Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Question: Diabetes in Pets

Dr. Schaeberle,

My cat was recently diagnosed with diabetes. I didn’t know it was
possible! What do we do next?



Dear Darlene,

Over the past year there have been many questions involving diabetes in both dogs and cats. I want to make sure I answer most of them, so we will begin a three part series on diabetes mellitus and pets.

Diabetes mellitus is a treatable condition that requires a committed effort by both of veterinarian and client. In the most pets, the treatment is very rewarding and most dogs and cats can live normal life expectancies. The treatment of diabetes is a combination of art and science, due in part to the many factors that affect the diabetic state and the animal’s response. Each animal needs individualized, frequent reassessment, and treatments may be modified based on this response.

In both dogs and cats diabetes is caused by a loss or a dysfunction of the pancreatic cells that produce insulin. The risk factors for dogs and cats include obesity, genetics, and in some cases diseases or drugs. Regardless of the underlying cause, diabetic dogs and cats are hyperglycemic (high blood sugar), which leads to the classic signs of an increase in drinking, urination, and increased appetite and weight loss.

There are many questions the veterinarian must ask him or herself in regards to how to initiate treatment. The variables include a variety of different insulin selections as well as dietary considerations. In many cases the treatment for diabetes in cats differs from that in dogs. Next week I will go over the treatment of diabetes in cats.

Thomas Schaeberle, VMD

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Question: Ear mites in Cats

Dr. Schaeberle,

My cat has just been diagnosed with ear mites. How could that happen?




Ear mites are very small insects that look like microscopic ticks that live in the ear canal of cats and dogs. The majority of pets that get these are definitely cats and kittens.

Ear mites live in the ear canal of pets and occasionally crawl out onto the face and head of the pet. When your pet rubs faces with another pet that has ear mites, your pet can pick them up. They eventually find their way into your pet’s ear canal and start breeding and living there, too.

As they begin to overpopulate, they can cause an inflammatory process to begin, and sometimes a secondary bacterial or yeast infection. This causes a lot of discomfort to your pet; she will start shaking her head and scratching at her ears, causing even more inflammation and infection.

The typical discharge produced is a dark brown to black, dry crusty material that resembles coffee grounds. But don’t be fooled; other ear canal infections can look like this too, so you want to get it confirmed by your veterinarian to make sure your pet gets the proper treatment.

There are many different treatments available for ear mites. Some products take 2-3 weeks to work, others 1 day, and other topical products prevent them in the first place. Your veterinarian will know which one is the best for your pet. And by the way, only in the most unusual cases will people ever get ear mites, so you can feel safe that you won’t get them. However, people have been known to get rashes from them.

And remember, if one of your pet’s have ear mites, and you have other pets, they may get them and need treated too. You may need to get your whole clan checked out by your veterinarian.

So if your cat, kitten or dog is shaking his head and scratching at his ears, take him to your veterinarian right away to get the proper treatment. Whether it’s ear mites or another type of infection, your pet will thank you for getting rid of this annoying problem.

Thomas Schaeberle, V.M.D.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Question: Skin infection in Dogs?

Dr. Schaeberle,

My collie was diagnosed with a skin infection but all I am able to see is small red circular skin lesions. I think it look more like ringworm. Is it really a skin infection?



Hi Wyatt,

The fancy term for skin infection is pyoderma. The most common clinical signs associated with pyoderma are lesions that look is similar to acne in humans. They are often red and raised, with a white pus filled center. Skin infection usual occurs secondary to scratching or licking from diseases such as allergies or mange. Common areas to find skin infection include the belly and feet.

Collies can develop skin infections that include circular patches (1 -2 inches in diameter) ,with a crusting noted in the periphery of the lesion. The most common area we see this form of a pyoderma is on the belly but may also be found over the back. Large breeds such as dobermans and great danes, can develop skin infections on their chins much like teenagers. Other breeds such as Cocker spaniels and schnauzers have a genetic predisposition to a pyoderma on their backs. Some dogs may be mildly itchy but many have no clinical signs other than the circular lesions on the skin.

Cats can also develop pyoderma, usually the infection is found near their mouth and chin area.

So how do we treat skin infection? Because hormonal diseases such as a hypothyroidism may predispose a pet to skin infection, testing may be needed. But, in general antibiotics used for a minimum of three weeks will clear up most skin infections.

Thomas Schaeberle, V.M.D.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Question: Hyperthyroidism in Cats

Dr. Schaeberle,

My cat was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, what treatments are available? Which is the best?



Hi Susan,

Feline hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid gland, is a common condition in older cats. It is generally caused by a benign tumor in the thyroid gland located in the neck. The gland produces hormones which help control metabolism.

Symptoms include increased appetite with concurrent weight loss, vomiting and/or diarrhea, increased thirst and urination, agitation and increased vocalization. Cats may have one or more of the symptoms listed above.

Complications of hyperthyroid disease, particularly if left untreated, include high blood pressure, retinal detachment and heart disease. Diagnosis is made by testing thyroid levels in the blood. Hyperthyroid disease is relatively easy to treat, especially if caught early. Treatment options include radioactive iodine therapy, medication, and surgical removal of the thyroid gland.

Radioactive iodine therapy involves visiting a special treatment facility to receive an injection of a radioactive substance into the bloodstream targeting the abnormal thyroid tissue. This treatment is curative. The cat must board at the facility for about a week after treatment so that radioactive waste material can be properly disposed of.

The most common treatment is in the form of a daily medication called methimazole. Methimazole does not cure hyperthyroidism but does help to control the symptoms. As mentioned above, the medication must be given every day for the duration of the cat’s life. As many cats are not easy to medicate, this can be a frustrating prospect. The medication does come in several formulations including a tablet, an oral liquid that may be flavored to make it more palatable, and a transdermal gel applied to the cat’s ear flap where it is absorbed into the bloodstream. Side effects such as vomiting, loss of appetite or an allergic reaction causing itching around the face can occur with methimazole use. A small number of patients do not respond to medication.

The third option is surgical removal of the thyroid gland. Dr. Hoffman and myself are both trained to perform this type of surgery. At Shiloh Veterinary Hospital we have been successful with this type of treatment with little to no complications. Thyroidectomies are a great alternative when radioactive iodine therapy or medications have not shown improvement in your pet’s condition.

Hyperthyroidism is a common but treatable disease of older cats. If your cat is showing any symptoms listed above, please make an appointment with your veterinarian today.

Thomas Schaeberle, V.M.D.

Search This Blog