Toby, an eight-year-old male tabby, had never had any medical issues until he suddenly became blocked, or unable to urinate, one day last month.
“He was going to his litter box constantly,” said Carlos B. of the Bronx, who adopted Toby as a kitten. “Back and forth, back and forth—and his personality seemed to change.”
So Carlos and his girlfriend, Julie, brought Toby to the ASPCA Animal Hospital (AAH), where he was diagnosed with Feline Urological Syndrome (FUS), or urinary blockage, by Dr. Maren Krafchik.
Most cats affected by FUS are in the one- to eight-year range, like Toby. Common symptoms include:
Straining to urinate
Frequent small urinations
Blood in the urine
Inappropriate urination (somewhere other than the litter box)
Straining without urination (urinary obstruction)
Crying, restlessness, or hiding because of discomfort
Loss of appetite
“Urinary blockage is a life-threatening emergency,” says Dr. Krafchik. “Potassium levels (as well as kidney toxins) rise in the bloodstream and can cause death in a cat.”
A urinary catheter was placed to unblock Toby’s urethra and allow urine to drain from Toby’s bladder, and he received intravenous fluids and pain medication. The urinary catheter was removed a few days later, and Toby was sent home. Unfortunately, this condition can reoccur, and Toby returned to the Hospital three weeks later with another urinary obstruction. “He went back to his old symptoms,” Carlos said.
Given Toby’s history of chronic straining and urinary problems, ASPCA veterinarians recommended a Perineal Urethrostomy (PU). This is a surgical procedure in which the external penis/urethral tissue is incised and sutured open in order to permanently widen the urethral opening. This surgery, commonly performed at AAH, helps decrease the chance of future bladder obstruction.
“Male cats are susceptible to developing obstructions of the urethra because their urethral diameter is so small,” says Dr. Krafchik.
As of earlier this month, AAH has performed catheterization procedures for urinary blockage on 163 cats, and 37 PU surgeries—an average of almost one procedure per day in 2015.
“Many people think their pets are misbehaving by urinating outside of the litter box,” says Dr. Krafchik. “The reality is that there can be an underlying reason for the behavior such as bladder inflammation, crystals, stones, or less likely, infection.”
Carlos reports that since Toby’s PU procedure, he is back to his old self. “He is really happy, very friendly, and playful, which we missed so much,” Carlos says. “He's eating and his bodily functions are back to normal.”
It began as an innocent walk in the park: A 9-month-old, 60 lb. German Shepherd mix went out for a stroll with her owner before spending 30 minutes alone in the backyard. When the dog reentered the house, her owner noticed that her eyes were rolling back and that her gait was uncoordinated. She also defecated in the house.
At the critical care facility, things only got worse: the pup was drooling, feverish and began seizing and vomiting. That was when veterinarians discovered the root of her illness: blue-green algae. The owner confirmed that the algae had been present in a backyard pond.
After 18 hours of critical care, including emergency intubation and ventilation for respiratory failure, the dog’s life was saved. She was discharged after three more days in the hospital, and fortunately, she is now back to her normal, happy self. But blue-green algae can form almost anywhere and can be a danger to any unsuspecting pet parent. That’s why the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) wants to keep you informed about this toxic bacterium.
Members of the phylum Cyanobacteria, blue-green algae usually form on or near bodies of water during warm weather months. It is typically found in ponds and lakes, but can also be present in oceans, fresh water, damp soil, backyard fountains and even on rocks. Dogs can develop poisoning when they drink from or swim in contaminated water sources. If consumed, blue-green algae can cause severe neurologic or liver signs. Signs of blue-green algae toxicity include:
Prevention is key. Don’t allow your pets to drink from stagnant ponds, lakes or other bodies of water that have bluish-green scum on the surface or around the edges. Blue-green algae cells can also stick to a pet’s fur and be ingested when the animal cleans itself, so think twice before allowing your pet to jump into a body of water.
If you think that your pet is ill or may have ingested a poisonous substance, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 immediately!
Kristin K. knew something was wrong early one recent Monday when her 11-year-old adopted tabby, Sonny, skipped breakfast and lay on the floor.
“He’s the self-appointed sheriff in our household, always policing the other two cats,” Kristin says. “And he’s normally very active in the morning and runs to his food bowl. So I had a bad feeling.”
