Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Nutritional Requirements of Cats

Here are some random facts about cat nutrition, in no particular order:

Cats require about twice as much protein per unit of body weight as dogs do, and more than 3 times as much as rats

As is the case for many of the cats peculiarities, the liver is responsible for the higher protein requirements. The cat liver can't decrease protein use when protein is scarce.

Most carnivores require 8 amino acids as essential, cats have 10.

Deficiency of the amino acid Taurine cause problems with cat's eyesight and heart failure.

High intakes of sugar can lead to glucose in the urine, extremely uncommon in most animals.

Providing glucose only diets to cats can kill them. They die from dehydration trying to rid themselves of the sugar.

Cats are unable to make enough Vitamin D even if they are shaved and subjected to intense light. (don't try this at home, they also get sunburn very easily!)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


We had dog test positive for rabies at the Emergency Clinic this weekend. Now, more than 20 people may have to get post-exposure injections and 3 more dogs may have to be put down. Here are some links on Rabies and please get your pet vaccinated:

Rabies laws by state:

Rabies Education for Kids:

And bite Prevention (this is a little dry, but VERY useful)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Tests for Your Pets

Find out what what breed your mutt is:

Or, just find out how smart your dog is:

Now you can feel as smug about your dog as you do about your kid!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Portosystemic (Liver) Shunts

We had a dog in the clinic this weekend that was pretty sick. And she had very little chanced of getting better. Not because the disease in untreatable, but because the veterinarian in charge of the case is bowing to the client's wishes. See, the client doesn't want to spend any money. So instead of telling the client the truth, the veterinarian is just placating the client until the dog passes away. The dog truly has a portosystemic shunt.

A portosystemic shunt is a fairly uncommon occurrence. In the womb, a fetus doesn't need to use their liver to detoxify the blood. Mom's liver does that for both the mom and the fetus. Mom's liver also makes enough glucose for both as well. Sometime (hopefully soon!) after birth a little vessel, or shunt, between the intestines and the vena cava closes. In some dog's this may take up to a year, if they live that long. The other way this disease can occur is if these shunts develop within the liver itself. Dog's that are born with this condition are fairly easy to diagnose. They typically have trouble regulating blood glucose and are much smaller than the rest of the litter. (Don't confuse this with the "runt", which statically speaking grows up to be the largest adult.) Many times these dogs present because they are disoriented, or actually have seizures. Simple blood tests usually confirm the diagnosis, but an ultrasound of the abdomen and a biopsy of the liver are sometimes need. Older dogs can acquire a shunt at any time, but these are more difficult to diagnose.

Treatment for mild cases is conservative. Feeding the dog a special diet, along with some medication to help control toxin buildup in the blood stream may be all some dogs need while the body stabilizes. Surgery to repair shunts outside the liver are controversial. The last paper I read about 50% of the dogs did not survive very long after the correction. However, some dogs did do very well, so it may be a good choice if the symptoms are too sever to control with diet and medication.

This site gets more in-depth on the topic: