Happy Halloween

Sylas Halloween

Sylas doesn’t mind being dressed up as long as there is food in it for him

Halloween can be a fun and exciting time for everyone, especially families with children but please spare a moment to think about your pets and the potential hazards at this time of year.

Strangers wearing scary costumes

This can be very stressful for some pets and both cats and dogs may become worked up by the constant knocking on the front door. Some dogs may also become unexpectedly fearful or show aggression when faced with these very odd looking people.

Make sure that your pets have a safe and quiet place to retreat to when the trick or treating starts. If you are going to dress up your dog and have him great the visitors make sure you monitor him or her for signs of distress.

Walk your dog earlier in the evening so he or she is not faced with groups of scary and over excited children while out and about.

Make sure your pet is microchipped and/or has an ID tag on in case they get scared and run off. 

Sweets

We all know that sweets are not good for our pets but it is worth remembering that chocolate is especially toxic to dogs even in small quantities (depending on the type of chocolate) and can cause symptoms ranging from mild excitement and tremors to vomiting, diarrhoea and collapse.

Sweets, gums, mints, baked goods and chocolate containing the “sugar free” sweetener xylitol can also be  poisonous to our pets and can cause rapid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and liver failure in dogs and possibly other species such as ferrets.

Lollipop sticks can also cause dangerous obstructions and may even perforate the bowel if they are swallowed whole

Pumpkins, Candles and Lanterns

These can be a fire risk if they are knocked over by a wagging tail or a scared cat running past, so be wary of where they are placed around the home.

Wax from candles can also cause very nasty burns if it gets spilled on a pet’s coat.

Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are are not toxic to pets but may cause a stomach upset in pets if they are ingested, especially if the corn has been coloured or treated. 

Dressing up your pets

Halloween costumes can look great on our pets and there are certainly lots of costumes available to buy at this time of year,  but before you dress up your pet you should consider the following:

  • A pet in costume should NEVER be left alone and unsupervised.cat halloween
  • Tight elastics on the costumes can get lost in the pet’s hair, potentially causing owners to overlook them, leading to swelling and possibly pain or infection.
  • Some pets, if left alone in costume, may chew it up and eat it, which may cause an internal obstruction.
  • If the costumed pet escapes or is frightened away, the costume could entangle the pet on trees, fences, etc.
  • Try the costume on your pet before the big event to make sure he or she is comfortable in it (you can use treats as positive reinforcers)
If your pet enjoys being dressed up that’s brilliant but, if he or she looks uncomfortable or just sits/lies in one place you should remove the costume.
Castle Vets staff dogs Benny (vet nurse), Murphy (Lab tech) & Sylas (vet)

Castle Vets staff dogs Benny (vet nurse), Murphy (Lab tech) & Sylas (vet)

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Pet Diabetes Awareness Month

Pet Diabetes Month

November is National Pet Diabetes Awareness Month. 

What is pet Diabetes?

Diabetes Mellitus is a condition that affects the concentration of glucose (or sugar) in the blood, dogs and cats become diabetic when their bodies do not make enough insulin or if the body is unable to use (is resistant to) the insulin that is produced. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas, which regulates the amount of glucose in the blood. Diabetes in both dogs and cats is usually caused by a loss or dysfunction of the cells of the pancreas, meaning that it cannot produce insulin properly.

When an animal eats, the food is broken down into very small components that the body can use some of these components are converted into several types of sugars including glucose. Glucose is absorbed from the intestines into the bloodstream, it then travels to cells in the body where it can be absorbed and used as a source of energy. Insulin is responsible for converting the glucose to energy in the cells; without insulin, the glucose cannot enter the cells and just builds up in the bloodstream (hyperglycaemia). This may lead a pet to act hungry all the time and eat constantly, but still be malnourished because its cells can’t absorb glucose for use in the body.

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Georgie was diagnosed with diabetes in March 2012

Which pets are at risk of diabetes?

