9 things you didn’t know about fleas

  1. Fleas don’t fly. Fleas are wingless (and therefore flightless) insects. Fleas are also very thin and can navigate through cat’s hair with ease.
  2. Fleas can jump 6 inches straight up. Although small in stature, adult fleas are still capable of jumping approximately 6 inches vertically. Whether your cat is walking outside, hanging out in your home, or visiting the kennel or groomer, all the flea has to do is jump on for a ride as the cat passes by. Cats can also be infested by exposure to other pets, stray animals, pet sitters and wildlife as the flea leaps from one to another.
  3. Fleas lay lots of eggs. It only takes one flea to cause an infestation. That’s because a single female adult flea can lay up to 50 eggs in one day.
  4. Fleas can drink 15 times their body weight in blood each day. Adult fleas are voracious blood-feeders, meaning they use the infested cat’s blood as their food source. This can cause the cat to become anaemic (low red blood cell volume). Since red blood cells carry oxygen around the body, blood loss means decreased oxygen to their muscles and major organs such as the brain and heart. For these reasons, anaemia may result in weakness and even death in extreme circumstances.
  5. Fleas can cause itching. Fleas affect cats in several ways, and every cat is different. Often the first symptom to be recognized by cat owners is excessive itching, biting, or scratching. Fleas jumping and moving around on the cat’s hair and skin cause irritation. As a result, you may see patches of hair loss or redness from scratching, which may become more evident as more hair is lost
  6. A single flea can cause flea allergy dermatitis. In some cats, it only takes one flea to cause a severe allergy known as flea allergy dermatitis, which can result in severe itching and scratching, hair loss, and redness
  7. Fleas can spread disease and parasites. Fleas can transmit bacterial diseases such as rickettsia, mycoplasma, tularaemia, and bartonella. They can also transmit parasites when feeding from cats or if swallowed, including intestinal parasites like tapeworms.
  8. Check your cat’s belly for fleas. Live, adult fleas are visible. Typically, they are best seen on less-haired areas of a cat’s body, such as their stomach, where you may see the brown/black fleas jumping quickly through your cat’s hair. Additionally, “flea dirt” may be detected when closely examining your cat’s coat. It’s essentially a flea’s faecal matter after digesting their blood meal. It appears as brown pepper-like specs in the fur.
  9. Flea eggs can land anywhere and everywhere. Here’s one last unsettling fact about fleas. Once a female flea lays her eggs, they almost immediately fall off onto carpeting, furniture, beneath cushions, or between cracks in wood flooring, as well as wherever your cat sleeps or rests. Therefore, a comprehensive flea-control plan is essential and needs to include treating both your cat and their environment to eliminate current infestations and prevent subsequent re-infestation.

Pet emergency care

Vet holding a syringe.

Diabetes

Diabetes is estimated to affect 1 in 150 cats, and 1 in 200 dogs in the UK, although it may be under-diagnosed. In both species it’s said to be on the increase.

Diabetes is exceedingly rare in Guinea pigs and rabbits. Obesity is thought to be the major cause of these isolated cases so keeping your small pet a healthy weight is ideal. A high proportion of Chinese hamsters are born with a genetic predisposition to develop diabetes.

We will concentrate on dogs and cats within this whistle-stop tour of diabetes. Although there is no cure, treatments for cats and dogs do exist.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is caused by a lack of the hormone insulin, or a lack of response to it. Insulin is produced by the pancreas and released into the blood after food. It allows glucose released into the bloodstream to be taken up by cells in the body and used for energy as well as keeping blood glucose levels steady. Lack of insulin, or lack of response to it, means cells will not be able to use glucose efficiently for energy and blood glucose levels increase (hyperglycaemia). There are two main types of diabetes, and dogs and cats suffer it quite differently.

  • Type-1 diabetesis the most common type seen in dogs and is due to failure to produce enough insulin. This is often because of irreversible damage to pancreatic cells by the immune system, but can be due to long-term inflammation of the pancreas, or end stage type 2 diabetes. It’s commonly called ‘insulin dependent’ as pets require insulin injections for successful treatment.
  • Type-2 diabetes, most common in cats, occurs due to a combination of reduced insulin production, and insulin resistance (where cells do not respond normally to insulin). Over time the pancreatic cells become exhausted or destroyed which ends in type-1 type diabetes, often the stage of diagnosis. There is a link between chronic pancreatitis and diabetes in cats.

