Feline Asthma Awareness

Feline asthma is the most commonly diagnosed respiratory disorder in cats. Veterinary epidemiologists estimate that at least 1 out of every 100 cats suffer from acute or chronic asthma. Asthma is the constriction of the air passages that lead from the windpipe (trachea) to the lungs. It is generally believed to be a result of inhaled allergens including but not limited to tobacco smoke, dust, pollen, household cleaners, perfume, and aerosol sprays. An inflammatory response occurs when a susceptible cat inhales an allergen. Cells, mucus, and muscle spasms cause constriction of the air passages. The severity of the disease can range from mild to life threatening.

Cats who suffer from asthma may show a variety of signs of respiratory distress. This includes breathing rapidly, with their mouths open, or with abnormal chest and abdominal movement. Some cats who are having difficulty breathing may keep their body hunched close to the ground and extend their necks forward. They also might appear to be gagging or about to vomit. Other symptoms of feline asthma may include coughing or wheezing. Please remember that cats are designed to hide signs of illness and distress. It is therefore possible that even signs of significant respiratory distress may be subtle and difficult to detect. A thorough physical examination, fecal testing, blood testing, and x-rays are performed to help diagnose feline asthma and rule out other diseases.

In some cases, chronic feline asthma is managed with inhalant medication to reduce inflammation and/or open up the airways. Inhalant medication targets the specific respiratory tissues involved in asthma and minimizes the effects of systemic medication. Please contact us if your cat has not been examined within the last 6 months. Regular preventative physical examinations help detect underlying disease and improve the overall quality and length of pets' lives.

Heartworm Life Cycle

The heartworm life cycle begins when a mosquito bites an infected animal and ingests tiny heartworm larvae along with the animal's blood. Coyotes, wolves, foxes, and ferrets can also develop heartworm disease in addition to dogs and cats. Next, the larvae develop into an infective stage inside the mosquito. When a heartworm disease-carrying mosquito bites your pet, it transmits the larvae that develop for approximately two months in your pet's tissue. Afterwards, developing and mature adult heartworms can be found in the bloodstream, heart, and lungs. They can also produce tiny heartworm larvae that is released into the blood and is picked up by mosquitoes who repeat the process again.

Heartworm disease is serious and potentially fatal in pets. Worms can grow up to a foot long and live in your pet's heart and lungs. Signs of heartworm infection includes coughing, difficulty breathing, and lethargy.  Some pets may not show signs of the disease. Treatment of heartworm disease is difficult. In cats, there is no approved treatment. Prevention is easy. We recommend a once monthly heartworm preventative medication for dogs and cats regardless of their lifestyle. For more information about disease-carrying mosquitoes in Ventura and Los Angeles County, click here. To read about one of our patient's journey through heartworm treatment, click here.

Standards for Excellence in Oral Care: Dental X-Ray

Moorpark Veterinary Hospital is proud to offer full-mouth digital dental radiographs (X-rays) as a standard of care for all of our patients who receive dental procedures. Dental x-rays are performed by placing a small sensor in a pet's mouth in order to acquire images of the internal anatomy of teeth, their roots, and the bone surrounding the roots. Full mouth dental x-rays are essential to the overall evaluation of your pet's dental health. They can reveal otherwise unknown sources of disease or abnormality, they establish a baseline for future comparison and ensure that extractions, if needed, are carried out effectively. Taking dental radiographs, in addition to performing safe and effective dental cleanings, requires anesthesia. To learn more about dental cleanings and anesthesia click here.

Dental disease is very common in pets. More than 85% of pets over the age of three are suffering from some form of it. Dental disease can cause severe local and body-wide infections potentially affecting the sinuses, kidney, liver and heart. Although dental disease does cause significant pain, most pets do not show outward signs of it. Regular dental exams and cleanings increase the lifespan and comfort of our pets. Please contact us today to discuss your pet's dental health.

DNA Breed Testing: More than Your Dog’s Mix

Have you wondered what breeds are in your dog's mix? Gigi's DNA test results showed that she is a Chihuahua/Miniature Poodle mix with a portion of her ancestry mixed beyond three generations. Current veterinary DNA testing provides breed information but also reveals more than your dog's mix.

Royal Canin Genetic Health Analysis (GHA) tests for more than 90 specific disease causing mutations in your pet's genes. Some  mutations can cause diseases such as Degenerative Myelopathy, Exercise Induced Collapse and Dilated Cardiomyopathy among others. GHA also screens for MDR1 mutation, or Multi-Drug Resistance-1, found in many of the herding breeds, some sighthound breeds and some mixed-breed dogs. Dogs with MDR1 mutation may have severe adverse reactions to some medicines. Testing can also provide additional information about your pet's nutritional needs, behavior, and predicted weight range. For more information about GHA through our hospital, including test pricing, contact us today.

Check Out Our Staff Poll for Poison Prevention Week

In honor of National Poison Prevention Week (March 19th-25th) we decided to poll our staff for their insight on common pet poisons. We asked them three questions and listed the most popular responses. Check out the results below.

What item inside the household are you most concerned about your pet ingesting?

  1. 1. Chocolate. The desire for this sweet treat is not limited to humans. Since chocolate is such a common household food item it is also a common ingestion, especially for dogs. Chocolate toxicity can be mild to severe depending on the dose. The darker or more concentrated the chocolate, the more toxic it is to pets. Symptoms can vary from vomiting and hyperactivity to abnormal heart rhythms and seizures.
  2. 2. Grapes/raisins, lilies, and sugar-free gum. These three items tied for second place in our staff poll and each are extremely toxic in their own way. Grape, raisin, and even currant toxicities are not necessarily dose-dependent and can result in severe kidney damage sometimes several days after ingestion. Very small amounts of Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter and Japanese Show Lilies can cause severe kidney damage or even death to cats. Sugar-free gum is toxic because it contains the artificial sweetener xylitol which can be extremely dangerous to your pet. Xylitol can be found in a variety of mints, vitamins, supplements, and foods so it is important to be diligent and read labels carefully.
  3. 3. Human medications. A wide range of human medications have the potential to be toxic to pets. However, human aspirin and other NSAIDs can be particularly dangerous especially when owners purposefully give them to pets to attempt to alleviate pain. Pets' kidneys and livers can be damaged easily when dosed with improper medication.

What Item in the environment are you most concerned about your pet ingesting?

  1. 1. Pesticides and rat bait. It is never safe to leave your pet unsupervised around any type of pesticide or bait. There are several types of active ingredients that can be severely toxic to pets with varying symptoms.
  2. 2. Sago Palm tree. All parts of the Sago Palm, but especially the seeds, are very toxic to pets and can cause severe liver damage. Aggressive life-saving treatment should begin immediately upon ingestion.
  3. 3. Antifreeze. As little as one tablespoon of antifreeze can cause severe acute kidney failure in dogs and as little as one teaspoon can be fatal to cats. Antifreeze is extremely poisonous to pets because it typically contains 95% ethylene glycol.

What do you think is the most common pet poison ingestion that we treat?

  1. 1. Chocolate
  2. 2. Raisins
  3. 3. Garbage
  4. 4. Marijuana
  5. 5. Dog toys

If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please seek veterinary care as soon as possible. For more information about pet poisons including 24/7 professional pet poison advice click here.

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