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Winter 2007 Petnews

Newsletter for Shaw Pet Hospitals

Radioactive Iodine Treatment for Hyperthyroid Cats
By Miguel Gavar

Hyperthyroidism is the most common endocrine disorder in middle-aged and old cats resulting in excessive circulating concentration of thyroid hormone. This condition is caused by a benign tumor of either one or both thyroid glands. Thyroid hormone is then released by these glands into the blood stream and are transported throughout the body where they control metabolism. Treatment options include administration of antithyroid drugs, surgical removal of hyperactive thyroid tissue and administration of radioactive iodine.

Advantages of Radioiodine treatment over medical and surgical treatment

Medical treatment with antithyroid drugs is variably effective but for many reasons is not the best choice. Some cats are difficult or impossible to medicate and antithyroid drugs such as methimazole pills must be administered orally one to three times daily. Some cats can have mild to serious reactions to the drug ranging from gastrointestinal upset (vomiting) to bone marrow suppression, requiring regular blood screen and thyroid hormone level rechecks. Finally, some owners may not want to medicate their cats on a daily basis for the rest of the cat's life.

Surgery to remove the affected glands can be curative but have some disadvantages. The parathyroid glands may be damaged or destroyed during surgery, resulting in transient or permanent hypoparathyroidism and hypocalcemia which can be life-threatening. Many hyperthyroid cats have secondary heart disease and are at high surgical and anesthetic risk. These cats can die suddenly under general anesthesia. Occasionally, hypothyroidism (low concentration of thyroid hormones in the blood) may develop after surgery, necessitating treatment with thyroid hormone replacement. Cats with one thyroid gland removed may develop hyperthyroidism later.

Radioactive iodine provides a low risk, low stress and effective therapy for cats with hyperthyroidism. This is the treatment of choice for hyperthyroidism in cats unless the patient is in renal failure. With this therapy, the risk of anesthesia is eliminated and the risk of hypothyroidism is greatly reduced. After administration of radioiodine to cats, the thyroid function returns to normal usually within a month and the cure for hyperthyroidism is generally permanent.

What is involved with Radioiodine treatment?
A hyperthyroid cat is injected with radioactive iodine (I-131) which is absorbed and concentrates primarily in the abnormal thyroid cells where it irradiates and destroys the hyperfunctioning tissue. The normal thyroid tissue, however, tends to be protected from the effects of radioiodine since this tissue is suppressed and receives only a small dose of radiation. Hyperthyroid cats that receive radioiodine are confined to a restricted area of the hospital (such as nuclear medicine isolation ward) where proper handling of the patients and their radioactive wastes are observed by staff. The cats are discharged from the hospital when the radiation level is considered safe, generally after a one week period in our treatment center.

Is I-131 the treatment of choice for my cat?
Patient selection prior to radioiodine treatment is performed by the referring veterinarian after routine diagnostic testing and workup. This is very important, inasmuch as these cats tend to be middle to old-aged and therefore may have unrelated geriatric problems. Our doctors will be happy to discuss this treatment option for your hyperthyroid cat with you and your veterinarian.

Shaw Pet Hospitals Nuclear Medicine Facility
With our main goal of providing excellent and quality veterinary care and services to our patients and clients in Greater Victoria and the surrounding areas, we continue to deliver the best treatment options for our patients. After years of preparation and a complex process of acquiring nuclear license, we became the first veterinary practice on Vancouver Island to offer nuclear medicine to our patients.

What's In Store For VPAS in 2007?
By Catherine Clayton

VPAS has had a very busy year, successfully finding homes for more than 150 animals, bringing the total number of adopted pets (since our inception in the year 2000) to over 660. Although VPAS has had great success in finding wonderful homes for many pets, the job is never done. There is always a high volume of homeless animals coming to the shelter in need of help. In an effort to accommodate a higher number of homeless animals, and to cut down on wait times, VPAS is planning some renovations to increase the number of kennels that we have available. The renovations will allow us to accommodate almost twice the number of pets that we can take currently, but it will take many months and an estimated $20,000 before this can happen. Look for more updates in future newsletters and on our website http://vpas.wormers.com.

VPAS Has a New Website
2006 was a very busy adoption year, with our adoption rate increasing 4-fold after the release of our new website. Our adoptable pets can now be viewed on our own website http://vpas.wormers.com.

