Cats have bones too! (and you should know how to take care of them)

We think of orthopedic injuries and disorders more for animal athletes, like racehorses or even dogs, but cats have their own issues.  Cat lovers need to be aware. In this episode, we talk with Dr. David Dycus, DVM, MS, DACVS-SA. Dr. Dycus is a practicing orthopedic surgeon for small animals and he cares for lots of cats. Listen as we find out how to see the subtle signs of orthopedic issues for cats and when to call the vet.  Cat lovers will not want to miss this one so they can BONE up on cat orthopedics!


Siamese cat jump


Getting Your Happily Ever After At The Dog Pound

People love dogs and dogs add so much to our lives.  When you go to adopt, it should not be an impulsive selection. This dog is going to be your best friend for many years.  He or she may see you through many life changes. Don’t you want to choose a partner who will make you the happiest and be the happiest too?

This video can help (plus you get to see lots of dogs!)

Please watch and share.  Let’s help everyone get a Happily Fur-ever After!

Important Update on Canine Flu

Most dog people have heard of the shocking outbreak of Canine Influenza in and around Chicago.  Some veterinarians and pet related media have been instructing people to avoid taking their dogs to areas where other dogs gather, such as dog parks and boarding kennels. Five dogs have died and over 1000 have been reported ill.

In addition to shunning multiple dog situations, people were being advised to vaccinate their dogs for canine influenza as soon as possible. The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that previously all cases of Canine Influenza (CI) have been caused by the H3N8 strain which is the strain protected for by the current vaccines. However this newest outbreak was just identified to be caused by a novel strain (H3N2) not previously found in the US. The current vaccine for Canine Influenza may be ineffective against H3N2.

Because Canine Influenza is very infectious among dogs (although is not thought to be a risk to any other species), the AVMA says, “Dog owners should be aware that any situation that brings dogs together increases the risk of spread of communicable illnesses.… As long as good infection control practices are in place, pet owners should not be overly concerned about putting dogs in training facilities, dog parks, kennels, or other areas frequented by dogs.”

It is very important to know that CI is not the same as Kennel Cough for which we have an effective vaccine. Make sure your dog is current on his Kennel Cough vaccine if he is ever in situations where he could be exposed to other dogs. Many of the severe cases of CI have been complicated by other agents and pneumonia, so making sure your dog is current on all of his routine vaccines besides influenza vaccine is critical.

Most cases of CI have been mild, but as with any infectious agent, it is wise to be vigilant. Ask questions before exposing your dog to others and if your dog seems ill, especially if he is coughing, it is imperative to see your vet and understand that all respiratory vaccines could be helpful in preventing secondary infection, but the flu vaccine might not be protective in these cases.

Panic is not a good idea. Being selective about exposing your dog to others is smart. Going straight to your vet and demanding a flu vaccine might not be the best route either, but it is important to make sure that your healthy dog is always caught up on his vaccines so that these preventable problems do not cause secondary issues to the ones we cannot prevent.



Why Is My Cat Coughing?

Cats cough for a variety of reasons.  Just like people, they can cough to clear their airways of debris or mucous. All cats cough sometimes, but a persistent cough should be checked out by a vet. A veterinarian can help you rule out some of these causes to pinpoint why your particular cat is coughing and give you a plan for treatment. Cats are not like dogs. There are fewer common causes of a cough to explore and sometimes it is hard to tell if your cat is coughing, vomiting or both. The following are some of the reasons for persistent coughing (not in order of importance):

  1.  Birth Defects and Developmental Abnormalities

Anomalous disorders occur when anatomical structures do not develop normally.  Such disorders can occur from birth as a congenital defect, like cardiac malformations or structural deformities in the thoracic cavity and can cause a cough.  If the structures inside the chest are abnormal at birth or do not follow a normal development plan, coughing could be a clue.

Because there is such a wide range of causes, it is important to make sure that a surgical intervention is not indicated. Birth defects can often be completely repaired surgically, if found early, so do not delay. A pet that has never coughed in her life and is now a coughing senior is less likely to suffer from an anomalous defect.

  1. Neoplasia (Cancer)

Lung cancer will cause chronic coughing. The lungs get a lot of blood supply because their job is to oxygenate all of the blood, so a type of cancer that sheds cells into the blood can spread to the lungs. Coughing is not the only sign of cancer (and not even the most common sign of cancer in cats) but if your cat has a chronic cough and is a senior cat (greater than 8 years of age), cancer must be on the list of possible causes and a vet consulted to be sure that she is comfortable and you know what to expect.

