Does Your Cat Have Allergies?

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Does Your Cat Have Allergies?

From itchy skin to wheezing, to diarrhea, the symptoms of allergies in cats are varied and often hard to spot. Allergies occur when your cat’s immune system detects foreign proteins and tries to remove them. They’re the most widespread medical problem among cats. That’s why this article will explore the most common allergies cats encounter as well as how to treat them. First, we’ll look at how allergies manifest, this offers an idea of the symptoms to watch out for.


Cats and people have a lot in common when it comes to allergies. Some of the most common allergens that may irritate your cat are the same as those that bother people. This includes pollens, dust, mold, and even pet hair. Not only are we allergic to many of the same things, but these allergens manifest in the same ways.

  1. THROUGH THE SKIN: Your cat may be itching himself more than usual, this could be localized to one specific area or could cause a general reaction across his entire body. Manifestation through the skin is the most common for cats.
  2. RESPIRATORYTORY SYSTEM: Depending on the allergen, it may cause your cat to wheeze, cough, or sneeze. You may also notice nasal or eye discharge.
  3. DIGESTIVE SYSTEM: When your cat eats a food that is recognized by its immune system as an intruder the result is often vomiting, diarrhea, and/or flatulence.


While there are many things your cat may be allergic to, the items can generally be broken down into four types; (1) Insects such as fleas. (2) Inhalants such as dust. (3) Food. (4) Contact, from rubbing up against something, for example.


Flea allergies are the most common in cats. They’re also the cause of a lot of confusion. Many cats react to a flea bite, but most only experience minor irritation. That’s a natural and normal reaction for the body to have. However, when a cat is allergic to fleas, he’ll experience a more severe reaction. The allergic response is due to the proteins present in the flea’s saliva. Some of the fleas’s saliva is injected into the skin with every flea bite. This could lead to scabs or open sores on the skin. It’s also common for a secondary bacterial skin infection to occur.

Corticosteroids can help treat a reaction, providing immediate relief to the intense itching your cat may be experiencing. Treating any secondary infections that arise from the sores should also be a priority.

With insect allergies, the best course of action is preventative medicine. Continuous flea control is necessary for cats allergic to fleas. Many flea infestations occur in spring, summer, and fall. However, with our mild winters in Southern BC, it’s becoming more and more important to continue treatment in December, January, and February as well.


There is still a lot to learn about Atopy, also known as an “inhalant allergy” in cats. When it comes to dogs and people “atopic dermatitis” refers to environmental allergens such as grass, mildew, dust mites, etc. When we inhale these, they’re expressed as a respiratory problem. Cats however express their inhalant allergies as skin problems. Additionally, if a cat suffers from one inhalant allergy (such as ragweed, cedar, or mold) then they’re likely to have several allergens. This makes diagnosing and treating a little more difficult as their symptoms may only last for a couple of weeks before that allergen is gone and is replaced by a new seasonal allergen.

Corticosteroids such as prednisone can help treat your cat during a reaction. Steroids block the reaction quickly regardless of being given orally or by injection. Many cat owners also find antihistamines and essential fatty acids as effective allergen treatments. It’s important to understand that it can take 7-10 days for antihistamines to become effective though, so they’re best used as a preventative measure.

Inhalant allergies can also be treated through immunosuppressive drugs. The treatments target the immune cells, to reduce hypersensitivity. This option should also be viewed as preventative medicine as it can take up to a month to become effective.

Finally, Inhalant allergies can also be treated through desensitization. Antigen injections or allergy shots can be used once the allergen has been identified through blood tests or intradermal skin testing. This treatment aims to reprogram your cat’s immune response, decreasing his sensitivity to the allergen. Unfortunately, while desensitization is a great option for many cat parents, it can take up to a year for allergy shots to become effective.


Believe it or not, when a cat suffers an allergic response to a food, it’s likely to have been from a protein source. Beef, pork, chicken, and turkey are common ingredients; allergies may stem from this meat or from the proteins in the corn, wheat, or preservatives, also found in their meals.

Some food allergies may cause skin or respiratory reactions, however, it’s more likely that your cat will experience digestive issues from his food allergen. Often, the best way to confirm a food allergy is through an elimination or hypoallergenic diet. It usually takes at least five months to complete a proper diet, because all current and previous food products need to be eliminated from the body. Then, you need to introduce food products that your cat has never had before such as rabbit or venison. The cat needs to be on this special diet for three months before confirming a positive response and determining a course of action.


It’s actually very uncommon for cats to experience a contact allergy. However, if you notice skin irritation, especially if it’s localized, and have not introduced new foods, then it’s worth consideration. Shampoos, flea collars, or certain bedding are the likely culprits if it turns out to be a contact allergen. While solving the problem is easy (you simply have to remove or stop using the item) determining what is causing the reaction is difficult.

Do Aging Pets Need Supplements?

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We all want the best for our pet’s health and overall well-being, but it’s difficult to know where to start. Many of us take supplements for our own health, but it’s not as simple as giving your pet a multi-vitamin every day. It’s important to discover what your pet needs and doesn’t need to maintain a well-balanced life.

This article will focus on supplements for aging cats and dogs and how to ensure they have enough, without overdoing it.


