VSSF

Pets And Back to School Blues

VSSF Admin - Sunday, August 16, 2015

It's that time of year again, summer is just about over. With all the excitement of the kids going back to school, many families may no think what this means to our furry family members. The dog may start chewing on things he shouldn't and the cat may start meowing more. This behavior may be related to back to school blues!


Dogs and cats love a routine it makes them feel secure. They like knowing that certain things happen at about the same time each day, and they know where they want to be when it happens. If the kids have been around all summer, playing outside with the dog, or giving kitty extra love and snuggles, and suddenly they are gone all day, it's upsetting. For some pets, they just feel sad and confused, and others feel real separation anxiety and may act up.

The first thing to note is that this is a family matter, and a good opportunity for the kids to take more responsibility for the care of their pets. Let your kids know that their dog or cat is going to miss them when they're gone all day, and discuss what they can do to help their pets through it.
One of the best ways for a pet to get over the loss of one routine is to replace it with another. Your pet may be sad all day at first, but if he knows that at 3:45 your kids will be home from school and will actively play with him soon after each day, your pet has something new to look forward to. If your child has a set time to do homework or read, that's an excellent time for the dog or cat to curl up next to her and "help" with studying. Ask your kids to think of other ways to include their pets in their routines.

If your pet exhibits true separation anxiety, as in, he goes crazy when he sees your kids put on their backpacks to leave for school, or is destructive when everyone is gone, you'll have to do some gentle training to ease his stress. Your kids may feel sorry for their pet and do a long sad goodbye. This only reinforces your pets fears and builds up the anxiety.

It'€™s better to make the goodbye upbeat and brief, or eliminate it completely. Depending on your pet, he may respond well to a goodbye petting, a little goodbye treat, or simply leaving with a cheerful "good boy!" as your kids go out the door. This should happen before your pet gets upset. If your pet is freaking out, absolutely do not reward with anything. If you can get your pet to calm down a€“ if it'€™s a dog, a simple "sit!" command may help. Then reward with petting and telling him he's ok once he's calm.

If your pet gets upset just by the backpacks or car keys being picked up, pick those items up and walk around the house with them several times a day, but don't leave. Your pet will learn not to associate those items with the pending doom of your kids leaving.

If everyone is gone all day, both parents included, your pets are going to be bored on top of being upset. It's important to leave them some interactive toys to help them pass the time. Eventually, they will get used to the new reality, and will likely sleep most of the day.

You can balance the boredom by providing vigorous exercise each day when you or your kids are home. Remember, you and your kids may have had a very busy day, but your pet has done virtually nothing, unless there is evidence  as in a shredded or chewed up sofa. Providing your dog or cat active, vigorous play each day will help them burn up their pent up energy.

Take your dog for a run or go outside and throw a ball or flying disk. For your cat, run around the house with a little toy on the end of a string. You may also want to consider getting your pet a little buddy to keep him company when no one is home. Even an aloof adult cat is likely to accept a kitten into her life, and the kitten will entice the older cat to play. And dogs, being true social animals, nearly always accept another dog to play with.

Remember, your pets can get nervous, upset, anxious or lonely just like people, only they don't have the benefit of knowing that you'€™ll be back when you leave. It's up to you and your kids to make your pets feel secure in ways they understand.




Cerebellar Ataxia in Pit bulls

VSSF Admin - Sunday, July 26, 2015

Does your Pit Bull or American Staffordshire terrier have a head tilt, or showing signs of loss of balance...

Pit bulls, or American Staffordshire terriers, can suffer from a genetic neurological disorder called Cerebellar Cortical Disintegration or Cerebellar Ataxia. Because this disease shows up in adulthood, it's not uncommon for affected dogs to be bred, passing it on to another generation.

Cerebellar Ataxia, affects a dog's ability to balance. Approximately 1 in 400 pit-bull-type dogs might suffer from this disorder. This disease results in premature aging and death of cells in the cerebellum, the part of the brain in charge of coordination. While cerebellar cortical disintegration often affects other dog breeds in puppyhood, that's not true of the pit bull or American Staffordshire terrier.

