WHAT IS REDIRECTED AGGRESSION?
Redirected aggression is when your cat is frightened or upset about something and then takes it on an innocent party. This commonly can happen if your cat sees another cat or animal outside a window and then gets upset and ready to fight. The other cat in the household just walks into the room, and the angry cat attacks him. This can set up a scenario that whenever the two cats see each other they fight, even though they were best friends before.
WHAT SHOULD THE OWNER DO?
Do not go near the upset cat. He can also become very aggressive with you and people have ended up in the emergency room when their cat attacks them. If two cats are fighting do not get your hands or feet near them. You can try throwing a blanket on them, or using a broom. Thick gloves may be needed to separate them. Use extreme caution. After an episode like this happens, sometimes the cats will continue to attack each other whenever they see each other.
HOW TO RESOLVE THIS ISSUE?
Keep the cats separate for a period of time, which could be days. Keep litter boxes and food dishes in the separate rooms with the cats. Slowly reintoduce them to each other. When they are calm, slowly try to reintroduce. Try giving treats to both under a door. Play with a toy under a door where they are in opposite rooms. Don’t rush it. You can then put one cat in a crate in a room with the other cat walking free. Put treats around the carrier. You can then switch the cats in the crate. Pheromone sprays from your vet at Westgate Pet Clinic may be helpful because they add an odor that is pleasant to the cats that they recognize. The idea is to have good things happen when the other cat is around and so the cat forgets about the original upsetting incident. If the problems persists, you may need to ask your veterinarian for sedatives for one or both of the cats.
You may need to keep low windows covered for a while to prevent another incident. You can try sticky tape on window sills or other deterrents to keep the cats away from the window. Stop turning on outdoor lights at night when other animals may be in the yard. You can also equip your yard with motion detector alarms or sprinklers to keep neighborhood cats or other animals aways from your windows.
Remember that this is redirected aggression. Your cat is not really mad at you or the other cat in the house, but a trigger has caused them to blame their fear and anger on others. This can be a minor thing, but it also can be serious. An aggressive cat can be very dangerous and you need to take this very seriously and be careful. Remember, it can be treated by gradually reintoducing the cats under more enjoyable circumstances without accidentally making the situation worse. If your cat have a serious problem with redirected aggression, please call your veterinarian and Westgate Pet Clinic and we will talk you through it.
The pancreas is a “L” shaped organ that lies along the stomach and first section of the small intestines (the duodenum). It purpose is to produce digestive enzymes and hormones to control how we utilize what we eat (insulin and glucagon). There is a small duct that leads from the pancreas into the duodenum for the digestive enzymes to mix with food to aid in digestion.
Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. Normally, the digestive enzymes produced in the pancreas are inactive until they are released. In pancreatitis, the enzymes become activated while still in the pancreas, causing digestion of the pancreas itself. This causes pain, inflammation and often vomiting. Inflammation from the pancreas causes inflammation of the liver and stomach and toxins from that inflammation can cause systemic inflammation. If enough damage is done to the pancreas itself, its ability to produce insulin can be compromised and diabetes mellitus can result. Most cases of pancreatitis do not cause systemic disease or diabetes, especially if managed promptly.
Often, a specific cause of pancreatitis is never identified, but there are risk factors. Fat appears to play a major role in the development of pancreatitis. A recent high fat meal, or ingestion of food from the garbage containing high amounts of fat is the classic precursor to pancreatitis. Some diseases that alter fat metabolism can also predispose dogs to pancreatitis. The most common diseases are diabetes mellitus and hypothyroidism. Obesity can also alter fat metabolism. A rare cause of pancreatitis is a tumor of the pancreas.
Not surprisingly, signs of pancreatitis are typically gastrointestinal in origin. Vomiting, anorexia, diarrhea and painful abdomen are classic signs of pancreatitis. Some dogs have a fever. Signs of mild pancreatitis can be as simple as lethargy.
Diagnosis of pancreatitis can be challenging. In the past, seeing elevated digestive enzymes on a blood chemistry panel (amylase and lipase) was considered evidence of pancreatitis. We now know that isn’t the case since other organ system abnormalities can also cause increases in these enzymes. A lipase test specific for lipase released from the pancreas is available (PLI) and can be run at the time of an appointment to diagnose pancreatitis. This test can stay positive for a period of time, so determining resolution of pancreatitis can be difficult. Radiographs (x-rays) of the abdomen will sometimes show loss of detail or haziness in the area of the pancreas, but it is not a sensitive test for diagnosing pancreatitis. Ultrasound can identify tumors or abscesses of the pancreas and can reveal suspicion for inflammation of the pancreas.
