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Hyperthyroidism in Cats - Common in Senior Cats but Treatable

As our cats get older, there are various diseases and/or ailments that are very typical among our senior cats. Hyperthyroidism is very common in cats and simply means that your cat has an overactive thyroid. The typical signs of hyperthyroidism usually include weight loss (despite increased appetite), increased energy or irritability, and increased thirst and urination to name just a few.  Your cat will seem a bit listless and not as energetic as he or she is typically.

If you think your cat is symptomatic of hyperthyroidism, make sure to take your cat to your veterinarian for a full blood panel.  Your veterinarian can then let you know your cat’s thyroid levels and discuss the various treatment options. 

Below are some of the treatments available today to help your cat.

1.  Hyperthyroid Prescribed Food

Hills Nutrition makes a prescribed food to help keep your cat’s thyroid balanced.  While this treatment is still relatively new, it makes an easy alternative to the below treatments.  My cat, Sammy, has been on the food and has his thyroid regulated and has worked very well for him.   The food is supposed to improve your cat’s thyroid in three weeks as it supports kidney health with controlled phosphorus and low sodium.   While the food can be expensive, it is a nice alternative to the other treatments listed below.

hyperthroid in cats

The only con is that the food is still very new and yet to be tested for the long term.  And, while your cat is eating this food, he can’t eat or snack on anything but the food.  Because iodine intake from other food sources -- treats, another pet's food, etc. -- can compromise the effectiveness of low-iodine nutrition, it's critical that you follow your veterinarian's feeding instructions carefully and feed only the prescribed food.

This is a great new treatment, but could prove difficult in a multi-cat household, where the hyperthyroid kitty could eat some of the other kitty’s food which negates the entire affect.  Further, if your cat is a finicky eater and does not eat enough of the prescribed food, it will not cure the hyperthyroidism and your cat might lose even more weight.

2.  Medication for your cat: Methimazole

This medication is in the form of a pill that needs to be given by mouth one to three times daily, depending on each cat's case. Alternatively, compounding pharmacies can create a tasty liquid medication or a paste that is applied to the inside of the ears for absorption if pilling the cat is difficult or not an option.  This drug works by suppressing the thyroid gland's production of thyroid hormone, but does not cure the disease. If treatment is stopped, the hyperthyroid condition will recur.

Methimazole Pros:

Does not require hospitalization or anesthesia and the initial costs are less; Initial costs are less and you can adjust the dose up or down fairly easily to control signs; and the side effects are usually mild and resolve over time (lethargy, anorexia, vomiting)

Methimazole Cons:

This medication is not a cure; signs will recur if the medication is stopped.  Blood test monitoring and the cost of pills can add up.  Some cats can experience more severe side effects (itching, liver failure, blood changes). Administering pills twice daily may be too difficult for the owner or the cat.

3.  Thyroid removal surgery

The thyroid gland consists of two parts, or lobes. Some vets remove only the visibly diseased lobe, others recommend removing both, since there is a high probability of the other lobe becoming diseased. Make sure that you have a skilled, recommended veterinary surgeon, and your kitty will be under a general anesthesia for the surgery. Careful pre-operative evaluation must be completed prior to surgery to assess kidney, liver and hyperthyroidism.

Surgery Pros:

The surgery is very often a curative for hyperthyroidism; No daily medications to administer.

Surgery Cons:

Anesthetic risk is higher for senior patients (and who often have compromised health of the heart or kidneys); more expense at one time and for post-surgery monitoring; if any thyroid tissue is left behind, it may become hyperthyroid.

4.  Radioiodine therapy

Treatment is via a single injection of radioiodine under the skin. The hyperactive thyroid tissue takes up large amounts of this substance via the bloodstream, and the diseased thyroid cells die.

Radioiodine Therapy Pros:

This is a curative for all diseased thyroid tissue in the body, even in atypical locations; No daily medications to administer; Safe - very few side effects; Parathyroid glands left intact; No anesthesia or surgery is necessary.

Radioiodine Therapy Cons:

Treatment must be given at a special facility; your cat must be boarded for a number of days post treatment due to radioactive wastes in litter box; Special disposal of litter box waste required for a period of weeks post treatment at home; A few cats may become hypothyroid post treatment Cats with underlying or latent problems, such as kidney failure, may have a rapid exacerbation of signs.

I hope that your cat never has hyperthyroidism, but if he or she does, it can be maintained.  Only you will know which seems like the best treatment option for your kitty.


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The Schnauzer – Sturdy, Fun and Intellingent!