Diabetes affects between 1 in 100 to 1 in 500 cats and dogs. It has been diagnosed in cats and dogs of all ages, both sexes, neutered and un-neutered, and all breeds. It is, however seen more frequently in middle-aged to older pets and un-neutered bitches.
Whilst we do not know the exact cause of diabetes in pets, experts believe that it can be linked to several different factors including

  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Pre existing medical conditions; Pancreatitis and hyperthyroidism for example
  • Genetic tendencies or predisposition; certain breeds are thought to be more likely to suffer from diabetes including Poodles, Dachshunds, Miniature Schnauzers, Beagles, Dobermans, Retrievers and West Highland Terriers, but this may just be because they are more popular breeds and so are seen more often by vets. It has also been noted that Burmese cats may have a higher predisposition than any other breed.

Alfie Mace

What signs might indicate a pet has diabetes?

If your pet shows any of the following signs speak with your veterinary surgeon about the possibility of diabetes:

  • Drinking more water
  • Urinating more frequently or has “accidents” in the house especially at night
  • Always hungry or has changes in appetite with weight gain or weight loss
  • Lethargy or sleeping more
  • Thinning, dry or dull coat
  • Has cloudy eyes (cataracts)
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clinical signs of diabetes

Juvenile Diabetes

Diabetes sometimes happens in young puppies and, although we do not know the exact cause, it is thought that it may be due to autoimmune disorders or damage to the pancreas by diseases such as parvovirus. Juvenile diabetes is thought to be an inherited trait in Golden Retrievers, so genetics may also play a role in this disease.

Signs of Juvenile Diabetes

  • Improper growth, the puppy may be smaller than is normal
  • Weight loss despite a ravenous appetite
  • Weakness
  • Paralysis – sometimes seen in hind legs
How is diabetes diagnosed?

To test for diabetes the vet will thoroughly examine your pet and then examine a urine sample which will show us if any abnormalities are present, such as glucose or ketones. If the urine test shows that there is glucose and/or ketones present, then the next step is to take a blood sample from your pet. A blood sample will show the vet how much glucose is present in your pet’s blood as well as how well the other organs in your pet’s body are working, in order to rule out any other diseases or problems. A diagnosis of diabetes only becomes definite when glucose is found in the urine and at a persistently high concentration in the blood.

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urinalysis

How is diabetes treated?

Although we cannot cure pet diabetes, we can treat it successfully and many pets can lead long and happy lives providing their diabetes is kept under control. Treatment will take a lot of commitment from you as the owner, as well as regular check ups for your pet with the vet and veterinary nurse. A fixed routine for your pet is the key to successful management of diabetes and any sudden changes in diet or exercise must be avoided.

Medication – Your pet may need once or twice daily injections of insulin in order to help keep the diabetes under control. This is not as scary as it sounds and owners can be shown how to do this properly and safely by a veterinary nurse. Some diabetic cats go into clinical remission and no longer need insulin after a few weeks or months of treatment, and they can often be managed on diet alone.

Diet – What your pet eats is extremely important in the successful management of diabetes. Food has a big effect on the amount of glucose in the body and how quickly it is utilised. Your pet will need to be fed exactly the same food at the same time every day. Titbits and treats can be given but again they must be the same every day. An ideal diabetes diet is usually restricted in fat content, has a high complex carbohydrate content and is high in fibre.

Exercise – This can also have a huge impact on glucose and energy levels. As with the diet, exercise should be consistent and given at the same time each day in order to avoid sudden changes in energy or glucose requirements.

Regular monitoring – Your pet will need regular monitoring by you and your vet to ensure that the diabetes is controlled and your pet stays healthy. As well as giving any medication, you will need to monitor your pet daily for any signs that he or she is unwell. You may also be asked to regularly test your pet’s urine using a dipstick, or shown how to take pinprick blood samples from your pet in order to monitor glucose levels.

Your vet will monitor your pet by giving them health checks and taking regular blood samples in order to make sure that he or she is receiving the correct treatment at the right dose. Occasionally your pet may need a blood test called a ‘glucose curve’; this usually means that your pet stays at the veterinary practice for the day (and sometimes overnight) for a series of pin prick blood tests to check the glucose concentration in the blood every two hours. A glucose curve gives the veterinary team a really good indication of how well the insulin medication is working and helps them to change your pet’s dose if necessary.

