Hyperthyroidism in cats

Hyperthyroidism is a relatively common disease of older cats.

Symptoms

The symptoms of hyperthyroidism in cats are; weight loss, a good appetite, increased thirst, poor coat condition (matting and increased shedding), changes in behaviour (restless or more grumpy) and some vomiting or diarrhoea. Some cats may have poor appetite.
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This disease is sometimes been overlooked because the changes are similar to the cat ‘just getting old’. It is important to realise, however, that by treating this disease you can improve both your cat‘s quality and length of life.

Hyperthyroidism is caused by a (usually) benign tumour of the thyroid gland producing excessive amounts of thyroid hormone. The thyroid glands (there are two) are situated in the throat region and the hormone they produce is important in the regulation of the body’s metabolism. Increased amounts of thyroid hormone increases the metabolic rate of the body so that energy from food is burnt off more quickly, hence weight loss and a good appetitie.

There are other effects from this over production of hormone which are not immediately apparent. The most important of these is over activity of the heart muscle (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy). The heart beats faster but less efficiently causing high blood pressure, damage to the kidneys, production of blood clots (thrombosis) and, ultimately, heart failure.

Old cats can also suffer from many other problems such as kidney failure, arthritis, dental disease etc. It is vital that we examine and test to make sure we address all the problems together.

Diagnosis

This is by blood test when we will test for any other problems as well as give a full examination.

Treatment

Medical. Pills, an oral liquid or a solution that is absorbed through the skin of the ear can be used. They all suppresss the thyroid gland‘s production of thyroid hormone. Medical treatment is relatively inexpensive and avoids the need for surgery. However, some cats are not easy to give medicines to and some cats require multiple blood tests to get the dosage correct.

Surgical. The affected thyroid gland can be removed. The unaffected gland left behind takes over the work so the cat suffers no ill effects. The advantages of this approach is that you do not have to give pills or have blood tests and the results are nearly always good. The disadvantages are that it is an operation and the cost of surgery has to be balanced against the cost of pills.

Chemotherapy. Radioactive Iodine can be given to the cat, this collects in the thyroid gland and destroys the cancerous tissue. It is usually very effective but is only carried out at specialist centres and will involve your pet being hospitalised.

Diet. The thyroid gland is dependant on Iodine in food to function and if it is severely restricted the hyperthyroidism can be cured by dietary change alone!

If you have any questions about hyperthyroidism in your cat, don’t hesitate to contact us by clicking here

Pets At Their Best

Premier Pet Health Plan: A health plan from Withy Grove Vets

We are pleased to announce that we have relaunched our Premier Pet Health Plan. This plan allows you to spread the cost of your pet’s preventative treatments over the year, automatically earning discount on these products and services as well as all the other services provided by the practice.

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We want your pet to keep living life to their best and by giving them maximum protection we take care of all the essential vaccinations, flea and worm treatments and regular health checks.

Preventative health care plans are different from insurance, we recommend all pets are insured, the Preventative Health Plan provides discount from the products not covered by insurance as well as keeping your pet as healthy as possible.

The plans are specific to the different sizes of dog, to cats and to rabbits. Each plan contains the best products, giving your pet protection against ALL the parasites and preventable diseases that we can. Some flea treatments, for example, don’t cover ticks as well, and not all worming treatments cover all the worms. However, our plan gives you products that cover it all, ‘gold standard’ if you like.

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For example, the dog plans cover the annual vaccination and health check, including kennel cough, 12 months flea, worm and tick cover, 4 free consultations with our nurses a year, a six month health check with the vet and 10% from all our other practice consultations, surgical operations, X rays etc as well as drug and diet sales.

See the example below for a medium sized dog, saving you £117 a year plus 10% off other practice visits.

Please ask a member of our team for further details

MEDIUM DOG (10-20kg as an adult)

Gold standard plan to now include Kennel Cough and Lungworm prevention.

Pay as you goPet Care Plan
Total£297.06£180.00
Health check & annual vaccination£24.95Included
Kennel cough vaccine£24.95Included
Six month health check£23.96Included
A year’s supply of prescription strength£102.96Included
worm control£67.44Included
Nurse clinics x 4 per year£52.80Included

PLUS

Plus 10% Discount Off Everything

Costing only £15.00 per month

additional £5.00 one-off set-up fee taken with first Direct Debit

Saving you up to £117.06 per year

More Views Down Our Microscope

Here are a few more views taken by Matt down our practice microscope

‘Walking Dandruff’ mites

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These little mites, which are just visible to the human eye, are also known as Cheyletiella. They are usually very itchy and produce a lot of dandruff from the irritated skin, hence the name. They are highly contagious and affect cats, dogs and rabbits. We can test for them very easily by taking a sticky tape impression from the animal’s skin and looking at it under the microscope. In rabbits they produce a thick dandruff and scale particularly on the back between the shoulder blades. They can bite humans too but can’t live on us so when they are killed on your pet (and they are usually fairly easy for us to eliminate) any itchy spots on you should go too!