Symptoms

Symptoms of cerebellar cortical disintegration don't appear until an affected pit bull is between the ages of 2 and 6, or ever later. Early signs are subtle -- the dog might appear to be just a bit "off." He might appear fine walking on flat surfaces; but if the terrain shifts or he changes direction, he might stumble or fall over. As the disintegration progresses, the pit bull can no longer negotiate stairs or perform other simple tasks. He might exhibit nystagmus, a condition in which his eyes move in various directions. Eventually, the dog loses the ability to walk.

Diagnosis

Along with a physical examination, your vet can diagnose cerebellar ataxia via magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).There is also a blood test that is now available through a genetic laboratory in France. There is no cure for the disease. Make your dog as comfortable as possible, keeping him on firm surfaces and helping him navigate. Eventually, you will have to consider euthanizing  your dog. According to a 2004 study published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, the time from onset of clinical signs to varied from six months to over six years, with the majority of affected dogs put down within two to four years after diagnosis.

Genetic Testing

To avoid the heartache of dealing with a dog with cerebellar ataxia, don't purchase a Staffy puppy unless he has been genetically tested and found free of the disorder. A genetics laboratory requires either a blood sample or cheek swab in order to conduct the DNA testing. The results will show whether your dog is normal and will not develop or transmit the disease; or is a carrier, who won't develop the disease himself but will transmit it to 50 percent of his offspring; or is affected. If it's the latter, not only will he develop the disease, but all his offspring will have it. Unfortunately Cerebellar Ataxia is always fatal and there is no cure. The important thing to remember is quality of life!



GASTRIC DILATATION AND VOLVULUS (GDV)

VSSF Admin - Thursday, July 09, 2015
 

 
What is GDV?
Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV) is a life threatening disorder most commonly seen in large, deep-chested dogs. The term refers to a gas-filled stomach (bloat) that then twists upon itself. It is a medical emergency that usually requires surgery to correct.
 
What causes the condition?
 
The definite cause is still unknown. The most common history is a large breed dog that eats or drinks rapidly and then exercises. In recent studies, stress was found to be a contributing factor to GDV. Dogs that were found to be more relaxed and calm were at less risk of developing GDV than dogs described as "hyper' or "fearful". Sometimes the condition progresses no further than simple dilatation (bloat) but in other instances the huge, gas-filled stomach twists upon itself so that both entrance and exit (cardia and pylorus) are occluded.
 
Is GDV serious?
 
Yes. This is probably one of the most serious non-traumatic conditions. Veterinary help is needed without delay.
 
 
Why does the dog collapse?
 
The gas filled stomach presses on the large veins in the abdomen that carry blood back to the heart. Tissues become deprived of blood and oxygen resulting in shock. In addition, the pressure of the gas on the stomach wall results in inadequate circulation and the stomach tissues will begin to die and may rupture. Digestion ceases and toxins accumulate in the blood, exacerbating the shock.
 
 
Are some dogs more prone than others?
 
Yes, statistically we know that large, deep chested breeds are more prone to GDV. These include Great Danes, Saint Bernards, Weimaraners, Irish Setters, Gordon Setters, Standard Poodles, Basset Hounds, Doberman Pinschers, and Old English Sheepdogs. Most commonly the condition occurs two to three hours after eating a large meal.
 
These are the facts:-
 
·         The condition almost always occurs in giant or large breed dogs with narrow, deep chests.
·         Gastric dilatation, usually without volvulus, occasionally occurs in elderly small dogs.
·         The distended stomach pushes the posterior rib cage so that the dog appears swollen or "bloated". This is most obvious on the left side and gentle tapping of the swelling just behind the last rib often produces hollow, drum-like sounds.
·         The enlarged stomach presses on the diaphragm and breathing becomes labored.
·         The swollen stomach also presses on the larger blood vessels in the abdomen and circulation is seriously compromised, resulting in shock.
·         Ultimately, the dog collapses and the huge size of the abdomen can be appreciated as the dog lays on its side.
 