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Medication must be given at the same time every day

Complications associated with diabetic pets
Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)

Hypoglycaemia can be caused by

  • The pet receiving a normal dose of insulin but not eating its normal quantity of food (Not eating, vomiting the meal, or having diarrhoea).
  • The pet being abnormally active or having more exercise than usual, leading to abnormally high energy (glucose) use.
  • The pet accidentally being given too much insulin by injection (human error).

Hypoglycaemia can be fatal so it is extremely important that you are able to recognise these signs which may be some or all of the following

  • Restlessness
  • Trembling or shivering
  • Unusual movements or behaviour – some animals become very quiet and may stop eating.
  • Muscle twitching
  • Coma

If your pet is showing any of the above signs, you need to act quickly and get some glucose into the pet. This can be achieved by feeding, syringing a glucose solution into the pet’s mouth or by rubbing glucose powder onto his or her gums.

Hind Leg Weakness in Cats

High concentrations of glucose in the blood may cause damage to nerves resulting in weakness and muscle wasting, usually of the hind legs.

Cataracts

High blood glucose levels cause changes in the lens of the eye and water diffuses into the lens causing swelling and disruption of the lens structure. When the lens of the eye becomes opaque, blindness results in the affected eye or eyes. Cataracts in dogs with diabetes are seen far more often than in cats with diabetes.

cataracts2

Dog with a cataract

If you would like to book a free diabetic check please contact Castle Vets on 01189 574488 to book your pet in with one of our veterinary nurses.
Free Talk at Castle Vets 

Pet Diabetes Talk

 Castle Vets Pet Healthcare Centre 

Saturday 22nd November 1:30pm – 3:00pm

If you have a pet that has been diagnosed with Diabetes or you are a pet owner who is interested in finding out more about pet diabetes then please come along to our free talk on Saturday 22nd November. Places are limited and we will not be able to accommodate anyone who has not booked, so please contact Castle Vets on 0118 9574488 to reserve your place at the talk.

More Information

For more information on pet diabetes please visit Cat & dog diabetes 

If you are not registered with Castle vets and would like to find your nearest participating vets visit My Pet Online 

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Pet Emergencies – Don’t Panic!

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We all hope our pets will never need emergency treatment, but sadly some will and emergencies will always happen at the most inconvenient time.

The first and most important thing in an emergency is to check that it is safe for you to help the animal, because you will do no good if you are injured, while trying to help. Remember that animals in pain or shock may bite, scratch or kick whoever is trying to help (even their much loved owners) because they are frightened.

  • If your pet has been involved in a road traffic accident, make sure it is safe for you to go on to the road.
  • Don’t jump into water after a pet, unless you are sure it is safe to do so.
  • If your pet has been attacked by a dog or another animal, make sure you are not going to get bitten as well.
What You Need To Do In An Emergency
  1. Check the area is safe for you
  2. If your pet is in pain and there is a danger that you may get bitten or scratched, make sure you protect yourself. How you do this will greatly depend on the type of injury or problem your pet is having; for dogs that are not having breathing difficulties, a make-shift muzzle can be made from a tie, dog lead or strong string, alternatively you can place a rolled towel (or jacket) over the dog’s neck and ears to give you a bit of a buffer. Cats and small animals can be gently wrapped in a towel or blanket to prevent scratching, if their injuries will allow.
  3. Keep calm and keep talking to your pet to reassure them
  4. Assess the problem or injuries and do what you can for your pet
  5. Contact your veterinary practice for advice, if they know you are coming they can prepare for your pet’s arrival and treatment can be started sooner. If you are phoning outside of normal hours make sure you listen carefully about where you need to take your pet; you may be directed to a different practice depending on who provides veterinary cover out of hours. At Castle Vets we are fortunate that our emergency cover from Vets Now is provided in our building.
  6. If you think you may have difficulty paying for emergency treatment don’t panic and be honest with your vet about your financial situation. Your vet will be able to put you in touch with animal charities that can help you with the treatment costs.

tie muzzle and towel wrapping

Transporting Your Pet

If your dog is able to walk or hobble, let it. Often dogs are transported less painfully, and with much less stress, if they can move themselves rather than being carried. If your dog is unable to walk and is too big to be carried by a single person, you can make a stretcher using a large towel or blanket with one person carrying each end.
For cats and small animals, it is best to place them in their carrier or a box as they will feel much more secure if they can hide away.

