Tag Archives: Cat Healthcare

A Petcare Wellness Center At Walmart Offers
Affordable But Limited Cat Health Care

VEtIQ plans to open 1,000 in-store pet wellness centers by 2023.
Jon Schulte-Fotolia.com

Coming soon to a store near you: a VetIQ Petcare Wellness Center at Walmart. Think of it as a MinuteClinic for cats. The walk-in wellness centers don’t take appointments, and offer a limited menu of services at prices considerably lower than you’d pay at a conventional veterinary clinic. Twenty locations are open now. But VetIQ expects to be in 1,000 stores by 2023.

For Healthy Cats Only

If your cat is sick, a petcare wellness center at Walmart isn’t going to be much help. The clinics’ services for cats are limited to physical exams, blood panels, vaccinations, intestinal parasite screenings, nail trims, microchipping and health certificates for travel.  
If your cat needs something that’s not on the menu of services — a dental, for instance, or care for a chronic disease like diabetes or hyperthyroidism —  the wellness center veterinarian will refer you to a conventional vet clinic. If your cat needs medication, you’ll get a prescription to be filled at the Walmart Pharmacy. 

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A $1 Billion Business

Owned by PetIQ, a manufacturer and distributor of supplements and flea, tick and heartworm preventatives for dogs, the petcare wellness centers at Walmart promise “affordable, quality wellness veterinary care in a convenient, friendly environment.” But they also promise healthy profits for PetIQ. 
The company expects its pet wellness centers, along with its veterinary products lines, will generate more than $1 billion in sales by 2023.

If you’re on a tight budget and need to save money on veterinary care, the petcare wellness center at Walmart might be a good place to start. A senior blood panel there costs $105. It would be considerably more at a full-service vet clinic.

But You Still Need That Old-Fashioned Animal Hospital

While it often feels like vets charge way too much, their hospitals are businesses that must cover expenses, pay salaries and provide a living wage for the vets. Those costs include expensive surgical and imaging equipment, a fully stocked pharmacy and building maintenance and repairs. 

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Except for salaries, the petcare wellness centers at Walmart have none of those costs, so they can afford to charge less. 

If a PetIQ Petcare Wellness Center hasn’t come to a Walmart near you just yet, here are some other ways to make veterinary care more affordable

High On Hemp?
New Chews With CBD For Cats Help Kitty Chill

CBD for cats can help Kitty chill when she's feeling stressed.
© wildshots4u – Fotolia.com

It’s not exactly a pot party, but Green Coast Pet’s new Full-Spectrum Hemp Chews for cats promise to help kitty chill when she’s feeling a bit stressed.

CBD for cats isn’t exactly new. There’s been quite a buzz about it for a while. But the whitefish flavored chews sound like a lot more fun than a few drops of the oil mixed in wet food.

The chews are cold-extruded, not cooked, so the active ingredients don’t lose any of their potency. 

About Hemp: Pot, It’s Not

The bad news for party animals is that they won’t get high on hemp chews, no matter how many they eat. 

Hemp and the cannabis plants that become marijuana are close relatives and have a lot in common. But there are some differences, too, the main ones being their recreational value and heredity. 

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If you don’t know the history of that stuff you might have smoked when you were a teenager, cannabis is believed to be one of the oldest domestic plants. For centuries, people have grown different varieties for industrial, medicinal and sometimes recreational purposes.

Tall, sturdy plants were grown by early civilizations to make a variety of foods, oils and textiles, such as rope and fabrics,” the website LeafScience says. “These plants were bred with other plants with the same characteristics, leading to the type of cannabis we now know as hemp.”

Hemp has many uses, in addition to producing CBD for cats who are anxious or in pain. I have a beautiful hemp backpack and cruelty-free, vegan hemp moisturizer that I love. Hemp is also used for plant-based plastics, durable paper and military grade fabric.

And the weed you used to smoke? Other types of cannabis plants “were recognized for being psychoactive and were bred selectively for medical and religious purposes,” LeafScience says. Add recreational purposes to that, since they contain ample amounts of THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis that causes a high.

