Why Do Cats Get Hairballs and Are They Normal?
May 04
2018
Why Do Cats Get Hairballs and Are They Normal?

It’s a frightening sight if you’ve never witnessed it before. Your cat’s entire body convulses, as loud retching rumbles from deep inside. Then a cylindrical object hurls out of her mouth and onto the floor, much to your horror. It isn’t pleasant for your cat either, and many of them will moan before this violent bodily act. We have a lot of things in common with our felines, but this is not one of them. As mammals, we are warm-blooded, nurse our young and possess similar vital organs and bodily functions. Although we do experience vomiting, “coughing up” hairballs is something associated mostly with our beloved kitties.

Actually, cats do not “cough up” hairballs. Because hairballs are ejected from the stomach through the esophagus, vomiting is the correct term.

Hairballs, also known in the scientific community as trichobezoars, contain undigested hair and digestive fluids, including bile, which might explain their yellowish hue. Cylindrical in shape as they pass through the narrow, tubular esophagus, hairballs retain that shape as they are expunged from your cat’s mouth.

How does a hairball form?

Cats are meticulously clean. They don’t take showers like we do and, unless they have mobility issues, don’t generally need to be bathed like dogs. Cats clean themselves with their sandpapery tongues, which contain backward-slanting papillae. These barbs grab loose, dead hairs that the cat swallows while grooming. Overly meticulous groomers and long-haired breeds are prone to swallowing more hair, especially during shedding season.

While most of these hairs pass through your cat’s digestive tract and are eliminated in the feces, some of it remains in the stomach. As more hair accumulates in the stomach, it begins to form a clump that we know as a hairball.

A hairball can become dangerous if the mass passes from the stomach to the intestine rather than being vomited, according to the Cornell Feline Health Center. In fact, this would be a medical emergency , because the hairball could create a life-threatening blockage, which requires surgical removal. If your cat tries but does not produce a bowel movement, vomits frequently or refuses to eat, take her to the vet right away.

Is it a hairball or something more?

Brushing your cat and removing loose hairs prevents your cat from swallowing too much hair, which keeps hairballs from forming. Hairball diets, which are high in insoluble fiber, fiber supplements and GI lubricants like Laxatone are effective at moving swallowed hair through the digestive tract so that it passes through the stool.

While these remedies work at preventing hairballs, new research shows that we might just be treating symptoms and ignoring underlying disease. We may think of vomiting hairballs as a normal part of being a cat, but perhaps we should be asking why our cats are having problems moving swallowed hairs from the stomach through the rest of the digestive tract and expelling them through the feces in the first place.

When it’s more than just a hairball

Decreased digestive motility, or hypomotility, could indicate something more serious. Chronic vomiting, whether or not a hairball is expelled, could be a symptom that warrants further examination. So, before starting a hairball remedy, take your cat to your veterinarian to confirm that the hairball vomiting is just about the hairball.

“The problem with covering up vomiting with hairball diets, fiber supplements or GI lubricants is that it delays getting a diagnosis,” said Gary D. Norsworthy, D.V.M., a board-certified feline specialist and owner of the Alamo Feline Health Center in San Antonio.

Dr. Norsworthy explained that chronic vomiting might be a symptom of small bowel, or small intestinal, disease. Small bowel disease starts with mild inflammation in the intestines and progresses to severe inflammation, a condition known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In some cats, IBD progresses to lymphoma

 “It is much easier to treat IBD than lymphoma,” Dr. Norsworthy said. “Sadly, many of the chronically vomiting cats I diagnose are already at the lymphoma stage.” Assuming that chronic vomiting is normal or treating the symptoms without an accurate diagnosis can allow disease to progress, he warned.

“Vomiting two times per month or more for several consecutive months is abnormal and justifies an ultrasound study,” Dr. Norsworthy said. “If the ultrasound study is abnormal, biopsies of the small intestine (and sometimes the stomach) are justified. The presence or absence of hair is not significant.”

The final word: Don’t dismiss chronic vomiting and hairballs as normal

What does this mean for those of us who live with cats? Bottom line: Don’t dismiss chronic vomiting as normal.

