Cleaning Your Cat’s Ears

Here are some hints and tips for cleaning your pet’s ears using an ear cleaner.

Vets often advise ear cleaner to be used first before administering ear drops as this will help the medication work more effectively.

It can be helpful to have an extra pair of hands to help hold your pet.

Gently, but firmly hold your pet’s head and in the other hand gently pull the ear pinna (flap) upwards to open the ear canal as much as possible.

Hold the bottle in your other hand and apply the advised number of drops directly into the vertical (outer) ear canal.

Massage the ear canal, using your finger and thumb at the base to allow the cleaner to penetrate further into the horizontal ear canal. You should hear a slight squelchy noise as you are massaging. Massaging ear cleaner will enable any wax or debris to come to the surface from the base of the canal.

You can clean the outer part of the ear canal using some damp cotton wool. This will wipe away any excess debris. Never use cotton buds in your pets’ ears. Your pet will shake their head afterwards and some cleaner and debris may also be shaken out.

If you are applying cleaner to both ears it is important to keep cross contamination to a minimum and the nozzle should be cleaned between applications.

If you have any difficulty applying the cleaner please let your local branch of Cinque Ports Vets know and they will be happy to help advise accordingly.

Click on the video below to see how to apply ear cleaner to your cat.

Caring For Your Older Cat

You can do a lot to ensure that your cat’s senior years are also golden ones. Your cat will be classed as senior from approximately 8-10 years old.

As your cat grows older it is important to be more observant about their behaviour. Start keeping an eye on them for any indications that they are beginning to feel ready to start taking things more steadily. Age related changes can creep in stealthily and may initially be quite subtle. It can be easy to miss them when you see your cat on a daily basis. Often it is when someone who hasn’t seen your cat for a while, comments on a change in their behaviour or appearance. This often happens when your vet sees them for their annual booster appointment.

Common signs of ageing:

  • Less active
  • Sleeping longer and more deeply
  • Less enthusiastic playing games
  • Reduced or loss of hearing
  • Impaired vision or blindness
  • Coat condition deteriorates
  • Muscle loss
  • Weakness in back legs

Joint Problems

Arthritis is relatively common in older cats although they do not often show the lameness signs we associate with dogs suffering from arthritis. This is because cats are relatively small and agile and they can hide and cover up mobility difficulties caused by arthritis.
Instead, affected cats are more likely to show subtle changes in lifestyle and behaviour. It is thought 20% of the UK cat population shows signs associated with arthritis. Because you know your cat best you are well placed to keep an eye out for the signs of this painful condition.

Freedom from pain can make a huge difference and this can be done using many different methods including anti inflammatories (pain relief), joint supplements, weight loss, hydrotherapy, laser therapy, acupuncture and physiotherapy.
Comfy beds are also important. Older cats tend to prefer to stretch out and may need an extra ‘step’ to help jump onto chairs or beds. They also prefer their beds to be in a quiet area away from the hustle and bustle of the house.

Litter trays should always be provided in the house, but an older cat may need extra trays as some control of bladder and bowel movements may be lost with age. Reduced mobility may result in a reluctance to walk too far to go to the toilet. The trays should always be large and shallow for easy access. Some have a dip at the front so cats can just walk in and out of them. Soft litter also tends to be better for older cats than wood pellets as it can be uncomfortable for cats to stand on.

Eating And Drinking

Older cats require a senior diet to help support them during their ageing process. Many cats lose weight and condition as they age. Sometimes this is due to deterioration in their sense of smell and taste but often it can be a sign of an underlying chronic disease like hyperthyroidism or kidney disease. Older cats often have increased water requirements and feeding wet food aswell as biscuits can help with this.
Fresh water should always be available. Sometimes an older cat will start to drink more than usual and in many cases this can be a symptom of kidney problems or diabetes. If you notice any of these changes you should arrange an appointment to come and see us.

Vaccination And Worming

Older cats immune systems become less efficient and weakened over time. Infections are picked up more easily and as a result, senior cats may not be able to fight off disease as well as they could when they were younger. We advise regular annual boosters in senior cats. Regular worming is also advisable, both for your cat’s health as well as your own.

Kidney Disease

Due to the ageing process important organs such as the kidneys may not function as well as they used to. It is important to detect these signs early and the warning signs are often increased thirst and urine production. Cats are three times more likely to develop kidney problems than dogs but most do not show signs of chronic kidney disease until 75% of the kidneys have been damaged. Regular check- ups by your vet along with urine and blood testing are vital to help detect the onset of kidney disease and we can help take steps to slow down the progression of the disease, allowing cats a longer and better quality of life.