Pets can suffer insulin resistance due to the effect of hormones, such as excess production of cortisol in Cushing’s disease in dogs, excess growth hormone production in cats, or progesterone in un-neutered female dogs. Unspayed females are twice as likely to become diabetic. Certain medication such as glucocorticoids can also cause resistance. In cats, insulin resistance is often due to obesity, which can increase chances of diabetes 4-fold.

In hamsters, diabetes appears to be related to an increased demand for insulin, exhaustion of supplies then a decrease in pancreatic cell mass causing a deficiency in insulin.

What signs might my pet have?

Diabetic animals will urinate more and subsequently drink more to make up for lost fluid. As the energy in food is not used efficiently, pets will be hungrier but lose weight. Most animals develop cataracts. As cells are starved of energy, fat is changed into ketone bodies, an emergency fuel, creating by-products that can make animals extremely sick. This late stage is known as diabetic ketoacidosis and is fatal if not treated. These pets will be lethargic, have a poor appetite and may vomit.

How is diabetes diagnosed?

Diagnosis is done by simply looking for high levels of glucose in the blood and urine alongside the classic signs. In cats and other species, stress can cause high blood glucose. In cats, if in doubt, there is another lab test that looks at average glucose levels over the previous few weeks. Other tests to look for associated issues may be needed.

How is diabetes treated?

Insulin

Most pets need twice-daily injections of insulin under the skin. Although this may sound scary, the needles are small, unnoticed by the pet, and are easy to give with practice and teaching. Some owners use an insulin pen, which makes it even easier. The dose is adjusted depending on your pet’s signs, urine, and blood results. It’s important to give the dose accurately as an overdose can cause an extremely dangerous, sometimes fatal, drop in blood glucose. Diabetic pets that show weakness or a drunken appearance immediately need sugar delivered orally followed by veterinary assessment.

Diet

Diet can help enormously in diabetic control. Recommended diets for cats and dogs are quite different. A high-protein and low-carbohydrate diet is now thought most beneficial for cats. High-protein diets increase their sensitivity to insulin and cause less of a glucose spike after eating. Dealing with obesity is vital given the link with diabetes. In dogs we know stability in feed type and timing is vital. Type of carbohydrate is important and there is a debate about optimal fibre levels. Sticking to prescription diets recommended by your vet is the best idea.

If your pet is really sick, they may require investigations and treatments as an inpatient. Pets may need tests for other related conditions such as Cushing’s disease if they do not respond to insulin as expected. If you have a female unspayed dog, then neutering will need to happen as soon as possible. Medications that may be impacting their sugar levels will need to be reviewed.

For hamsters, feeding a high-protein, low-sugar, low-fat diet, may help to prevent and control diabetes to a certain extent.

The outlook

Treatment requires a huge time and financial commitment.

Without treatment diabetes is eventually fatal. However if caught early and stabilised well, diabetics can have a good quality and quantity of life. If poorly controlled, diabetics can have a much-reduced lifespan and suffer complications that do impact on quality of life.

If diabetes is managed well initially in cats, irreversible damage can be limited and, once rested, the pancreas MAY recover so remission is possible, with occasional cats not needing insulin long-term. This is rare. For dogs, other than with un-neutered females where neutering can occasionally lead to a remission of diabetes, dogs will need insulin injections forever.

 

Older Golden Retriever Dog being petted.

Arthritis in dogs

Arthritis (also known as osteoarthritis, or OA) is an extremely common, painful disease that affects about 25 % of dogs. It doesn’t matter if the dog is young or old, big or small, purebred or mixed.

Unfortunately, OA is a painful, progressive disease that cannot be cured. But the good news is that pain can be managed with a prescription course, and your dog can be made more comfortable. We’re learning more every day about canine OA. So, let’s start with what’s known to-date about osteoarthritis.

‘Osteo’ means ‘bone,’ ‘arthra’ means joint, and ‘itis’ means inflammation. Altogether, osteoarthritis is an inflammatory condition of one or more joints. OA is a result of poor joint structure from birth, traumatic injury or, most commonly, normal wear and tear on the joints as the dog ages. Obesity can contribute to OA pain or make it worse.

What are the signs and symptoms of arthritis in dogs?

  • Limping or lameness.
  • Stiff gait, likely to be worse after exercise and when first waking up.
  • Groaning or caution when laying down or getting back up.
  • Wary of you touching the joints affected.
  • Muscle wasting.
  • Tiredness.
  • Irritability.

The pain of OA is progressive: without intervention, it will worsen over time. But there are pain-management medicines made just for dogs. Most commonly, we will prescribe a canine nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Alternative treatments can be used including hydrotherapy which can ease pain. This will be discussed by your vet.