The Health Benefits Of CBD For Cats

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Although it’s legal to buy and sell hemp in all 50 states, laws restricting the use of marijuana make studies on the benefits of medicinal marijuana and hemp challenging. So vets use anecdotal evidence when suggesting clients use hemp, or CBD, for cats.

CBD is said to reduce inflammation, itching, anxiety and pain and lessen or eliminate seizure activity. 

Angie Krause, a holistic veterinarian in Boulder, Col., recommends CBD for cats with irritable bowel disease, pancreatitis, arthritis, chronic upper respiratory infections, asthma and cancer. 

Dr. Krause says the most common side effects of CBD are increased appetite and decreased anxiety. But she says some cats can become sedate and should stop taking CBD.

Like anything else you feed your cat, be sure to check the label on the CBD you purchase. Was the plant grown without the use of pesticides? What is the concentration — does it contain enough CBD to be effective?  Or does it contain more THC than it should? Products made with less than 0.3 percent of THC are legal in all 50 states and are usually safe for cats.

Also check for other ingredients. Products that contain only hemp are best. 

Before They Chew On This

It’s always a good idea to get your vet’s opinion on a new supplement for your cats, even if you think the vet might tell you supplements are useless. What you want to know is whether the vet thinks they’re dangerous.

So while I’m tempted to buy Green Coast Pet’s hemp chews for my cats, I think I’ll run them by my vet first. I’m hoping she’ll tell me she hasn’t heard about any bad experiences with CBD for cats, and my cats can safely enjoy their therapeutic pot parties. 

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Bugged By Fleas
Flea Allergy Dermatitis In Cats Is On The Rise

Flea allergy dermatitis in cats is becoming more common.
Blame it on climate change. Cats are getting more fleas, and flea allergy dermatitis in cats is becoming more common, according to Banfield Pet Hospitals’ 2018 State of Pet Health Report.

The report says there’s been an astonishing 67 percent increase in flea allergy dermatitis in cats since 2008. In 2017, 170 of every 10,000 cats seen at Banfield hospitals had the allergic reaction to fleas. In 2008, just 102 of every 10,000 cats developed flea allergy dermatitis. 

Some cats are so sensitive to fleas, just one bite can cause an allergic reaction, or dermatitis.

Is Climate Change Causing More Flea Allergy Dermatitis In Cats?

Emi Saito, Banfield’s senior manager of veterinary research programs, suggests that climate change could be at least part of the reason vets are seeing more flea allergy dermatitis in cats.

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With warmer weather, fleas are thriving. And the more fleas there are, the more cats are likely to have an allergic reaction. 

How will you know if your cat has flea allergy dermatitis? Frantic scratching and scabs on her back, especially close to her neck and the base of her tail, are two signs.

Preventing Fleas The Natural Way 

One of the best ways to keep your cats from getting fleas is to give them a healthy wet food diet. Fleas like old, debilitated cats and don’t have much interest in the healthy ones.

Here are some more natural ways to prevent fleas.
  • Sprinkle beneficial nematodes around your yard. Most garden stores sell them. 
  • Use a flea comb to comb your cat with a mixture of half apple cider vinegar and half water. 
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon of brewer’s yeast to your cat’s wet food. 
  • Rub the juice from a freshly squeezed lemon or orange on your cat’s fur. Use fresh fruit, not essential oils, which can be toxic to cats. And beware: Many cats hate the smell of citrus. Put some juice on a leg to see how your cat reacts to this new scent before doing the whole cat.
  • Use a flea comb and comb your cat often. This will remove any lurking fleas. Get rid of the fur you comb off outside.

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New Study Shows Link Between Dental & Kidney Disease In Cats

New research shows a link between dental and kidney disease in cats.

If you’ve been putting off that dental your cat needs, maybe you should drop everything and call the veterinary dentist right now. A new study confirms what vets have suspected for a long time: There’s a link between dental and chronic kidney disease in cats.

The study, reported by the Winn Feline Foundation, looked at 56,414 cats who had periodontal disease when their vet clinics enrolled them in the study. Researchers followed them for 11 years.

Which Cats Are Most At Risk Of Kidney Disease?

In addition to the link between dental and kidney disease in cats, the researchers found older, spayed/neutered, female purebred cats were most likely to develop chronic kidney disease.

