Feline House-Soiling: "Why did my cat pee on the bed…again!!??”

Feline house-soiling is a complex problem faced by many cat owners.  It not only exerts stress on the bond between cat and owner, but it can also be an indication of either an underlying medical condition or a complicated behavioural issue. It is important to realize that your veterinarian and registered veterinary health technologists are a valuable resource when it comes to diagnosing, managing, and preventing house-soiling behaviours.  We understand that this represents a stressful situation for cat owners.  Many of us have been in similar situations with our own cats.  Though it can feel like the behaviour is personal, it is very important to note that cats do not urinate or defecate outside of the litter box due to anger or spite.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) recognizes that there are four main causes for feline house-soiling:

 

Marking Behaviour

Marking is part of normal feline behaviour and can include urine spraying, scratching, rubbing and deposition feces.  Marking will occur for a number of reasons, ranging from sexual behaviour in unneutered/unspayed males and females, anxiety-related marking in response to environmental changes and stress, as well as territorial marking due to a perceived threat from outside of the home (new people, neighbourhood cats, visiting tradespeople during renovations).

 

Social and Environmental Factors

Cats are very private and tidy creatures, so it is no surprise that they can be very particular with their litterbox requirements. In a multi-cat household, a dominant cat may cause a less dominant cat to seek areas outside of the litterbox to ruinate and/or defecate.  Some cats may also avoid litterboxes in high traffic areas such as near doors, hallways or next to the household laundry facilities. Cats may also avoid using the litterbox if they perceive the experience to be negative, such a a dirty litterbox, loud noises occurring near the litter box (washing machine, furnace), or becoming trapped in a lidded-litterbox.

Medical Issues

Every cat exhibiting house-soiling behaviours requires a thorough physical exam, which may include screening tests such as blood work, urinalysis and x-rays or ultrasound.  This is because there are many medical conditions that may present with the first symptom of house-soiling.  Conditions can be as varied as arthritis, other sources of pain, kidney disease, urinary tract infection, or constipation.

Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC)

This is a common condition of cats that results in symptoms similar to a urinary tract infection (UTI), however there is no bacterial component present.  Inflammation of the bladder wall leads to frequent urination, painful urination, and sometimes there may be blood in the urine.

 

Treatment and Management

First and foremost, contact your veterinarian.  This is especially important to rule out underlying medical conditions resulting in this type of behaviour.  The next phase of management revolves around three key components

 

Providing the Perfect Litterbox

Number of Litterboxes: the general rule of thumb is to have one more litterbox than the total number of cats in the house.

 

Type of litter: consider trying different types of litter (clay, newspaper pellets, granules) as some cats may develop a preference for certain textures.

 

Size: LARGE! Cat’s love large litter boxes.  Sometimes a homemade litter box made from a shallow yet large Rubbermaid container is better than any store-bought alternative.

 

Location of litterbox: Place litterboxes in different areas of the home with. Litterboxes should not be placed next to each other as cat perceive this to be one large litterbox, versus separate boxes.  Prioritize quiet and sheltered areas and on different levels in multi-level homes.  Older cats may prefer a litter box on the main floor due to mobility issues.

 

Other Helpful Tips

-          Clean litterboxes daily

-          Restrict outdoor and roaming cats from entering your yard

-          Do not punish your cat for marking as this may result in fear aggression

-          Use feline friendly pheromone sprays and diffusers, specifically Feliway

-          Clean urine-marked areas thoroughly to remove any residual scent which may encourage re-marking

 

Cats are complex little creatures, and this is why we love them!  However, they are sometimes accompanied by the complex issue of house-soiling.  Please ensure to reach out to your veterinarian right away for guidance in understanding your cat’s medical, social and environmental needs. 

For additional resources for enriching your cat’s environment and ensuring they are living a happy and stress-free life, we encourage you to visit: www.catfriendly.com/enrichment

 Post written by Dr. Samyra Stuart-Altman

Feng Shui for the Indoor Cat : Environmental Enrichment for your Feline Friend

Understanding your cat’s physical, emotional and social needs will enhance your bond and your cat’s quality of life. There are a few easy steps to get started, which are listed below in five categories.

Provide Safe Havens

Cats like to have a birds eye view of their surroundings, and typically, they don’t like to share.  Providing your cat with multiple elevated areas where they can perch, preferably by themselves, allows for your cat to feel relaxed and confident.