Bottom line: Your dog’s pain can be relieved. Remember, your dog’s history is key to determining an effective treatment plan, and YOU know a lot about your dog.

 

Rabbit and Osteoarthritis

Understanding Rabbit Mobility Issues – Osteoarthritis

 

Just like their human owners rabbits can develop mobility problems as they age with one of the most common being Osteoarthritis. It is important to note, however, that whilst osteoarthritis is more frequently seen in older rabbits it can also occur in younger rabbits.

Osteoarthritis is a painful and progressive disease that causes inflammation, stiffness, and pain in the joints and can have a significant impact on mobility. Unlike dogs and cats, due to the fact they are prey animals, rabbits will often hide pain until it becomes overwhelming; as a result of this arthritis in rabbits is frequently missed.

 

Rabbits are more at risk of osteoarthritis if: 

  • They have had a previous injury affecting one or more joints
  • They are overweight
  • They are considered a ‘giant breed’ (e.g. Flemish Giant, Giant French-Lop)
  • They are genetically predisposed to joint problems

 

One of the first signs that your rabbit may be suffering from OA can simply be that they appear to be ‘slowing down’; they may sleep more, or perhaps they’re just not as active as they once were. Other signs that your rabbit may be suffering from OA may include some (or all) of the following:

  • You may notice your rabbit keeps getting a dirty back end especially underneath or around the tail region. Due to stiffness and discomfort, osteoarthritis may prevent your rabbit from cleaning themselves adequately.
  • You may notice urine soaked fur around the rear end, underneath the tail and between the hind legs. This can occur if Osteoarthritis prevents your rabbit from getting into the correct position to urinate and can cause pain and inflammation in areas of skin that are exposed to the urine (known as urine scalding).
  • Your rabbit may begin to develop knots/tangles in areas of fur where they cannot comfortably reach to groom themselves – this may be more pronounced in breeds with long fur.
  • Your rabbit may appear to limp, show signs of stiffness or ’wobbliness’; this is often worse after they have been lying down.
  • Your rabbit may appear to have difficulty jumping on or off raised areas that they previously had no issue with.
  • Litter trained rabbits may have difficulty getting into or out of their litter trays.
  • Your rabbit may generally seem to be less active/move around less, especially when the weather is cold and/or damp.
  • Your rabbit may develop a reduced appetite.

If your rabbit shows any of the above symptoms it is important to get them checked out by your vet as soon as possible. It is also important to remember that some of the signs mentioned are not specific to osteoarthritis and can also occur in other disorders that may affect your rabbit. Once your vet has confirmed that your rabbit is suffering from osteoarthritis they may prescribe pain relieving medication.  There are also lots of simple changes you can implement at home to help make life more comfortable for your rabbit. Your vet can discuss this with you at your appointment.

 

Cat abscesses

Even if cat’s are best buds they sometimes like to release their inner Mike Tyson! But fighting cats can turn into biting cats, and those bites can easily get infected with bacteria and turn into skin infections and abscesses. Here’s what you need to know about cat bite abscesses and how to treat them.

The basics of cat bite abscesses

When one cat sinks their tiny razor-sharp teeth into another cat, they make a puncture wound that leaves bacteria from the mouth deep into the skin and muscles. The skin rapidly heals over, leaving the bacteria to multiply and infect the deeper tissues. The result is often an abscess, which is an infected wound that can swell up, ooze pus and even burst. Abscesses are very painful for cats and can cause a fever.

If the cat is fighting with a cat that is infected with certain diseases, such as feline leukaemia virus or rabies, they are also at risk for getting those diseases.

It’s not easy to find a bite wound or abscess under all that fur, and the early warning signs are subtle. But here are some symptoms to watch out for:

  • Skin irritation/redness
  • A bald spot or matted fur
  • A lump or swollen area
  • Limping (if the bite wound is on a leg)
  • Hissing, scratching, or biting when being petted
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Excessive grooming
  • An unusual odour

Where cat bites show up

Cats typically bite each other in the head/neck, forelegs, or on the back legs. If you’re cat is limping then it would be a good idea to cautiously check your cat for a wound.

Treating cat bites and abscesses

The bite area needs to be examined and cleaned, and your cat might need antibiotics, pain medication, or possibly even surgery if the wound is serious enough. Earlier veterinary treatment typically results in the best outcome for your cat. This is unfortunately not something that will go away on it’s own.

How to prevent your cat from being bitten

Neutering your cat can decrease the possibility of them being bitten, but it may still happen because cats are territorial and will fight to defend their property. If your cat is an outdoor cat, or goes outdoor, then you will unfortunately always have a risk of your cat being bitten in a fight.