Ear bacteria and wax

ear-swab-vet-preston We will often take ear swabs to be sent to an external laboratory to be cultured and give us  an idea of what antibiotic to use. However, we can get a lot of information from doing an ‘in house’ swab which we stain and look at giving you the results on the same day. This will give us an idea of if there are any ear mites, yeasts and different types of bacteria in the ear. This in turn gives us an idea what is the best ear drop to use and more importantly what type of ear cleaner to use. There are many different types of ear cleaner (as you’ve probably noticed) and  they all do different things. Some just clean the ear but others can help destroy bacteria or yeasts. If we swab your pets ear we can phone you later the same day to advise what is the best type of drop and cleaner to use.

Fleas

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Much has been written about fleas, but they do make good photos! Click here to read more on flea control at Withy Grove.

Bladder Crystals

Animals will sometimes produce crystals in the urine which cause cystitis from irritation as well as being able to ‘grow’ into bladder stones. We can identify what type they are (these ones are called struvite) and this gives us an idea of how to both prevent and treat them.

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Should you get your bitch spayed?

Here’s what you need to know about neutering your bitch.

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A bitch spay is a hysterectomy, removing ovaries and uterus under general anaesthesia. It can be performed at any age but is safer in young, thin and fit animals.

Advantages

  • Prevention of coming into season A season is messy, and attracts male dogs which can be inconvenient!
  • Pregnancy prevention – There are already too many strays, but if you wish to breed from your bitch, you should seek veterinary advice. Some breeds are more likely to have problems requiring a Caesarian Section . A bitch does not need to have a litter, she will be just as happy without one.
  • Prevention of Pyometra (womb infection) which can be fatal in older bitches.
  • Prevention of false pregnancy which can make bitches ill after a season.
  • Prevention of ovarian and uterine cancer.
  • Prevents mammary cancers (the commonest canine cancer), the risk is decreased the younger spaying is done.
  • Helps manage epilepsy and diabetes.

Disadvantages

  • Obesity
    This can occur after the operation, but ONLY if the dog is fed too much for her exercise. Spaying makes this more obvious but does NOT cause obesity. Dietary advice is free of charge from this practice and we send a reminder for a FREE weight check three months after the operation so we can check weight and give advice.
  • Incontinence
    Spaying does slightly increase the risk of urinary incontinence, however, non- spayed bitches may become incontinent as they get older (2% do). There is no evidence that timing of spaying affects whether incontinence occurs. Incontinence in older bitches is complicated, factors involved include;
  • Breed
  • Obesity
  • Hormones
  • Bladder position and other internal factors.

Timing

Spaying before the first season is easier, safer and gives maximum prevention of mammary cancer. Early neutering doesn’t harm a bitch’s later health or development. Having a litter makes NO difference to a bitch’s subsequent development.

We prefer to spay bitches either before their first season or midway between two seasons, because blood supply to the womb is then less making surgery safer.

Alternatives

There is an injection that stops a bitch coming into season.

Accidental pregnancy (misalliance)

If your bitch gets pregnant by accident, there is an injection that will stop the pregnancy. Also, in early pregnancy spaying can still be done to terminate the pregnancy.

Having your bitch spayed is a big decision. Please don’t hesitate to contact a member of the Withy Grove team and we will gladly advise you.

deomdex-mange

What is Demodex mange?

Demodex or demodicosis is a mange mite which usually infects young puppies, but can be found in any age dog and also in cats. It is a ‘cigar shaped’ mite which burrows into the hair follicles where it spends its life.

Puppies

Most adult dogs carry a few demodex mites, but when bitches are pregnant the mites become activated and, although the bitch may not show any signs, they migrate onto the puppies where they can cause bald patches and itching. These patches are usually around the head and front legs as these are the areas that come into closest contact with the bitch when the puppies are suckling.

In some puppies the patches will spontaneously get better as the puppy gets older but they can also get worse and get infected which makes them very uncomfortable.

Adults and Cats

Infection in adult dogs and cats can cause itching and infection anywhere on the body but particularly in the feet. They can be a reason why an apparently simple looking infection fails to respond to treatment. The mites are not infectious for humans.

Diagnosis

This is usually by doing a skin scrape where we scrape the top layer of skin with a scalpel blade and look for the mites under the microscope. At Withy Grove we have invested in a new camera for our microscope and can now take good photographs down it. Below is a photograph we have taken of demodex mites taken recently from an infected pet in the clinic. For deep infections sometimes a full skin biopsy is needed to get a diagnosis as the mites can be difficult to see in a skin scrape.

Treatment

In days gone by the treatments we had were few and messy but modern medicine means we can now treat this condition easily with a ‘spot on’ or pill preparation.