“Chronically vomiting cats (even hairballs) need an ultrasound study and most likely biopsies of the small intestine,” Dr. Norsworthy said. What surprised him was how many chronically vomiting cats there are and how many of them have intestinal lymphoma. In fact, only one of the first 100 cats studied had a normal biopsy, necessitating further examination for all chronically vomiting cats.

With so many cats afflicted with chronic vomiting, it’s no wonder that we accept it as normal. “Where there are cats, there are hairballs” might be an axiom we accept as part of life with cats. But Dr. Norsworthy and his colleagues refuse to accept that, and neither should the rest of us.

Article by: Susan Logan McCracken

 

 

A Dog's Tongue
Apr 29
2018
A Dog's Tongue

The dog's tongue is one of the most important parts of its body. Besides lapping up food and water, or kissing its owner, the tongue serves as an essential heat regulator. When dogs exercise, their tongues becomes larger and due to increased blood flow usually hang out of the mouth. Thus, when a dog pants, it's actually cooling the dog's entire body. The dog's quick shallow breaths cause moisture on the tongue to evaporate thus cooling the tongue that in turn cools the blood flow through the tongue and the respiratory system. Providing your dog with cool air on hot or humid days is very important for temperature regulation. This is why it is so dangerous to leave a dog in an unventilated heated car. The warm air keeps the tongue from doing its job. Tongue injuries are uncommon, but if one occurs while the dog is warm and panting, the tongue may bleed excessively due to increased blood flow. If this occurs it is very important to cool the dog down. If the dog exhibits symptoms of distress, it may be necessary to seek veterinary attention. Another common tongue injury may occur with dogs that chew on wood. This may lead to getting a splinter. Although, it may be painful a vet can help you remove it. Dog tongues are really amazing. They are much more rich and complex than most people realize. Keep in mind that large dogs with large tongues have a need for different bowls and dishes. Obviously large dogs need larger bowls. If you pay attention to your dog's tongue, you will learn a lot. You'll also be able to better understand the health of you good friend. 

 

 

Why Do Cats Land On Their Feet?
Apr 22
2018
Why Do Cats Land On Their Feet?

Cats make it look so easy: leaping or falling from some high shelf or piece of furniture only to land gracefully on all four feet.

But there's some complicated feline  effort that goes into falling with such style.

Cats have a highly-tuned sense of balance and have very flexible backbones (because they have more vertebrae than humans), which allows them to twist their bodies around to right themselves when they fall — an innate ability known as their "righting reflex."

When a cat jumps or falls from a high place, it uses either its sight or its vestibular apparatus (a balance system located in the inner ear) to determine up from down, and then rotates its upper body to face downward. Its lower body follows suit.

Even kittens can fall without fear, as most learn to master the skill by the time they're just 7 weeks old.

Cats are also helped in falls by their small bodies, light bone structure and thick fur, which decrease their terminal velocity, thus softening the impact. Some cats will also "flatten" out their bodies, in parachute fashion, to create more resistance to air to make them fall more slowly.

If you have a cat , be careful about opening windows though, as a bird or squirrel can easily distract a cat enough to cause them to lose their balance — cats can still be injured in a fall, even if they do land on their feet. Shorter falls, from one or two stories, can be riskier than higher falls because the cat may not have time to right themselves.

By" Live Science


 

12 Dog Peeing Positions
Apr 11
2018
12 Dog Peeing Positions

Conventional wisdom says that when dogs pee, males raising a leg  and females squat. In reality, however, dogs have many more options than that. Believe it or not, scientists have performed a number of studies into exactly what postures dogs take to pee. Let’s look at a variety of peeing positions in dogs, and whether they can tell us anything about a dog’s health, well-being, or what’s going on inside of their heads. 

April is Heartowrm Preventative Month
Apr 01
2018
April is Heartowrm Preventative Month

April isNational Heartworm Awareness Month, and, by protecting our dogs, we as pet parents can also protect ourselves from the heartache that can come from the loss of a canine companion or the expensive and difficult treatment due to this preventable health issue. 

Chocolate A Doggie Danger
Mar 31
2018
Chocolate A Doggie Danger

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