106 Hwy 22 South P.O. Box 477,
Mapleton, MN 56065

(507) 524-3748
(incl After Hour Emergency)

Pet Health Tips

Aggression Behavior in Cats

We see a lot of cats here at All Pets. Aggression behavior is not uncommon in cats, and we get questions about this from clients who are often pretty frustrated (understandably so). So I thought I would share a case example with you that involved aggression behavior in one of our feline patients. This client described that her neutered male kitten, @6 months old, was jumping and attacking people’s legs and hands, and sometimes demonstrated sexual behavior toward stuffed animals in home.

The technical term for this issue is “feline misdirected predatory aggression”. Normally a large part of young cat’s days are spent being predators, some cats have a larger than average need for that energy outlet. When confined in the house, often the only thing moving is the owners, so the cat naturally uses them for an outlet. The sexual activity that she described is also a symptom. We discussed considering the following:

  • Movement stimulates the predatory response, and often owners reinforce this behavior by their understandably rapid movements when the cat demonstrates the behavior.
  • Provide increased exposure to other cats and/or environments that allow predatory activity.
  • Utilize pheromones (Feliway) that have a calming affect.
  • Provide a perch and/or hiding places. Perches are an important part of any cat’s environment.
  • Provide food in toys (example Kongs) that the cat has to work at (and expend energy on) to get the food out.
  • Increase activity where the owner uses a flashlight or pointer (or other toy) that allows play with the cat that moves the cat away from the person.
  • Put toys that receive sexual attention away. If he starts using other toys decide which one you will allow him to have.
  • Confine during time periods when he typically shows inappropriate behavior.
  • Consider kitty TV videos – birds, fish, etc have been helpful.
  • Consider video taping him for us to view the inappropriate behavior.

At first the idea of getting another cat seemed completely backwards – plus she had to convince her spouse! They did get another cat however, about the same age and size as the first. She also utilized Feliway, provided perches, and started playing with the cats with a flashlight (lots of my clients like this – it’s a lot easier to sit in the recliner with the flashlight and let the cat do the work!!).

Her cat’s behavior improved almost immediately upon getting another cat. The two cats played, chased, and mock wrestled almost continuously from the time they met. They had little inclination to jump and grab a person’s hand when they could wrestle with the real thing! The moral to this story is that cats really are not little dogs; they have unique aspects about them that need to be addressed appropriately.

Feline behavior challenges can vary; let us know if you have questions about your feline pal!

Anal Glands, Oh-oh!

One common reason (and, unfortunately, one of the least dignified reasons!) for your pet to visit the vet is impacted anal glands. Here are a few comments concerning this subject.

Anal glands are small sacs that are located on each side of the rectum. Each sac empties into the rectum through a small hole. When that hole gets plugged, the sac fills with material resulting in discomfort for the pet, and the dog often responds by scooting around on it’s behind (trying to put pressure on the plugged gland to empty it). We see this regularly in dogs, but seldom in cats. “Expressing” the anal glands involves the vet placing proper pressure on the glands to empty them. Improperly expressing anal glands can result in rupture or infection. Most dogs tolerate this procedure pretty well, all things considered!!

Impacted anal glands can cause a wide variety of signs including:

  • The pet may “scoot” around on it’s behind.
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive chewing or scratching around the tail/behind.
  • Pain when having bowel movements.

Most dogs with impacted anal glands do not recur after the glands are expressed. A few dogs, however, develop a recurring problem that requires repeated expression or possibly surgery. Foods that are high in fiber and keeping your pet from becoming over weight may help. If you think your pet is experiencing discomfort from anal glands, or if you notice any swelling in the rectal area, it is important to have him/her examined by a veterinarian. Swelling in the rectal area of cats is especially important to have examined. Although impacted anal glands are not dangerous to your pet’s health, there are a number of other conditions (perianal fistulas, tumors, etc.) that can certainly be dangerous. Don’t hesitate to give us a call if you have any questions! about 6 years of age, many things inside your pet start to change, things that require the care you give your pet to change too!