If you suspect your cat may have an abscess or an injury always call us immediately for advice.

Cat leaning on a dog.

Arthritis

Arthritis is where one or multiple joints are inflamed and painful – something which is most commonly due to aging. It’s not just our pet dogs that are affected either; in one study 90% of cats over the age of 12 had signs of osteoarthritis on x-ray.

How do I know if my pet has arthritis?

Early signs can be very subtle. Your pet might not want to walk as much, could be slowing down generally, or have difficulty getting up from lying down. Cats may have difficulty jumping or seem more lethargic than normal. In the later stages you may see your pet noticeably limping or vocalising in pain when moving the affected joint.

We don’t have to just let this happen. There are many easy ways to prevent this occurring in your pet, and also ways to help them stay comfortable if they already have the condition.

1) Joint supplements

  • These have ingredients that help with normal joint repair and function. It is best to choose a comprehensive supplement that contains multiple ingredients proven to help the joints.
  • In the early stages of arthritis this may be enough to control the disorder alone.
  • It may also help prevent the problem occurring and is worth starting from an early age if you want to do all you can.

2) Pain relief

  • If joint supplements alone aren’t enough, then consider adding in pain relief.
  • Ideally this is a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID). These reduce inflammation in the joint.
  • Other medications can also be added if this isn’t enough.

3) Physiotherapy

  • It is good to keep the muscles around the affected areas active and strong. This helps to keep the joint in shape and takes some of the pressure off it.
  • Continue walks with your dog, but reduce the frequency or stop your dog running as much if they are often sore afterwards.
  • If you can, try hydrotherapy or physiotherapy with a specialist. Swimming helps your pet use and grow their muscles, whilst not putting pressure on the joint and worsening the disease. Your vet will be able to advise on local contacts.

4) Weight management

  • Ideally your pet should be a normal weight as excessive weight will predispose them to arthritis.
  • If your pet has arthritis, then keeping them slightly underweight is ideal. Weight adds pressure to the joints and worsens the disease.

Arthritis in our pet’s, just like in humans, can be painful and change the way our lives are shaped. For our four legged friends, they can’t always tell us what is wrong. If you suspect your pet may have arthritis then please do get in touch. There are many ways we can help your pet!

 

Flop eared Rabbit.

Fly strike

Summer is when our pet rabbits love the warmer climate and longer days this brings. Unfortunately so do flies with the warmer months being their prime breeding season. The larvae they produce can actually be deadly to our pets, which is why we’ve outlined steps on how to keep your pet bunny safe!

What is Fly Strike?

Flies naturally lay their eggs in warm, moist conditions in piles of faeces or rotting material. These eggs hatch into maggots within days, which then start eating their surroundings. If your bunny has any faecal material stuck to their fur then this can be a perfect site for the flies to lay their eggs. Once the maggots have eaten the faecal material they will then start burrowing into your rabbit’s skin – something that will be extremely painful within a short matter of days. At best this often requires surgery to fix by flushing the maggots out. At worst it can cause severe infections and death.

How do I prevent Fly Strike?

Luckily Fly Strike is easy to keep on top of! Just follow the steps below:

Examine your rabbit routinely

    1. It is good to get into the practice of handling, picking up and examining your pet rabbit.
    2. You can check for any faecal material this way. The rear is a commonly affected site, and is impossible to examine unless your rabbit is picked up.
    3. It is recommended to check your rabbit all over ideally daily during the hotter months.

 

Clean your rabbit

    1. If you notice any faecal material, remove it straight away.
      1. Ideally this should be done by your vet/vet nurse, as rabbit skin is very thin and easy to damage.
      2. If you attempt to remove it yourself then do not use electric clippers. Use blunt ended scissors and go very slowly.
      3. You can wash small areas of faeces off with warm water. Ensure you dry your rabbit thoroughly afterwards, as flies like moist environments.
    2. This is especially important in rabbits who do not have a companion, or are overweight. Both of these reduce the chance of your rabbit being able to clean itself properly.

Apply preventative fly repellents

      1. These repel flies from laying eggs and you should only need to use them during the hotter months.
      2. Rearguard is the licensed preventative for fly strike. It will repel flies for up to 10 weeks once applied.
      3. You can use insecticide sprays too, however these are not guaranteed to prevent the condition.

Follow the above steps and your pet bunny should be safe from Fly Strike! If you ever think your pet has the condition then contact us immediately so they can help you get your bunny the treatment they need.

 

BBQ dangers