While many of us have a friend or family member with Diabetes Mellitus, it is less commonly known that dogs and cats can also develop this disease. Diabetes is associated with the poor production or uptake of the hormone insulin which controls blood glucose or sugar levels. In pets the disease is typically seen in middle aged to older pets that are overweight and so is most similar to Type 2 diabetes in humans. The clinical signs are initially increased thirst and urination. Pets then tend to lose weight and become lethargic. Cataracts may form in the eyes causing blindness.
The old adage “you are what you eat” applies just as well to pets as it does to us. For this reason, providing a good quality diet is one of the most important things we can do as owners. Some pet foods could be considered the equivalent of junk food, while home cooked diets will not be nutritionally balanced especially for growing animals. As a healthy option, a premium dry food as the main diet is both 100% nutritionally complete and provides additional health benefits to your pet. Premium dry food is designed to keep teeth clean, contains omega oils for a healthy coat as well as high quality protein and fibre for healthy muscles and bowel. Small, firm stools without flatulence is another bonus. Adhering to one good quality food, rather than varying the diet, is key to reducing tummy upsets such as vomiting and diarrhoea. The amount of premium dry food needed to feed your pet is actually much less than supermarket foods and much more economical. The daily amount will depend on the pets age, body weight and lifestyle. Less exercise as it gets cold may mean a reduction in meal size is needed – a bit like us really. It is also important to remember the things we should NOT be feeding. Cooked bones, bbq leftovers, fatty off cuts, chocolate, onions and corn cobs are common causes of serious disease in pets. An occasional large raw bone may help keep teeth clean but can harbour bacteria or cause gastroenteritis in some pets. Visit your local vet clinic to get the best advice on a diet to suit your pet! This is 4 month old Jackson who is being fed a premium puppy dry food diet.
Easter is here and my children cannot wait to enjoy some yummy chocolate eggs. There will however be NO Easter eggs for my two Cavaliers Charlie and Lola, as chocolate is a life threatening toxin to pets. Chocolate poisoning is caused by the methylxanthine alkaloids in chocolate and is common in dogs. Young dogs and certain breeds (eg. Labradors) are frequently affected as they tend to eat larger amounts. All types of chocolate including Easter eggs and cooking chocolate can cause poisoning but dark chocolate is the MOST toxic. Vomiting and diarrhoea can occur quickly, and brown coloured vomit is a give away sign. The toxin in chocolate causes a rapid weak heartbeat and neurological signs such as tremors and seizures. Death from heart failure can result within hours of ingestion. There is no antidote for chocolate poisoning so supportive veterinary care is required urgently. Your veterinarian may induce vomiting if the chocolate was eaten recently or they may have to pump the stomach to prevent further absorption. In dogs with advanced signs we give fluid therapy and medication to control seizures and correct the heart rate and rhythm. The pets prognosis is good if the chocolate is removed within 2 to 4 hours of eating but is guarded in animals with neurological signs. So please don’t invite your pets to join the Easter egg hunt this year – save the eggs for yourself instead!
Gastroenteritis is commonly seen in puppies and adult dogs with vomiting and/or diarrhoea being the typical signs. A very common cause of gastroenteritis is dietary indiscretion. This includes eating spoilt left overs, high fat foods or raiding the garbage. Feeding your dog a good quality diet and not varying the diet will help keep tummy upsets to a minimum. Other causes of gastroenteritis include viruses, bacterial infections, parasites and swallowing a foreign object. If gastroenteritis is accompanied by inappetance, lethargy or tummy pain then a serious underlying disorder may be present and urgent veterinary attention should be sought. Blood in the faeces or vomit is also a cause for concern especially for Parvo virus in a puppy or poorly immunised older dog. For a bright and happy dog with gastroenteritis we recommend withholding food for 24 hrs but still offering water. Then a bland diet is fed for 2 or 3 days such as boiled chicken and white rice. We check the pets worming and vaccinations are up to date. If signs persist for more than a few days the pet may become dehydrated. Blood tests and xrays may be required in some cases as well as medical treatment with fluids, antibiotics and prescription diets. The good news is that most dogs with gastroenteritis will respond well to the correct treatment. This is Sadie the poodle puppy who is fed a premium puppy food from our clinic.
Does your dog or cat need to go on a diet as its New Years resolution? The disturbing fact is that 30-40% of pets are overweight. When in ideal body condition you should be able to feel your pets ribs easily and see a definite ‘waist’. Certain breeds such as Labradors and Pugs tend to become overweight commonly. If your pet is too chubby then consult your veterinary team for a weight loss program. After determining your pets target weight, we advise how much to feed and schedule regular weigh-ins. To achieve weight loss you need to cut out any left overs and avoid treats and fatty bones that contain lots of calories. A measured amount of low calorie food should be offered in two small meals. Prescription weight control diets are fully balanced, filling for your pet and designed to achieve weight loss steadily. Exercise is also vital so aim for daily walks that increase in length as both you and your pet become fitter. Cats are more difficult to exercise but many love chasing toys around the house. Happy New Year from all the Team at The Hopppers Crossing Veterinary Clinic celebrating our 20th Year of caring for your pets in 2014. This is Lori, our vet Dr Roslyn's Labrador puppy who will have her weight regularly kept in check.