Playtime

Schedule playtime with your cat in the same way that you schedule a walk for your dog!  Cats like to exert their predatory behaviour, and directing this natural tendency to hunt, stalk and pounce towards a toy, helps to prevent this type of contact with you ankles! Using toys with different textures, laser pointers and wand-toys are all ways to encourage playful interaction.  Always ensure that toys involving string or feathers are only used during monitored playtime to prevent ingestion of the toy.  Leaving food puzzles, feeding balls and larger toys available at all times will help to provide independent playtime when you are not home.  Try placing your cat’s favourite toy in different areas of the house for them to find. Or better yet, hide their toys on and around their scratching post and cat condo to encourage targeted scratching behaviour.

Positive human-cat interactions

It is important to provide positive and predictable interactions with all members of the human family in the house.  It is no surprise that our feline friends are very particular individuals, and as such, they have their own likes and dislikes. Be sure to remind guests of their preferences, such as whether they like to be petted or brushed so as to avoid any unintentional distress or confrontation.

Provide multiple and separated resources in multi-cat households

In this scenario, resources are considered to be food and water dishes, toileting areas (litter boxes), safe havens and toys. This is especially key in maintaining a peaceful multi-cat household. Ensuring that multiple food and water dishes are located in different areas of the house, and sometimes on different levels such as on a counter or a bench to allow for separate feeding.

The nose knows: respect your cat’s sense of smell

A cat’s sense of smell is extremely sensitive! Be respectful and limit their exposure to scents from visiting cats or dogs. Ensure areas that may have been previously urine marked are cleaned thoroughly to prevent recurrence of marking. There is also abundant research showing that synthetic cat pheromones, such as Feliway spray and diffusers, can be used throughout the house to reduce stress.

It is true that we often view cats as “the easy pet” to have because they don’t need to go for walks, and they are often left to their own devices. However they are complex individuals that require an enriched environment to uphold their quality of life. Please consider taking a moment to review additional resources on the Ohio State University Pet Initiative website.  But most of all, just remember to have fun with your cat!

Post written by Dr. Samyra Stuart-Altman

https://indoorpet.osu.edu/cats

www.catvets.com

Central Veterinary Services Vet Office Etiquette

Unlike most dentists’ or doctors’ offices, veterinary clinic waiting rooms can be loud, chaotic and potentially dangerous places to be. A few simple rules could make them a lot safer and saner for everyone involved.

Firstly, the vet’s office is not the indoor equivalent of the dog park. It is not the place for pets to play and socialize. There are likely sick animals in the room who may be irritable, weak or contagious. Our veterinary staff will put infectious animals into exam rooms quickly, but we don’t always know right away to do so.

So, every dog should be leashed at the vet’s office, including obedience champions, little cute-as-a-button fluffballs, and that bouncy lab pup who wants to know everybody. For their own protection, puppies that have not been fully vaccinated should be carried or crated if at all possible.

Leashes deserve a little more attention. There are several long discussions by veterinarians online about the evils of the retractable leash. These are plastic-handled contraptions containing coils of thin cord often 20 feet in length or longer. People have lost fingers when the cord gets wrapped around them. People have lost dogs when they darted out into traffic. Please keep all retractable leashes short while at the veterinary office so you can grab your pet’s collar if needed. With that in mind, traditional leashes are often best in many environments.

Lastly, Cats belong in carriers with few exceptions. We have seen too many people shredded by frightened kitties and too many cats lost from the parking lot when this rule is broken. There are ways to acclimate cats to carriers, mainly by transforming them into cozy, treat-laden dens that are left out all the time at home. If the big scary box only emerges before a big scary car ride to the place with barking dogs and sharp needles, it’s going to be tough getting kitty inside. Once in there, she may hurt herself in panic.

If you have any questions on the etiquette we require in our veterinary office, please direct these questions to one of our receptionists at 204-275-2038 or email centralvetservices@gmail.com.

Summer Checklist for Your Pet's Health & Happiness

Summer is here (well not officially)! With the warmer months ahead, there are several pet health tips to help keep your pet in tip-top shape! Two ways you can help keep you dogs and cats safe is by having them on a Heartworm and Tick/Flea prevention medications.

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets in Canada and many other parts of the world. It is caused by foot-long worms (Heartworms) that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of affected pets, causing severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body. Heartworm disease affects dogs, cats and ferrets, but heartworms also live in other mammal species, including wolves, coyotes, foxes, sea lions and—in rare instances—humans. Because wild species such as foxes and coyotes live in proximity to many urban areas, they are considered important carriers of the disease. Dogs and cats in Manitoba should be on Heartworm prevention from June 1st to November 1st.