Is it possible to distinguish between gastric dilatation (GD) and gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV)?
 
No. These two conditions often look identical on examination. Radiographs and other diagnostic tests will establish whether or not the stomach has twisted.
 What can be done?
 
·         Veterinary assistance must be sought immediately.
·         It is imperative that the pressure on the stomach wall and internal organs is reduced as soon as possible. The veterinarian may first attempt to pass a stomach tube. If this is not possible due to twisting of the stomach, a large bore needle may be passed through the skin into the stomach to relieve the pressure in the stomach.
·         Shock treatment will begin immediately by administering intravenous fluids and medications.
·         Once the patient has been stabilized, the stomach must be returned to its proper position. This involves major abdominal surgery and may be delayed until the patient is able to undergo anesthesia.
 
How is the surgery done?
 
The primary goal of surgery is to return the stomach to its normal position, remove any dead or dying stomach tissues and help prevent future GDV. There are several techniques available includinggastropexy (suturing the stomach wall to the abdominal wall) and pyloroplasty (surgical opening of the pylorus to improve stomach outflow). Your veterinarian will discuss the technique or combination of techniques best for your pet's condition.
 
What is the survival rate?
 
This depends upon how long the pet has had GDV, the degree of shock, the severity of the condition, cardiac problems, stomach wall necrosis, length of surgery, etc.
 
Even in relatively uncomplicated cases there is a mortality rate of 15-20% for GDV.
 
Can the condition be prevented?
 
Gastropexy (surgical attachment of stomach to body wall) is the most effective means of prevention. In high-risk breeds, some veterinarians recommend prophylactic gastropexy. This does not prevent dilatation (bloat) but does prevent twisting (volvulus) in the majority of cases. However, there is always a risk of the gastropexy failing and you should seek veterinary care if your dog becomes bloated.

 

365/24/7 Emergency Care

VSSF Admin - Saturday, June 27, 2015

The emergency and critical care service is staffed 24/7/365 with veterinarians, nurses/technicians and support staff to provide the needs for your sick or injured companion.

Upon arrival to our hospital, our emergency and critical care team will triage your pet—we will determine patient status and provide immediate attention, if it is required such as treating a bleeding wound or providing oxygen for pets having trouble breathing.

Unfortunately, we do not treat birds or other exotic pets; however, we will direct you to hospitals that do provide such care.

Once the veterinarian has evaluated your pet through history taking and performing a physical exam, a diagnostic and treatment plan will be presented to you.  Options for tests such as X-rays and blood work, hospitalization and treatments will be discussed. 

What to do in case of an emergency:

What is an emergency?  We feel that anything which causes a pet owner to be alarmed, enough so to contact us is important.  It’s always better to be cautious when it comes to your beloved pet’s health. 

1)  If you are concerned about your pet, please contact us.

2) Remain calm.  Alert a family member, friend or neighbor about the situation.  You may need help from that person to transport the pet to our hospital.

3)  Inform our staff about your pet’s condition over the telephone before you arrive.


Some common emergency tips:

Bufo toad poisoning: These toads cause heart and nervous system problems. Symptoms include: drunken behavior (staggering, falling over), excessive drooling/foaming from mouth, and seizures.

If your pet is not seizing and is conscious, rinse the mouth with running water by placing a sink sprayer or garden hose in the corner of the mouth.
Do not try to make your pet drink or force water down your pet's throat.
Do not give any other liquid or food, use only water.
If your pet is seizing, unconscious, falling over or becomes very stiff come to the hospital as soon as possible.
Pets exposed to poison or medication:
Call our hospital, you may be directed to contact Animal Poison Control (1-888-426-4435, fee charged) or you may be directed to give something to induce vomiting.
Be prepared to bring your pet to the hospital. Certain toxins and drugs have antidotes which we can administer.
Always bring the packaging or vial that the suspected substance was kept in. The label will provide information such as the main ingredient and its concentration.
If your pet's skin was exposed to a chemical or insecticide - bathe your pet using dish soap and water.
Pets that sustained trauma:
Approach injured pets with caution - they may bite anyone when in pain (including their owner).
Use plywood, blankets or an ironing board as a stretcher to move your pet if it cannot walk.
Place clean towels over any open wounds and apply direct pressure to any bleeding wounds.
Never place a tourniquet unless directed to do so by a veterinarian.
Pets that are vomiting or having diarrhea:
Call the hospital, you may be directed to remove your pets' food/water.
Excessive vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration which requires medical attention. Be prepared to bring your pet to the hospital.
Do not give your pet any over-the-counter medication such as Imodium unless directed to do so by a veterinarian.