There is no specific treatment for pancreatitis. The most important aspect of management of dogs with pancreatitis is rehydration with fluid therapy. Improving circulation of the pancreas aids in healing of the pancreas itself and the rest of the body. With most cases of pancreatitis, hospitalization and intravenous fluid therapy is required. Often, additional medication to control pain and nausea are needed.
Transition to low fat food, typically for life, is advised to try to prevent future episodes of pancreatitis. 7% or less fat on a dry matter basis is ideal. Often, prescription diets are needed to achieve this goal.
Chronic pancreatitis or multiple episodes of acute pancreatitis can damage the insulin-producing islet cells in the pancreas to the point that diabetes mellitus develops. If, or when, that occurs, the dog may require insulin injections to regulate the blood sugar.
Some of us go through life with canine companions that are calm, cool, and collected--about anything that comes their way in life. Others of us might end up in a different situation where one or more of our canine buddies might deal with some sort of fearful anxious behavior over various things they encounter in life, which might be other dogs, human strangers, small children, thunder, loud noises, territory, rollerblades—the list could go on and on. When fearful anxiety results in aggressive signs such as growling, raised hackles, nipping or biting, it is important to discuss your concerns with a veterinarian. They will help you decide what plan of action is best to try keep pets and people safe. Often at Westgate Pet Clinic we will refer clients with concerns over anxiety that results in fearful aggression to a veterinary behaviorist. Because it often can take a long time to get in for a behavioral referral, one of the most important things we can recommend to our clients with concerns that their pet may potentially bite is a basket muzzle.
There are many situations in which a basket muzzle might be useful. One situation is the classic family conundrum...crawling baby or toddler presents threat to family canine companion. Unfortunately I was in this situation myself the moment my firstborn began crawling, and for years before I realized that a plastic basket muzzle would do the trick, my family played the game of children in separate room from anxious dog, dog behind baby gate, or dog in kennel; it was a stressful game to play and we weren’t always the best at it. We never had any serious incidents, but we had some close encounters. Even with humane positive reinforcement methods of desensitization and counter-conditioning, even with anti-anxiety medication for our family dog, we still found that our older elementary school children, and now their friends that were running in and out of the house to play, represented a source of anxiety that prompted aggression from our dog. He was an older middle-aged dog at this point, we were his third adoptive family, and we loved and wanted to keep him. With the birth of our third child, I finally made the trip to the U of M Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s Behavior Clinic to purchase a plastic basket muzzle. It was the best purchase we ever made for my border collie/springer spaniel mix. He no longer had to deal with separation from the rest of the family when we could not ensure the situation was safe for our kids or kids coming and going through our house. Our kids and kids that came to the house were safe. Our dog even seemed more relaxed, maybe because he sensed we were finally relaxed. It was a win-win for all of us. I wish I had invested in his basket muzzle a long time before I did, but better late than never.
Another situation in which a basket muzzle can be very useful is walking a leashed pet that acts fear- aggressive towards other dogs or people. Dogs that are fearful of other unfamiliar dogs or human strangers and act aggressively on-leash sometimes miss out on normal, routine walks and exercise because of the stress that ensues for both owner and pet. The growling, raised hackles, lunging, and potential for a bite to another dog, person, or to the owner (displaced aggression) may discourage an owner from ever walking their pet. This type of behavior issue can certainly benefit from a gentle leader head collar or no-pull harness, as well desensitization and counter-conditioning techniques (another article topic for the future!). A basket muzzle alone won’t help change the situation entirely, but while working on the latter behavioral modification techniques with your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist, a basket muzzle can ensure that other pets and people are safe. I personally have seen the basket muzzle work great for fear-aggression that is displaced onto an owner. When I first met my neighbor, she never took her dog that was fearful of other dogs on walks because every time he saw another dog, he would get very worked up and would lunge, bark, pull her, and usually he would turn away from the fearful situation and bite her in the leg. We worked with a gentle leader head collar to eliminate the pulling, but what was required to allow her to safely walk him as he learned to be calmer was the basket muzzle. With the use of the gentle leader head collar and basket muzzle, he could safely go on walks and enjoy the exercise and mental stimulation he needed. He never learned to completely relax about other dogs, but the drama lessened and he even learned to walk happily and calmly side by side with my own dog. With the use of the basket muzzle, his world expanded and he even had a dog friend for the first time in many years!
Basket muzzles also may have a place in a household where owners are working with an aggressive situation between dogs in the household. Your veterinarian and a veterinary behaviorist can suggest methods to try work through this type of issue, but a basket muzzle could potentially be a life saving accessory in working through this issue.
Finally, basket muzzles are sometimes necessary for repeat offenders of foreign body obstructions (dog eats sock time after time, rock time after time, etc.). In a busy household where every potential dangerous item can’t be picked up all the time, it might be a good option for those dogs that have required surgery after surgery for their indiscriminate eating of things that don’t digest well!