Other risk factors included more dental cleanings than cats in a control group, recent anesthesia and  FVRCP  vaccinations.

And it’s not just the link between dental and kidney disease that causes concern. Cats with dental disease are more prone to heart disease, cystitis, diabetes, hypertension, hyperthyroidism and other health issues.

“The authors conclude that breed, age and severity of dental disease are all risk factors for the development of chronic kidney disease in domestic cats,” Wynn writes. “Purebreds are likely at increased risk compared to mixed breed cats, likely due to genetic influences.”

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What To Do About The Link Between Dental And Kidney Disease In Cats

If nothing else, the study provides some talking points for you to bring up next time you see your vet. A couple of easy answers are to refuse those FVRCP  vaccinations, because your cats don’t need them anyway. And care for your cats’ teeth as carefully as you care for your own.
Brush you cats’ teeth regularly. See if they’ll eat dental treats and chews. And try to eliminate or cut way back on dry food. Cats don’t actually chew dry food. They either swallow it whole or manage to splinter it with their teeth. When it splinters, it manages to work its way under the gums, causing dental disease.
Raw meat is another way to keep your cats’ teeth clean. Mine love big chunks of raw beef. They tear and shred them and eat the way cats’ are designed to eat.
Here’s a good video on brushing your cats’ teeth.
Today’s Recommendation

There are among the treats recommended

Caring For Diabetic Cats |The American Animal Hospital Association Has New Guidelines

The American Animal Hospital Association has new guidelines for caring for diabetic cats.

The American Animal Hospital Association has new guidelines for veterinarians caring for diabetic cats. Among their suggestions are some things the lay experts at Felinediabetes.com have been recommending for years: home testing and an all-wet-food diet for diabetic cats.

One in 230 cats has diabetes, according to Zoetis, the manufacturer of Revolution, Clavamox and other medications for animals. Like other experts, Zoetis says feline diabetes is often under diagnosed. A recent study reported by the Winn Feline Foundation found that the top risk factors for feline diabetes are obesity, an inactive strictly-indoors lifestyle, repeated steroid injections and an all- or mostly-dry food diet.

Caring For Diabetic Cats

In its guidelines, the AAHA says remission is a “reasonable goal” for diabetic cats. 

Among its suggestions for caring for diabetic cats:

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  • Use Lantus, Levemir or Prozinc insulin, and start with a very low dose. You can gradually work your way up to a therapeutic level.
  • Give the insulin every 12 hours. Although Lantus and Levemir are labeled as once-a-day insulins for humans, most cats do better with two doses a day.
  • Use “creative feeding tools,” like food puzzles, especially for obese cats. 
  • Diabetic cats should have high protein, low-carb diets. “Canned foods are preferred over dry foods,” the AAHA says. The guidelines discourage high-fiber foods. 
  • Do blood glucose curves at home to avoid high numbers caused by the stress of being in the hospital. 
  • Help With Caring For Diabetic Cats

    Caring for diabetic cats can be difficult and scary, at least at first. The Feline Diabetes Message Board is a wonderful source of information and support. The board also has a Facebook page.
    Next time you see your vet, you might want to print the AAHA’s guidelines on caring for diabetic cats and take them with you. It can be difficult for vets to stay up to speed on every illness they treat, and your vet might find the new guidelines very helpful.

    How’s Your Vet Feeling? Young Vets Are Stressed, Study Finds

    Young vets are stressed, study shows.

    How’s your vet feeling today?  If she’s stressed, she has lots of company. A study by Merck Animal Health and the American Veterinary Medical Association found that young vets are stressed, mainly by college debt.

    The study looked at the mental health of 3500 vets nationwide. It found that the overall mental health of veterinarians is in line with the general population. But they experience more stress, or have a lower quality of life, than people in other professions.

    Why Vets Are Stressed 

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    Seems like spending your workdays dealing with cranky cats and over-protective people would be stressful enough. Add to that the worry of paying off huge college loans, and it’s no wonder young vets are stressed.
    According to the Veterinary Information Network Foundation, in 2016, the total cost of attending vet school at a public university for four years ranged from $147,000-$250,000 for in-state students. Non-resident tuition was $191,000-$338,000. Tuition at private universities was $264,000-$393,000.