What are some common household items to avoid?

Dogs:
No grapes or raisins—in some dogs it causes kidney failure

No onions or Kale—can cause anemia

No chocolate or caffeine —can cause tremors and seizures

No sugarless gum or sweeteners—these products contain Xylitol which causes severe              hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)

Human pain killers—dogs metabolize these drugs differently than people—only give medication prescribed or directed by a veterinarian

Sago palm—any part of this decorative landscaping, especially the seeds are deadly

Cats:
Lillies—all parts of the flower are poisonous and lead to kidney failure

Degreasers/Antifreeze—(dogs are poisoned too!!), causes irreversible kidney failure/death

Tylenol—one regular strength tablet will kill a cat, it causes their blood to loose its ability to carry oxygen

Spot-on/topical flea killers—some of these products are mistakenly placed on cats when they are labeled for dogs only.  Overdose causes tremors and seizures.

Remember... we are here for you 365/24/7

Signs Of Dehydration In Dogs

VSSF Admin - Friday, June 19, 2015

Summer time is here and the heat can take its toll on our furry loved ones. Please don't leave them out in the summer heat and when they are out always make sure they have plenty of fresh water. Even if they are inside please make sure they have fresh water available.

Dehydration occurs when the total body water is less than normal. Usually it involves loss of both water and electrolytes, which are minerals such as sodium, chloride and potassium. Dehydration is caused by either a lack of food or water intake or an increase in water loss through illness or injury.  A fever further increases the loss of water.   
When there is not enough body water, fluid shifts out of the body cells to compensate, leaving the cells deficient in necessary water. This leads to dehydration. The severity of the dehydration is based on the magnitude of these body water shifts.  Dogs lose fluid through: breathing, panting, elimination, diarrhea, vomiting, fever and evaporation through the feet and other body surfaces.  Dogs replenish fluid by drinking water or other liquids and by eating moist foods.  

Beginning Signs Visibly tired Slowed pace/ Less animation Excessive panting, signs of warmth Changes in attitude (i.e. appears more apprehensive) Eyes appear sunken and lack moisture Dry mouth, gums, nose  

Intermediate Signs The skin loses elasticity- Pinch a little skin between your thumb and forefinger on your dog's back.  When you release it, it should pop back into place immediately.  As the tissue under the skin loses moisture, the skin moves back more slowly.  In extreme cases, the skin doesn't pop back.  

Delayed capillary refill time- Place your index finger firmly against the gums so that they appear white.  Remove your finger and see how quickly the blood returns to the gums. The time it takes for the gums of a dehydrated dog to return to their pink state will be slower than normal.  Rectal temperature remains > 105° F  

Final Signs Weak in the hind end Wobbly and unsteady on feet  
Tips To Avoid Dehydration Maintaining a constant fluid level is as important in dogs as it is in humans. 

1.  Dogs lose a lot of water while panting. Leave two or three bowls filled with water around the house, so that he gets enough to drink.   
2.  If he has not had a good drink for a long time, start re-hydration slowly ... allowing your dog a few sips every few minutes.  Over drinking after a dry spell can quickly lead to vomiting and he 
may end up losing more fluids than he had.   
3. Don't let your dog drink excessive amounts of water after a strenuous exercise session.   
4. Wait a few minutes after your dog has exerted in very heavy exercise and then allow frequent but small amounts every few minutes.  
5.  If your dog is showing some signs of dehydration, give him electrolyte mixed in water. While water helps in replenishing a lot of nutrients, electrolyte can do the job more quickly. 
 6. Dogs who have gone a long time without water have a problem holding it down. So let him lick ice, he hydrates himself with licking the ice.    
7.  If your dog refuses to drink for any extended period of time, consult your veterinarian immediately!  

Diagnosis Blood tests such as a complete blood count and biochemistry profile are important to try to find the underlying cause of the dehydration but may not reveal if dehydration is present.   
The most important tests are a packed cell volume and total blood protein test. These tests are done on a blood sample and can help reveal if dehydration is present.  If the packed cell volume and total protein are elevated, dehydration is present.  
Determining the concentration of the urine can also help determine if the pet is dehydrated and if the kidneys are affected.   
Treatment The treatment for dehydration is to supplement the body with fluids. It is often not possible for an ill pet to ingest sufficient water to correct dehydration. Fluids are typically administered as an injection. The most efficient method of  hydration is through intravenous fluids. This requires hospitalization as well as an intravenous catheter.   
Fluid replacement is done slowly to allow the body to compensate and slowly replenish tissues starved of fluid. 

Remember just as we need our water so do they! The difference is they can't get it themselves they rely on us to do so. 

Canine Tracheal Collapse

VSSF Admin - Monday, June 08, 2015

Canine Tracheal Collapse Nick Schroeder, DVM DACVIM (cardiology)

Many small-breed dogs suffer from collapsing trachea. This is a condition in which the supporting cartilage rings for the windpipe are unable to maintain their shape, resulting in narrowing of the airway. This typically leads to chronic coughing, which is often characterized as having a honking sound (goose-honking). Severely affected patients may have marked difficulty breathing and even life-threatening airway obstruction. The most commonly affected breeds include the Yorkshire terrier and Pomeranian, though any small-breed dog may be affected. Large-breed dogs rarely have this problem.

Diagnosis of tracheal collapse is made using the history, physical examination, and chest x-rays (thoracic radiographs). Occasionally, direct visualization using tracheoscopy or fluoroscopy is necessary for diagnosis of dynamic airway collapse.

Patients with tracheal collapse rarely quit coughing altogether. Typically, we can medically manage patients to reduce the frequency of coughing. If the coughing suddenly worsens, sounds “wet” or rattles, then we may consider a transtracheal wash to collect samples from the airways for culture and sensitivity and cytology. Patients should be off antibiotics for at least 48 hours before having this procedure done. Regular administration of a cough suppressant is critical to medical management. Patients may require tapering courses of corticosteroids to help reduce inflammation that is associated with airway collapse. Patients that develop secondary airway infections require antibiotics. Periodic reevaluation with chest x-rays is advised to monitor for complications such as lower airway collapse, and concurrent heart or lung disease.

Patients that have severe airway obstruction (difficulty getting air in, turning blue in the tongue, etc.) or patients with symptoms that are refractory to medical management are potential candidates for tracheal stent implantation. This is a last-ditch effort to save a patient’s life. Expected complications associated with tracheal stent implantation include fracture, chronic airway infection and granuloma formation.

Patients that are overweight benefit greatly from weight loss. Your veterinarian can work with you to devise a weight loss plan. Neck leads should be avoided. Use a harness when walking to avoid undue pressure across the neck.

Owners should monitor affected pets for excessive coughing, difficult or labored breathing, and should bring them in immediately on emergency for oxygen therapy if they are having marked labored breathing and a bluish color to the tongue. Severely affected patients in a crisis may require oxygen therapy, injectable corticosteroids and sedatives.

Minimizing excitement and activity helps when patients are having excessive coughing. Sometimes isolating patients in a dimly lit room by themselves is enough to do the trick. Other patients become quite agitated if left alone and need to be picked up. Distracting others with mild activity such as a short walk may be helpful.

HurricaneTips, Be Prepared.

VSSF Admin - Wednesday, May 27, 2015

June 1 marks the official beginning of hurricane season in the United States. If you happen to live on the Atlantic or Gulf coasts you already know this … but are you and your pet prepared — or are you waiting until the first storm scare arrives? Don't wait be prepare and remember we are always here for you 24/7 365 days a year. 