  1. Infections

Respiratory infections are very common in cats of all ages and can cause a cough.  Bacteria, viruses and fungal infections are all on the suspect list for a cough. Feline Respiratory infections are caused by bacteria and viruses that can act together to make your cat very ill.  This respiratory complex is very contagious and can easily be spread between cats.

Think about possible exposures for your cat.  If there is a history of your cat spending time with other cats, like boarding, grooming or playing outside, she could have been exposed to bacteria and viruses. Fungal infections are not as common as the other infectious causes in many parts of the country, but should be on the list, especially if your cat has a fever, is acting very sick and spends a lot of time outdoors. Antibiotics are only appropriate in the case of bacterial infections, whereas antifungals or antivirals have specific applications also. Any age cat can suffer from infections, but I most often see young cats that were adopted from a shelter or older resident cats with a new family member from a shelter.  Cats typically recover completely from routine respiratory infections if treated appropriately, but fungal infections are more difficult to treat. It is imperative that you and your vet find out what you are treating to get the best outcome for your cat. If your cat has a runny nose, watery eyes and is coughing and sneezing, he is very likely to have a respiratory infection and may require some aggressive treatment, but his prognosis to recover is good if treated early and appropriately.

  1. Inflammatory Disease

Inlammation is a process that is characterized by the production of chemicals by the body in response to a trigger. Sometimes the trigger is an infection, but sometimes, the inflammatory process is prompted by other causes, like allergy or auto-immune disease.

Inflammatory coughing can be caused by things like asthma and allergic bronchitis. Treatment will be aimed at stopping the formation of the chemicals and slowing their damaging effects. Any age of cat can experience inflammatory coughing and some of the causes can be life threatening, so getting an exam and diagnosis is imperative. Depending on the underlying issue, inflammation can be a short term and curable process or a more long-term and incurable (but manageable) process. Asthma and allergic bronchitis are certainly a part of my feline patient load.

  1. Parasites

Many people do not realize that parasites can cause coughing.  Not only are there lungworms that live in the lung tissues, but heartworms are known to invade the heart and lungs. Even the intestinal parasites can have a part of their life cycle that causes them to migrate through the lungs. Most parasite issues can be easily prevented with regular parasite prevention programs. The best de-wormers and all heart worm preventives are available only by prescription, so you will need to see a vet to manage this possibility.  But the benefits to having your cat protected by these products go far beyond coughing. Unfortunately for cats, they are a “dead end” host for heartworms which means worms can get into a cat and cause problems, but they are unlikely to flourish there. These misplaced worms are even more likely to incite an inflammatory reaction. Many cats infected with a single heartworm suffer significant consequences, including acute death and heartworms have been accused of contributing to the high numbers of cats diagnosed with asthma each year as another consequence. There is no good and readily available test or treatment for heartworms in cats right now and your only hope is to prevent infection in the first place.

Knowledge is power when your pet is sick. The more you can find out about why your cat is coughing, the better equipped you are to manage it.  Coughing is not going to be something you can manage on your own, since the causes can be varied, but a veterinarian can help you narrow the list and start on the right path to treatment.

Have you seen these cute videos?

One of my patient’s mom made this video for me.  It makes me laugh and I hope you like it too!

Dr. Kathryn Primm is a practicing small animal veterinarian and blogger. She has consulted on articles for national magazines, done numerous radio interviews and appeared on local television. She has contributed to an article for Woman’s Day in Feb 2014 and an upcoming piece for Prevention magazine, slated to appear in April 2015.
She has a social media presence on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ and enjoys interaction with others about her passions, animals and communication. She is a regular contributor to Boomeon, the online community which can be found .Her current projects include KatNipsTV, an online video series to educate and amuse people who like animals and this blog. She has also written a book, Tennessee Tails:Pets and Their People. The book received recognition as Runner Up in the Memoirs category at a national book festival. The next book is well underway with more stories about the animals Dr. Primm treats and the people who love them. You can find out more about and by Dr. Primm on her web site

Check out my new web site!

My new site is going to be a great single stop for everything to take the best care of your pets.  We will have a page with links to coupons and rebates for pet products so you won’t have to search forever to find what you need. We will “vet” products and offers for you so you won’t have to.  With a single click, you will be able to see what’s happening on my calendar and check the progress of my next book. There will be links to my YouTube channel and the upcoming KatNipsTV video series.

The future looks fun and busy!