    When they graduate, the VIN Foundation says, new veterinarians can expect to earn between $50,000-$70,000 a year, depending on the practice type and species they treat. Veterinarians who care for food animals earn more than vets who see cats and dogs. Men earn slightly more than women.

    Most young vets will need 20-30 years to repay their student loans. And while the starting salaries may sound high, physicians and people in other advanced professions earn more.

    “For many generations of veterinarians, the positives of the profession far outweighed the negatives,” the VIN Foundation says. “But the past two decades have seen significant increases in educational costs without a comparable increase in salaries.

    “The hours can be long, the physical effort grueling, and the emotional impact of treating ill and injured animals daily can be difficult. While salaries vary widely, veterinarians rarely become wealthy”

    Still, the VIN Foundation says, “the emotional and intellectual rewards of veterinary medicine are rich and diverse.” And maybe even more important than money, “it offers unparalleled opportunities to celebrate the human-animal bond and contribute to the welfare of humans and animals.”

    Clients Are Stressed, Too

    Vets are stressed, but clients are, too. They worry about the high cost of health care for their cats.
    While vets are stressed by college loans and the everyday pressures of their job, clients are stressed, too. They worry about the high cost of veterinary care. Cats don’t always get the care they need because it can be so expensive.
    But running an animal hospital is a business, and that business needs to be profitable to survive. And, of course, you want your vet to have the latest, state-of-the-art equipment.
    While the industry seeks solutions to the vets’ stress and potential burnout, I might have some solutions for you. Here are some ways to make veterinary care more affordable and to get help with vet bills.

    Your vet will probably understand that you need to save money where you can. After all, she’s probably pinching pennies, too.

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    Arthritis Treatments For Cats — Add Tramdol To The List

    Arthritis treatments for cats now include tramadol

    A new study suggests vets can add tramadol to the list of arthritis treatments for cats. Reported by the Winn Feline Foundation, the study looked at 24 geriatric cats with osteoarthritis in at least one joint. Researchers found that cats who got 2mg of tramadol
    every 12 hours had improved
    levels of activity.

    The most common arthritis treatments for cats are glucosamine supplements, Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs can have serious and sometimes deadly side effects. But tramadol, too, has drawbacks.

    How Tramadol Works

    Tramadol is similar to morphine. It blocks the opioid receptors in the brain that transmit the sensation of pain throughout the body.

    Some side effects can include drowsiness and weakness, vomiting, constipation and loss of appetite. A tramadol overdose, the 1-800-PetMeds website warns, can be fatal.

    If you decide to use tramadol for your cat, don’t stop it suddenly. Ask your vet how to wean your cat off the drug to avoid uncomfortable and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

    Other Arthritis Treatments For Cats

    My favorite arthritis treatments for cats are injectable adequan (you can do it at home) and acupuncture. Other arthritis treatments for cats include massage and laser therapy. 
    It’s been my experience that the glucosamine supplements are not very effective. But when a cat has arthritis, something is better than nothing.
    Arthritis is painful, and walking and climbing with difficulty can have a dramatic effect on your cat’s quality of life. 
    How do you know if your cat’s in pain? A cat with arthritis might hiss or growl when you touch his back. Other signs of pain include loss of appetite, depression, sleeping more than normal, hiding and sitting or crouching in an unusual position. 
    Today’s Recommendation
    Cat steps will make it easier
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    cat to get to his favorite places.

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    Dental Treats For Cats Take A Bite Out Of Vets’ Pocketbooks

    Dental treats for cats and other forms of home care seem to be replacing dental care by veterinarians.

    Here’s something to chew on: Dental treats for cats are taking a bite out of vets’ pocketbooks as more and more people opt for home dental care for their cats instead of expensive dentistry at the vet’s office.

    Just eight percent of the people who responded to the 2017-2018 American Pet Products Association’s National Pet Owners Survey said their cats saw a veterinarian for dental care in the past year. Meanwhile, Packaged Facts found that dental treats for cats and dogs account for 25 percent of all treat sales. Dental chews also took a sizable bite out of vets’ pocketbooks.