Victoria Pet Adoption Society UPDATE
The Story of Molly...

By Catherine Clayton

"A dog is a man's best friend. A cat is a cat's best friend."
Robert J. Vogel
"If dogs could talk, it would take a lot of fun out of owning one"
Andy Rooney

Meet Molly, the tiny, white Multipoo. When Molly was only 10 weeks old, one of her legs was broken when she was dropped by a family member. After having surgery to repair her broken leg, she was on her way to recovery. A few weeks later, while Molly's leg was still in a cast, she was jumping on the bed with a family member and was bounced off, only to break her leg for a second time. Molly's family could not afford to undergo surgery again and asked VPAS to take Molly and to foot the bill for her second surgery. Thanks to the doctors and staff of Shaw Pet Hospitals, Molly received her second surgery and began the slow road to recovery for a second time. Molly is now eight months old and has fully recovered from her ordeal. Through VPAS, Molly found a loving home and is a happy and healthy puppy. Thank you to the staff of Shaw Pet Hospitals for donating their time to fix Molly's leg, and to all of those who made donations to help cover the costs of surgical supplies for Molly.

Pet Care/Grooming Tips:
Regular grooming makes your pet feel pampered and well cared for. Even shorthaired dogs and cats need regular brushing to remove dead hair and cut down on shedding. Nails should be clipped regularly. If you are not comfortable doing this task a groomer or your vet can do it for you. Smell your cat or dog's ears frequently. Some ear infections have a distinct smell and some breeds need to have the hair plucked or trimmed in the ear canal to prevent chronic ear infections.

Jody Meyer, Certified Pet Groomer

Q and A:
Feel free to write us with any pet related questions. We will post these question in our newsletter as a regular feature section. Please email your questions to shawpethospitals@shaw.ca and put Q&A newsletter in the subject line.

Q: Why does my dog scoot his rear along the ground? (Mary of Saanich)

A: This is not an uncommon problem. It probably means that your dog has full or infected anal glands. These glands help dogs to mark their territory through scent. They usually empty themselves every time they defecate. They can become clogged, however, and unable to empty; sometimes infection can develop. When this happens, your dog feels a constant, itchy pressure. It can be very uncomfortable.

So You Want An Exotic Pet?
By Meg Lainson, DVM

While the majority of pet owners still prefer the more cuddly animal companionship of a dog or a cat, there are a growing number of people that are seeking alternatives to the conventional pet. The reasons for this are as varied as the people; but, the trend toward birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish, small rodents, marsupials and rabbits is increasing. The most common reasons for exotic pet ownership are: smaller living spaces, less time to care for a pet, lack of landlords willing to rent to dog/cat owners, noise considerations, personal interest in a specific animal group and, sadly, the need for attention by being a "weird pet" owner.

While these animals can be fascinating, fun, educating and exciting, over half of exotic pets either die from improper care or are given away/euthanized because of incompatibility problems. Often what may start out as an easy alternative to a dog or cat can become a time and money consuming nightmare. A 10 gallon aquarium of goldfish may lead to a 900 gallon saltwater ecosystem as costly as a herd of Russian wolfhounds! That cute pair of sable rats, lop eared bunnies, or angora guinea pigs can quickly produce a population explosion. The boa constrictor now needs full grown rabbits for food while the umbrella cockatoo has reduced the apartment to a pile of kindling.

The biggest pitfall of owning an exotic pet is the difficulty of finding proper husbandry (caretaking) information so that the animal flourishes. Since an exotic pet (actually, any pet) should not be an impulse purchase, a prospective owner would be wise to do the research on reputable web links and published books on their particular species of interest. It is extremely difficult to catch up in knowledge once the animal is sick, injured or has destroyed the home and possibly a marriage. Misinformation is, unfortunately, readily available from pet stores, breeders, well-meaning friends, uneducated veterinarians and the internet. It is often best to find an organization of successful keepers for your species of interest and pick their collective brains for their knowledge and experience about your pet of interest.Here are some fun questions to ask yourself before embarking on exotic pet stewardship: Can I pass on my python to my children if he/she lives forty more years? Do I know what a marsupial is and how it varies from a true mammal? Am I prepared for how difficult it is to properly nourish a green iguana? Are monitor lizards vegetarians, carnivores or both? Can I learn to force feed an anorexic tortoise? What household toxins kill birds? And, most importantly, do I have the time, money and energy to give to the care of this totally dependent creature to house, feed and sustain it in a healthy, stimulated environment for its normal lifespan? Good luck, learn and have fun.

