The Wet Nose Press Pet Blog

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June 24, 2016
by Lynn Merton
1 Comment

What are the Possible Causes of Your Cat’s Breathing Troubles?

Image Credit – Pixabay.com/

The respiratory system is comprised of many parts, including the throat, nose, the lungs and the windpipe. Air enters the nose and is carried to the lungs by a process referred to as inspiration. Once it reaches the lungs, the oxygen is transferred to the RBCs (red blood cells). The RBCs then carry oxygen to the other organs in the body.

When oxygen is transferred to the RBCs, carbon dioxide is transferred from the cells back to the lungs. It is expelled through the nose in a process called expiration. This cycle of breathing is controlled by the chest nerves and the respiratory centers located in the brain. Diseases that affect the brain’s respiratory center or the respiratory system can bring about a lot of breathing difficulties. Labored or troubled breathing is referred to as dyspnea, and rapid, excessive breathing is referred to as tachypnea (or polypnea).

Breathing difficulties can affect cats irrespective of their age or breed, and the problem can end up being life threatening. If your cat is having breathing problems, he should be taken to a vet as soon as possible.

Symptoms

  • Dyspnea
    o The chest and belly move when breathing
    o The nostrils may flare open when your cat is breathing
    o Breathing with the mouth open
    o Breathing with elbows that stick out from the body
    o Head and neck are held out and low in front
    o Inspiratory dyspnea (problem while breathing in)
    o Expiratory dyspnea (problem while breathing out)
    o Noisy breathing
  • Fast breathing
    o The breathing rate is much faster than normal
    o The mouth is closed usually
  • Panting

    o Shallow breaths
    o Fast breathing
    o Open mouth

Depending on the main problem, coughing is also one of the observable signs of breathing difficulty.
Causes

Dyspnea

  • Nasal diseases
    o Small nostrils
    o Bacterial or viral infection
    o Bleeding
    o Tumors
  • Diseases of the upper windpipe and the throat
    o The mouth’s roof is long
    o Tumors
    o Foreign object lodged in the throat
  • Diseases of the lower windpipe and the lungs
    o Bacterial or viral infection
    o Heart failure secondary to pulmonary edema
    o Enlarged heart
    o Heartworm infection
    o Tumors
    o Bleeding into the lungs
  • Diseases of the lungs’ small airways (bronchioles and bronchi)
    o Bacterial or viral infection
    o Allergies
    o Tumors
    o Asthma
  • Diseases of the pleural space (the space in the chest around the lungs)
    o Fluid due to heart failure
    o Pneumothorax (air in the chest)
    o Hemothorax (blood in the chest)
    o Tumors
  • Chest wall problems
    o Injury to the wall of the chest (trauma)
    o Toxins from a tick bite can paralyze the chest wall
    o Botulism toxins can paralyze the chest

  • Diseases that can affect the belly
    o Enlarged liver
    o Bloated stomach (filled with air)
    o Fluid collecting in the belly

Tachypnea

  • Low oxygen levels in the blood
  • Low RBC count
  • Asthma
  • Pulmonary edema secondary to heart failure
  • Pleural effusion
  • Tumor
  • Bleeding into the lungs

Panting

  • Medications
  • Pain
  • High Fever
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June 23, 2016
by Lynn Merton
1 Comment

How to Deal With Feline Coronavirus?

Image Credit – Pixabay.com/

Infectious peritonitis is a viral disease that affects cats and has a high mortality rate because of its aggressiveness and also its innate nonresponsiveness to high fever. The disease is even more common in households with more than one cat compared to single cat households. It is not easy to diagnose, prevent and control the condition, and if there is an outbreak with the kennels or breeding catteries, it can lead to a high number of deaths.

The disease spreads through the inhalation of infected feces and airborne contaminants. The virus can also be transmitted by humans who have been exposed to it. The virus also has an ability to stay active on contaminated surfaces.

It is a classic infection that exploits immature and weakened immune systems. They spread through the body via the white blood cells. It is very common in cats that are between four months to four years of age. The incidence of the condition drops sharply after that as the immune system gets stronger.

Symptoms

The symptoms of infectious peritonitis vary depending on the strain of the virus, the immune system of the cat and the affected organs. The two reported forms include the effusive form, which targets the cavities in the body and the noneffusive form, which targets the organ systems. The effusive form progresses much more rapidly than the dry form. The coat of the cat becomes dull and rough, and the cat becomes increasingly depressed and lethargic.
Effusive

  • Unresponsive and persistent fever
  • Appetite loss
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Fluid accumulation in the chest cavity
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Runny, sneezing nose
  • Lethargy

Non-effusive

  • Poor growth
  • Anemia
  • Diarrhea
  • Jaundice
  • Depression
  • Fever
  • Inflammation of different parts of the eye
  • Neurological symptoms, such as vision loss and the inability to coordinate movements

Causes

Peritonitis is usually followed by a coronavirus infection, which usually does not present with any outward symptoms. There are certain coronaviruses that mutate into the infectious peritonitis, on their own or because of a defect in the immune response of the cat. The coronavirus can also lie dormant before it mutates into FIP. It then infects the white blood cells, and uses them to hitch a ride throughout the body.