If you are unable to move your pet, contact your veterinary practice because they may be able to come out to you at home. Remember the quicker your pet gets to the veterinary practice, the quicker treatment can begin.

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A Few Common Pet Emergencies And How To Deal With Them

There are so many potential emergency situations that it would be difficult to list them all, but the following are some of the most common that we see. If you are in any doubt about your pet’s health contact your vet for advice as soon as possible.

Breathing problems, Coughing or Choking Breathing problem can be caused by many things including trauma, heart or lung disease, allergic reactions, cancers and foreign bodies in the throat. Breathing problems are potentially life-threatening, so contact your vet as soon as possible if your pet is having difficulty breathing

Burns – The most common burns around the home will be caused by hot liquids such as boiling water or candle wax, prolonged contact with a hot surface such as a radiator, or by flames. Occasionally a pet may suffer an electrical burn if they chew through a cable or a chemical burn from a household cleaner such as bleach. Before acting, make sure the area is safe for you.

  • For burns caused by heat; if the wound is still hot you can apply a cold compress to the wound using a clean wet towel or cloth, when the wound has cooled apply a sterile dressing to cover it.
  • For burns caused by chemicals; prevent your pet from cleaning itself and rinse the affected area with water to clean off the substance.
  • For electrical burns; ensure that the power is switched off to prevent further injury to your pet or yourself. A sterile dressing can be applied if you can see external burns but these burns are usually in and around the mouth.

In all cases contact your vet immediately so that your pet can be seen quickly because burns can often be worse than they look and there is a risk of infection.

Cystitis (Trouble passing urine) or Completely Unable to Pass Urine – If you notice your pet is having difficulty passing urine or you notice blood in the urine, make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. Cystitis is a very painful condition for any animal.

If you notice that your pet cannot pass urine at all seek veterinary advice immediately. Blocked urinary tracts can be a life-threatening emergency (this is most common in male cats).

Flystrike – This is usually a summer problem but can occur at any time of the year if it is warm enough for flies to be about. Flies lay their eggs on an animal and the maggots that hatch, then eat the flesh of the animal. Flystrike mainly affects rabbits, but it is possible for other pets to be affected too. The flies are attracted to soiled bottoms, poo and wounds and the condition is more likely to occur in overweight or poorly animals that cannot groom themselves. If you notice maggots on your pet contact your vet immediately.

Gastric dilatation and volvulus –GDV, also known as Gastric Torsion or bloat (Dogs) This is a life-threatening condition that is most commonly seen in large breed and deep-chested dogs and usually occurs a few hours after a dog has eaten. The stomach twists over on itself and distends with gas (a torsion) or in some dogs the stomach distends with gas build up but doesn’t twist (bloat). This is an emergency and your pet must be seen by the vet immediately. Symptoms can include

  • Restlessness
  • Breathing rapidly and with more effort
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting white froth or retching.
  • Enlarged/swollen abdomen
  • Pale gums
  • Collapse

Gut stasis (Rabbits) – This happens when the normal movements of the intestines either slow down or stop all together, bacteria then build up within the intestines which results in distension or bloating. Gut stasis can occur for a variety of reasons, including poor diet, stress, dehydration, pain or a problem caused by another underlying disorder or illness If it is left untreated it can quickly result in a painful death. If your rabbit stops eating or producing feces for 12 hours or more, you should consider the condition an emergency and contact your vet immediately. Symptoms of gut stasis include

  • Very small fecal pellets or a complete lack of pellets
  • In some cases, very small fecal pellets will be encased in clear or yellowish mucus.
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Not wanting to move
  • Grinding teeth (pain sign)

Poisoning – There are many things that are toxic to our pets including plants, accidentally ingested human medications, chocolate, grapes/raisins/sultanas, antifreeze, rodent poisons, pesticides etc. the list is very long! (See our previous article for more information). Paracetamol and ibuprofen are extremely toxic and often given by misinformed owners who are trying to help their pets. Permethrin, which is commonly found in many over the counter ‘spot-on’ flea treatments for dogs is also very toxic to cats and unfortunately we see many cases where these have been mistakenly applied to cats.