 Hurricanes, like floods, brushfires, and tornadoes, can be frightening things to be caught in (and these tips can be applied to those natural disasters, too). But with some forethought and preparation, you can make things easier and safer for you and your furry loved ones.  

 

1. Make a Plan

Simply put, be prepared. Decide on a course of action and make sure you can initiate it at a moment's notice. Have supplies set aside in a safe, easily accessible place. It’s like having candles or a flashlight under the kitchen sink in case of a black out. You may never need them, but if a blackout happens, there’s no need to scramble in the dark, because you know exactly where to go and what to do for light.

 2. Stick to your Plan

Whatever your decision is, stick to it. Otherwise, you may put your pet in real danger. If you decide to leave town at the first sign of warning, then do so as planned. No dilly-dallying. Changing your mind or changing the plan often leads to unnecessary accidents, as you’re no longer prepared.  

 3. Emergency Kit

A pet savvy emergency kit isn’t that much different to yours. Enough water for three days, non-perishable food (include a can opener if needed), a solid carrier, litter, litter box, puppy pads, plastic bags, medicine and medical records for both you and your pet in waterproof containers, extra leash, and a picture of your pet on you in case the worst happens and you get separated. Tags and/or micro chipping your pet will also make it easier to recover, should it get lost. If your pet is micro chipped make sure it is updated through the company in which the chip is supplied.  

 4. Staying In

If you’re staying home to ride out the storm, keep your pet in its carrier or on a leash. You never know when you might be forced to evacuate. And even if that doesn’t happen, you don’t want to be tracking down a petrified pet during the chaos. Therefore, secure your pet before the storm hits.  

 5. Going Out

Stay tuned to the news reports. If you’re told to evacuate, you must do so at first warning. Moreover, it helps to have everything ready to go. We suggest a backpack that holds all the essentials for you and your pet. And make sure you know ahead of time exactly where all the shelters are and how to get there.  

 6. Stay Calm

Whether you leave early, choose to stay, or are required to evacuate due to the storm's severity or due to house damage, remember to stay calm. Your pet can sense your emotions, so a calming demeanor can lead to a less-panicked pet. Oh, and don't forget to speak to your pet in a calm, soothing voice, too.  

 

Please plan ahead to make this Hurricane season a safe one if the need should arise. 

 

Summer Time Safety Tips

VSSF Admin - Saturday, May 16, 2015
 Even though the weather has become a lot warmer, don’t allow your dog to become a couch potato. He still needs exercise, although it’s essential to take some extra precautions to keep him healthy and safe no matter how high the mercury rises. Here's a great article we found to ensure your furry loved one has a safe and fun summer.

Don’t overdo it: During the summer months, it’s especially important to take things slowly with your dog to prevent him from overheating. Keep exercise sessions short and sweet—a shorter walk outdoors followed by a break and then a play session indoors may be just the right mix. And on especially hot days, try to exercise indoors as much as possible to keep your dog cool and comfortable. 

Avoid the hottest part of the day: In general, the sun is at its peak between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., so it’s best to exercise your dog in the early morning or evening, when temperatures are cooler. 

Provide lots of water: Did you know that your dog’s body comprises approximately 70 percent water? Water is an essential nutrient that keeps his cells functioning properly; without it, his body will shut down. While exercising, a dog sweats primarily through his paw pads, so it’s crucial that he have access to cool, fresh water at all times to replace what he’s expending. If he’s playing outdoors, place a water bowl in a shady area to ensure easy access. Go out and buy a plastic kiddy pool fill up and put in the shade so they can go in and cool themselves. Hose time can also be a great exercise and helps keep them cool at the same time.  

Respect your dog’s breed: Certain breeds, like the Pug and Bulldog, are considered “brachycephalic,” which means that they have flattened heads and shortened muzzles. How does this affect exercise in warm weather? The structure of their faces makes it harder for these types of breeds to breathe, so they are extra sensitive to prolonged, strenuous activity and more prone to heatstroke. 

