Signs of Kidney Disease

Did you know that kidney disease is one of the most common medical problems of pets?  In fact, kidney disease is a leading killer of cats and dogs.
The purpose of the kidneys is to remove waste from the bloodstream and regulate body fluids. This is why Kidney Disease is considered to be very serious. Chronic kidney disease is a gradual, progressive disease in which usually no visible symptoms appear until much of the kidney has been damaged.
Kidneys remove waste from the bloodstream and regulate body fluids and kidney failure is considered very serious. Chronic kidney disease is a gradual, progressive disease in which visible symptoms usually do not appear until much of the kidney is damaged.
Preventative measures can be as simple as diet and management, helping your pet live longer with an improved quality of life.  Screening for kidney disease is very important in mature animals.

11 Signs Your Cat’s Kidneys May Be Failing

  • Frequent urination. While you might think this is a sign your cat’s kidneys are working well, it actually means she’s no longer able to hold water. Inappropriate urineation — a.k.a. peeing outside her litter box — is another signal.
  • Drinking a lot of water. This means your cat is trying to replace the fluid she’s lost through urinating excessively.
  • Bacterial infections of the bladder and kidney, which develop more easily in the dilute urine produced by failing kidneys.
  • Weight loss and decreased appetite.
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, and bloody or cloudy urine.
  • Mouth ulcers, especially on the gums and tongue.
  • Bad breath with an ammonia-like odor.
  • A brownish-colored tongue.
  • A dry coat.
  • Constipation.
  • Weakness and indifference.

We recommend annual labwork for all seniors (cats & small dogs 8-years-old and better, large breed dogs 5-years-old an better).  That allows us to pick up on changes to their kidney values, urine concentration, possible urinary tract infections, liver values, thyroid level, and many many more priceless pieces of information.  We want to know that your pet looks as good as they feel.  It also allows us to catch these changes early and do as much to prolong the progression of disease as possible!

Fun Recipes for Your Pup’s KONG Toy

These Kong toy recipes feature unique combos of your dog’s own kibble, dog treats, and other pet-friendly foods.

Put some Kong Stuff’n product in the small hole first.  Then put dry dog food or small dog treats in next.  Top with some canned dog food.  Place a biscuit into the large opening, leaving only about 1/3 sticking out.  Freeze!

Cram a small piece of dog biscuit or freeze-dried liver into the small hole.  Smear a little honey (or Kong Stuff’n product) around the inside.  Fill it up with dry dog food.  Then block the big hole with dog biscuits placed sideways inside.

Other tasty Kong recipes to try…

(The following recipes are made with one of more human ingredients)

Cheesy Elvis – combine a ripe banana, a few spoonfuls of peanut butter, and a small slice of cheese.  Mix until blended well.  Fill the Kong and freeze.

Monster Mash – Instant mashed potatoes (without the salt) – or leftover mashed potatoes from dinner – mixed with crushed dog biscuits.

Doggie Omelet – Combine a scrambled egg, and small amounts beef, yogurt, cheese, & mashed potatoes all together.

Fiber Crunch – Combine bran cereal with some peanut butter.

Kongsicle Jerky Pops – Seal the small hole of the Kong toy with peanut butter.  Fill to the rim with chicken broth.  Place a small stick of beef jerky inside.  Freeze until solid!  This one gets messy fast, we recommend it for outdoor use.

Fruit Kitty Noodles – Mix together some dried fruit, small amount of cooked pasta, a banana, and few kibbles of dry cat food.

Banana Yogurt – Plain yogurt and mashed bananas, you can also add a little peanut butter or other low-sugar fruits.  Then freeze it.

Peanut Butter Glue – Fill Kong 1/3 full of dog kibbles.  Pour in melted peanut butter (after it has cooled from microwaving).  Add more dog kibbles and peanut butter until full.  Freeze until solid.

Rock-Hard Kibble – Combine some of your dog’s kibble with a small amount of cream cheese which acts as “cement” keeping everything inside.

Apple Pie – Squeeze a small piece of apple into the small hole.  Fill Kong with plain yogurt.  Add a few slices of banana, more apply, yogurt, banana.  End with a chunk of peanut butter.

Crunch n’ Munch – Combine crumbled plain rice cakes and dried fruit with some cream cheese.