 

We offer 3 different kinds of Heartworm prevention for dogs including:

1. Heartgard: A soft, chewable, beef flavoured tablet that is given orally to your dog once every 30 days from June 1st to November 1st. It is rather tasty, so most dogs are very happy to get this extra treat!

2. Revolution: A topical liquid that is applied to your dog’s neck/back once every 30 days from June 1st to November 1st. This prevention is absorbed through the skin and does need some time to dry. Revolution is a great alternative to those who are picky eaters or have food allergies.

3. Proheart: A slow-release injection that can only be administered in clinic and will last from June 1st to November 1st with one single injection!

 

Our cats require Heartworm prevention too! Currently there is a treatment for canine Heartworm, but due to the size of a Heartworm in comparison to the cat’s heart – there is currently no safe treatment for cats with Heartworm disease.

 

We offer 2 different kinds of Heartworm prevention for cats including:

1. Revolution: A topical liquid that is applied to your cat’s neck once every 30 days from June 1st to November 1st. This prevention is absorbed through the skin and does need some time to dry. Revolution is a great alternative to those who are picky eaters or have food allergies.

2. Milbemax: A unflavoured, coated tablet that is given orally to your cat once every 30 days from June 1st to November 1st.

 

Ticks have also become more of a concern for us here in Manitoba with the increased incidence of Lyme disease. Ticks also carry diseases such as Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis which usually show up with very vague symptoms making these diseases hard to diagnose. Luckily our climate is not the ideal setting for Fleas, but there are concerns of Flea infestations during the summer months.

 

We offer 4 different kinds of Tick/Flea prevention for dogs including:

1. Simparica: A firm, chewable, beef flavoured tablet that is given orally once every 30 days when temperatures are above 4 Degrees Celcius.

2. Nexgard: A soft, chewable, beef flavoured tablet that is given orally once every 30 days when temperatures are above 4 Degrees Celcius. This tablet is safe for young puppies.

3. Bravecto: A soft, chewable, beef flavoured tablet this is given orally once every 12 weeks when temperatures are above 4 Degrees Celcius.

4. Advantix: A oil-based topical parasiticide that is applied to your dog’s neck/back once every 30 days when temperatures are above 4 Degrees Celcius.

 

We offer 1 kind of Tick/Flea prevention for cats including:

1. Bravecto: A soft, chewable, beef flavoured tablet this is given orally once every 8-12 weeks when temperatures are above 4 Degrees Celcius.

 

Depending on your pet’s lifestyle we can help you choose what preventative medication is right for you!

 

With the warmer months also come the increased likelihood of allergic reactions to

insects, bees, molds, dander and pollens!

 

Common symptoms seen this time of year include:

Increased sneezing with eye and nose discharge

Itching and licking

Acute allergic skin reactions of the ears and skin, as well as hives

 

Enjoy your summer

and be sure to contact us for all your veterinary needs!

 

Vaccine Titre Testing

Vaccine Titre Testing

Introducing Titer Testing

We are excited to now offer a convenient, in clinic, titer check for commonly vaccinated for viruses causing severe and life threatening illness: Parvovirus, Distemper virus and Adenovirus. These diseases are vaccinated for, usually using a combination vaccine, routinely starting at 8 weeks old. Recently, studies have shown that many dogs do not need to be vaccinated for these diseases as often as was previously thought with some dogs maintaining protective antibody titers for more than one year after their initial puppy vaccines, or more than 3 years after their last ‘puppy’ booster at one year of age. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are some puppies that are considered ‘non-responders’ that are shown to NOT hold protective antibodies against these serious diseases even after receiving their puppy shots on schedule. For these reasons, the Vacci-Chek Titer Test is valuable – it greatly allows us to individualize each dog’s vaccine protocol, giving only the vaccine for these diseases when blood antibody titers are shown to be non-protective!

The Ins & Outs of Kennel Cough in Dogs

Kennel cough, also known Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (CIRD) or Infectious Tracheobronchitis results from inflammation of the upper airways. The term tracheobronchitis describes the location of the infection which is found in the “windpipe”, or trachea and bronchial tubes. This illness spreads rapidly among susceptible dogs housed in close confinement. There are several viruses and bacteria that can cause kennel cough, often at the same time. These include adenovirus type-2, parainfluenza virus, and the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica.

The clinical signs of kennel cough may be variable. The cough in these cases is often described as harsh, dry coughing, which may be followed by retching or gagging. The cough in these cases is easily induced by gentle pressure placed on the larynx or trachea. Kennel cough is a mild, self-limiting disease but may progress into fatal bronchopneumonia in puppies, or to chronic bronchitis in senior patients. This risk is associated with the decreased immune systems puppies and senior patients often have. Along with the coughing you may also notice your pet wheezing, having runny eyes/nose, having a lack of appetite and/or exhibiting depressed behaviour.

