Henry is a 7-year-old Yorkie that came to us for a second opinion. He had been seen previously for coughing and a lack of appetite. On initial exam, we were concerned about his breathing and were suspicious of congestive heart failure. When pulmonary edema occurs, there is a build-up of fluid in the lungs and therefore air cannot be exchanged. You may see an increased respiration rate (especially at rest) or a cough.
This can also make the
pet not feel well and they can stop eating. This is most commonly
caused by mitral valve disease in our small pet population. Henry
was started on Lasix, a diuretic, and then scheduled to have an
echocardiogram. An echo is an ultrasound of the heart and this
allows us to see how well, or not, the heart is functioning. We are
not cardiology specialists, but we do offer limited echocardiograms
for our patients. When Henry came in the next day for his echo, he
was already feeling better with just the first doses of Lasix.
He was able to breathe better and he did not cough as much. The
echo revealed a surprise finding……the left ventricle was dilated
and hardly contracting at all! The left ventricle is responsible for
pumping oxygenated blood to the entire body. We usually see
ventricular dilation in larger breed dogs. When the heart is
unable to pump blood effectively, fluid can build-up in the lungs and
cause all of the symptoms that Henry was experiencing.
Even though we did not understand why Henry had the heart disease, we knew there were medications that could make him feel better. We continued the Lasix and added Pimobendan which is a medication that helps the heart to contract or pump blood more efficiently. This was exactly what Henry needed! Since starting the medication, Henry has felt tremendously better and we are happy that he is able to spend more quality time with his family. This is why Henry is our canine Pet of the Month!
Marley is a middle-aged neutered male indoor kitty that many years prior had an episode of urinating outside the litter pan. A medical reason such as an infection could not be found so a medication was started to ease stress. Marley felt better and started using the litter pan again. Marley did well for a long time and his owners weaned him off the medication. Marley, after several years, recently started to strain to urinate and urinated blood. A urinalysis indicated cystitis or inflammation in the bladder. An x-ray was taken to be sure no bladder stones or cystic calculi were present as these can be an underlying cause of the urinary signs. It was determined that Marley likely had idiopathic cystitis. This is a condition in which a cat has an exaggerated response to environmental stress. The mucous lining to the urinary bladder thins and very concentrated cat urine leaks into the wall of the bladder leading to pain and straining and hence bloody urine. Infection is rare in the cat as the urine is so concentrated and bacteria have difficulty infecting cat urine.
Sometimes the cause of the stress is hard to find. The owners took exceptional cleaning care of the litter pans in addition to a reasonable number of pans (one pan per cat plus an additional is recommended). Dirty litter pans can be a source of stress for cats. The other household cat had been present for a few years and the cats seemed to co-habitat peacefully although inter-cat stress/aggression could not be completely ruled out as a source of stress. Marley was started on pain medication (for bladder pain) and the same stress medication as before. Marley improved but did not resolve the signs of cystitis, so a prescription diet was started to dilute the urine so it is not so concentrated in the urinary bladder and help with stress. The blood in the urine resolved and Marley’s urination behavior normalized.
Recently an outside stray cat had started to visit the house. Marley and the kitty seemed to interact positively. It was still possible that this outdoor cat was invoking some stress in Marley. Cats are quite territorial, and Marley may not feel in control of his territory with a cat roaming around freely outside. Idiopathic cystitis is often a chronic, recurrent, frustrating condition in cats that takes time and often lifelong management with sometimes frequent relapses. Marley has done well so far and feels much better, even with a new baby in the house. That is why he is our feline Pet of the Month.