Dental Disease

Dental problems are very common in older cats. Warning signs are smelly breath, reddening of the gums, salivation or chewing to one side. If left, it can lead to periodontal disease and loss of their teeth. The bacteria in plaque can even spread to other parts of the body and have been linked to heart, liver and kidney disease. If you notice any of these problems you should make an appointment to see your vet.
If severe dental disease is diagnosed, generally a general anaesthetic is required to scale and polish the teeth and remove any diseased ones. Many people worry about the risk involved with older pets having a general anaesthetic but although every anaesthetic carries a small risk, advances have been made in anaesthesia and it is now much safer. Intravenous drips and blood testing prior to anaesthesia also help. Many owners are amazed with the improvement of their cat’s quality of life once the pain of toothache has been removed.

Brain Changes

Older cats can suffer from signs of dementia and reduced brain function-cognitive dysfunction. Some of the first signs that can point towards senile changes are:

  • uncharacteristic aggression
  • confusion
  • staring into space
  • a reduced ability to cope with stress or changes in their routine
  • frequent and sometimes loud vocalisation
  • urination or defecating in inappropriate places
  • memory loss

It is thought over 50% of cats over 12 years old show signs of cognitive dysfunction.

We can support and hopefully improve the brain function by medication or dietary supplements so it is important you book an appointment to see your vet if you start to notice any of these signs.

Play should also be encouraged for an older cat as this provides exercise and mental stimulation. The games may not be quite as energetic as when they were a kitten but will be very beneficial for your cat.
Also make sure your cat is microchipped in case they become disorientated while out and about and cannot find their way home. If this is a problem consider trying to keep your cat indoors.

Grooming

Regular grooming can be helpful especially if your cat suffers from arthritis as this can make it painful for them to groom themselves. It also allows you to regularly check for any lumps and bumps and seek prompt veterinary attention if you are concerned. Regularly nail trims will also be required as older cats nails tend to grow thicker and longer. They are also less able to retract their claws and therefore more likely to become stuck in carpets.

Even if your older cat seems fine it is essential to take them to the vet a minimum of twice a year, instead of just the usual annual booster check up. This will aid in the early detection of problems as a lot of changes can happen in 6 months to an older cat. Blood and urine tests will also help to check all their vital organs are functioning properly. If you do spot anything, don’t put off booking an appointment because you are worried about what the vet may find. It is important problems are detected early to aid in treatment. Constant low grade pain reduces quality of life considerably and many owners are always amazed at the improvement of their cat’s wellbeing once their problem has been alleviated or controlled.
Early warning signs of health problems:

  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Changes in appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urine output
  • Constipation or diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Difficulty in movement
  • Incontinence
  • Lethargy
  • Unusual lumps and bumps
  • Behavioural changes
  • Discharges
  • Unpleasant odours
  • Hairloss
  • Uncharacteristic aggression
  • Senility with associated loss of memory

Our veterinary nurses also offer senior club appointments to help ease your pets into their mature and senior years as comfortably as possible. Why not answer our Senior Pet Questionnaire and come along and see us.

Click on the videos below to find out more about Cognitive Dysfunction and Caring For Your Older Cat.

Useful links:
Feeding Your Older Cat
Cognitive Dysfunction
www.royalcanin.co.uk

Applying Eye Drops To Your Cat

Here are some hints and tips for applying eye medication to your pet prescribed by your veterinary surgeon.

It can be helpful to have an extra pair of hands to help hold your pet.

Firstly if there is any discharge around the eye, this should be wiped away with a damp piece of cotton wool. If you need to clean both eyes, separate pieces of cotton wool should be used to avoid cross contamination.

Gently, but firmly hold your pet’s head and tilt their nose so it points upwards. Depending on which medication has been prescribed, you may have an ointment or drops.

Ointment will be in a tube and it is important not to directly point the nozzle at the eye. Using your finger and thumb gently part your pet’s eyelids. Holding the tube approximately parallel to the eye, gently squeeze a small amount of ointment across the eye.

Your pet will usually, automatically close their eye and you can gently massage their closed eyelids to disperse the ointment evenly over their eye. Drops will usually be in a dropper bottle and this should be held vertically, upside down about half a centimetre from the eye. A drop can then be squeezed onto the eye and then massaged as mentioned above.