The Schnauzer is a sturdy, heavy-set dog, built with good muscle and plenty of bone; square-built in proportion of body length to height. His rugged build and dense harsh coat are accentuated by the hallmark of the breed, the arched eyebrows and the bristly mustache and whiskers. Schnauzers are sociable companions and vigilant watchdogs. They’re great family dogs, good with kids and protective of loved ones of all ages.  

Schnauzers are usually salt and pepper or black

Schnauzers may be either pepper and salt or pure black. The pepper and salt coloring is a combination of black and white hairs, and white hairs banded with black. Pepper and salt coloring can range from dark iron gray to silver gray.

Pepper and salt-colored Schnauzers should have a gray undercoat, but a tan or fawn-colored undercoat is also a variant. It's also desirable for the facial mask to be darker and to complement the coat color. Sometimes, the pepper and salt colorations fades out to a light gray or silver white in the eyebrows, whiskers, cheeks, under the throat, across the chest, under the tail, and on the legs and belly.


Black Schnauzers have a dark, rich color that isn't discolored or mixed with any gray or tan hairs. The undercoat should also be black. As the dog ages or if he's exposed to sunlight a great deal, the black may fade and become a bit discolored. 

Miniature schnauzers are also very popular in the last few decades and look like the Standard, just a literal miniature version. Their wire coat needs combing once or twice weekly, plus scissoring and shaping (clipping for pets and stripping for show dogs) every couple of months.

Schnauzers need their daily exercise

This energetic breed can have its exercise requirements met with a moderate walk on leash or a good game in the yard. Even though it can physically survive living outdoors in warm to temperate climates, it emotionally needs to share its life with its family inside the home. But, make sure they have their yard space or an outdoor daily activity to satisfy their daily needs.

Schnauzers have a strong personality

Schnauzers do have strong personalities and can be stubborn. They have an uncanny way of determining your weaknesses and will take advantage of you whenever possible. If you're not careful, they'll rule the household; this is a breed that requires consistent and firm guidance from owners.

Schanuzers are affectionate and protective of family members. He's territorial and will alert you to the presence of strangers with a deep bark. Once you welcome someone into your home, however, he'll accept them as well. He loves to be the center of attention.

As with every dog, Schnauzers need early socialization and exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences, especially when they're young. Socialization helps ensure that your Schnauzer puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.  Schnauzers aren't especially fond of unknown dogs and may be aggressive toward them, but they can get along well with dogs and cats they're raised with. Keep smaller pets like mice, rats, hamsters and similar pets safely away from your Schnauzer as  his instinct to be a rat-catcher is still strong!

Schnauzers get along well with children of all ages

Schnauzers generally get along well with children of all ages, playing gently and kindly with younger ones.  As always, teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he's sleeping or eating or to try to take the dog's food away. No dog, no matter how good-natured, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.

Schnauzers aren't especially fond of unknown dogs and may be aggressive toward them, but they can get along well with dogs and cats they're raised with at home. Keep pet mice, rats, hamsters and similar pets safely away from him. His instinct to be a rat-catcher is still strong!

Schnauzers are healthy dogs

In general, Schnauzers should be sturdy and free of health problems. The incidence of hip dysplasia, which was once a major concern, has been brought under control by responsible owners through testing and selective breeding.  The miniature schnauzer can be susceptible to cataracts and inherited eye diseases, as well as to urinary tract infections and pancreatitis. If you are considering making a miniature schnauzer part of your life, you should research the health concerns associated with this breed and discuss potential problems with the breeder.

As always, even if you really want a Shnauzer, try your best to adopt one to bring into your home. You and your Schnauzer will be happy that you did!


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Hip Dysplasia in Dogs – Uncomfortable but Manageable

Hip dysplasia is one of the most common skeletal diseases in dogs. Gender does not seem to be a factor, but some breeds are more likely to have the genetic predisposition for hip dysplasia than other breeds. Large breeds, such as the Great Dane, Saint Bernard, Labrador retriever and German Shepherd are most commonly affected.  It is rare for smaller breed dogs to have the condition.   Hip dysplasia is an inherited condition resulting from an improperly formed hip joint. Because the joint is loose, the dog's leg bone moves around too much, causing painful wear and tear.

Hip Dysplasia symptoms can go from mild to severe


Some cases of hip dysplasia are so mild there are no symptoms, but if your dog seems stiff or sore in the hips when getting up, if he seems hesitant to exercise, stand on his hind legs or climb stairs, or if he’s limping or bunny-hopping, a visit to the vet is in order.  Some of the more obvious symptoms are difficulty in getting up; your dog’s reluctance to run, jump, or climb stairs, and hobbling.


Dog hip replacement now


Hip Dysplasia can start as a puppy


Each case is different, depending on the dog. Hip dysplasia can begin to develop in puppies of five months old and worsen as they age or not show up at all until a dog has reached geriatric years. In many cases, though, the condition becomes visible in dogs in their middle or later years.


How to determine if your dog has hip dysplasia


If you notice any of the symptoms above, it is important to take your dog to your veterinarian for an x-ray.  Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam on your dog, including a blood chemical profile, a complete blood count, an electrolyte panel and a urinalysis. Inflammation due to joint disease is usually noted in the complete blood count.


As part of determining the physical symptoms, your veterinarian will also need a thorough history of your dog's health, onset of symptoms, and any possible incidents or injuries that might have contributed to your dog's symptoms. Any information you have on your dog's parentage will be helpful as well.


Treatment for hip dysplasia


Because hip dysplasia is caused by an inherited defect, there are no products that can prevent its development. There are several surgical options, including a complete hip replacement. However, a combination of healthy diet, maintaining a normal weight, exercise, massage, warm and dry sleeping areas, joint supplements, anti-inflammatories and pain-relieving medication can help

manage the condition. Your vet will help you with a daily pain-relieving program that is right for your dog.


Short, flat walks and mild exercise are usually the recommend for dogs with hip dysplasia


As always, you should consult your veterinarian about a good exercise program for your dog. Walking and moderate running can help strengthen the muscles around the joint. Your vet may recommend that you try a few short walks each day and be sure to let your dog set the pace. As a general rule, it’s smart to avoid jumping or running for long distances. If you can, consider letting your dog swim for exercise as swimming is excellent for the muscles surrounding his joints.


Hip Dysplasia can sometimes be treated without surgery


Your dog might be treated on an outpatient basis as long as he or she does not require surgery. The decision for whether your dog will undergo surgery will depend on your dog's size, age, and intended function (i.e., whether your dog is a working dog, as many large breeds tend to be). It will also depend on the severity of joint looseness, degree of osteoarthritis, your veterinarian's preference for treatment and your budget.


A total hip replacement is done in mature dogs that are not responding well to medical therapy and that are suffering from severe osteoarthritis. In this surgery the ball of the hip joint is removed, leaving muscles to act as the joint.


Weight control is extremely important in dogs with bad hips


Weight control is an important aspect of recovery and is recommended to decrease the pressure applied to the painful joint as the dog moves. You and your veterinarian will need to work together to minimize any weight gain associated with reduced exercise during recovery.  Further, special diets designed for rapidly growing large-breed dogs may decrease the severity of hip dysplasia.  It’s always important for dogs that are prone to hip dysplasia to keep their weight in a normal range to avoid undue pressure on their hips.



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How to Detect and Treat Ear Mites in Cats

Ear mites in cats are very common and can be treated and detected upon onset. Ear mites are microscopic parasites which can infect the ears of a cat. They like to live in the warm, dark environment of the cat’s ear canal where they feed on skin debris. The mites create irritation and itchiness, which cause the cat to scratch its ears which can then cause problems such as skin infections or a swollen ear flap, which need veterinary attention.

Catching and treating ear mites quickly can avoid problems later and ensure a healthy, happy cat.  Below are the most common symptoms of ear mites in your cat:


 1. Excessive scratching of the ears

 2. Fresh or dried blood inside of the ear canal which may resemble coffee grounds.


3. Small white or black dots which are the actual mites.


4. Excessive shaking of the head


5. Dizziness and loss of balance


6. Flattened ears and/or unpleasant odor



Check my ears A.S.A.P


Look out for excess wax in your cat’s ears


Ear mites cause the lining of the ear canal to produce excessive amounts of wax. This wax is typically a dark brown/ black color, and can sometimes look like waxy dirt in the ear.  A cat with healthy ears will have minimal earwax. If you see something that looks like coffee grounds or flecks of black dirt in the ear, this is a sign of a possible ear health problem.

The cat's ear produces this wax as a defense against the impact of the infestation.  You can sometimes also detect a foul smell coming from your cat’s ear.


If you suspect your cat has ear mites, take your cat to the veterinarian immediately


Ear mites are not just found in cat’s ears but this yucky parasite can travel all over the cat's body. Without treatment, your cat's ear mite infestation can spread to other cats or dogs in your home. All family pets have to be treated if mites are found on just one animal. That's why a trip to your veterinarian should be scheduled if you suspect ear mites.

Ear mites are extremely tiny and not always visible to the naked eye, so a vet will have to examine your cat's ears with a special instrument known as an otoscope.  A secondary infection can result if the ear mite infestation is not treated. The sooner you bring your cat to the vet, the better.