There is no specific treatment for the viral kennel cough infections, but antibiotics may be used against the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica. Preferably, affected dogs should not be hospitalized because the disease is highly contagious (and also self-limiting). Cough suppressants may be prescribed in more severe cases, but should only be used as needed to control persistent nonproductive coughing. The bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica is often the culprit of many of the more severe clinical signs listed in the above paragraph, but some antibiotic resistance has been reported for this bacterium. Most kennel cough infections are easily resolved in 1-3 weeks, but mild clinical signs may linger even when the bacterium has been eliminated.

Within the Canine Distemper vaccine (DA2PP) that we offer at Central Veterinary Services, is immunity against adenovirus type-2 and parainfluenza virus (as long as the vaccine schedule is completed). We also recommend vaccinating dogs who will be visiting boarding facilities, doggy daycares, dog parks or grooming facilities against Bordetella bronchiseptica, because the risk of contracting the bacterium is greatly increased. We at Central Vet offer an intranasal vaccine or an injectable vaccine against Bordetella bronchiseptica for our canine patients. The intranasal vaccine allows local immunity to develop on the mucous membranes of the nose, throat and windpipe where the infectious agents first attack. This is why the intranasal vaccine typically is recommended the first time your pet receives a Bordetella bronchiseptica vaccine. In subsequent years we would boost annually with the injectable form. The vaccine we carry that provides immunity against Bordetella bronchiseptica has shown in clinical trials to decrease the duration of the cough by 84.4% in vaccinates compared to controls. Clinical trials have also shown that after 655 dogs were vaccinated with the avirulent live culture intranasal vaccine according to label recommendations that only 1 dog reported to have intermittent sneezing for 2 days following the vaccination. No treatment was required for this patient.

Immunity, even if a dog has experienced a natural infection of kennel cough, is neither solid nor long-lasting. We cannot expect vaccines to do much better. Since immunity varies with the circumstances it is important to consult with your veterinarian regarding specific vaccination recommendations for your pet.

Call us today at 204-275-2038 for more information.

References:

1. Aiello C. et al. Merck Veterinary Manual. 2016.

2. Zoetis VANGUARD Rapid Response Intranasal. www.zoetisus.com/products/dogs/vanguard-rapid-resp-3-sf-intranasal.aspx. Last accessed 2016. 

NEW to Central Veterinary Services - Health Smart Financial Services

Us at Central Veterinary Services believe that every animal deserves the highest standard of care possible, and to make this decision even easier for our clients we are now introducing financing with Health Smart Financial Services! Health Smart was founded in 2009, and has been helping Canadians receive flexible, affordable payment plan options for healthcare treatments and products since then!

 

Health Smart promises: 

  1. Apply online - Apply with our easy online application in under a minute.
  2. Get an instant decision - Get our instant approval decision right away, displayed on screen along with the amount of funds and payment options available to you.
  3. Begin your pets treatment - Proceed to your preferred health provider to finalize your payment plan and begin your pets health treatment without delay.
  4. Make payments - Health Smart will pay your healthcare provider directly. We will set up convenient pre-authorized monthly or semi-monthly payments from your designated bank account.

Find out how much you will get approved for by clicking the button below, no obligations or commitment! 

Call us at 204-275-2038 for more information about setting up a financing plan for your pet's dental, orthopedic, or other procedure!

Internal Parasite Prevention Month: Hookworms

When compiling a list of the top internal parasites of cats and dogs, hookworms are right up there with roundworms! In honour of Internal Parasite Prevention Month, we at Central Veterinary Services wanted to share some important information about hookworms with you!

The life cycle of the hookworm starts with the egg being found in contaminated soil. With warmth, the L1 larvae molts to a L2 larvae, which then molts to a L3 larvae. The L3 larvae is then swallowed (sometimes during self grooming), or may penetrate the hosts intact skin. The L3 larvae then migrates through the blood and body tissues to the lungs where it is coughed up, and then swallowed. Once in the small intestines the hookworm larvae matures to an adult hookworm. The adult hookworm attaches itself to the villi of the small intestine where it will feed on the hosts blood, and secrete an anticoagulant. The adult female hookworms begin to produce eggs which are then excreted in the hosts feces to begin the life cycle once more. Like roundworms, hookworms may also be transmitted via the trans-mammary and trans-placental routes to neonates. 