Kristin immediately took Sonny to the ASPCA Animal Hospital, where he was examined by veterinarian Dr. Mary St. Martin.
“His symptoms were subtle, but he had a tense abdomen and a fever,” recalls Dr. St. Martin, who diagnosed Sonny with acute pancreatitis based on his blood work and an ultrasound that revealed changes in and around his pancreas.
Pancreatitis is commonly treated by veterinarians at the ASPCA, with supportive care such as intravenous fluids, pain medication and anti-nausea medications to control vomiting.
After three nights and four days of treatment at the Hospital, Sonny went home, where Kristin reports “the self-appointed sheriff is back at work.”
As it does in humans, the pancreas, a V-shaped organ located near the stomach and the small intestine, produces insulin, which helps metabolize sugar in the body and is necessary for the digestion of nutrients by producing enzymes which promote the digestion and absorption of fats.
While it’s not always easy to pinpoint the cause, pancreatitis in cats and dogs can be triggered by certain infections or diseases, metabolic disorders, medications and abdominal surgery or trauma. In cats, pancreatitis is often associated with inflammatory liver or intestinal disease, also known as triaditis. In dogs, acute pancreatitis can be caused by dietary indiscretions. Obese and overweight pets, and those fed diets high in fat, are also at risk.
Sonny had never before suffered from pancreatitis but displayed the classic symptoms, including dehydration and decreased appetite. Dogs more commonly develop vomiting and abdominal pain. Both dogs and cats can also develop jaundice associated with pancreatitis.
There are also possible associations between pancreatitis (especially chronic pancreatitis) and diabetes. Sonny’s blood sugar was high and he is being monitored for the possible development of diabetes, which could require treatment with insulin injections.
“It isn't easy to prevent pancreatitis, but diet changes and keeping pets at ideal body weight may help,” says Dr. St. Martin.
Nothing says “Independence Day” like sunshine, fireworks and barbecues. But while it may seem like a great idea to include your pets in these fun festivities, it’s important for all pet parents to beware of potential dangers caused by this holiday. In fact, lots of common picnic foods are toxic to animals, and nearly one in five lost pets goes missing after being scared by the sound of fireworks!
To help you and your four-legged friends have a petriotic Fourth, we’ve put together some key tips to ensure a safe holiday:
Should your pet go missing on the Fourth or any time of year,the ASPCA mobile app is here to help. Utilizing the latest field research, this free tool provides a personalized pet recovery kit, including step-by-step instructions on how to search for a lost animal in a variety of circumstances. Pet parents can also use the app to access critical advice, store vital medical records and build a “lost pet” digital flyer for instant sharing.
If your workplace is participating in this year’s fur-tivities, we hope you’ll consider bringing your four-legged friends along to your 9-to-5. Not only does evidence suggest that businesses that allow pets have happier, healthier employees, but your pooch may even encourage your non-pet owning coworkers to adopt a furry friend of their own. Here are some easy tips to help make your dog’s day on the job a big success:
Dog-Proof Your Workspace Hide loose electrical cords and wires that your pup could be tempted to chew, and stash potentially toxic substances like plants, markers and other office supplies. Dogs love leftovers as much as we do, so be sure to empty your trash can of any remaining crumbs from yesterday’s lunch—and keep your pup distracted from others’ garbage, too!
Good Manners, Please No matter how cute your pet is, constant barking can be distracting to fellow coworkers. Help your pup brush up on his or her manners before heading into the office with these ASPCA training tips.
Come Prepared Bring your dog’s food, bowl, leash and favorite chew toys and treats to keep him or her occupied during the workday. Consider bringing a baby gate to corner off your doggie’s area if you anticipate being away from your pet at any point.
Break Up the Workday Incorporate a few ten-minute breaks into your day to give your pup some fresh air and exercise, or plan to have lunch with your furry companion at a pet-friendly restaurant or grassy spot outside. If your dog makes canine-buddies easily, get other dog-owning colleagues to come along or head out on a group walk.
For more ways your dog can make a great first impression on his or her human (and canine!) colleagues, check out our full list of office etiquette tips.
Bringing your dog to work tomorrow? We’d love to see your photos. Tweet them to us at @ASPCA using the hashtag #takeyourdogtoworkday and we’ll share our favorites!