from abuse as well as neglect. The gentlemen at Rescue Ink are indeed tattooed, tough-talking, intimidating bikers, and they use their strengths and passion to change the lives of animals every day.

Composed of a retired New York City Police Department detective, club bouncers, and security guards, Rescue Ink’s members are all animal activists on an admirable mission. Some of their journeys have been somewhat turbulent, but much like the animals they fight for every day, they persevere and believe in second chances.

Rescue Ink’s shelter is a 25-acre rehabilitation center located in upstate New York. The purpose of the shelter is to provide a stable and safe environment in which the animals housed there can learn trust and allegiance. Rescue Ink is currently in the process of expanding their shelter, and with it, their rehabilitation efforts.

Rescue Ink prides itself on its many programs and areas of focus. The organization currently has a volunteer program for the foster care of animals, as well as behavioral training for troubled animals requiring rehabilitation.

Rescue Ink also features a “Jr. Ink” Members program. This initiative specializes in Humane Education as it pertains to the younger generation of pet lovers. The guys at Rescue Ink teach children about compassion and responsibility when dealing with their non-human friends.

In addition to these programs, Rescue Ink also has a Domestic Abuse program which focuses on the unfortunate link between animal and domestic abuse in households as well as an Adoption Program. Rescue Ink likes to believe in second chances—and their adoption program is living, breathing proof of this.

To find out more about the wonderful work of Rescue Ink, visit

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7 Winter Risks for Pets to Avoid

"Winter is actually a pretty good time for animals," says Dr. Jacob Cohen of Chicago's Animal Ark Veterinary Clinic. "They're out less -- which means less injuries and less illness." But there are still serious incidents of cold-weather-related health problems in pets that can and should be avoided, adds Cohen.

Going off-leash in the snow.
"Canines often lose their scent in cold weather and can become lost," according to the West Lafayette, Ind., animal control. "Dogs also can panic in snow storms and run away. The decreased daylight does not help either. More dogs are reported lost during the winter than any other season, so always keep dogs on-leash when outside a fully fenced yard and make sure yours always wears proper identification."

Leaving pets alone outside, in the car or in the garage.
Leaving pets by themselves, even in a vehicle, is "strongly not recommended. Especially if they're not used to cold temperatures," says Cohen. If pets do need to be left alone in cooler temperatures, short periods of time are acceptable. "Longer than 20 minutes," is when it gets to be risky, says Cohen. The ASPCA reminds us that outdoor cats like to sleep under cars, so take caution before starting your engine. The ASPCA also advises against leaving outdoor cats outside all winter long, as doing so increases their risk of freezing, theft, injury and death.

Space heaters.
As with any electronic appliance, take care where you place these in your home. You want to prevent your pet from chewing cords. And either make sure your cat isn't tempted -- or able -- to jump on the heater, your cat or dog can't brush up against it, or that the temperature doesn't get too hot. Coming into contact with the heater could cause serious burns, says Cohen.

Salty sidewalks and driveways.
"It's not toxic, but salt on the ground can irritate your pet's paws," says Cohen. Particularly sensitive animals might limp after exposure. Dress feet in booties or consider buying pet-safe ice melters, suggests Cohen. The ASPCA recommends massaging petroleum jelly into your pet's foot pads before going outside and toweling off the feet and applying moisturizer once everyone's back inside. Read more about winter pet skin care from Paw Nation.

It is estimated that 90,000 animals die each year from antifreeze poisoning. As little as 1/2 teaspoon can be toxic to a cat and just 1/4 cup can kill a medium-size dog, according to the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA). "The ethylene glycol in antifreeze is sweet-tasting and appealing to cats and dogs," according to OVMA's website. "Do not leave antifreeze unattended or allow it to spill onto the garage floor or into the street. Consider using nontoxic antifreeze with a bittering agent to discourage pet consumption. If you see your pet drinking any amount of antifreeze, take it to a veterinarian immediately."

Bodies of water.
"If your dog is a swimmer, keep him on a leash around open water or unstable ice," cautions New York State's Office of Emergency Management. "Hypothermia can set in quickly, and the dog may be unable to get out of the water."

Temperatures below 45 degrees.
"Frostbite is rare, but you really want to watch out for too much exposure to cold," says Cohen. "We start to get concerned below 45 degrees when a pet is in the cold for extended periods of time. Below freezing we have to be even more aware." Your pet's feet, ears, nose and tail are likely to be affected. "You may not see the clinical signs for a couple of days, but if the areas are severely affected, the tissue starts to die, it changes to blue-black color, and your pet will get severe infections. You may see limping or pain and licking at the area." Hypothermia is also a risk. Symptoms include weakness, shivering and lack of mental alertness, according to PetMD.