If you suspect that your pet has eaten something he or she shouldn’t of , or you have accidentally applied or given the wrong treatment or medicine, please contact your vet immediately for advice. Try to give your vet as much information as possible such as exactly what and how much was eaten, the time it was eaten and with medicines or treatments, what strength they were.

Road Traffic Accidents (RTAs) and Broken Bones – If you think your pet has been hit by a car, have him or her examined by a vet as soon as possible, because even if they have no external wounds they may have internal bleeding and damage.

If you suspect your pet has a broken a bone or has a head injury seek veterinary help as soon as possible.
Try not to touch or manipulate the injured area if possible and take great care when moving and transporting your pet.

Seizures (Fits) – Animals having a seizure will often collapse onto their side, start to shake using their whole body, their legs may be in motion (paddling) and they will often loose control of their bladder and bowels. Most animals recover quickly from a seizure so there is often no need to rush them to the vet immediately; although we do recommend that you call the vet to advise them of the situation and find out what you should do next. However, if you suspect that your pet has eaten something toxic or you applied a treatment prior to the seizure contact your vet immediately as they will likely want to examine your pet.

During a seizure

  • Do not attempt to move or handle your pet in any way during a fit, unless the pet is in immediate danger of further injury i,e, to close to a fire place or in danger of hitting their head on something, if necessary move any furniture out of the way to avoid further injury
  • Try to reduce mental and sensory stimulation by
    1. Making the room as dark and quiet as possible – close curtains or blinds and turn off the tv/radio.
    2. Not stroking or touching your pet – this will stimulate the brain further, possibly extending the duration of     the fit
    3. Try to time the fit if possible

Prolonged fitting is an emergency (5 minutes and longer). You should contact your vet immediately if you dog does not stop fitting within 5 minutes, as he or she may need medical help.

Vomiting and Diarrhoea – In healthy adult dogs and cats a single episode of vomiting and/or mild diarrhoea is normally not a concern. However, if your pet is having several episodes of vomiting or diarrhoea, especially if it is a puppy, kitten or older pet, or the vomit or diarrhoea contains blood, please contact your vet as soon as possible for advice.

Wounds – Wounds can happen for a variety of reasons and may be large or small, some pets may injure themselves while out and about, while others may have been bitten or scratched by another animal. Wounds on paws, ears and tails may bleed profusely and make a great deal of mess, so you will need to apply pressure to these if possible.

If the wound is dirty you can help clean it by gently pouring tepid water over the area (if your pet will let you).

Wounds can be covered with a sterile dressing and bandage from a first aid box or any clean material in an emergency. Remember not to make a bandage too tight. Make an appointment with your vet to have the wound checked so that infection can be prevented and sutures can be put in if necessary.

If the wound is bleeding you can apply pressure using some clean material or a bandage (Sanitary pads will work well in an emergency). NEVER use anything like a tourniquet to stop bleeding as this can often lead to severe tissue damage. 
Once a bandage has been put on, do not remove it to check the wound as you may remove any clots that have started to form, if blood is striking through the original dressing add another layer on top.  Seek veterinary help as soon as possible for bleeding wounds.

First Aid Kits For Pets

There are lots of first aid kits available to buy for pets from First aid kitvarious places and with various costs. They all come in fancy packaging and contain lots of interesting items, but honestly you don’t need all that fancy stuff for a basic first aid kit. In fact you probably have most of what you need in your own first aid kit at home!

What you have in your pet first aid kit is entirely up to you but the following items are good for a basic kit.