 Image from: www.umassmed.edu/news

Image from: www.umassmed.edu/news

Hookworms are a lot nastier than roundworms since they have up to three pairs of ventral teeth with which they attach to the mucosa of the small intestine. These parasites also enjoy changing attachment sites therefore leaving their former attachment sites bleeding. The hookworms voracious feeding activity, and hemorrhage from former attachment sites often causes anemia in the host. Along with anemia, some other common symptoms of hookworms are dark feces (due to digested blood), unthriftiness in puppies or kittens, and in some cases diarrhea. 

So, for the reasons above, us at Central Veterinary Services believe in deworming all puppies and kittens during their initial visit to the clinic. It is also recommended for dogs and cats to get yearly fecal examinations done (including a fecal smear and a fecal flotation) to ensure they have not been infected with this parasite from the environment. Many heartworm prevention medications are also labelled for use against this parasite (and possibly others) therefore ensuring your pet is roundworm free!

Some types of hookworms can infect humans by penetrating the skin, or by direct ingestion. This is most likely to occur when walking barefoot on a beach, or in other areas where animals defecate. Infection often results in an itchy sensation. It is advised to wear shoes when walking on beaches, and/or in other areas where animals are allowed to defecate. It is also important that children not be allowed to play in areas where animals defecate to prevent transmission of this parasite. If you come in contact with contaminated soil and/or feces wash your hands immediately. 

If you have any questions about roundworms, or any other internal parasites don't hesitate to call us at 204-275-2038. One of our Veterinarians, or Registered Animal Health Technologists would be happy to assist you. 

Resources:

  • The Merck Veterinary Manual Eleventh Edition 
  • http://www.petsandparasites.org/cat-owners/hookworms/

Internal Parasite Prevention Month: Roundworms

Roundworms (also known as Ascarids) are one of the most common internal parasites in both cats and dogs. This is why us at Central Veterinary Services thought it is important to talk about roundworms during Internal Parasite Prevention Month

Most of the time roundworm infections occur when the dog or cat is very young. Sometimes the kittens or puppies are even born with these parasites, or acquire these parasites before being weaned from mom. This is because some of the species of canine and feline roundworms can cross the placenta (trans-placental route), or can be shed in the mothers milk (trans-mammary route). Although trans-placental and trans-mammary are routes of transmission, the life cycle of the roundworm commonly starts with the L2 larvae being ingested either from contaminated soil, or from ingesting an intermediate host such as a mouse or rabbit with the L2 larvae within. The L2 larvae are released from the egg, and at this point they may go into dormancy, but often the larvae migrate through the tissues finding their way to the hosts lungs. Once in the hosts lungs they are coughed up, and then swallowed by the host. They grow to adulthood in the hosts small intestine, and produce eggs. The life cycle starts again when the host has a bowel movement with its first batch of roundworm eggs within. 

Roundworms in young puppies and kittens often produce vomiting, diarrhea, constipation and other non-specific symptoms. These worms are often tightly coiled and do not attach to the host like other parasites do (they are often described to us as "spaghetti-like"). They instead use an undulating motion (like swimming) to remain the small intestines, this is why vomiting is one of the common symptoms. Can you imagine something swimming in your stomach? It makes our stomach queasy just thinking about it. 

 Image from: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Roundworm/

Image from: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Roundworm/

So, for the reasons above, us at Central Veterinary Services believe in deworming all puppies and kittens during their initial visit to the clinic (a minimum of 2 doses). It is also recommended for dogs and cats to get yearly fecal examinations done (including a fecal smear and a fecal flotation) to ensure they have not been infected with this parasite from the environment. In hunting cats and dogs it may be recommended by your veterinarian to deworm your pet monthly using a prescription medication. Many heartworm prevention medications are also labelled for use against this parasite (and possibly others) therefore ensuring your pet is roundworm free!

Roundworms do pose a significant risk for humans. Contact with contaminated soil or feces can result in human ingestion and infection. It is also important that children not be allowed to play in areas where animals defecate to prevent transmission of this parasite. If you come in contact with contaminated soil and/or feces wash your hands immediately. Some of the symptoms associated with human roundworm infection are cough, shortness of breath, nausea, diarrhea, blood in stool, weight loss, fatigue, or presence of worm in vomit/stool. There is also the risk in humans for the larvae to migrate to the eye, this is termed ocular larval migrans, this could then lead to full or partial blindness. 

If you have any questions about roundworms, or any other internal parasites don't hesitate to call us at 204-275-2038. One of our Veterinarians, or Registered Animal Health Technologists would be happy to assist you. 

Resources:

  • The Merck Veterinary Manual Eleventh Edition