Cats and Hair Loss

June 29, 2011

Alopecia

Hair loss (alopecia) is a common problem for cats. The hair loss can be partial or complete, and the patterns varied or symmetrical. Treatment options exist, though they are limited.

Symptoms and Types

Signs include partial or total hair loss. The skin surrounding the area of hair loss can appear normal or it can have redness, bumps, scabs, and skin loss. Alopecia may appear in a symmetrical form, or it can be random on the cat’s skin.

Causes

In older cats diagnosed with cancer, alopecia is common. Nervous disorders (e.g., over-grooming) can also cause cats to lose their hair. Hormonal imbalances, specifically too much thyroid or increased levels of steroids in the body, may lead to hair loss. Some cats experience skin allergies, which can also cause hair loss to occur. Parasites that bring about mange, and fungal issues like ringworm, are also a common cause of alopecia. Another less common factor is heredity.

Diagnosis

A complete blood count (CBC) is often done to determine if there are hormonal or thyroid imbalances causing the alopecia. Various imaging tools, such as X-rays, are used to rule out signs of cancer or abnormalities in the adrenal glands. Meanwhile, if the veterinarian believes hair loss is due to a skin issue, a skin biopsy or culture may be done.

Treatment

If the alopecia is due to a skin disorder (e.g., skin erosions), thyroid imbalance, or other hormonal imbalance, there are medications and topical treatments available. If hair loss is due to a behavioral issue, modification treatment can be taught to lessen the problem. Overall, treatment options are fairly limited.

Living and Management

Other than administering the appropriate medication, you should observe the cat’s condition to make sure it does not become worse.

Prevention

There are no surefire methods to prevent hair loss in cats.

Whether you’re setting out via plane, ship, or automobile, take these steps first to prevent problems while you and your dog are away from home:

1. See your veterinarian. Make sure your dog is in good health, is up-to-date on shots, and has enough of any needed medications for the trip. Depending on the destination, the vet may suggest additional vaccinations. For example, if travel involves hiking in the woods, the vet could advise a shot for Lyme disease.

2. Get a health certificate from your vet. This verifies that your dog’s in good condition, and it may be required by some airlines, hotels, or doggie daycare locations in other cities.

3. Talk to the vet about sedatives. These are most important if your pet has had travel anxiety in the past, but you may choose to use them as a precautionary measure. However, your vet may advise against them for airplane travel.

4. Try any new sedatives or medications before you leave. Check to see if your dog has any allergic reactions that require a vet visit.

5. Ask your vet about a microchip. If your dog doesn’t have one already, you may want one as a safeguard against losing him permanently in an unfamiliar place.

6. Know the rules at your destination. For instance, to bring a dog across the border to Mexico, the health certificate must be dated within two weeks of the travel date. Most such certificates will remain valid for 30 days, to cover bringing the dog back into the U.S. at the end of your trip.

7. Research dog-walking routes in advance. Remember, dogs are creatures of routine, and yours will need that daily walk no matter where your vacation spot is–plus he’ll enjoy the adventure of new outings.

Bottom line: Pet-friendly accommodations make it possible to travel widely with your dog–but regulations and requirements mean it’s crucial to plan all the details first.

Traveling With Your Dog

June 23, 2011

With pet-friendly hotels, cabins, and resort spots popping up all over the map, traveling with your best friend has never been easier. But while jetting off without planning in advance sounds romantic, it can cause sticky situations if your dog is along for the ride.

Practice first

In any endeavor, practice makes perfect. Your angel of a dog could turn into a devil in transit if you embark on a lengthy trip without preparing properly. But with a little advance work, you can help your pup learn to take travel in stride.

  • Acclimate your dog to his carrier or crate. Set the carrier up in the comfort of home well in advance, to help your dog view it as a safe and familiar den that’s just his. Be sure the carrier’s big enough so your dog can stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably.
  • Stick to day trips at first. This is especially helpful for a puppy who hasn’t been away from home much. A Saturday visit to an unfamiliar locale can help your dog get used to exploring new terrain and meeting new people.
  • Try an overnight trip next. Once he’s used to short journeys, arrange to spend a night with a friend or relative, or go to a pet-friendly hotel. This will introduce your dog to a variety of potentially anxiety-producing situations, such as sleeping in a new place, meeting strangers, and dealing with the odd noises of a different household or a hotel.

Recently Brian & Theresa, Co-Founders of AWOIP, attended the 2011 Animal Care Expo held in Orlando Florida.  Brian & Theresa had a great time meeting the attendees and took this opportunity to reveal CAPTAIN AWOIP!  Captain AWOIP is the Defender of Defenders, the Protector of Protectors,  and the Rescuer of Rescuers.  Logon to our Facebook page to view more pictures of Captain AWOIP & Brian & Theresa.  (There may even be a picture of Sky “working” here in the office)

It’s a stunning fact that half a million pets are affected every year by home fires and since July 15 is National Pet Fire Safety Day, there’s no better time to make sure you’re doing all you can to protect our furred and feathered friends. It’s also true that many house fires are actually caused by pets, so you’ll be doing yourself a favor too by taking sensible precautions.

