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Oct 30, 2019

Did you know that a group of twenty cats is called a clowder? Or that a cat was the mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska for 15 years. Or perhaps, that adult cats only “meow” to communicate with humans. Or maybe this one, “Cats are liquid because they can fit anywhere.” Fun facts, yes, but aspects of cats that are fascinating and enigmatic. Cats are creatures that amaze us as much as baffle us at time with their behaviors, patterns, and personalities. So, what does this have to do with your indoor kitty and its health? Simple. Cats are mysterious but making sure they live long healthy lives both indoor and out doesn’t have to be.

Cats are good communicators. They will let you know when they are hungry or when you need to clean the litter box, but they are also good deceivers. Cats tend to hide when they are in pain or uncomfortable. Many cats in need of a dental cleaning will still eat dry food despite a cracked tooth or possible mouth infection. Sometimes your kitty will begin to urinate slightly more or groom slightly less, a habit that appears benign, but could be an indicator of kidney disease or skin issues. Much like us, cats do not want to burden their owners and will continue with the status quo when they have an ailment. The best way to keep your kitty healthy and to show them you care is with a yearly or semi-annual visit to the vet.


At the exam, your kitty will get vaccinations, an overall body condition examination, and an annual bloodwork & fecal screening. I know what you’re thinking, my kitty doesn’t appear unhealthy, why is this important every year? Well, we’ll break down each of these areas to explain why the annual is the kindest and best medicine for your furry friend.

First, we’ll look at vaccinations. The core vaccines, vaccines recommended to be updated regularly, for kitties are FDRCP and Rabies. FDRCP covers the following viruses: Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia (feline Distemper). All of these viruses are airborne and if not treated properly can cause severe illness, even death. A cat can catch these viruses at any age, during any time of the year. Being indoor doesn’t protect your pet from these viruses but being vaccinated yearly does. The Rabies vaccine is legally required for all pets in Franklin County. Going beyond that - if your pet was ever to escape your home via an open window or unaware maintenance person, having them vaccinated would give them some protection from encounters with rodents, such as raccoons, or unvaccinated cats.

Second, we consider the overall body condition exam. We love our kitties and sometimes that love may look like an extra helping of treats or the occasional piece of bacon on the sly. The best way to know if we’re showing our kitties the proper love is to know where they are at physically, by having a veterinarian thoroughly evaluate them. Then we as owners can be the cheerleaders of their health. Is your kitty’s coat shiny and clean? Do they vomit hairballs? Do they play a lot or are they sleepy a lot? Do they drink a lot of water? Has any of this changed with them in the last week or month or year? These are questions we may not ask ourselves about our indoor cat, but a veterinarian will consider these when checking them over. Many indoor cats are overweight due to inactivity and diet, which can lead to diabetes. Some indoor cats have undiagnosed health conditions associated with vomiting, or their skin, or their bathroom habits. Tracking them every 6-12 months with a vet visit, helps document their weight, physical appearance, and overall well-being in a way that will help you as the owner determine if they need medical or environmental intervention.


Third, and finally, is the importance of bloodwork and fecal screenings for our indoor friends. Remember earlier in this article, when I said, “Cats are liquid.” Well maybe, you’ve heard this one, “still waters run deep.” Cats are still waters, meaning they won’t tell you if something is going on internally. A physical exam can only go so far, but bloodwork and fecal testing will give you some indicators of diseases or conditions within the body or parasites in the stool. Bloodwork looks at kidney, thyroid, and liver function, chemistries for the body, and blood counts. It creates baselines, maps of how your kitty ages and how their body changes. Fecal screenings let us know if there is a parasite in your kitty’s stool from eating something off your shoe or off the carpet, unbeknownst to you the owner. These diagnostics allow you to treat you cat with proper medicine if problems arise and help keep them the healthiest they can be without making them feel like a burden.

So, what have we learned today friends, other than cats are awesome and can hold office? We as the owners have the power to do the kindest thing for our pets and the kindest thing can be the simplest thing, yearly exams for our indoor kitties. Whether you have one or a clowder, one visit a year can make all the difference in keeping them healthy so they can keep entertaining and mystifying us for years to come.


August 16, 2019

How does your pet speak to you? Is it a bark when they’re happy or meow when they’re hungry? Possibly your pet brings you a favorite toy for you to enjoy. At night, when you’ve had a long day, does your pet cuddle up next to you and remind you that you are loved? Your pet is there for you when you need them, but do you hear everything they’re saying? Do you always know when something is wrong? Our pets are fantastic communicators but sometimes our furry friends can’t tell us with a look or wiggle about what is important regarding their health. When your dog or cat can’t “speak” you have an opportunity to be the loudest voice for them and their health through Wellness Blood Screenings.

What are Wellness Blood Screenings you are probably asking? Wellness Blood Screenings are a series of tests that help to create baselines for a pet’s yearly bloodwork and can help detect subtle changes in your pet’s health and can potentially assist in the diagnosis and treatment of various diseases. Without annual screenings, 1 in 7 adult pets, 1 in 5 senior pets, and 2 in 5 geriatric pets remain undiagnosed for conditions and diseases that could have potentially been treated proactively. Therefore, it is paramount to include annual screenings along with annual vaccines when our furry friend comes in for a yearly exam.

What are these tests screening for you may wonder? Let’s delve further into each test and what information is revealed to the doctor.

Complete Blood Count or a CBC, is a test that measures the type of cells and components that make up a sample of blood. The types of cells and components that are being evaluated are Red Blood Cells, White Blood Cells, Hemoglobin, Hematocrit, and Platelets. This test can distinguish the size, shape, volume, and development stages of the cells in the blood. But what is the importance of the different cells and components?

Red blood cells (RBCs) carry oxygen to the body and when the doctor evaluates the RBCs they are looking for the number present in the blood. If a low count of RBCs is noted it can be indicative of anemia (lower than normal count of cells) or other issues.

Hemoglobin (HB or Hgb) is a protein that helps attach oxygen to RBCs allowing the RBCs to deliver oxygen to the body. If there are abnormalities seen, it may be sign of oxygen depleted blood, and another indicator of anemia.

Hematocrit (Hct) determines the percentage of RBCs to the plasma, fluid component, in your blood. Dependent upon the level of hematocrit it may indicate to a doctor if a pet is dehydrated or malnourished, among other diagnoses.

Platelets are the component in the blood that contributes to clotting. When a doctor looks at platelet count, variations may indicate more serious conditions like cancer.


Chemistries using blood serum help the doctor to assess organ function. The chemistries look at kidney and liver function, blood proteins, thyroid hormone levels, glucose, and electrolytes in the blood. Each of these areas can be an indicator of a healthy pet or a pet in need of diet change, medication, or more stringent care.


Urinalysis is a test that includes many components that allow the doctor to determine if inflammation or infection is present in the urinary bladder. It can also let the doctor know how well the kidneys are concentrating the urine, if crystals (which can form bladder stones) are present, if the urine has a higher concentration of glucose, or if bacteria are present.

Each of these tests focuses on a distinct part of the inside of your pet and let’s the veterinarian obtain an accurate picture of your pet’s health. Without them, baselines are not created in your pet’s medical history, and crucial information about their internal care may be missed. It is the most effective way to provide whole body care for your furry loved one.

Wellness Blood Screenings are easy and can be done at every annual visit. So next time your pup or kitty looks in your eyes, know they are saying “Thank you” for being their advocate when it comes to their present and future health with Wellness Blood Screenings. They know you love them; Wellness Blood Screenings are just another way of “speaking” it.

Authors: Liz Thomas, RVT and Molly Hafer


July 19, 2019


Part of owning a pet, aside from loving your pup or kitty, and providing them a nurturing home, healthy diet, and stimulating environment, is providing for their physical well-being with semi-annual or annual exams.  At these appointments, your furry friend is given a full health check-up, vaccines are updated, and a heartworm test is performed, with pats and treats included.  But some owners may leave their veterinary office wondering, “what are heartworms, how does my pet get heartworm disease, and why is it important for my pet to be screened yearly and treated monthly to prevent this disease?”  Today we are going to delve into these questions to better understand the causes and reasons for protecting your pet from heartworms.    


 

The “What” of Heartworms  

 

Heartworms, or Dirofilaria Immitis, are internal parasites that can infect both dogs, and to a lesser extent, cats (infections in cats are less frequent, typically involving fewer parasites, and are hard to detect).  These parasites are transmitted through larvae (immature worms) via the bite of an infected mosquito.  There are more than seventy species of mosquitoes capable of transmitting heartworms, making pets highly vulnerable to infection. Once the larvae have been transmitted to the host, aka your pet, these larvae mature as they travel through the tissue until eventually finding their new home and residing in the heart and arteries of the lungs of your pup or kitty.  These worms can mature, or grow, to the length of 5-6 inches in male worms and 10-12 inches in female worms.  Once the worms have matured and established occupancy in your pet’s heart and lungs, they will seek to mate and produce microfilaria (early-stage larvae), which will then be dispersed into your pet’s bloodstream.  When a mosquito stops to make a tasty treat of your furry friend, they will become infected with the microfilaria, and go off to re-initiate the life cycle of the Heartworm.


 

The “How” of Heartworm Disease

 

Once your pet has been infected with heartworms it will result in a clinical disease as the number of worms increases in the vessels and the heart of your pet.  Initial signs that heartworms are present may include panting, coughing, and a decreased tolerance for exercise.  If the disease is allowed to progress unchecked, it can lead to heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), sudden collapse, and eventually, heart failure.  Retroactive treatment for an active infection involves repeated anti-parasitic injections, lengthy cage/crate rest, extensive cost, and a good deal of discomfort for your pet.


 

The “Why” of Heartworm Screening and Preventatives

 

In 2018 alone, there were 2,528 reported cases of canines positive for heartworms in Ohio, with 274 of those cases occurring in Franklin County.  Ohio is no stranger to the mosquito or the larvae it may carry.  At your semi-annual or annual appointment, it is important to screen your pet with a heartworm test to detect possible heartworm infections.  It is also important to administer routine heartworm preventative medication to protect your pet from infected mosquitos.  Due to the moist climates in Ohio, it is recommended to keep your dogs, and occasionally cats (routine prevention should be considered for kitties with a high risk of exposure to mosquitos), on preventatives year-round to keep them safe.  There are a variety of preventative options, from chewable to topical to injectable, that can be used to keep your furry friend safe.  Your veterinary doctors and staff can discuss the options to find the best fit for you and your pet. 

 

Heartworms mean business and investing in protecting your pet through proper screening and preventatives, is another way of providing the best and most loving care for your pet.  And you know what they say, an ounce of prevention is worth way more than a pound of cure to you and your fur-ever friend. For more information give our experienced team at Clintonville Animal Hospital in Columbus, OH today (614) 263-6730.