Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Traveling by Car with Your Pet

Traveling with a pet usually involves more than putting the animal in a car and driving off, especially if you will be driving long distances or be away for a long time. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) offers these tips to help you prepare for a car trip with your pet and make it go a little smoother.

If your pet is not accustomed to the car, take it for a few short rides before the trip. This can help keep your pet from becoming nervous or agitated, and may lessen the effects of motion sickness. If, after a number of practice trips, your pet continues to cry excessively or becomes sick, consult your veterinarian.

Buckling up is an important safety precaution for your pet. Many states now require that pets be restrained while in a moving vehicle, and restraints have several advantages. They help protect pets in case of a collision, and they keep pets from running loose and distracting the driver. They also keep pets from escaping the car through an open window or door. Cats and smaller dogs are often most comfortable in pet carriers, which can be purchased in various sizes at most pet stores.

Carriers give many animals a sense of security and familiar surroundings, and can be secured to the car seat with a seat belt or a specially designed carrier restraint. There are also pet restraints available that can be used without carriers, including harnesses, seat belt attachments, pet car seats, vehicle barriers, and truck/pickup restraint systems. No matter what kind of restraint you use, be sure that it does not permit your pet’s head to extend outside the car window. If pets ride with their heads outside the car, particles of dirt can penetrate the eyes, ears, and nose, causing injury or infections. Excessive amounts of cold air taken into lungs can also cause illness.

While packing for your trip, remember to throw in a few of your pet’s favorite toys, food and water bowls, a leash, and food. You should also carry a first aid kit for your pet, and know basic pet first aid. If your pet is on medication, be sure to have plenty for the trip -- and then some. Dr. Walt Ingwersen, AAHA veterinarian in Whitby, Ontario, points out that veterinarians cannot write a prescription without a prior doctor/patient relationship. This means that in order to get any drugs, your pet will need to be examined first by a new doctor. This may be inconvenient if you need medication right away. Also, if your pet is on a special therapeutic diet, bring along an extra supply in case you can’t find the food in a strange area.

Stick to your regular feeding routine while traveling, and give your pet its main meal at the end of the day or when you’ve reached your destination. It will be more convenient to feed dry food if your pet is used to it. Dispose of unused canned food unless it can be refrigerated. Take along a plastic jug of cold water to avoid possible stomach upset the first day, as new areas can have minerals or bacteria in their water supply that pets need time to adjust to. Give your pet small portions of both food and water and plan to stop every two hours for exercise.

Remember that your veterinarian is a good source of information about what your pet will need when traveling. Consider having your pet examined before you leave as well, to check for any developing problems. If an emergency occurs while you are on the road, you can call the American Animal Hospital Association at 800/883-6301 or visit our hospital locator for the names and phone numbers of AAHA veterinarians near you. Have your current veterinarian’s phone number handy in case of an emergency. Also, be sure to travel with a copy of your pet’s medical records, especially if the animal has a difficult medical history.

Some pets travel better while tranquilized. Tranquilizers can lessen agitation and motion sickness in pets traveling by car. Discuss this with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian may suggest giving your pet a tranquilizer three to four weeks before your trip to check the dosage and adjust it if necessary.
Find hotels, motels, and campsites that accept animals and book them ahead of time. "Vacationing with Your Pet" by Eileen Barish is a directory of pet-friendly lodging throughout the United States and Canada. Copies can be ordered by calling (800) 496-2665.

Learn more about the area you will be visiting. Your veterinarian can tell you if there are any diseases like heartworm or Lyme disease and vaccinations or medications your pet may require. A health examination following your trip should be considered to determine if any internal parasites (roundworms, hookworms, heartworms) or external parasites (ticks, fleas) were picked up in contaminated exercise or wooded areas. Also, be aware of any unique laws. Some places have restrictions on exotic animals (ferrets are not allowed in some cities), and there are restrictive breed laws in others, such as no pit bulls allowed. Your pet could be affected by these laws, so call ahead to the city or travel information bureau for more information.