Senior Pet Care

At about 6 years of age, many things inside your pet start to change, things that require the care you give your pet to change too!

Liver, kidneys, and other organs start to require specific levels of nutrients to stay healthy. Hip joints especially start to become painful. Teeth and gums that may have had tartar for a long time start to erode and become painful. A little extra weight can balloon into obesity when those sore hips reduce exercise levels.

If your dog or cat is 6 years old or older, we recommend the following:

A thorough annual physical exam. Our physical exams find many issues while they are still small and easy/less expensive to deal with. Remember that 6 months in your pet’s life is about like 3-4 years of a person’s life – don’t hesitate to have us examine your pet every 6 months if you feel he or she is experiencing changes.

Stay current on all vaccinations – older pet’s immune systems are not as strong so vaccinations become very important.

A high quality Senior diet.

An annual Senior Profile – a blood test that checks liver and kidney function, and checks for diabetes.

Pay special attention to those hips:

  • Start Dr. Klein’s at-home strength and flexibility exercises at 6 years of age.
  • At the first sign of rear end stiffness start PST therapy annually.
  • At the first sign of rear end pain start pain relief medication like Phycox or Metacam.

Watch that weight – your pet’s ribs right behind the shoulder blade should be as easy to feel as the bones on the back of your hand.

  • Exercise regularly – trotting is best (ask our staff why!).
  • At the first sign of extra weight, switch to Prescription Diet W/D.
  • If your dog is overweight and limiting food has not worked, a diet medication called Slentrol may be beneficial for us to prescribe. Sorry cats, Slentrol is for dogs only!

The senior years are some of the most satisfying times for a pet and owner. Owners may be faced with higher health expenses during these years. Pet insurance may be a tool for owners to consider to decrease the risk of unexpected health related expenses.

Diabetes – more common than you’d think!

We have a number of diabetic patients whose owners are successfully treating and are leading a great quality of life – much better than before they were diagnosed! I usually see these pets after they have had the disease for awhile – common comments from the owner include things like “he’s been drinking more water lately”, “she hasn’t been herself for awhile”, “his hair coat hasn’t been as shiny for awhile”. Drinking more water is a classical sign that can be due to several things, one of which is diabetes.

Don’t make assumptions – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had owners bring their dog or cat in worried that we would have to consider euthanasia because their neighbor had a pet that drank a lot of water due to a fatal disease, and from that one case they assume that’s what their pet has too! Diabetes is treatable, as are many other diseases that cause pets to drink lots of water.

Diabetes in pets is due to a lack of insulin production. When your pet eats a meal, that food is digested and the sugars and nutrients are absorbed into the blood stream. Insulin “carries” the sugars (also called glucose) from the blood into the muscle fibers. Without insulin, the glucose just builds up in the blood stream which causes problems – like extra urination so the pet has to drink more water to replace fluids lost in the urine. Also, the muscles need that glucose to function properly, which does not happen without insulin.

Three things affect successful diabetes treatment:

  • How much the pet eats each day (eating more increases glucose in the blood).
  • How much the pet exercises each day (exercising more decreases glucose in the blood).
  • How much insulin is given (giving more insulin decreases glucose in the blood).

I don’t care very much about the amounts of the above three things. I really care that each of those three things are consistent every day. If the pet eats the same amount and exercises the same amount each day, giving the same amount of insulin each day will keep the blood glucose at the levels we want – when we keep the glucose levels where we want them we call the diabetic “under control”. If the pet eats or exercises different amounts each day, we don’t know how much insulin to give, so we can’t keep the blood glucose levels where we want them and the diabetic is called “out of control”.

Diagnosing diabetes is really easy – a blood test that we do right in our office. Determining the right amount of insulin to give is a little more difficult. If we give too little insulin we don’t bring the blood glucose levels low enough. If we give too much insulin we could drive glucose levels so low that we could kill the pet.