If you are applying medication to both eyes it is important to apply to the unaffected eye first and avoid touching the eye with the nozzle to keep cross contamination to a minimum and avoid damaging the eye.

If you have any difficulty applying the medication please let your local branch of Cinque Ports Vets know as they will be happy to help. Veterinary nurses offer free appointments during which they can apply the medication for you.

Click on the video below to watch how to apply eye drops to your cat.

Applying Ear Drops To Your Cat

Here are some hints and tips for applying ear medication to your pet prescribed by your veterinary surgeon.

If you have been advised to use ear cleaner as well, make sure you use this first as it will help the medication work more effectively.

It can be helpful to have an extra pair of hands to help hold your pet.

Gently, but firmly hold your pet’s head and in the other hand gently hold the ear pinna (flap) upwards to open the ear canal as much as possible.

Hold the bottle in your other hand and apply the advised number of drops directly into the vertical (outer) ear canal. It is important to make sure the drops go down the canal.

Massage the ear canal, using your finger and thumb at the base to allow the drops to penetrate further into the horizontal ear canal. You should hear a slight squelchy noise as you are massaging. Your pet will shake their head afterwards and some medication and debris may also be shaken out.

You can clean the outer part of the ear canal using some damp cotton wool to wipe away any excess.

Never use cotton buds in your pets’ ears.

If you are applying medication to both ears it is important to keep cross contamination to a minimum and the nozzle should be cleaned between applications.

If you have any difficulty applying the medication please let your local branch of Cinque Ports Vets know as they will be happy to help. Veterinary nurses offer free appointments during which they can apply the medication for you.

Click on the video below to watch how to apply ear drops to your cat.

Feeding Your Older Cat

The key to a happy, healthy pet is feeding them the right type and amount of food specific to their individual age and lifestyle. Their nutritional requirements vary according to their age, lifestage and activity level.

Senior cats require a diet which has an adjusted nutritional composition to cater for their different requirements as they age.

Cats are classed as senior from around 8-10 years of age. When your cat ages they can start to experience a decline in the function of certain organs, including their immune system. They may become less active and their sense of smell and taste can be affected.

A diet which caters for supporting their vital organs for example reduced protein and phosphorus content to support kidneys should be fed. Cats tend to be the opposite of dogs and many cats lose weight and condition as they age. THIS IS NOT A NORMAL SIGN OF AGEING. Sometimes this is due to deterioration in their sense of smell or taste but often it can be a sign of an underlying chronic disease like hyperthyroidism or kidney disease. Older cats often have increased water requirements and feeding wet food as well as biscuits can help with this.

If you are concerned about your cat please make an appointment to come and see us.

There are a wide range of Senior diets available and where possible you should try and buy the best one you can afford. Premium cat foods offer health benefits as well as providing nutrition. We will be happy to advise you on all aspects of senior diets.

The Senior Consult Lifestage diets made by Royal Canin offer a range of options for your senior cat. They contain a selection of nutrients that helps support vital functions in ageing dogs and cats. This food should be fed as an everyday complete diet for your senior pet regardless of whether they have any ageing signs.

The diet helps:

  • support ageing cells by neutralising the free radicals by containing antioxidants
  • preserves kidney function by having a reduced level of phosphorus
  • supports brain health by containing L-tryptophan, an amino acid that plays an essential role in the regulation of anxiety, sleep and appetite
  • helps preserve muscle mass which can be lost with old age by containing a specific balanced formulation of amino acids
  • helps maintain mobility with chondroitin, glucosamine and Green Lipped Mussel extract

Senior Consult 1 is ideal for mature cats as it provides suitable nutrients with moderate phosphorus content. There is also a Balance option for the heavier, mature cat.

Senior Consult Stage 2 provides nutrients suitable for senior cats, with reduced phosphorus and enriched with green lipped mussel for joint support. It also helps to maintain their ideal weight. There is also a High Calorie option for senior cats which are losing weight and condition.

How old is your cat?

Why not check the chart below and see how old your pet is in human years.

Click on video below to find out more about ‘Feeding Your Older Cat’

Useful links:
Caring For Your Older Cat
www.royalcanin.co.uk/Senior

Applying Eye Drops To Your Dog

Here are some hints and tips for applying eye medication to your pet prescribed by your veterinary surgeon.

It can be helpful to have an extra pair of hands to help hold your pet.