  1. Sterile Dressing Pads (i.e. Melolin) – this can be placed directly onto a wound (shiny side down)
  2. Padding Bandage (i.e. Soffban) – to go between the dressing pad and the next layer
  3. Conforming bandage (i.e. KBand) – to go over the padded layer and apply a little tension. You can also use this bandage to make a tie-muzzle if needed.
  4. Micropore Tape – Sticky tape dressing that can be used to secure dressing pads in areas that can’t be bandaged.
  5. Cohesive Bandage (i.e. Vetwrap) – sticks to itself but nothing else. Top and protective layer (optional)
  6. Gloves – Optional, but useful.
  7. Scissors – (round ended) to cut the bandages if necessary.
first aid kit clare

Basic essentials for a pet first aid kit

You can easily purchase these dressings at your veterinary practice or your local pharmacy. You can also make an appointment with your veterinary nurse who will be able to show you which dressing goes where and how to use them to ensure they are not too tight or too loose.

Other optional useful bits for a pet first aid kit could include

  • Restraining aids i.e. a dog lead and a muzzle
  • Sterile saline solution for irrigating wounds and useful if you think your pet has something in their eye (If your pet has injured it’s eye see the vet asap)
  • Digital thermometer and lubricant (KY Jelly will work) – this may be useful if you ever need to monitor your pet’s temperature. Remember that animal temperatures are taken rectally, do not put thermometers into your pet’s mouth. If you make an appointment with your veterinary nurse they will be able to show you how to take a rectal temperature reading from your pet. (alternatively you can use an ear thermometer, but if not used properly the reading may not be accurate)
  • Cotton wool
  • Latex disposable gloves
  • Blanket or space blanket.
  • Tick hook
  • Vet’s contact number and emergency vet contact number

At Castle Vets we are a host practice to Vets Now who provide emergency and out of hours veterinary cover for many practices in the Reading area; this means that our patients do not have to travel to a different veterinary practice if they need to be seen out of hours. To find out more please visit our website.

You can contact Castle Vets on 0118 9574488 to make an appointment or to speak to one of our veterinary staff. You can contact Vets Now for emergencies out of hours on 0118 959 4007.

For wildlife emergencies please have a look at the wildlife section of our website.

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Feline Hyperthyroidism

cat medical

Feline Hyperthyroidism is one of the most common diseases seen in senior cats at Castle Vets. It can occur in any breed or sex of cat, but usually occurs in cats over the age of 10 years old.

Hyperthyroidism in most cats is caused by a benign (non-cancerous) change in one or both of the cat’s thyroid glands, in rare cases it can also be caused by a malignant (cancerous) growth or change in the thyroid gland. We do not know what causes these changes to occur, but both make the thyroid gland produce excessive amounts of the thyroid hormone Thyroxine.

1 shows normal thyroid gland.  2 & 3 show the parathyroid glands.  4 shows the abnormal thyroid gland

Thyroid hormones regulate many processes within the body including metabolism, temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and bowel function. When too much thyroxine is produced the clinical signs can be quite severe, making the cat seriously ill. It speeds everything in the body up , causing the body’s energy to be used up very quickly.

Clinical signs of Hyperthyroidism

The symptoms of hyperthyroidism will vary from cat to cat. Some cats may have one or two of these symptoms while others may show several or all of the clinical signs.

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Weight loss and a poor coat

  • Weight loss
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased activity – restlessness and irritability (occasionally aggression)
  • Poor coat condition
  • Goitre – Being able to see or feel the thyroid glands in the cat’s neck
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Heat intolerance
  • Panting
  • Occasionally a cat may have the opposite of the expected symptoms – loss of appetite, depression, weakness and lethargy.
Complications of Feline Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism can have serious consequences on the cat’s heart. It causes an increased heart rate and also changes to the walls of the heart, which can lead to heart failure if left untreated.

High blood pressure (hypertension) is sometimes diagnosed at the same time as hyperthyroidism. If left untreated it can cause damage to the eyes, kidneys, heart and brain.

Kidney disease, while not caused by hyperthyroidism, is often seen at the same time because they are both common diseases in older cats.