As always, if you have any questions about demodicosis or its treatment, please ask one of our team or e mail us on info@withygrovevets.co.uk.

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Love Your Pet, Dog Biscuits and Staff Exams!

Two dates for your diary later this month. The first is Love Your Pet Day which is held every year on 20th February. This is the day to spoil your pet be it cat, dog, rabbit, guinea pig, bird, tortoise or anything else! This day was set aside to help us appreciate our furry, or not so furry, friends. So remember on Monday February the 20th to give your pet an extra cuddle or treat.

Waiting to be appreciated.

Waiting to be appreciated.

Following quickly on the heels of this is International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day. Yes! there is a day to celebrate this on 23rd February. Dog biscuits were ‘invented’ in the mid 19th century when an American manufacturer, James Spratt came to England and visited Liverpool. Here he saw stray dogs eating ship’s biscuits on the quayside. He came up with the idea of a specific dog biscuit, called ‘Spratts Biscuits’ initially made in London using a secret recipe including both meat and vegetables. As the years have gone by biscuits for dogs have been subjected to massive amounts of research to make the wide choice of  palatable, healthy biscuits and treats we have today. So celebrate, get your dog an extra treat on 23rd February, and don’t forget the cats!

Waiting for a biscuit.

Waiting for a biscuit.

On a slightly more serious note, three of the Withy Grove Team will be taking important exams this spring. Beki and Olwyn are sitting exams for the Animal Nursing Assistant (ANA) exam. This is a useful course on its own but it can also be used as a stepping stone to taking the full Veterinary Nurse (VN) qualification. Suanne will be sitting the final exam of her Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Certificate of Advanced Veterinary Practice (AVP) which will qualify her to be an Advanced Practitioner in surgery. On top of this we have two Veterinary Nursing Students doing their placements with us, Charlotte and Emma who you may well meet on your visits to the surgery.

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February is National Pet Dental Health Month!

February is National Pet Dental Health Month (NPDHM). We should be looking after our pet’s dental health as well as we do our own all the time but February is a time to take stock and make sure we are doing the best we can. It is estimated that up to 80% of cats and dogs over the age of 3 have some form of dental disease. This is due to many factors, lack of tooth cleaning, diet, treats and shape of the mouth are some of them.

We can scale and polish teeth, removing any diseased ones.

We can scale and polish teeth, removing any diseased ones.

Pets mouths suffer from the same problems as our own, and regular cleaning is essential to keep the gums and teeth healthy. This will avoid pain, smelly breath and eating problems but also poor mouth hygiene can allow bacteria to get into the blood stream and these can settle out in other organs and cause problems, some of which can be quite serious. For instance, bacteria from dental disease can cause heart and lung problems as well as kidney infection.

Tooth brushing is the best way to keep on top of your pet’s teeth, but it isn’t always easy and if your pet resents it a lot it can cause stress to both you and your cat or dog. There are many other clever ways of helping, most are not as good as brushing but they all help. So there are tooth cleaning biscuits such as Hills T/D, chews and mouth washes, also a solution you add to your pet’s water and various gels which act as a mouth disinfectant. The important thing is to find a combination that you and your pet find easy to do and which is also effective.

Don’t forget rabbits, guinea pigs and other species can also get dental problem.

Free Dental Health Check Up!

Here at Withy Grove we have always offered a FREE dental check up where we can examine your pet’s mouth and talk about ways to keep it clean. You can take advantage of this complimentary service at any time but February is a good time to assess what you are doing. If you would like to make an appointment you can do so here, or give us a ring on 01772 330103. We also have a page on our website discussing Dental care in more detail, you can access it here.

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Poisons Put Preston Pets in Peril, As 95% of Vets Report Cases

It is important for pet owners to guard against poisoning perils.

The British Veterinary Association’s (BVA) Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey (a biannual survey of vets and vet students) showed 95% of North West companion animal vets had seen cases of ingestion of poisons or other toxic incidents over the last year.

Across the UK, vets saw on average one case of poisoning every month, with chocolate (89%), rat poison (78%) and grapes (60%) the most common poisons that vets had treated.

Other poisons involved in the cases vets had seen included:

  • Human non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as high-dose aspirin (57%)
  • Antifreeze (47%)
  • Lilies (43%)
  • Slug pellets (41%)
  • Accidental overdose of prescribed veterinary medicines (34%)
  • Inappropriate application of permethrin (flea treatment) (30%)
  • Paracetamol (26%)
  • Adder bites (21%)
  • Mouldy food (10%)
  • Detergent (10%)
  • Blue green algae (8%)
  • Other medicines, such as antidepressants or nicotine products (9%)
  • Recreational drugs (4%)

Sleeping Dog

Other less common cases involved xylitol poisoning from chewing gum, poisoning from wild mushrooms and fungi, as well as horse worming products ingested by dogs.