Diagnosis

It is difficult to diagnose because it can mimic many other diseases. There isn’t a definitive lab test that can point to FIP, but your vet can make a presumptive diagnosis based on the lab findings. A CBC panel might show the number of white blood cells which can be used to indicate the presence of the infection. However, there is no way to be sure as to what infection is present. Your vet might use a PCR test to differentiate the DNA of the coronavirus, but that is still not enough to tell what type of coronavirus it is.

Your vet might prescribe anti-inflammatories, antibiotics and immunosuppressants to slow down the progress of the disease. Although it is not a complete cure, it will prolong your cat’s life by a few months. Your vet might also remove the accumulated fluid from the cavity to reduce the pressure.

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June 22, 2016
by Lynn Merton
1 Comment

Loss of Gait in Cats

Image Credit – Pixabay.com/

There are three types of clinical ataxia – vestibular, sensory and cerebellar. All three of them could lead to limb incoordination, but cerebellar and vestibular ataxia can also produce changes in neck and head movement. Ataxia is related to sensory dysfunction and produces a loss of coordination of the head, limbs and trunk.

Sensory ataxia results from the compression of the spinal cord. One of the most common outward symptoms of the condition includes misplacing of the feet, accompanied by progressive weakness. It can occur with brain stem, spinal cord and cerebral locations of the lesions.

The vestibulocochlear nerve is responsible for carrying information about balance from the inner ear all the way to the brain. If it is damaged, it can cause changes in the neck and head position and your cat might feel a false sense of movement and will even show signs of hearing trouble.

The outward symptoms include tipping, leaning, rolling over or falling. Main vestibular signs include changing eye movements, weakness in the legs, sensory deficits, cranial nerve signs, stupor, drowsiness and coma. Peripheral signs do not include any change in the mental status, sensory deficits, vertical movements of the eye or weakness in the legs.
Cerebellar ataxia is often accompanied by uncoordinated limb, neck and head activity, taking uneven steps, head and body tremors and swaying of the torso. The motor activity and strength preservation are inadequate.

Symptoms

  • Limb weakness
  • Tilting of the head to one side
  • Hearing troubles
  • Tipping over, stumbling, swaying
  • Stupor or excessive drowsiness
  • Behavioral changes
  • Peculiar eye movements – might be due to vertigo or a false sense of movement
  • Appetite loss

Causes

  1. Neurological
    o Degenerative (abiotrophy – premature loss of cerebellum function)
    o Cerebellar
    o Anomalous – secondary development to the panleukopenia virus, cyst near the fourth ventricle
    o Cancer
    o Inflammatory, immune mediated, unknown causes
    o Infectious
    o Toxic
  2. Vestibular – CNS (Central Nervous System)
    o Infectious – ricketssial disease, feline infectious peritonitis
    o Inflammatory or immune mediated
    o Toxic
  3. Vestibular – peripheral system
    o Infectious – Middle ear or fungal
    o Unknown diseases
    o Cancer
    o Metabolic
    o Traumatic
  4. Spinal cord
    o Degeneration of the spinal cord and nerve roots
    o Vascular (loss of blood to the cat’s nervous system due to a clot)
    o Anomalous – spinal cyst or malformation
    o Infectious
    o Cancer
    o Traumatic
  5. Metabolic
    o Electrolyte disturbance
    o Anemia

Diagnosis

Your vet will need a thorough history of your cat’s health, symptoms and possible incidents that could have preceded the condition. Your vet will order all the standard tests, including a CBC, a blood chemical profile, an electrolyte panel and urinalysis. Imaging might be needed to determine if the disease has affected the cerebellum, spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system. Abdominal and chest X-rays might be needed to determine if there is a systemic infection or cancer.

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June 21, 2016
by Lynn Merton
1 Comment

Does Your Cat Have High Blood Sugar?

Image Credit – Pixabay.com/

Hyperglycemia is a term that is used to refer to higher than normal glucose levels in the blood. Glucose, a carbohydrate sugar that circulates in the bloodstream is responsible for supplying energy to the body and the normal levels of glucose are anywhere between 75 and 120 mg.

The pancreas produce insulin and release it into the bloodstream when the level of glucose rises and it plays a crucial role in keeping the blood sugar within the normal limits. If there is an insulin deficiency of if the insulin concentration is low, there is a sharp rise in the glucose levels leading to hyperglycemia.

Pancreatitis can be a cause of hyperglycemia as it impairs the pancreas’ ability to produce insulin. Other causes include hormonal imbalance, diet and infections of the urinary tract or the teeth. Senior cats are at a high risk for developing hyperglycemia. However, no breed is disposed to the condition. Male cats that are neutered are also at risk.

