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How to Manage Your Cat’s Weight

Obesity is a major cause for concern in any being and it can quickly lead to other health issues. In cats, excess weight and obesity can cause serious medical conditions that can lead to a deteriorating overall health. Feline weight management can be difficult, because cats that are overweight tend to be less active, and a diet that isn’t approved by a vet can cause serious health complications.

VRC knows how difficult it can be to manage your cat’s weight properly, and we wanted to share some important information to keep in mind regarding feline obesity.

Why Does Your Cat Need to Lose Weight?

If your cat is overweight or obese, he or she will be at a higher risk for many health conditions. Instead of worrying about if your cat will develop a serious medical condition, you should be worried about when it will happen.

Overweight or obese cats are three times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than cats with a healthy weight. Type 2 diabetes can be a very serious condition, and it can lead to further medical issues as well. Cats with type 2 diabetes may become dehydrated, depressed, or comatose when left untreated, and may need to visit with a veterinary internist in the Greater Philadelphia area for management. Diabetes can even be fatal in cats.

Heart disease is also a concern in felines that are overweight or obese. The additional weight causes cardiovascular stress, which can lead to heart disease that would need to be addressed by a veterinary cardiologist in the Greater Philadelphia area. Heart disease can lead to heart failure. Symptoms of heart failure include lethargy, unhealthy weight loss, weakness, coughing, and difficulty breathing. Eventually, heart failure can cause death.

Orthopedic injuries are common in cats with obesity. These injuries can cause pain and stiffness, as well as permanent damage to joints. It is very important to keep cats at a healthy weight to avoid injuries such as these that can cause chronic pain and a decreased quality of life. Orthopedic injuries can also be debilitating and may require vet surgery at VRC to correct.

Another concern in cats that are overweight or obese is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that causes the cartilage cushion in the joints to break down. In turn, bones start to rub together and cause pain, stiff joints, and bone spurs. Over time, you may notice your cat is less active due to the discomfort osteoarthritis causes, which can further exacerbate weight problems.

How to Tell If Your Cat is Overweight or Obese?

VRC’s number one advice for determining whether or not your cat is overweight or obese is visiting your family veterinarian. However, you can also try the following tests at home.

First, cats with a healthy weight have ribs that are easy to feel. Just behind the shoulder blades, run your fingers flat against your cat’s ribcage. If you can’t easily feel individual ribs, your cat may be overweight. Second, at the end of the ribcage, you should be able to see and feel an indentation that creates a similar shape to an hourglass on your cat.

Overweight cats may also have a droopy stomach. The stomach of a healthy cat should feel like it is “tucked up” under the pelvis. This can be the hardest way to test for excess weight or obesity, but imagine that a line extends from your cat’s breastbone to the pelvis. This line should form an angle between 30° and 45°.

If you notice that these conditions are not met, take your cat to a veterinarian for further examination. A vet can quickly tell you if your cat is overweight or obese and help you get started on a path to better health for your pet.

What to Do If Your Cat is Overweight or Obese?

The first thing you should do if your cat is overweight or obese is consult with your veterinarian. Vets have access to resources and knowledge that you might not be able to get. With the help of a veterinarian, you can set up a diet and exercise plan that will reduce your cat’s weight.

Many vets will offer suggestions for getting your cat to be more active. Your vet can help you personalize your cat’s exercise routine to something he or she will be likely to participate in. Playing with your cat for a few minutes a day can dramatically help with weight loss. Take ten minutes in the morning and another ten minutes in the evening to get out some toys and let your cat burn some calories while having fun.

Not all cats like playing with toys, however. If your cat doesn’t like toys, it won’t be beneficial to attempt playtime. Instead, your vet can offer up suggestions like walking your cat or moving your cat’s food bowl to require more physical activity. Feeding your pet from a food puzzle can help your cat lose weight by requiring him or her to work for food.

One great way to help your cat safely lose weight is through a veterinary physical rehabilitation program at VRC. With therapies such as hydrotherapy, vets can safely exercise your cat down to a healthier weight in ways that are easy on delicate joints. In cases where injuries caused by obesity are severe, surgery may be necessary to repair it. After surgery, physical rehabilitation provides a safe way for your pet to heal while still being active enough to lose some of the problem weight during recovery. VRC’s rehabilitation program can help cats lose weight in a safe, injury-free way.