For example: extinguish open flames which often arouse pet curiosity, remove glass bowls from wooden decks (they can ignite wood), secure or remove loose wires, and keep young animals away from potential fire-starting hazards.

If you’re going out, leave pets near entrances where they’re more easily rescued if there’s a fire, and place a decal on a window that requests pet rescue and explains how many animals are in the house. Some alarm companies offer these free online.

Pet Fire Safety Day is sponsored by the National Volunteer Fire Council and the American Kennel Club. Get more details on the event from their websites.

Marilynn Allemann, an executive and life coach provides these helpful tips for managing stress:

  1. Don’t minimize your problems.  Become aware of what your stressors are and your emotional and physical reaction to those stressors.  Don’t ignore them. 
  2. Recognize what you can change.  Can you change your stressors by avoiding or eliminating them completely?  Can you reduce their intensity by managing them over a period of time instead of on a daily or weekly basis?
  3. Reduce the intensity of your emotional reactions to stress.  The stress reaction is triggered by your perception of physical and emotional danger.  Are you viewing your stressor in an exaggerated way?  Work at adopting more moderate views and try to see the stress as something you can cope with rather than something that overpowers you.  Put the situation in perspective.
  4. Learn to moderate your physical reaction to stress and build your physical reserves.  Brisk exercise is an amazing way of lowering your stress symptoms.  Getting enough sleep on a consistent basis will also help reduce your overreaction to stressful situations.  Relaxation techniques can reduce muscle tension, for example, slow, deep breathing will help to bring your heart rate down and respiration back to normal.
  5. Plan something rewarding for the end of your stressful day.  It doesn’t have to be big; it could be a relaxing bath or half an hour with a good book.  Put aside work, housekeeping or family concerns for a brief period before bedtime and allow yourself to fully relax.  Don’t spend this time planning tomorrow’s schedule or doing chores you didn’t get around to during the day.  Remember that you need time to recharge and energize yourself.  You’ll be much better prepared to face another stressful day.

An excerpt from the article “Managing Stress” by Marilynn Allemann, LCSW, CPC

Everyone experiences the anxiety known as stress and knows the “wear and tear” it can have, emotionally and physically.  It is important to remember that stress isn’t so much caused by different events or factors; rather, how we react to them.  Stress can result from a multitude of internal and external factors like relationships, work, family, and our own behavior. 

Stress can be positive and negative.  For some people, stress can cause a new awareness and compel you into action and provide you with a new angle or light on a situation.  However, when stress is negative, it can cause a multitude of dejected feelings and can lead to a number of health problems.  Stress can cause you to experience psychological and physical symptoms such as:

  • Memory problems
  • Upset stomach
  • Rashes
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Anger, frustration, uneasiness
  • Difficulty with decisions
  • Headaches
  • Loss of objectivity

These things can lead to very serious physical and psychological conditions so it is very important to learn how to manage your stress.

An excerpt from the article “Managing Stress” by Marilynn Allemann, LCSW, CPC

There are a multitude of purposes for incident reporting, including quality improvement, event documentation and liability monitoring.  Many organizations have found that incident reports can be a positive management tool and encouraging employees to complete a report provides management with some vital information.  Reporting events when things do not go as planned gives management the information needed to improve the quality of services and perhaps limit the possibility of a repeat occurrence.

Every organization should define the purpose of their incident reporting system.  The purpose of incident reporting can include, but need not be limited to:

  • Improving the management of animal care and treatment by assuring that appropriate and immediate intervention occurs and corrective measures are implemented to prevent reoccurrences.
  • Providing a factual record of the event by the employee or volunteer who was a witness to or had first hand information of the incident.
  • To provide a database for the organization’s Quality Assurance/Performance Improvement activities so that care and services can be evaluated and changes can be made to improve quality.
  • To alert Risk Management/Administration of an occurrence that could result in a claim, so that loss control measures can be implemented.

It is important for staff to understand that reporting and incident does not make it a claim.  However, a potential claim will not disappear merely because it was not reported.

What is an Incident?

June 14, 2011

An incident is generally defined as any occurrence which is not consistent with the routine care of a particular animal, or an event that is not consistent with the routine operation of the organization.  Many insurance companies have now developed other requirements for reporting actual or potential claims.  Incident reporting, however, remains an important proactive means of loss control within any organization.

Often times, incidents are not reported because of the following:

  • There is no clear definition of what an incident is
  • Failure in the ability to identify serious events
  • Staff sometimes think it’s someone else’s job
  • Seen as an admission of negligence, so staff is fearful to report
  • Response to reported incidents is punitive, so staff is hesitant to report
  • Perception of incident reporting as a routine task with low priority.