Pumpkin Pieces – Combine plain yogurt, canned pumpkin, and cooked rice in a small baggie.  Mix well and then snip off a corner and squeeze it into the toy.

Frozen Bonez – Mix up some bananas, unsweetened apple sauce, oatmeal, peanut butter, and plain yogurt.  Freeze!

Fruitopia – Combine applesauce with chunks of fruit and freeze.

IMPORTANT: While a Kong toy right out of the freezer is okay, please allow any microwave-heated items to cool completely before giving them to your pet.

Remember, to feed a little less at your pet’s regular meals if they get calories from their Kong or other enrichment toys.  Also, only introduce small amounts of one new human food item a time — that way, if it doesn’t sit well with your pup, you can avoid it in the future.


Tips for Pets with Allergies & Ear Infections

If you’re finding yourself shouting “Stop scratching!” several times a day, your pet might be suffering from allergies. Just like humans with Hay fever, dog and cat allergies are the result of an exaggerated immune system response to allergens in the environment such as plant pollens, tree pollens, and mold spores.  The scientific name for this inherited allergic condition is atopy or atopic dermatitis. Almost all Terrier breeds are notorious atopy sufferers along with Dalmatians, Lhasa Apsos, Shar-peis, Bulldogs, and Labrador Retrievers.

In fact, less than 20% of dogs that suffer from allergies have “food allergies,” or sensitivities.  And for those that do, they are typically related to the protein source in the diet, rather than the grain.  Food allergies are more common in felines than canines.

Whereas people are prone to runny nose and eyes, dogs and cats with atopy develop itchy skin, often accompanied by skin and ear infections.

Symptoms are initially mild and seasonal, but tend to progress year by year in terms of severity and duration.  Fortunately, there are many options for treating atopy including medicated shampoos, antihistamines, fatty acid supplements, and drugs that alter the immune system’s overzealous behavior (cyclosporine, cortisone).  Just as for people, desensitization injections can be administered after specific testing is done to determine which allergens are provoking the immune response. Elimination of exposure to the allergens may also be an option (a good excuse to move to Hawaii!).

Here are a few easy and inexpensive things you can do at home to help your pet feel more comfortable:

  • Wipe your pet off daily with a wet cloth.  This helps to remove allergens, pollen, and dry skin from the coat.  No need to use fancy pet wipes, just a washcloth with warm water works just fine!  If applicable, use medicated shampoos/lotions as directed by your doctor.
  • Give antihistamines as directed.  Most pets can take (human) Benadryl.  Call our office to see if this medication is okay to give to your pet.  If so, Benadryl 25mg (adult) Tablets is given at 1mg per pound of their weight (small dogs and some cats can take Children’s Benadryl Liquid which is 12.5mg per 5mL).  Call our office and we can look up your pets most recent weight and help you calculate this dosage.  It can be given every 8 to 12 hours as needed for itchiness.  Use 3-4 weeks as the initial trial period.  If this dose makes your pet too groggy, decrease the dose by half.  Be sure to choose PLAIN Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) with NO ADDITIVES.  Generic brand is just fine.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids are an amazing and inexpensive supplement.  They benefit your pet’s skin, coat, heart, & joints.  They should be given daily LIFELONG to improve your pet’s health and comfort.  If you choose to use a human Omega-3/Fish Oil supplement, please check the back of the bottle for the “EPA” milligram dose.   The dose recommended by the veterinary dermatologist is 36mg per kilogram of their weight.  Call our office and we can help you calculate this dose.
If your pet has had a severe flare-up or an ear infection recently and comes in for a visit, there are a number of things we can do to help them.  For painful, uncomfortable, red swollen skin the doctor may prescribe steroids.  Steroids are very effective at relieving itching and redness, but they are not without side effects.  Steroid use at high doses and long term can cause obesity which can predispose your pet to diabetes and organ problems.  They also suppress your pet’s immune system so they may be more likely to get infections such as urinary tract infections, fungal diseases, etc.  All said, if the doctor has prescribed these for your pet, that means the short term use is unlikely to cause long-term effects.  They are also your pet’s best chance of being comfortable while we get the allergies under control.
  • Your pet may have received a steroid injection or have been sent home with oral steroid medication.  If so, steroids can cause the following side effects: increased thirst, increased urination, increased appetite, and occasionally you will see your pet pant more often.   If you see anything other than these signs that concerns you, please call our office.
  •  Your pet may have been sent home with antibiotics.  If so, please give these antibiotics as directed UNTIL GONE, even if your pet is 100% improved.  Always give antibiotics with a meal to avoid upset stomach.
We also offer allergy testing through Spectrum Labs.  You can learn more about allergy testing and allergy “shots” at their website, here.
  •   If your pet has repeated allergy signs or ear infections despite following your doctor’s recommendations, it may be time to pursue Allergy Testing.  Call our office or ask your doctor for more information.