To avoid losing your pet during a trip, make sure your pet is wearing an i.d. tag. To be doubly protected, consider having your pet tattooed or having a microchip implanted. "The more methods of identification, the better chance that the owner will be found," says Dr. Ingwersen. Microchip databases are specific to the United States and Canada, so register your pet in both countries if you will be driving from one to the other. Dr. Ingwersen also suggests owners register the name and phone number of a relative who can identify the pet in case the owner can’t be reached while traveling.

It’s important to carry health and rabies vaccine certificates, particularly if you will be crossing the border into Canada, the US, or Mexico. All three countries allow dogs and cats to enter if they meet stringent entry requirements. Depending on the country, exotic pets may be allowed to enter, though they may need further documentation. Call the Agriculture Department or embassy of the country or state to which you are traveling for information on the vaccinations, documentation, fees, or quarantine that may be required to bring your pet into the country.

Most importantly, try to plan ahead for unusual or emergency situations. What you don’t need in the middle of a trip is one more thing to worry about. "People get into a panic if they don’t have enough medication for their pet, no appropriate documentation for travel to other countries, or money to pay for border fees," says Dr. Ingwersen. "Be prepared by bringing a copy of your pet’s medical records, proper documentation and medication and knowing the laws going into the new city or country." Preparation is the most effective way to help ensure a smooth, enjoyable trip for you and your pet.

Originally published by Healthy Pet.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Top Ten Emergencies In Cats

Cats often become reclusive and hide when they are not feeling well which makes knowing when they need to be seen by your veterinarian a challenge. They have unique signs and symptoms of emergency conditions that often go unrecognized by their owners. Some injuries are obvious, such as a cat with an open wound, while others have more subtle signs that can be equally deadly if left untreated. Knowing what signs to look for is crucial in determining when to seek emergency care for your cat. Below is a list of some of the most common cat emergencies and their signs.

Urethral Obstruction
This is a condition in which a cat, usually male, is unable to urinate due to a blockage in the urethra (the tube leading from the urinary bladder to the outside environment).
Cats will show a sudden onset of restless behavior which includes frequent trips in and out of the litter box. They will often attempt to urinate in unusual places such as in a bath tub or on a plastic bag. You may notice a very small stream of urine that contains blood. More often than not, despite a cat’s straining, there may be no urine or even just a drop produced. In later stages of the obstruction, cats may cry loudly, vomit, and become lethargic.

You should consider these signs a serious emergency and seek veterinary care immediately. There are reports of cats developing kidney failure and dying within 12 hours after the onset of signs. Expect your cat to be hospitalized at least 36 hours for treatment of this condition which may include a urinary catheter, intravenous fluids, and pain management. Female cats are less likely to become obstructed due to their wider urinary tract.

Toxicities (Poisoning)
The combination of their curious nature and unique metabolism (the way their body breaks down chemicals) makes cats very vulnerable to toxins. Owners are often not aware that their home contains multiple products that are poisonous to their feline companions. The most common cat toxins include antifreeze, Tylenol, and rat or mouse poison.

The signs your cat displays depends on what type of poison they have encountered. Antifreeze will often cause wobbliness or a drunken appearance first, then progresses to vomiting/weakness as the kidneys fail. Tylenol may cause an unusual swelling of the head and changes the cats blood color from red to chocolate brown. Rat or mouse poison interferes with blood clotting so you may see weakness from internal blood loss or visible blood in urine or stool.

Breathing Problems
Many times cats hide the signs of breathing problems by simply decreasing their activity. By the time an owner notices changes in the cat’s breathing, it may be very late in the progression of the cat’s lung disease. There are several causes of breathing changes but the most common are feline asthma, heart or lung disease.