Basket muzzles are very humane. They are made of a grid pattern that allows a pet to be able to breathe normally, drink from a water bowl as usual, and many have a grid of such a size that even kibble or small treats can be fed through the basket muzzle. The overall shape of a basket muzzle allows a pet to chew food and swallow like normal. Basket muzzles are not recommended for continuous use. They should be removed to allow a pet to eat, play with toys, and chew appropriate items. Basket muzzles are made of many different materials, but I prefer the plastic type that is softer and more flexible. I think they are more comfortable for the pet and the person.
Introducing a basket muzzle to a pet can actually be a game. You really want them to have a positive association with the basket muzzle so that it is both easy to put on and well accepted to your pet. Using treats or a meal is the first step, ideally timed on an empty stomach for better learning sessions. First one might simply have the basket muzzle where the pet can see it while the pet is fed treats or kibble. Next, one can hold the basket muzzle in one hand and offer the treats or kibble to the pet with the other hand. If the pet shows no fear of the muzzle in this step, one advances to putting some of the treats or kibble into the basket muzzle. The pet then can reach in freely to get the treats or kibble. Once comfortable with reaching in to get food, the owner can practice attaching the strap (I like the basket muzzles best with a little plastic buckle vs. a traditional belt-like buckle which can take longer to put on), first just practicing the action of bringing the straps around the back of the neck (without actually buckling it) and eventually buckling the strap so that the muzzle is fully attached. The rate at which you do these steps depends on how your dog reacts to the process. Some dogs easily get used to a basket muzzle within minutes, others need hours or days before they are comfortable. The idea is never to rush it, and always go back to the previous step if they show any signs of anxiety or worry with a new step in the process. If your dog is not especially food motivated, you might be able to do the above steps using a small toy initially. At all times, act positive about the process. If there is drama about the muzzle once it is on, try to distract your pet with treats or kibble, a walk or run around the block, a car-ride (if they love those), or any activity that they like that can be done with the muzzle on.
Basket muzzles may have a negative stigma in many peoples’ eyes…some may worry that their pet looks funny, or intimidating. A client may worry that it makes their pet look more aggressive or dangerous. Let’s fight that stigma and start creating a positive association with basket muzzles. To me, when I see a dog with a basket muzzle on, I appreciate that the owner is keeping other pets, other people, or themselves safe. Working on a behavioral issue that involves aggression is never easy—let a basket muzzle take away some of the stress.
I finally did it. After enjoying from a far, I finally took the plunge and purchased a French Bulldog! As a veterinarian I thought this was somewhat crazy, brachycephalic breeds have a whole host of problems. But from an animal lover’s standpoint, I wanted one of these funny looking, clown-like dogs to share my life! I did my research, asked a lot of pointed questions to a lot of Frenchie breeders and selected one that I thought bred problem free dogs. So I purchased a puppy and got a puppy with - wait for it - brachycephalic syndrome!
What exactly is Brachycephalic Syndrome and what problems are associated with this condition? Brachycephalic means short head. Dogs with short, pushed in faces are brachycephalics. This includes not only all types of bulldogs but Pugs, Boston Terriers, Shih Tzus, Pekingese and Boxers. There are even brachycephalic cats - think Himalayan and Persian. These breeds have been bred so that the lower jaw is normal but the upper jaw is compressed leading to the smushed face appearance. This cosmetic appearance can lead to issues with the respiratory system, eyes and cause dental issues.
Brachycephalic syndrome is a compilation of anatomic abnormalities that can lead to respiratory problems and airway obstruction. These dogs make a lot of snorting sounds, often gag when eating/drinking and are known snorers. One or more of the following abnormalities comprise brachycephalic syndrome:
Stenotic Nares: This is narrowing of the nostrils, often to the point where the nasal openings are just slits. This makes breathing difficult so many dogs will open mouth breath or pant to move air in/out.
Enlarged Tongue: The tongue is large and thick which can further lead to airway obstruction.
Elongated Soft Palate: The soft palate separates the nasal passage from the oral cavity. In a dog with brachycephalic syndrome, this tissue is elongated falling down loosely into the throat blocking the airway.
Hypoplastic Trachea: The trachea or windpipe can be narrower than normal inhibiting airflow into the lungs.
Everted Lateral Saccules: There are 2 pockets/saccules in the normal larynx. When a dog has increased effort to breathe because of the above abnormalities, these saccules will turn turn inside out, become swollen and inflamed, causing further blockage of the airways.
All of the above abnormalities, whether individually or collectively, can lead to breathing difficulties, respiratory distress, chronic respiratory infections and make the pet more susceptible to heat stroke as they cannot cool their body efficiently. Heat stroke is a life threatening condition.