How Hyperthyroidism is diagnosed
  • Clinical signs and history
  • Thorough examination
  • Blood tests to check the levels of thyroxine in the blood stream and to see how well the other organs in the body are functioning.
  • Other clinical tests may be performed to help rule out or identify concurrent illnesses such as kidney disease or heart disease, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG), a blood pressure test or an X-ray.
Treatment of Hyperthyroidism

The good news is that there is treatment available for cats with hyperthyroidism and if the treatment is successful the cat will quickly return to his or her normal self.

Medication – anti-thyroid drugs

These tablets help to prevent the production of the thyroid hormones and are usually given once or twice a day. They are simple to give and mean that the disease can be controlled without the need for an anaesthetic and surgery; however, they may suit all cats because a few may suffer side effects from the tablets such as inappetence, vomiting and lethargy. (Not to mention the cats who are very difficult to medicate!)

A blood test every 2-3 months is necessary to monitor the cat’s progress and ensure that the medication is effective and at the right dose.

tableting a cat

Tablets will not suit every cat

Veterinary Prescription Food – Hills y/d

This is an option that has recently become available in the UK. The special diet has very strictly controlled levels of iodine in it. Iodine is used by the thyroid gland to make the thyroid hormones so the diet ensures that there is only enough iodine content to maintain normal thyroid hormone production. This works really well for some cats and is a great alternative if the cat cannot have medication or surgery, however, the cat must be fed on this diet exclusively with no other added foods.
A blood test every 2-3 months is necessary to monitor the cat’s progress and ensure that the food is keeping the disease controlled.

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Surgery to remove the abnormal thyroid gland(s) – Thyroidectomy

This is a frequently performed operation in many veterinary practices and the removal of the abnormal thyroid gland should completely cure the disease so there would be no need for further medication. There is a slight risk with any anaesthetic and surgical procedure and this may be increased for older or unwell animals. The operation needs to be carried out by a skilled veterinary surgeon because if the parathyroid gland (which is very close to the thyroid gland) is damaged, it can upset the calcium levels in the body leading to further complications.
Most cat’s recover quite quickly from thyroidectomy surgery and are home within a few days, but they will need to be closely monitored through examination and blood tests for the following few weeks.

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Radioactive Iodine Therapy

An injection of radioactive iodine is given to the cat, which destroys the abnormal thyroid tissues but does not affect the normal thyroid tissue. No anaesthetic is required and the majority of cats only need one injection in order to cure the disease.
This treatment is, unfortunately, only available at a few veterinary specialist hospitals so there is usually a waiting list and the cost of the treatment can be quite high. Your cat will also have to stay at the practice with minimal handling, for around 4 to 6 weeks (until the radiation levels have dropped).

photo-radioactive-iodine-therapy

If you notice that you cat is showing any of the above clinical signs then please contact your vet for an appointment as soon as possible. The quicker a health problem is diagnosed, the quicker your cat can get the treatment he or she needs to get back to their usual happy self.

You can contact Castle Vets on 0118 9574488 or visit the Castle Vets website.

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Fireworks and Pets

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Remember, remember, some pets hate November!

None of us really want to think about the winter holiday season in September, but it is fast approaching and with it comes the bright lights and extreme noise of fireworks. The firework season in the UK usually starts with Diwali celebrations in late October or early November and ends on New Years Eve. There are many things that you can do to help your pet get through this season and we are here to help and advise.

Some pets are absolutely terrified of fireworks and display behaviours ranging from hiding away,  to refusing to go outside and even completely destroying items of furniture if they are left alone in the home. Every year during the firework season, the staff at Castle Vets receive many phone calls from owners about their distressed pets.

It might sound a little premature but now is the time to act if you have a pet that is worried by fireworks. The sooner you prepare your pet the easier it will be for them to cope when the season starts.

Firework fear signs
  • Hidingfireworks4
  • Trembling/shaking
  • Refusing to go outside after dark
  • Clingy behaviour
  • Barking/Meowing
  • Whining
  • Panting
  • Toileting inside
  • Destruction of household objects
How you can help your pet

1. Prevention Of Fear

If you own a young animal, this is your opportunity to prevent the bad associations to fireworks that cause so much distress to our pets. Now is the time to teach your pet that he or she has  nothing to fear from fireworks.