Because of this I never send the pet home with insulin after the initial diagnosis. We schedule him or her to spend a couple of days at the clinic. That allows us to give some insulin, measure how low the blood glucose goes throughout the day, then give a little more or a little less insulin and measure the blood glucose – all under our staff’s watchful eyes. When the pet goes home we have determined an insulin dosage that we know is effective and safe.

Before the pet goes home we have a little training session with the owner. This is really exiting, although sometimes the owners are a little nervous. We go over the following things:

  • Handling insulin – it’s fragile, keep it refrigerated, always “roll” the bottle never shake or drop it.
  • How to handle the syringe safely to avoid poking yourself, disposal of needles after use, etc.
  • How to give injections by making a tent with the skin and inserting the needle in the “door” of the tent. Never have your finger on the “trigger” portion of the syringe until after inserting the needle under the skin. Almost every client is concerned about giving the injections, and almost every client comes back for their next checkup saying “that’s a piece of cake”!
  • Once the pet arrives home, either have just one person give all the injections or have a check off chart that assures your pet never gets two insulin injections by mistake!
  • Always have some Karo syrup (less irritating to the stomach than honey or maple syrup) available in case the pet experiences a diabetic emergency (the blood glucose drops too low due to too much insulin, ate too little food, or too much exercise – remember those three things need to stay consistent). Giving the syrup raises blood glucose within 10-15 minutes. Also, give me a call; I want to talk about what is happening.
  • Before the pet goes home the owner has to mix the insulin (for the training we use sterile water instead of insulin), draw it up in the syringe, get the air bubbles out, and give their pet an injection.

We usually recheck the blood glucose levels over time to continue to fine-tune the proper insulin dosage. Within a couple of weeks of starting treatment, many of these pets feel better than they have in a long time, so their exercise and eating patterns may change for the month or two requiring changes in insulin dosage.

The really cool thing about diabetes is that it is so “hands on” for the owner – these owners really feel like they are directly helping their pet’s health – and they are 100% right!!

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria that is spread by Ticks, primarily deer ticks. The actual transfer of the bacteria usually occurs 12 to 24 hours after the tick has attached to the dog. Often, but not always, there is a “target lesion” (a circular target shaped red discoloration of the skin) where the tick was attached.

The most common sign of Lyme disease is lameness / arthritic type pain that may affect more than one area of the dog’s body. Other signs include recurring fever / lethargy, and kidney failure.

Lyme disease also affects people. It is spread to people through tick bites; people do not get Lyme disease directly from a Lyme infected dog.

Last year All Pets started testing for Lyme disease. With a few drops of blood the test checks for Heartworm disease, Lyme disease, and two other diseases that are spread by ticks (Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis). So it is much more thorough than the old heartworm tests.

We found more Lyme positive dogs than Heartworm positive dogs last year, and that trend has continued this year. Also, although many of the Lyme positive dogs that we found were hunting type dogs, a surprising number were house dogs whose only potential exposure to ticks was their lawn.

We view Lyme disease prevention as having two layers.

The first layer is using a tick preventative that kills any tick that gets on the dog. We recommend Frontline for this, or in specific situations Advantix. Some of our clients have been pulling hundreds of ticks from their dogs so those geographical areas must be loaded, and in those cases we may chose to administer the Frontline twice monthly.

The discount store brands are less expensive and less effective.

The second layer of prevention is Lyme vaccine. This is a good vaccine that we recommend for any dog that has tick exposure. Initially, Lyme vaccine is given twice (2-3 weeks apart) and then annually.

Treatment for Lyme disease involved giving an antibiotic. Treatment is much more effective when done before the dog gets sick from Lyme disease, which is a big reason for testing.

If you have any questions or comments don’t hesitate to let us know!

Mon, Tue, Thurs: 7:15am to 6:30pm|Wednesday: 7:15am to 8:30pm|Friday: 7:15am to 5:00pm|Saturday: 8:00am to 2:00pm
EMERGENCIES: Call normal clinic number: (507) 524-3748 and press the button for emergencies (we have a vet on call 24/7).