In general, our feline friends are prone to hyperglycemia, especially when they are under stress (the sugar levels can spike up to 300 or 400 mg). This is quite often just a temporary spike and necessitates further observation as it is not sufficient to diagnose diabetes mellitus or chronic hyperglycemia.

Symptoms

The clinical symptoms of the condition vary depending on the underlying condition. Your cat might not show any of the symptoms, especially if the spike is temporary or due to hormonal imbalance or stress. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Increased urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Weight loss
  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive hunger
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Cataract
  • Nerve damage in the leg
  • Liver enlargement
  • Severe depression
  • Wounds that do not heal (and increased chance of bacterial and fungal infection)
  • Tissue damage (because of the excess sugar’s oxidizing effect)

Causes

Some harmful drug interactions (especially with heartworm medication), or intake of solutions with high glucose can lead to hyperglycemia. Some of the reasons for low glucose consumption include:

  • Diabetes mellitus
  • High levels of progesterone
  • Acute pancreatitis
  • Insufficient waste excretion by the kidneys
    Reasons for high glucose production include:
  • Pheochromocytoma
  • Hyperadrenocorticism
  • Pancreatic neoplasia
  • Glucagonoma
    Physiological causes:
  • Soon after the meal
  • Excitement
  • Exertion
  • Stress

Infections:

  • Bacterial or fungal infections that can drive up the blood sugar levels
  • Kidney infection
  • Dental infection
  • Urinary tract infection

Diagnosis and treatment

The vet will conduct a complete blood profile, including a CBC, a chemical profile and urinalysis. The blood samples will be tested immediately for high levels of blood sugar. In cases where the spike is due to hormones or stress, the only abnormal thing would be the raised blood sugar.

Urinalysis might also reveal higher glucose levels, bacteria, pus and excessive ketones in the urine, as is observed with diabetes mellitus. The treatment for the condition depends on the underlying cause. Bringing down the glucose levels abruptly can cause hypoglycemia. Your vet will guide you on the most appropriate course of action.

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June 20, 2016
by Lynn Merton
1 Comment

What Do Heart Murmurs in Your Cat Indicate?

Image Credit – Pixabay.com/

Extra vibrations in the heart due to disturbances in the blood flow produce an audible noise, referred to as murmurs. They are classified according to a number of characteristics, including the timing. For instance, systolic murmurs can be heard when the muscle in the heart contracts and diastolic murmurs can be heard when the heart relaxes in between beats. Continuous murmurs can be heard throughout the lifetime of the heart cycle.

Symptoms

The symptoms of murmurs depend on a lot of characteristics, from grade and location to configuration. However, if the murmur is the consequence of a structural disease, you will see signs of congestive heart failure, like weakness, coughing and exercise intolerance.

Grading scale

  • Scale 1 – Barely audible
  • Scale 2 – Soft, but can be heard quite easily with a stethoscope
  • Scale 3 – Intermediate loudness; a lot of the murmurs that are related to blood circulation are scale 3
  • Scale 4 – You can hear a loud murmur which radiates widely, often to the opposite sides of the chest
  • Scale 5 – Very loud and it is audible even when the stethoscope barely touches the chest. The vibration is strong and can be felt through the chest wall of the animal

Configuration

  • Plateau murmurs and uniformly loud and are a symptom of blood regurgitation through an abnormal orifice in the valves.
  • Decrescendo-crescendo murmurs tend to get softer and then louder and are symptomatic of ejection murmurs due to a turbulence in the blood flow.
  • Decrescendo murmurs start out loud and get softer – they are symptomatic of diastolic murmurs.

Causes

Murmurs are caused due to:

  • Disturbances in the blood flow due to a high flow through abnormal or normal valves or due to structures vibrating when the blood flows.
  • Flow disturbances due to an outflow obstruction or because of forward flow through a diseased valve or into a dilated vessel.
  • Flow disturbances due to regurgitant flow from an incompetent valve, a septum defect or patent ductus arteriosus.

Diagnosis

In order to figure out the exact cause of the symptoms, your vet must be able to differentiate between a number of heart sounds – ejection sounds, split sounds, clicks and gallop rhythms, for instance. He/she must also be able to tell between abnormal heart and lung sounds, and listen to see if the timing of abnormal sounds correlates with heartbeat or respiration.

The radiation and location of the murmur, as well as its timing during the cardiac cycle, is another way of figuring out the underlying cause. This can be accomplished by doing a wide number of tests, including Doppler studies, chest X-rays and echocardiography. A complete blood panel is the preferred way of confirming an anemic murmur.

Treatment

Unless there is indication of heart failure, you cat will be considered an outpatient. The treatment course depends on the clinical signs. Cats with low-grade murmurs, for instance, do not need any treatment and the murmur will resolve itself in six months.