    But Do Dental Treats For Cats Clean Their Teeth?

    Theoretically, cats sink their teeth into the porous surface of dental treats, and the abrasive action scrapes off tartar and plaque. But veterinary dentist Mary Buelow says while this may clean the cusp areas of the teeth, dental treats for cats are less effective at the gum line, where periodontal disease is most likely to occur.

    Still, she says, they can “play a part in oral health maintenance.” And in its State of Pet Health 2016 Report. Banfield Pet Hospitals says cat dental treats and chews can help prevent tartar buildup.

    Buelow recommends C.E.T. Oral Hygiene treats for cats because they provide antibacterial effects in the cat’s mouth. Other veterinarians suggest treats accepted by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. Those include the ubiquitous Greenies, Purina Pro Plan Dental Crunch Cat Snacks and Purina DentaLife Daily Oral Care Cat Treats.

    Brush We Must

    Other ways to keep your cats’ teeth clean include giving them pieces of raw meat to gnaw on and freeze-dried raw meat chunks. The ground bones and enzymes in raw food help keep the teeth clean.
    But veterinarians agree nothing beats brushing your cat’s teeth. Do it daily if you can, or at least once a week. And if your cat will absolutely not accept a toothbrush, try using dental wipes instead.
    How do you brush a cat’s teeth? Take a look at this video.

    Feline Diabetes Risk Factors: Dry Cat Food & Cats Living Strictly Indoors

    Feline diabetes risk factors include dry food and living strictly indoors. according to a new study.

    Here’s a good reason for making sure your cats get some outdoor time. Among the feline diabetes risk factors: dry food and living strictly indoors. This news comes from a study by a Swedish pet insurance company and published by the Winn  Feline Foundation.

    Using a Web-based survey, the insurance company looked at 396 diabetic cats and 1670 control cats. Among the findings: The risk of feline diabetes increases for inactive and moderately active cats who live strictly indoors.

    All of the cats in the study were the same age.

    The cats least likely to develop diabetes: females, cats who are not overweight, cats who have access to outdoors and cats who free feed (but not dry food). Living with a dog helps, too!

    Top Feline Diabetes Risk Factors

    Although veterinarians have known about some of the feline diabetes risk factors reported in the study for a long time, the look at Swedish cats provided some new information, too.

    According to the study, overweight and obese cats are more prone to diabetes. We already knew that. But the connection between an all- or mostly-dry-food diet and diabetes even in cats with normal body condition had never been reported before.

    Other feline diabetes risk factors include…
    • A strictly indoor lifestyle
    • “Greedy eaters,” as opposed to nibblers. The Winn Feline Foundation says this is also a new finding, and it could be where free feeding to lessen the risk of diabetes comes in.
    •  A history of repeated steroid injections.
    In reporting on the study, Winn points out that humans and cats share some diabetes risk factors. An inactive lifestyle, being overweight and greedy eating are risk factors for people, too.

    Today’s Recommendation

    Can giving a cat access to outside help prevent feline diabetes? There are many good reasons for getting a cat outdoors, so maybe it can. If you decide to give it a try, the Kitty Holster is a safe, very secure harness.

    Fat Cats Are Getting Even Fatter

    Obese Orange Cat
    © katrinaelena – Fotolia.com

    Pet Insurance has some disturbing news for cat caretakers. For the
    fourth year in a row, claims for obesity-related illnesses have gone up. VPI policyholders filed for more than $52 million
    in claims for conditions and diseases that can be related to obesity in
    both cats and dogs, up 7.3 percent from the previous year.

    These were the top 10 obesity-related illnesses in cats.

    1. Bladder/urinary tract disease
    2. Chronic kidney disease
    3. Diabetes
    4. Liver disease
    5. Asthma
    6. Arthritis
    7. High blood pressure
    8.  Heart failure
    9. Gall bladder disorder
    10. Immobility of the spine.

    are our cats getting so fat? Their sedentary, strictly-indoor lifestyle
    is partly to blame. But the main culprit is those high-carb,
    all-dry-food diets.

    If your cat needs to shed a few pounds, read up on the Catkins Diet. And if you want to help him kick the dry food habit, these suggestions should help.