When the fireworks start, give your pet a tasty treat for each boom, screech, and crackle. This is not the time to be boring with your treats! Get something really good like chicken breast, frankfurters, cheese or ham (whatever floats your pet’s boat!).  You can also try engaging your dog or cat in a fun game with some new and interesting toys. These simple things not only distract your pet from the noise and lights, but it also creates a very positive association to the fireworks

“Woohoo Fireworks! Fun, treats and games!”

2. Preparation

  • Make sure your pet has a den or hiding place where he or she pet feels safe. This can be a simple as a bed behind the sofa, a blanket over a table that your pet can lie under or a large cardboard box with a bed in it. Encourage your pet to use this den in the run up to the firework season by rewarding them for being there. When your pet is in their hiding place, leave them alone.
  • Block out the firework stimulus. For indoor pets, turn up your television or radio to cover the noise of the fireworks and close the curtains or blinds before it gets dark.  For outdoor pets, provide extra bedding material so they can burrow in to it and either cover or turn the hutch around so they cannot see the flashing lights.
  • Keep pets inside after dark. Walk your dog earlier in the day and well before dark. Make sure pets are inside and cat flaps are closed.
  • Check ID Chips and Tags. Make sure your contact details are correct on tags and microchips,  just in case your pet gets frightened and runs away. You can bring your pets to the practice to have them scanned free of charge, to ensure their microchip is reading correctly.
  • Do’t leave your pets alone in the house after dark if possible

imagesFor Dogs In Particular

  • Help your pet feel sleepy and content. Sometimes feeding a higher carbohydrate diet to dogs will help them feel more sleepy and  less worried about the fireworks. Try adding some boiled rice to their food and see if it helps them. (Don’t do this if your dog has any kind of food sensitivity though)
  • Provide a distraction. Try and give your dog something else to think about such as a nice big chew or a new toy to play with. Distracting your dog with a fun game can really help them to ignore the noise outside.
  • Don’t encourage the fear. We know it is really horrible to see your pet upset by fireworks but if you stroke, cuddle and sooth them too much you may be inadvertently telling them it is right to be scared. A few strokes  or pats is absolutely fine, but if they are really anxious try to encourage them into the den or hidey place you have made.
  • Don’t try to force your dog to go outside to the toilet if he or she is scared

2. Pheromones:

These are really useful as they can help increase your pet’s feeling of security during the firework season.

  • Adaptil for dogs (available in collar, diffuser and spray format) and Feliway for cats (available as a diffuser and spray format) are both available from your veterinary practice.
  • For best effects you should start to be using these products 3-4 weeks before the expected firework season.
  • The plug in diffuser should be placed in the area your pet spends most of his or her time (usually the lounge or kitchen) and should be left switched on at all times.
  • If you are using the Adaptil collar for your dog, it needs to be reasonably tight (you should still be able to fit two fingers under it), because the dog’s natural body heat allows the collar to function properly, and it should be left on at all times.

Adaptil and Feliway
3. Medication

Some very nervous pets may require medication to help them get through the fireworks season. There are some very good non-prescription products available at veterinary practices that can help calm your pet and make him or her feel more relaxed. But each pet is an individual and will have it’s own needs, so we advise that you speak to one of our veterinary nurses before buying any over the counter medications.

4. Desensitisation:

Desensitisation to fireworks is usually achieved by playing a cd with firework sounds on it on a regular basis until your pet doesn’t react at all. Extreme care needs to be taken when using these methods because you could make the much situation worse, if  the process is not carried out properly. Desensitisation should be started at least 6 months before the firework season starts (we usually recommend people start in February).   Please do not use this method until you have spoken to a pet behaviourist or one of our veterinary nurses, who can advise you on how to implement it.

We Can Help You

You can make a free appointment to speak to one of our veterinary nurses  in person or on the phone, about how you can help your pet get through the firework season.

We can also offer advice to new pet owners on ways to prevent the fear of fireworks altogether.

Useful Links

Visit the Adaptil website for more ideas and information about making a den.

Visit the Feliway website for more information

Visit the Castle Vets website for contact information

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