Apply sunscreen: It may seem odd, but dogs can become sunburned, just as humans do! Light-colored and shorthair breeds are especially susceptible. For the best protection, apply a pet-specific sunscreen to your dog’s ears, nose, muzzle, and anywhere you see pink skin. If your dog is light-colored or shorthair, spray him all over with a pet-safe sunscreen. 

Supervise all activities: No matter which activities you and your dog enjoy, supervise him at all times. For example, swimming can be a fun summertime sport, and many dogs enjoy the water immensely—but the swimming pool can be a dangerous place. Make sure that the pool is fenced to prevent your pooch from accidentally falling in, and install stairs to make getting in and out of the water a breeze. 

Observe your dog’s condition: Whenever you and your dog are outdoors in warm weather, watch for signs of overexertion or heatstroke. A dog with heatstroke may display symptoms such as rapid breathing, a pounding heartbeat, and high body temperature. Call the vet immediately if your dog experiences this emergency medical condition. Your best bet is to prevent the problem in the first place by limiting strenuous outdoor exercise on warm days and by never leaving your pup in poorly ventilated areas. 

The dog days of summer don’t have to be long and miserable. By following just a few exercise safety tips, you and your dog can beat the heat with no problem! 



What Is Fading Kitten Syndrome

VSSF Admin - Saturday, May 02, 2015

Fading Kitten Syndrome can be heart breaking because sometimes there is nothing anyone can do to save a kitten with the condition. FKS, as it is known is not a disease but rather a variety of symptoms with the first being the death of a kitten for no apparent reason.

Owners or breeders who are extremely aware of the symptoms might be able to do all that's necessary to save kittens with the condition, but this does rather depend on the causes of it. Many people who make it their mission to rescue and foster nursing or pregnant cats and who regularly foster kittens, get to know the symptoms. Feral cats are especially prone to FKS which is why rescue centers tend to spay all cats in their care and this includes pregnant females.

This is deemed the safest route with some vets referring to the procedure as “Feline abortion – an unnerving necessity”. It's the first six to eight weeks that kittens are at most serious risk of being the victims of Fading Kitten Syndrome, although some vets believe people should use twelve weeks as a guideline to when kittens are most at risk.

The Symptoms To Look Out For

  • Kittens are extremely light at birth which means it is often the runt of the litter that will become the “Fader”.
  • Kittens are unable to nurse properly whereas a healthy kitten will nurse pretty quickly. Very often the “fader” in the litter just does not have enough strength to grasp hold of mom's nipple. The kitten does not get the necessary colostrum within the first 72 hours which is the all important first milk that mom produces. This milk gives kittens the antibodies they need to combat many illnesses and is known as giving “passive immunity” to the newborns. Luckily, in these modern times there are a few companies that manufacture colostrum for kittens – one of which is Just Born Milk Replacer Colostrum.
  • Mom abandons the kitten/kittens because instinctively, she knows that they are weak – this is very much the case of the “survival of the fittest”.
  • Kittens suffer from hypothermia because they are not able to regulate their own body heat and temperatures and as such rely totally on mom. Should mom abandon a kitten, they will very rapidly develop hypothermia. Kittens become lethargic with their gums and mouth turning a bluish color instead of nice healthy pink color. Sadly, kittens die soon after unless you are there to intervene and provide the necessary warmth. This will revive the little creature but then you will need to feed them the right type of food so they can build up their strength again.

What Causes Fading Kitten Syndrome?