Dieting is very tricky with cats. Putting your cat on a diet can cause him or her to avoid eating altogether. If your cat doesn’t eat for a few days in a row, he or she can be at risk for developing hepatic lipidosis, a life-threatening liver disease sometimes referred to as fatty liver syndrome. Consulting with your vet before restricting or changing food is extremely important in the process of healthy weight loss for your cat. If a food change is necessary, your vet will provide you with a timeline for gradually switching over food formulas.

VRC is well-equipped to assist your cat with losing weight, as well as addressing medical issues that arise from pet obesity. If you believe that you have a cat with weight issues or a resulting medical condition and you live in Greater Philadelphia area, contact VRC at 610-647-2950 today.

What Do Soft Tissue and Orthopedic Surgeries in Pets Entail?

Much like humans, pets can suffer from a number of different painful ailments that may require surgery as treatment. At VRC , our board-certified surgeons are prepared for your pet’s surgical needs, including veterinary soft tissue and orthopedic surgeries.

Dogs and cats of certain breeds may be more prone to diseases and conditions that require surgery at some point during the course of their lives. Whether the problem with your pet is congenital, traumatic or age-related, and either soft tissue or orthopedic, the veterinary surgeons at VRC are ready to help.

VRC is a great option for people near Malvern, Pennsylvania or the Greater Philadelphia area who have pets in need of surgical care. Our team is dedicated to helping treat your beloved pets during all stages of the surgical process.

Orthopedic Surgery

Veterinary orthopedic surgery is used to treat musculoskeletal issues found in pets. If a pet suffers from a traumatic injury that leads to, fractured bone or torn ligament, or if he or she has a degenerative condition like osteoarthritis, your family veterinarian may refer you to an orthopedic surgeon for treatment. It’s important to keep in mind that orthopedic surgeries can require multiple follow-up visits and radiographs to monitor progress during recovery.

Soft Tissue Surgery

Veterinary soft tissue surgery encompasses procedures relating to the internal organs, skin and muscle. Some common soft tissue surgeries procedures obstructive intestinal foreign body, shunt, airway, reconstructive, and cancer-related surgeries

One common need for a soft tissue surgery is tumor removal. When a cat or dog has a potentially cancerous mass, it is treated much like tumors in humans, and when possible,  soft tissue surgeons will remove it. Your pet would then meet with an oncologist, if needed, for further care.

What to Do After Your Pet’s Surgery

After a surgical procedure, your dog or cat will require time in the hospital and special care at home. Our surgeons will discuss post-operative care with you during your appointment so you can better understand what the surgery will entail and what care will be needed. While each surgery and pet is different, there are a few common post-operative care tips that can help you make it through.

If our doctors are concerned about your pet’s well-being immediately after surgery, he or she may want to keep your pet at the hospital for a few days. This is normal—especially if the surgery was extensive to make sure they are comfortable and recovered from their anesthesia in the initial post-operative period. However, if you pick your dog or cat up only a few hours after surgery, there are a few things you should expect.

First, your dog or cat will need a lot of rest. The first 12 to 24 hours after surgery, they will likely be groggy and confused. This is a normal side-effect of anesthesia and should wear off after 24 hours or so. After this point, you will need to make sure that your pet continues getting enough rest to heal properly.

To help your pet heal, you will need to make sure that they aren’t too active. It can be helpful to confine them to a small room or pen in your home to prevent them from running around, which can hinder the healing process and even cause infection. You can add blankets or bedding to the room or kennel to make your pet more comfortable.

Even if you have to keep your pet in a restricted area, you need to be able to give him or her plenty of attention. Surgery causes stress for your pets and you can help calm them down by sitting and talking to them. Further stress can affect healing times and require longer confinement.

In most cases, your pet will be prescribed medications for you to administer while he or she recovers. Antibiotics and pain relief medications help your pet to heal properly without infection or severe pain. Dogs that are usually extremely active may also require sedatives. It can be tricky to get cats and dogs to take medications, but it is very important that you find something that works so your pet can get the medication they need. Pill pockets often work wonders for a picky pet.

You will also need to monitor the incision from your pet’s surgery. While you may not need to clean it, you need to check it occasionally to make sure it doesn’t look like it is getting infected and that it is healing properly. You also need to prevent your pet from licking and scratching the incision site. At VRC, we always provide you with an e-collar after surgery to ensure your pet does not aggravate his or her incision. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, please give us a call for further instruction.