Stenotic nares, elongated soft palate and everted lateral saccules can be surgically corrected. These are usually done after the dog reached maturity. Stenotic nares may be performed earlier (at time of neuter or spay) as this won’t change much as your pet matures. While some owner’s “love” to hear their dog snort and snore, it is important to realize that this is abnormal and can have serious impact on overall health. Think of how difficult it would be to breath through a straw. Well, the brachycephalic dog is essentially breathing through a straw continuously. So while you may find the noisy respiration endearing, your pet is struggling to bring air into his lungs.
I know the thought of surgery is worrisome but it should be seriously considered/performed. The most common procedure is to correct the stenotic nares. In most cases this provides significant and immediate improvement. The procedure entails removing the “alar fold”, the excess tissue that is obstructing the nasal passage. Removing this tissue opens up the nostrils allowing improved airflow. Cosmetically it will change the look of your pet slightly. Instead of having slits for nostrils, he/she will have a normal opening. It may take a little time to get used to this look but it is well worth it in the long run. The recovery time for stenotic nares is short and there is little post operative care. My Frenchie had stenotic nares and had the classic snort/snore. And even though I do this for a living, I was nervous about his impending surgery. His surgery went well and he was breathing easier immediately. I no longer have to listen to his snores but more importantly, he can breath without any problems. He runs and plays with his partner in crime and his recovery time from his various escapades is rapid. He’s happy, healthy and looks great!
At the same time we correct the stenotic nares, we evaluate the length of the soft palate to see if surgical correction is necessary. In patients with long standing respiratory issues, we also evaluate the lateral saccules. If your pet has not reached full maturity and the palate appears to be enlongated, we will wait on performing surgery until he is fully grown. Then if the palate is still excessively long, we will remove a portion of the palate to open up the airway. The lateral saccules will be removed as well if they are swollen and inflamed. Again, recovery is rapid and improvement is noticed immediately.
Other concerns with the brachycephalic breeds involve the eyes. Due to the shape of the skull, the eye sockets are shallow making the eyes prominent and vulnerable to injury. This can lead to increased susceptibility to trauma (scratch or ulceration of the cornea), proptosis of the eye (the eye pops out of the socket, usually secondary to head trauma), and lagophthalmos. With lagophthalmos, the eyelids cannot completely close due to the prominent eyes. This leads to irritation and drying of the center part of the eye (cornea). If the eyelids cannot protect the eyes, hyperpigmentation (dark discoloration of the cornea) will occur, can be severe and actually lead to loss of vision. Entropion (where the eyelids roll in) is also a problem for these breeds. When this happens, eyelashes or haired skin can rub on the eye leading to chronic irritation and possible damage to the cornea. There is a surgical correction for this problem. Prominent nasal folds are often present The nasal fold is a ridge of skin between the nose and the eyes. Debris and moisture can collect in the folds leading to infection and if the folds are large enough, the skin may actually rub on the eyes causing chronic irritation. Surgical correction may be necessary.
Brachycephalics also have wrinkles, some times lots of them! From the face to around their corkscrew tails, there are wrinkles everywhere, and wrinkles lead to skin folds. Infection in skin folds can be a problem so it is important to monitor for redness, foul odor or discharge. If any of these occur, treatment will likely be required. Cleaning skin folds on a regular basis with an antiseptic product can minimize the development of infections.
And last but not least, brachycephalic dogs are prone to dental disease. Normal dogs have 42 adult teeth in the mouth. So do brachycephalics but those 42 teeth are in a much smaller space. This leads to crowding and teeth growing at odd angles. Food debris gets trapped and that leads to periodontal disease. Home dental care is important to minimize progression of periodontal disease.
So, as you can see, brachycephalic breeds can have a whole host of problems. That does not mean you shouldn’t get one but you need to be aware of the possible breed related issues and make an informed decision before bringing one of these dogs into your home. For me, well, I’m delighted to have my Frenchie, Puck, as part of the family. He a quirky, silly, loving boy and brings smiles to my face on a daily basis. I just make sure I clean his skin folds as needed, brush his teeth daily and monitor his closely for any of the other aforementioned problems. Oh yeah, he also had “a nose job” when he was neutered - it’s a lot quieter at night now which makes me breath easier too!
Tips for getting cats to take their medicine
Getting a cat to take their medication is sometimes not an easy task! If your cat won’t readily take medication in food, then sometimes we need to pop the pill in their mouth. There are some cats that are very difficult to pill and suspect that you are poisoning them when you try to hide the medication in food. When giving your cat their medication turns into a fight, this isn’t good for you or your cat. Your cat may start to hide from you, and you may get bit or scratched while trying to medicate your kitty. Below are some tips for giving your cat medication.