Foreign Object Ingestion
As you know cats love to play with strings or string-like objects (such as dental floss, holiday tinsel, or ribbon), however, you may not know the serious danger that strings can pose to your cat. When a string is ingested, one end may become lodged or “fixed” in place, often under the cat’s tongue, while the remaining string passes farther into the intestine. With each intestinal contraction, the string see-saws back and forth actually cutting into the intestine and damaging the blood supply.

Signs that your cat has eaten a foreign object may include vomiting, lack of appetite, diarrhea, and weakness. Occasionally owners will actually see part of a string coming from the mouth or anal area. You should never pull on any part of the string that is visible from your pet.
Most times emergency surgery is necessary to remove the foreign object and any damaged sections of intestine.

Bite Wounds
Cats are notorious for both inflicting and suffering bite wounds during encounters with other cats. Because the tips of their canine, or “fang”, teeth are so small and pointed, bites are often not noticed until infection sets in several days after the injury.

Cats may develop a fever and become lethargic 48 to 72 hours after experiencing a penetrating bite wound. They may be tender or painful at the site. If the wound becomes infected or abscessed, swelling and foul-smelling drainage may develop.

You should seek emergency care for bite wounds so that your veterinarian may thoroughly clean the area and prescribe appropriate antibiotics for your pet. Occasionally the wounds will develop large pockets called abscesses under the skin that require surgical placement of a drain to help with healing.

Hit by car
Cats that spend time outdoors are at a much greater risk for ending up in the emergency room. Being hit by a car is one of the most common reasons for your pet to suffer traumatic injuries such as broken bones, lung injuries and head trauma. You should always seek emergency care if your cat has been hit by a vehicle even if he or she appears normal as many injuries can develop or worsen over the next few hours.

Increased Thirst and Urination
Sudden changes in your cat’s thirst and urine volume are important clues to underlying disease. The two most common causes of these signs are kidney disease and diabetes mellitus.
Your veterinarian will need to check blood and urine samples to determine the cause of your cat’s signs. Having your pet seen on an emergency basis for these signs is important as the sooner your pet receives treatment, the better their chances for recovery. Many times exposure to certain toxins, such as antifreeze or lilies, will show similar signs and delaying veterinary care can be fatal.

Sudden inability to use the hind legs
Cats with some forms of heart disease are at risk for developing blood clots. Many times these clots can lodge in a large blood vessel called the aorta where they can prevent normal blood flow to the hind legs. If your cat experiences such a blood clotting episode (often called a saddle thrombus or thromboembolic episode), you will likely see a sudden loss of the use of their hind legs, painful crying, and breathing changes.

On arrival at the emergency room, your pet will receive pain management and oxygen support. Tests will be done to evaluate the cat’s heart and determine if there is any heart failure (fluid accumulation in the lungs). Sadly, such an episode is often the first clue for an owner that their cat has severe heart disease. In most cases, with time and support, the blood clot can resolve, but the cat’s heart disease will require life-long treatment.

Upper Respiratory Infections
Cats and kittens can experience a variety of upper respiratory diseases caused by a combination of bacteria or viruses. Upper respiratory infections, or URIs, often cause sneezing, runny noses, runny eyes, lack of appetite, and fever. In severe cases, they can cause ulcers in the mouth, tongue, and eyes. More often than not, severe cases are seen in cats that have recently been in multiple-cat environments such as shelters. Small or poor-doing kittens are also easily infected and may develop more severe complications such as low blood sugar.

Sudden Blindness
A sudden loss of vision is most likely to occur in an older cat. The most common causes are increased blood pressure (hypertension) that may be due to changes in thyroid function (hyperthyroidism) or kidney disease. There are some cats that appear to have hypertension with no other underlying disease.

Sudden blindness should be treated as an emergency and your veterinarian will measure your cat’s blood pressure, check blood tests, and start medications to try to lower the pressure and restore vision.
Anytime you notice a change in your cat’s eyes, whether they lose vision or not, you should consider this an emergency have your pet seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at CatHealth.com is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site.