Especially in the case of orthopedic surgery, your cat or dog may require physical rehabilitation therapy. Our in-house physical rehabilitation center is an ideal way after surgery to get your pet comfortable and moving after surgery.  At VRC, we offer a variety of different rehabilitation services to help get your pet back to his or her normal, pain-free life., Water treadmill, acupuncture, laser therapy, and massage are just a few of the treatments VRC can use to help your pet regain mobility and prevent future injuries, as well as provide pain relief. Physical rehabilitation is also beneficial for the conditioning of canine (and feline!) athletes as well as to keep arthritic pets mobile and active.

Remember that after any kind of surgery, your pet’s surgeon may request subsequent visits to check on your pet’s progress. After each visit, your vet may have new instructions for helping your pet heal. It can be frustrating, but you and your vet have the same goal—getting your pet well. Be honest with your pet’s doctor about what you can and cannot handle, however, as it may affect further treatment plans.

If your vet believes that your cat or dog is suffering from an ailment that requires either orthopedic or soft tissue surgery and you live in the Malvern, Pennsylvania or the Greater Philadelphia area, give VRC a call today at 610-647-2950.

Why Is My Pet Always Sick?

 

Everybody gets sick. It’s a fact of life. When a pet gets sick, however, it can be a little harder to recognize. Dogs and cats can’t tell us “my tummy hurts,” or “I don’t feel like myself today,” so pet owners need to be aware of any changes in their animals. An illness may be indicated by things like unusual behavior, such as losing interest in playtime or walks, lack of interest in food, hiding for no reason, sleeping more than usual, weight loss or gain, and showing signs of general fatigue.

While observing occasional shifts in behavior is just a part of pet ownership, sudden dramatic changes or changes that persist for more than a few days are a sign that it’s time for a checkup with your family veterinarian, who may refer you to a veterinary internist in the greater Philadelphia area for further evaluation and treatment. A board-certified veterinary internist is a veterinarian that has special training dealing with diseases and illnesses associated with your pet’s internal organs. He or she has also passed a grueling specialized training and exam process.

Vomiting and diarrhea are two signs that your furry friend is really going through some troubles. Now, dogs and cats both vomit or have an occasional bout of diarrhea when they’ve eaten something they shouldn’t have, so neither should set off immediate warning bells… but frequent vomiting and/or diarrhea, combined with one or more of the unusual behaviors listed above, mean it’s time to take your dog or cat to the vet. While many consider it normal for cats and dogs to vomit up anything from hairballs to whatever your dog got into that day, it’s actually not good for them—and frequent illness can be an indicator of all sorts of other problems. So, if your pet vomits more than twice in a single day, and especially if the vomiting lasts for more than one day, bring him or her to a 24/7 emergency veterinary hospital or make an appointment with your family veterinarian. The cause may be something very common and easily treated, and yet, it’s always better to know for sure. There could be something of greater concern going on that a veterinary internist needs to diagnose and treat.

A frequent but remarkably under-diagnosed condition in pets is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). While you may have never heard of inflammatory bowel disease in pets, it’s more common than you might think. There’s no one specific cause for IBD, but some breeds of dogs and cats can be more susceptible than others, and it can affect dogs and cats of any breed and any age. There are some signs to watch out for, however.

What to Know About Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs

Dog breeds predisposed to IBD are French Bulldogs, Basenjis, Irish Setters, and Lundehunds. Many dogs from these breeds will never develop IBD, and many dogs, from shelter mutts to purebred Chihuahuas, will. Here’s a list of symptoms that may be indicators that your dog is suffering from IBD, but it’s always best to let your veterinarian diagnose your dog after you bring him or her in for a checkup:

  • Abdominal Pain
  • Bright Red Blood in Stool
  • Chronic Intermittent Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Changes to Coat Hair
  • Fatigue
  • Gas (Flatulence)
  • Rumbling and Gurgling Abdominal Sounds
  • Weight Loss

If you suspect your dog may have IBD, or if your dog is simply experiencing any of the above symptoms, bring him or her in for a checkup with your family veterinarian, who may recommend that your pet see an internist. The internist’s goals will be to identify the cause of those symptoms, and eventually reduce your dog’s discomfort by increasing his or her appetite, managing diarrhea, and vomiting, and helping him or her gain weight back after minimizing intestinal inflammation. This may take the form of reducing food allergens such as meat proteins, milk, gluten, artificial colors, and additives, among other treatments.

