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How do we know when is it time to put our pet to sleep?

I have always hated this question, although most clients ask it sooner or later. I have heard it so many times, over the heads of much-loved but declining pets. It's a horrible subject. Horrible and very emotive, but that's not why I have hated it so much. No, the reason I've always hated it, is because I never have the right answer - and that's not because I'm not a good vet. Rather, there is simply never a 'right' time to sign a bit of paper authorising the euthanasia of someone you love.

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Why did the vet prescribe an “NSAID”?

If your pet has been prescribed an NSAID you might be wondering what it is, and what it does. NSAIDs are one of the most commonly prescribed classes of drugs in animal medicine, with millions of doses given daily. They’re used for everything from routine surgery to part of a care plan for complex conditions such as arthritis. 

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The importance of routine preventative treatment, even now!

Ensuring your pet lives a long, healthy, and happy life with you and your family is a key goal for vets. While we are always there to help when your pet is sick, prevention of disease is better than trying to find a cure. Being aware of the risks to your pet and ensuring to seek veterinary assistance when needed helps to reduce stress and harm to you and your animal and help to lower costs. As every pet is different and unique, an individual preventative health plan can be tailored for you based on your location, your pet and what risks they may be exposed to. There are various aspects of your pets’ health that you should consider in routine preventative treatment, which are covered below.

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What is pancreatitis in cats?

Pancreatitis is a common gastrointestinal disorder in cats, and, quite literally, means inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is a small organ located close to the stomach. It is responsible for producing enzymes that are involved in digesting food. If the pancreas becomes inflamed or damaged, it can’t function normally causing the digestive enzymes to be released inside the pancreas itself, rather than into the stomach resulting in self-digestion. The amount of digestive enzyme released will impact how severe the symptoms are.

What causes pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis can be caused by a number of things, although in some cats no reason is found. It can be associated with inflammatory bowel disease and inflammatory liver disease - a combined problem termed ‘triaditis’ which occurs due to the close proximity of the liver, guts and pancreas. Pancreatitis can be seen secondary to trauma, infection, parasite burden or due to a reaction to certain drugs. A slightly higher incidence of pancreatitis has been reported in Siamese cats.

What are the symptoms of pancreatitis?

The symptoms can be quite vague and can include lethargy, reluctance to eat, abdominal pain, weight loss, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Sometimes, if the liver is affected too then your cat may also be jaundiced. You may see a yellowish tinge to the whites of your cat’s eyes, skin and gums. Symptoms can be acute, occurring within 24-48 hours, but some cats suffer from chronic relapses. Unfortunately if cats don’t eat for a period of time, usually 3-5 days, then they can go on to develop something called Hepatic Lipidosis. This is quite serious, and occurs when excessive fat is deposited in the liver and can lead to liver failure.

How is pancreatitis diagnosed?

After taking a thorough review of your cat’s recent history, your vet will perform a full physical examination. Checking for signs of abdominal pain, nausea, dehydration and fever. As the clinical symptoms of pancreatitis can be quite vague and often can be seen with lots of other illnesses, your vet will want to run some tests. An ultrasound of the abdomen can be performed to see if the pancreas looks inflame. As well as reviewing other nearby organs like the liver and intestines. A blood test is recommended to check the levels of feline pancreatic lipase enzyme, as well as assessing their general organ function. They will pay particular attention to liver and kidney parameters as well as electrolytes.

How is pancreatitis treated?

Mild cases may recover with supportive treatment including bland food, pain relief and medication for nausea. Nausea can be hard to detect in cats, so anti-emetics are often considered in all patients with a suspicion of pancreatitis. In more severe cases, cats may need to be admitted to hospital and placed on intravenous fluids to correct dehydration, any electrolyte imbalances and support them while they’re not eating. To reduce the risk of hepatic lipidosis, if they are still not eating then a feeding tube may be considered, so we can safely ensure their nutritional requirements are met. Pain relief forms a big part of the treatment plan, and often involves opioid painkillers.

What is the prognosis like?

Most cats improve within a few days. Depending on what or if a cause was found, your vet will be able to discuss any long term management that they may require with you. This may involve a diet change on to a prescription low fat gastrointestinal diet. Cats’ that have had pancreatitis, are likely to have repeated episodes in the future and may require monitoring.

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Managing Stress in Cats during the Pandemic

The current coronavirus pandemic has changed our everyday lives as we know it. Even though we seem to be past the worst of it, many of us are feeling stressed, anxious and overwhelmed. You are definitely not alone and someone else who might have similar emotions right now is your pet! Cats are very perceptive animals and can sense and reflect our stress or anxiety. While they might not understand the coronavirus itself, just like humans, animals can become stressed and overwhelmed when changes in their daily routine occur. 

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Why does my cat stare at me?

Have you ever tried to win a staring contest with a cat? Well, trust me, you can’t! Cats have a marvellous unblinking gaze, and this post will shed some light on why, and what that fixed stare might mean for you.

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