Treatment and prevention of ear mites

First you must treat the ears. Clean your cat's ears, then apply ear mite drops to the ear canal for seven days. Ear mite medications are safe and can even be applied to kittens. Your vet will probably begin the treatment after diagnosis and then have you continue applying the drops from home over the next week.

Because mites can be located outside the ear area, the entire body of the cat should also be treated. Your cat should be bathed with an anti-parasite shampoo. These products are available everywhere - pet stores, on-line or from your vet.

One of the most effective treatments for ear mites in your cat is prevention.  There are different topical solutions on the market that your vet can recommend which prevent ear mites.  If you apply an ointment to your cat’s ears’ monthly, it is unlikely that he or she will ever get ear mites.

The duration of ear mites in your cats

The ear mite life cycle from eggs to adult takes about 21 days. From the time your cat becomes infected to the time the ear mites reach maturity, your cat might be infested with hundreds or thousands of mites.   But, again, this can be treated.

Make sure to check all your pets for ear mites

If you have more than one pet and suspect one of them has ear mites, check all their ears. Ear mites spread easily between animals if they sleep together or groom each other.  If you only treat the affected animal, it might be that other pets harbor the parasite but don't show signs, and can act as a reservoir for re-infection.

 If one pet has ear mites, it is more than likely that you will need to treat all the pets in the house to get rid of the infection.

 If you check your pets’ ears regularly and make sure they are clean, you are likely to beat ear mites before they get to your cat.



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 Marks July as Lost Pet Prevention Month!

Petpav is partnering with PetHub to get the word out as they mark July, 2015 as “Lost Pet Prevention” month.  Summer is here in full force and we pet owners are much more inclined to be outdoors with our pets, either walking them, playing with them or at outdoor festivities.  When we aren’t outdoors, our cats and dogs love to run outside to enjoy the warm temperatures.  It is vital that this month (and always) that your pet has the proper identification in case your pet gets lost or runs outdoor.

Below are some tips to help prevent your pet from getting lost:

Make sure your pet ALWAYS is wearing identification


Every cat or dog needs to have some sort of identification on them at all times.  Even if your pet is microchipped, it does not necessarily mean that your cat or dog can be found that easily.  Not all rescues and/or vets have a way to easily scan your pet’s information and a physical id is much easier to read.  If someone finds your lost pet and see a physical identification tag, they can just call you immediately with very little effort involved.


Take a look at this great infographic showing the benefits of physical ID Tags.



petpav picture of chart



Always have your pets’ medical records handy and/or stored digitally


PetHub offers not only physical identification tags but they have a way to store your pets’ medical records digitally.  

This is such a lifesaver as you don’t have to call your veterinarian immediately if your pet gets out and/or has special needs. It’s always nice to have a digital way to get to your cat or dog’s medical history as opposed to hard copies.

Secure your home’s surrounding to make a ‘pet escape’ difficult


With summer here and your dog outdoors much more than normal, make sure to check your home inside and out so your dog can’t escape.  Secure your gate if you have a home.  If a neighbor drops by, make sure that you don’t leave the door open long enough for your pet to escape.  If you open a screen door and/or have a patio, watch your pets while they relax outside in the sun.

Train your dog or cat that running outside (without you) is unacceptable


If you train your dog and/or cat from an early age that running out the front door is not allowed, your pets are more apt to stay inside. And, when outside, make sure that your dog has the proper leash and training so that he or she doesn’t run away from you if he sees something enticing.


If your pet does get out, start the search for your pet immediately.


If your pet does get out, start searching for your pet right away as he or she will have not traveled as far. Thoroughly search your surrounding property and continue in the direction that your pet was last seen. Go door-to-door, starting close by initially, moving further out later.


Bring a flashlight and check EVERYWHERE: in closets, cupboards, and all accessible spaces inside your home; behind the cars, inside pipes and culverts, in heavy brush, sheds, basement crawl spaces, open garages, under decks. Your pet may be stuck somewhere, extremely frightened, or injured and lying low. For lost cats and other climbing critters, check trees, roofs, and attics.


Leave food or a favorite toy outside your door


If you leave food out, hopefully your dog or cat will smell it and come running back if they haven’t ventured too far. This is especially true of cats who seem to come out of hiding if there is food involved or if they are just merely frightened.

Help us spread the word about declaring July as “Lost Pet Prevention Month”!  Make sure your pets are protected by having the proper protection.  You can get a pet identification tag directly form and find great articles and more detailed information about protecting your pet!


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