Thunderstorm & Firework Phobia in Pets

More often than not, our furry companions suffer from thunderstorm fear.  Unfortunately, we have a long season of each summer when the monsoons come on suddenly and strong!  If your pet has a fear or storms (or you know of a pet that does), you certainly understand how their crippling fear and anxiety during and after a storm is so difficult to cope with.  We want to help these pets live happy, relaxed lives — even in this rainy time of year.

Simliarly, pets can  also suffer from firework anxiety.

The following are ways to help your pet cope in the short-term future…

Drugs: These may be useful in some cases but should only be given under veterinary supervision. Remember they should be given so they take effect BEFORE any noise starts or panic sets in. This is usually at least an hour prior to the event. Sedatives may help the pet sleep through the event or be less aware of the stimuli but do not reduce anxiety. Anti-anxiety drugs may reduce anxiety and panic but may not calm the dog sufficiently. There are also drugs such as some of the antidepressants that can be used on an ongoing basis to try and prevent or reduce the effect of the stimulus should it arise. Then, short term drugs on the day of the fireworks (or storm) may be added to some of these drugs if needed.  The dog appeasing pheromone (DAP®) and natural products such as melatonin might also be considered concurrently with other drugs.

Punishment: Don’t punish your dog when he is scared, it only confirms to him that there is something to be afraid of and will make him worse. In addition, if you are upset or anxious about your pet’s behavior, this will also make your dog more anxious.

Reassurance:  Don’t fuss, pet or try to reassure your dog when he is scared since he may regard this as a reward for the behavior he is engaging in at that time, so that with each future exposure the behavior may become increasingly intense.  Although it may be difficult, try to ignore any fearful behavior that occurs.

Training devices and commands:  Practice training your dog to settle and focus on commands for favored treats and toys. Try and associate this training with a favored location in the house (one where the noise of the fireworks and storm might be less obvious – see below), and use some training cues (e.g. a favored CD, a favored blanket) each time you do the training (so that the command, location and cues help to immediately calm the dog). A head halter can also be used to help control, distract and calm the dog during training. Then at the time of the storm, use your commands, location, cues and head halter to try and calm the dog, while avoiding punishment or reassurance of the fearful response (see above).

Environment: Make sure that the environment is safe and secure at all times. Even the most placid dog can behave unpredictably when frightened by noise and, should he bolt and escape, he could get injured or lost.

Provide plenty of familiar toys and games that might help to distract the pet.

Try to arrange company for your dog so that he is not abandoned in the room.

Make sure that all the windows and doors are shut so the sound is deadened as much as possible. Try taking your pet to a room or area of the house where the stimuli will be at their mildest and the dog can be most easily distracted.  Sometimes nested cardboard boxes or a blanket placed over the cage can greatly mute the sound.  Be certain however that there is enough air circulation so that the pet does not overheat.

Try to provide background sounds from the radio or television. Rap or similar music with a lot of constant drum beats does help. It does not necessarily have to be loud as long as there is a constant distracting beat to the music that will prevent him from concentrating on the noises outside. Other background noises and such as a fan running or even “white” noise devices can help to block outdoor noises.

Ignore the noises yourself and try to involve your pet in some form of active game.

Some products and exercises might be useful to further secure or calm the dog. Anxiety wraps, such as the Thundershirt, may help to calm the dog further.

Don’t just ignore the problem because it only happens intermittently or for a few days each year.   Instigate a desensitization program once the season is over so that you ensure your dog loses fear of the situation.  Call Rita Ranch Pet Hospital for a referral to a local animal behaviorist who can meet with your pet and your family to help develop a personalized training and desensitization plan.

Again, we are always happy to speak with you and answer any questions you may have.  Don’t hesitate to call RRPH if you have concerns.

We wish you all a safe and happy summer!