Veterinary practices are joining forces with BVA and the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) to alert owners to the risks of poisons to pets and offer advice about how to protect pets and what to do if they suspect their animal has been poisoned. AWF’s ‘Pets and Poisons’ leaflet is available to download at http://www.bva-awf.org.uk/pet-care-advice/pets-and-poisons .

Vets know that sometimes owners can take every precaution and accidents still happen.

BVA President Gudrun Ravetz said:

“These findings from BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey show how common

incidents of pet poisoning are and underline that owners must be vigilant especially with

prying pets. The top five poisoning cases seen by vets include foods that are not toxic to

humans but which pose a significant risk to pets such as dogs, like chocolate and grapes,

alongside other toxic substances such as rat poison and antifreeze. Owners can take steps

to avoid both perils – keep human food away from and out of reach of pets and make sure

other toxic substances and medicines are kept securely locked away in pet-proof containers

and cupboards.”

Withy Grove Veterinary Clinic has access to the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) which provides 24-hour advice for veterinary professionals on the diagnosis and management of poisoned animals.

If you suspect your pet may have ingested or come into contact with any harmful substance you should contact us immediately on 01772 330103 for advice.

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Other things which may be poisonous to pets include;

  • Chocolate and liquorice (common Christmas gifts)
  • Raisins and sultanas (used in Christmas cake recipes)
  • Certain nuts (especially peanuts and Macadamia nuts)
  • Xylitol-sweetened foods
  • Onions, avocados and grapes
  • Alcohol
  • Plants including lilies (and daffodils)
  • Cleaning and DIY products such as white spirit and lubricating oils
  • Car anti-freeze
  • Human medicines

Substances with low toxicity that could cause drooling, vomiting or diarrhoea include:

  • Blu-tack or other similar adhesives (used to put up decorations)
  • Charcoal and coal
  • Cut-flower and houseplant food
  • Expanded polystyrene foam (used for present packing)
  • Holly, mistletoe and poinsettia (common Christmas plants/decorations)
  • Matches
  • Wax candles and crayons
  • Silica gel (found in packaging)
christmas pet risks

Christmas risks for pets

Keep that yule log far away from your dog!

Christmas truly is a wonderful time of the year. Families come together, to feast and laugh, and continue traditions through generations with our furry friends by our side. We often have a huge array of delicious yuletide treats that have been a part of Christmases for generations in our family, and would be sorely missed if omitted from the table.

Whilst it’s a struggle to refrain from ‘just one more’ Christmas treat ourselves, it’s even harder to resist our pet’s puppy dog eyes, but we all must. Many ingredients commonly used in Christmas cooking can be really dangerous for animals, and can lead to severe illnesses and on the most unfortunate occasions, fatalities. Alarmingly, the RSPCA has reported in previous years that roughly 25% of pet owners intended to “treat” their pet to a full Christmas dinner!

Christmas Dinner

A regular feature on a Christmas table is turkey, which frequently causes animals stomach upsets if consumed. Turkey is a very rich meat, and even in small amounts can lead to stomach cramping and diarrhoea, but more importantly watch out for turkey bones and carcass. Turkey bones are brittle, and often splinter and shatter as opposed to crumbling into edible pieces. This makes them a real danger to pets, as shards of bone can get caught in animals’ mouths or digestive tracts and can require surgery for removal.

Another common Christmas food to keep well away from your animal is stuffing. Stuffing almost always contains garlic and onion, both of which are poisonous to cats and dogs and cause severe stomach upsets. They also contain toxins that attack your animal’s red blood cells which can lead to anaemia, so make sure you keep this out of their bowl as well.

Lots of people ask us about chocolate. Chocolate being poisonous to dogs is not a myth – it is certainly poisonous, and can have some really nasty effects on your dog. It can lead to tremors, seizures, and fatalities. Whilst Christmas is often a time for us to indulge in choccy treats, you need to be really careful to keep chocolate out of your pet’s reach.

Alcohol

Alcohol also needs to be added onto the list. The negative effect of alcohol on our animal’s body is not known about enough. Animals aren’t able to metabolise alcohol in the same way as humans, making it potentially deadly. Pets, especially cats, are often drawn to milky alcoholic drinks such as Baileys or egg nog which are often seen at Christmas time, so due care needs to be taken to make sure that they are only enjoyed by humans.

At Withy Grove, we offer a huge range of animal friendly treats, which can be given in place of dangerous Christmas foods. With these treats and following the above guidelines on Christmas snacks, you can make sure you have a jolly Christmas and keep your furry friends happy and healthy.

If you’d like any more information on food safety for your animals, don’t hesitate to pop into the Withy Grove practice, or call our friendly team on 01772 330103. It could be a question that saves your pet’s life.