Firstly if there is any discharge around the eye, this should be wiped away with a damp piece of cotton wool. If you need to clean both eyes, separate pieces of cotton wool should be used to avoid cross contamination.

Gently, but firmly hold your pet’s head and tilt their nose so it points upwards. Depending on which medication has been prescribed, you may have an ointment or drops.

Ointment will be in a tube and it is important not to directly point the nozzle at the eye. Using your finger and thumb gently part your pet’s eyelids.

Holding the tube approximately parallel to the eye, gently squeeze a small amount of ointment across the eye.

Your pet will usually, automatically close their eye and you can gently massage their closed eyelids to disperse the ointment evenly over their eye. Drops will usually be in a dropper bottle and this should be held vertically, upside down about half a centimetre from the eye. A drop can then be squeezed onto the eye and then massaged as mentioned above.

If you are applying medication to both eyes it is important to apply to the unaffected eye first and avoid touching the eye with the nozzle to keep cross contamination to a minimum and avoid damaging the eye.

If you have any difficulty applying the medication please let your local branch of Cinque Ports Vets know as they will be happy to help. Veterinary nurses offer free appointments during which they can apply the medication for you.

Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears

Here are some hints and tips for cleaning your pet’s ears using an ear cleaner.

Vets often advise ear cleaner to be used first before administering ear drops as this will help the medication work more effectively.

It can be helpful to have an extra pair of hands to help hold your pet.

Gently, but firmly hold your pet’s head and in the other hand gently pull the ear pinna (flap) upwards to open the ear canal as much as possible.

Hold the bottle in your other hand and apply the advised number of drops directly into the vertical (outer) ear canal.

Massage the ear canal, using your finger and thumb at the base to allow the cleaner to penetrate further into the horizontal ear canal. You should hear a slight squelchy noise as you are massaging. Massaging ear cleaner will enable any wax or debris to come to the surface from the base of the canal.

You can clean the outer part of the ear canal using some damp cotton wool. This will wipe away any excess debris. Never use cotton buds in your pets’ ears. Your pet will shake their head afterwards and some cleaner and debris may also be shaken out.

If you are applying cleaner to both ears it is important to keep cross contamination to a minimum and the nozzle should be cleaned between applications.

If you have any difficulty applying the cleaner please let your local branch of Cinque Ports Vets know and they will be happy to help advise accordingly.

Kennel Cough

What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel Cough is a complex, highly infectious respiratory disease. It is also known as infectious tracheobronchitis. It circulates in the dog population all year round and is easily spread when there are many dogs in one place. Despite the name, less than half of the recent outbreaks recorded in a survey arose in kennels. Your dog is as likely to contract Kennel Cough in the park, the street, at dog shows, in training classes or from next door’s pet.

Although many factors can be involved, the two most likely are a bacterium called Bordetella bronchiseptica and Canine parainfluenza virus.

What are the symptoms?

Once your dog has been infected, it takes 3-10 days before symptoms are seen.
These are usually a persistent, dry, retching, ‘ honking’ cough, fever and sometimes a nasal discharge. In serious cases, without treatment, pneumonia and sometimes death can occur in puppies and dogs with a weaker constitution. Usually recovery from the symptoms is complete in two to three weeks.

Veterinary treatment should be sought if you suspect your dog has Kennel Cough.

Dogs that have received their annual vaccination are more likely to be suffering from Bordetella and may respond to antibiotics. Cough suppressants may also be given

Dogs that have not received their annual vaccinations within the last 12 months may develop Kennel Cough due to the Parainfluenza virus and may not respond well to antibiotics. In these cases duration of symptoms are likely to be much longer and coughing may take several weeks to resolve.

How is it contracted?

Kennel cough is spread from minute droplets in the air which are inhaled or from direct contact with an infected dog. As well as being infectious during the incubation period of around 10 days, it is still spread for up to 10 weeks after the coughing has stopped.

How can it be prevented?

Every dog is at risk, however healthy.  Routine annual vaccinations will protect against Parainfluenza virus. Protection against Bordetella and Parainfluenza virus can be achieved with an intranasal kennel cough vaccine.

Most kennels will request that your dog is vaccinated against Kennel Cough as well as their annual vaccination due to the increased risk of contracting the disease. The intranasal Kennel Cough vaccination is usually given at a separate time to the annual vaccination and should be administered at least 1 week before going into kennels.

For more information please read ‘Kennel Cough Owner Information Leaflet.’

Useful links:
www.future-of-vaccination.co.uk/kennel-cough-dogs.asp