When it comes to what causes this condition, it gets a little complicated because you have to look at the cause or causes of why it first happens, and then offer the right sort of treatment in an attempt to save any kittens with the condition. However, below are a few of the most common causes of FKS:

  • Mom suffered some sort of disease or malnutrition during gestation. This can be the cause of the condition in her kittens when they are born. When mom has a first litter during the “kitten season”, the kittens are usually strong because she is in good condition. The problem arises if mom is allowed to have more than one litter in the course of a year – cats are able to have up to five litters over the course of 12 months! If mom has more than one litter, the chances are her kittens won't get all they need during the embryo stage and therefore risk being “Faders” simply because mom might be weaker or she may not have been given enough food to support her pregnancy.
  • Infectious diseases of which they are several. can very rapidly take hold and kittens will suffer the consequences. If you have rescued a pregnant feral cat it is really important to keep her away from any other domestic cats you may have in your home. Everything you use for the feral mom must be thoroughly sterilized so that no infection can be transmitted to any other cats.
  • Fleas and other parasites can really do a lot of damage if a kitten or kittens become infested. The kittens will very rapidly become anemic or suffer from hemobartonella – both conditions are very dangerous for young kittens and death is normally the outcome.

Some kittens may appear perfectly normal and healthy when they are first born which can be very confusing when they suddenly die for no apparent reason. However, the kittens were born with what is known as an “occult disease” at birth which brings on Fading Kitten Syndrome and unless you spot there is something wrong and act quickly, kittens usually die pretty quickly.

How To Treat The Condition

Good nursing care is essential if you think a kitten or kittens may have Fading Kitten Syndrome. It takes a lot to notice there is something wrong with the youngster, but then constant care is needed if the kitten is to survive. However, the prognosis should always be guarded. A healthy kitten should weigh in at around 100g when they are first born and then put on around 10-15g a day thereafter – if you are worried, you will have to carefully monitor the kitten's weight on a daily basis and then decide how to proceed with the help of your vet.

If you notice one or more of the kittens doesn't seem keen to fight for their food, then you will need to feed them the correct colostrum within the first 72 hours and then continue feeding them a replacement kitten milk in order for them to gain strength and survive. Kittens that are too quiet should cause concern too, because this could be an indication there is a problem.

You will also need to make sure the kitten or kittens are kept warm so that hypothermia does not set in. If the mother cat is suffering from mastitis, then you would need to get her to the vet as soon as possible. You would also need to ask the vet for a food supplement to feed the kittens. However, vets always remain guarded as to whether kittens will survive after becoming “Faders”, but this never means every effort should not be made to save them.

If you are thinking about rescuing a nursing mom and are not sure about her past or how she has been treated or vaccinated, then you should always keep her away from any of your existing cats. When the kittens are born, you would need to keep a close eye on them from the word go. The first 72 hours are crucial for kittens because this is when they take mum's first milk known as colostrum. If a kitten does not get this first milk, you would have to supplement it as previously mentioned so you give the kitten a chance of survival.

HEATSTROKE

VSSF Admin - Sunday, April 26, 2015
To our Florida Furry Friends:
 
It's that time that we worry about HEAT STROKE!  Did you know that this is a LIFE-THREATENING emergency?
 
Heat stroke occurs most commonly dogs- any dog is at risk, but obese and brachycephalic (short nose) dogs are predisposed.  It can occur if a dog is left in a hot car for too long, is playing/running outside or is left outside without any shade or water.  The most common misconception is that if you run your dog same time every day, your pup won't get heat stroke the next day you run with them... unfortunately, this is false as the humidity and/or temperature can vary.
 
Clinical signs of heat stroke including excessive panting, staggering, collapse or altered mentation.  We worry about four body systems with heat injury including kidneys (acute kidney failure), gastrointestinal (vomiting, diarrhea), blood (clotting problems) and neurological (altered mentation, seizures).  Dogs can also develop injury to their liver or become hypoglycemic (low blood sugar).  If you suspect your dog is experiencing heat stroke, emergency cooling should begin immediately at home or in the hospital, stopping cooling methods at 103F to avoid further problems.  If you start cooling at home, please head to the hospital ASAP for further treatment and diagnostic testing.
 
Heat stroke can also occur from multiple, untreated seizures or even an upper airway obstruction.  Regardless of the cause though, we are here to help and treat your loved ones!  Our hospital is fully staffed with veterinarians and technicians 24/7 that are well experienced and trained with this emergency.  Please let us know if you need us!
 
Stacey West, DVM
Emergency Veterinarian
Veterinary Specialists of South Florida


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