What to Know About Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Cats

IBD in cats can look similar to IBD in dogs, but they’re different species with their own physiologies and mannerisms. Siamese cats are the breed most predisposed to IBD, and the symptoms are largely the same—diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, intermittent vomiting, gas and abdominal pain, rumbling or gurgling abdominal sounds, and bright red blood in their stool. As in dogs, no single cause has been identified as the reason some cats develop IBD, but it’s suspected that food allergies can play a part, as can hypersensitivity to bacteria.

What You Can Do

Inflammatory Bowel Disease cannot be cured, but it can usually be successfully treated and controlled. A pet internist will design a therapy to increase your dog or cat’s comfort and reduce symptoms. It’s also extremely important to treat and reduce diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration, and stop most (if not all) of your pet’s vomiting. Usually, pets with IBD have lost weight or become anxious about eating, so it’s important to get their weight back up.

It’s possible your veterinary internist may be able to identify a cause of your pet’s IBD, although the variety of causes can make this a bit difficult. Sometimes the cause is dietary; other times, it can be because of parasites, bacteria, a reaction to a drug they might be taking, or something else entirely. If the internist can identify a cause of your pet’s IBD, it should be eliminated, especially if it is a dietary cause. In fact, dietary manipulation is one of the most effective ways of treating IBD, though sometimes medications are required

The reason we say IBD can be treated, but not cured, is that even once your veterinary internist gets your pet’s IBD under control, relapses can be common. VRC’s internist, Dr. Justin Guinan, a board-certified internal medicine specialist with years of experience, can help you minimize the chance of an IBD relapse in your pet. Before joining the VRC team, Dr. Guinan worked at clinics large and small, in both emergency and specialty medical care.

If your pet is experiencing gastric discomfort and advanced, specialty care has been recommended, take your dog or cat to a veterinary internist such as Dr. Guinan at VRC who can get to the bottom of your pet’s stomach troubles and recommend a course of action that will get him or her feeling a lot better, and quickly.

VRC is a specialty veterinary healthcare hospital located in the greater Philadelphia area. If you suspect your pet has IBD, or are worried about any other digestive issues, contact us immediately.

Memorial Day: Discount for Military, Police, and Assistance Dogs

On Memorial Day, we stop to remember the brave men and women who have given their lives while serving and defending our country. However, men and women aren’t the only ones who protect and serve. Across the country and around the world there are hundreds of thousands of military, police, and assistance dogs that help keep us safe every day. Whether they’re serving in Afghanistan or Iraq as military working dogs helping to detect explosives and perform guard duty, assisting the police in tracking down narcotics, or improving the lives of persons with disabilities right here in the United States, service dogs of all kinds deserve to have their work acknowledged, which is why at your VRC specialty veterinarian in Philadelphia, all military, police, and assistance dogs receive a 20% discount!

CONTRIBUTION TO MANKIND

Service dogs have been helping mankind since the days of the ancient Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, and Persians. Service dogs help visually impaired individuals cross busy streets, as well as performing search and rescue operations, acting as sentries, and helping to detect bombs and drugs. Right now, there are approximately 2,700 active-duty dogs serving in the military, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. Military working dogs (MWDs) help with everything from explosive and narcotics detection to scouting and patrol duty, and are deployed all over the world.

According to the United States Police Canine Association (USPCA), there are between 10,000 and 15,000 working police dogs in the United States, serving 90% of police departments in communities of 100,000 or more. That means more than 60% of all police officers in America are employed in departments where they may work alongside canine companions. While we often think of police dogs as primarily assigned to sniffing out drugs, they serve a wide variety of roles on the police force, including aiding in search and rescue efforts.

Finally, the University of Arizona has estimated that there are nearly 400,000 assistance dogs partnered with individuals with disabilities throughout the United States. While we may be most familiar with “seeing eye dogs” that assist those with visual impairments, these dogs aid a variety of individuals with disabilities including hearing impairments, PTSD and other mental illnesses, mobility impairments, diabetes, autism, and more. Assistance dogs are often more than just a help to individuals living with disabilities; they are also a much-needed friend and source of comfort.

DISCOUNT

All of these dogs who serve us in so many ways are an inspiration to us here at VRC, and we’re proud to offer a 20% discount for all training, active duty, or veteran service dogs, including those serving with the police, in the military, or as assistance dogs. If your best friend falls into one of these categories and needs specialty or emergency medical care for any reason, please let us know when you make your appointment.

CONTACT US

To learn more or schedule an appointment today, just contact VRC, a specialty veterinarian hospital in the Philadelphia area.