You Can Prevent Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
By Christine Little, DVM

Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is a common feline ailment. It has multiple causes including crystals, infection, bladder stones, or, most commonly, idiopathic FLUTD, (FLUTD of unknown cause). FLUTD can cause bloody urine, straining, inappropriate urination or, in severe cases, urinary obstruction and death.

There are several things that you should do to prevent FLUTD:

  • Keep an appropriate number of litter boxes. Households require one litter box per cat plus one.

  • Keep litter boxes clean. Scoop out litter boxes twice daily and change the litter weekly.

    • Increase your cat's water intake:

    • Offer water in multiple places in the house and in different ways. Use different sized bowls. Some cats like drinking from glasses. You can also offer running water with a water fountain or slowly dripping tap.

    • Fill water bowls up to the brim. Cats typically like to be able to look around while they drink and don't like their whiskers touching the sides of bowls.

  • Keep water fresh by changing water in the bowls daily.

  • Offer watery treats such as water drained from a tuna can. You can also offer low-sodium, unseasoned meat broth. You can make unseasoned meat broth simply by boiling a piece of plain chicken or beef meat and saving the water.

  • Feed canned cat food. Canned food has more water in it than dry food, and cats that eat canned food typically have more total water intake per day than cats fed dry food.

  • Feed a veterinary diet specifically designed to prevent FLUTD. You should talk to your veterinarian about which diet is right for your cat. By following these simple guidelines, you can often prevent feline lower urinary tract disease and save your cat from an uncomfortable and potentially life-threatening illness.

New Digital X-Ray Equipment at CSAH

Our Central Saanich Animal Hospital location has recently purchased new state-of-the-art digital radiology equipment. Digital radiology is another significant advancement in veterinary diagnostic imaging. The entire radiographic process essentially becomes 'film-less'. One of the primary diagnostic advantages of film-less systems is the improved contrast resolution compared to film-screen systems. The images are of excellent quality thus delivering enhanced diagnostic capabilities. This also eliminates the need for x-ray film processing chemicals which helps the environment.

Mobile Veterinary and Emergency Services
Our practice has been offering mobile/house call service to all our clients for routine examinations and vaccinations for cats and dogs. At our main hospital, the Central Saanich location, our equine veterinarians are available to do equine and other large/farm animal calls such as routine equine deworming, vaccinations, teeth floating/dental care, lameness exams and radiography, pre-purchase exams, ultrasonography for pregnancy diagnosis and reproductive health and standard stable health programs. Our mobile equine practice has been servicing the southern Vancouver island area such as Greater Victoria, Saanich, Sidney, Metchosin and as far as Sooke.

We also have twenty-four hour "on call" doctors for small animal and equine emergencies. Our main hospital at Central Saanich is staffed twenty-four hours by trained personnel to assure that all our critical/intensive care patients receive round the clock care, treatment and monitoring.

New Doctor Joined Our Team

Shaw Pet Hospitals have recently welcomed two new veterinarians at our Central Saanich location.

Dr. Meg Lainson
Dr. Lainson originated from New York City and received her veterinary degree from ColoradoStateUniversity. She did her post graduate training at the Denver and London Zoos, treating everything from rhinos and snow leopards to anacondas and scorpions.

She came to the San Juan Islands in NorthernWashingtonState in the 1980's and started an all-species veterinary practice and wildlife rehabilitation centre. Her rehab experience led her to assist animals caught in many oil spills, including the Exxon Valdez.

Last year, Dr. Lainson followed a long-term dream to relocate to Victoria and in June of 2006, she joined Shaw Pet Hospitals. She finds it great fun to be able to work at all three hospital locations, applying skills in exotic as well as companion animals and small ruminant medicine.

Dr. Lainson is a professional singer and dancer and has performed in many theatre musicals including "West Side Story" and "The King and I". She also enjoys ultramarathoning, kayaking, globe-trekking, scuba, playing mbira (an African musical instrument) and acapella African singing. She has a weakness for fuzzy-faced dogs and is owned and managed by two terrier mixes.


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