Supplements are concentrated ingredients that are added to a diet for nutritional or medicinal purposes. Ingredients such as amino acids, vitamins, botanicals, minerals, herbs, and enzymes are examples of supplements.

We find there’s a fair amount of misunderstanding around food additive terminology, and phrases are occasionally used interchangeably. To ensure clarity we’d like to offer the following terminology:

  • Dietary supplements/nutrients are substances added to food to ensure it’s nutritionally complete.
  • Therapeutic supplements/nutraceuticals are foods taken orally, providing a health benefit or disease prevention. To meet the therapeutic effect, these ingredients are taken in a larger dose than the daily requirement of that particular ingredient.


Aging typically causes degenerative changes that occur in many organ systems after maturity. This results in a decline in the organ’s ability to meet the challenges of its environment. The musculoskeletal system (muscles and bones), skin, heart, lungs, gastrointestinal tract (including the teeth), kidneys, liver, neurological system, and specialized sense organs are all affected by degenerative disorders (especially hearing and sight). In geriatric dogs and cats, complaints stemming from deterioration of the liver, musculoskeletal system, kidneys, eyes, and nervous system are particularly common.

By taking the right vitamins, you might be able to help slow down the progression of degeneration.

Patient considerations, such as the organ system in need of support, and product aspects, such as dosage, safety, efficacy, and balance, must all be considered when using supplements effectively. Although age is not an illness in and of itself, aged pets may have a diminished ability to digest nutrients due to changed metabolism and a weakened immune system, as well as a decreased ability to combat diseases.

Activity level, individual digestive track, and ability to remove by-products and toxins all influence dietary requirements. Protein, fat, carbohydrate, fiber, and mineral levels in the diet may need to be changed depending on the patient.


It’s important to determine what your pets need before adding any of the following. Additionally, speak to your vet about using digestive enzymes and probiotics. These typically enhance the absorption of dietary nutrients.

  • VITAMIN B COMPLEX: the B’s are important for supplying energy, facilitating enzyme function, and more. B1, B2, B6, and B12 can become essential. The risk of toxicity is low because any amount above what they need is peed out.
  • VITAMINE E: an important antioxidant that also helps with inflammatory skin disorders.
  • COENZYME Q-10: can help improve the strength of the heart muscle.
  • ALPHA LIPOIC ACID: often recommended for eye health and can help slow degenerative neurological conditions.
  • OMEGA FATTY ACIDS: these fatty acids help maintain healthy skin and help inflammatory reactions.
  • GLUCOSAMINE: improves mobility and can delay degenerative joint disease.
  • MILK THISTLE: often recommended for chronic liver problems.


Few vitamins and herbs, especially in animals, have been subjected to scientific testing to establish their efficacy. Much of the information about supplement use is based on anecdotal or testimonial data (sharing personal experiences, describing the perceived results).  Supplements are also frequently used as a result of human or laboratory research. Although this information may be useful, it is partial and may not provide a fair picture of your pet’s possible benefits.

You may notice, however, improvements in your pet’s skin and coat, as well as greater mobility, and increased activity levels. These are the most common improvements pet parents see from supplementation.


The first step is to discuss your concerns with your vet. Is he slowing down more or struggling on walks, going up and down the stairs? These are signs your pet is aging and could benefit from supplementation. Vets have received training in animal anatomy and physiology, and they are educated about the therapies they prescribe. Your vet may even notice signs of aging in your pet during his annual physical.

The CGVC team really is the best source of information on the safety of supplements in pets. Additionally, Country Grove believes a proactive approach to our pet’s health and wellbeing is best. Dr. Wolfe will tailor treatments, as well as supplement recommendations, to help provide the best personalized, individual care for your pet.


Are Guinea Pigs Good Pets?

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In a word… YES!!! Guinea pigs can be great pets, especially for kids. This article will explore why you might want to consider a guinea pig, and how to properly care for them.



Guinea pigs are social and very well mannered. Their inquisitive nature makes them friendly, and their beautiful coats make them cute and cuddly. Even hairless guinea pigs are cute (they look like tiny pigs).

Just like pigs on a farm, females are called “sows” and males are called “boars”. For the most part guinea pigs are quiet, but they do chirp and purr. Insiders tip; when a guinea pig purrs, it usually means they’re hungry.



As with all pets, nutrition is extremely important. Guinea Pigs actually eat a lot throughout the day, much of it being Timothy Hay. Hay helps to keep their teeth ground down, otherwise their molars can become overgrown. It’s also important for your guinea pig to get plenty of Vitamin C each day. This can come from fresh vegetables in their daily diet, or from a vitamin C tablet. Keep in mind, while vegetables are great for your guinea pig, iceberg and other similar lettuces aren’t recommended because of their high-water content which can cause diarrhoea.

Speaking of water, most guinea pigs prefer drinking out of a bottle. There are some out there though, that will only drink from a bowl. If you find this is the case with your new pet, choose a heavy bowl that isn’t easily knocked over. It should also be big enough to ensure she never runs out.



For the most part, guinea pigs groom themselves. They will need your help, however, keeping their nails trimmed. If left on their own a guinea pigs nails can grow incredibly long, eventually curling around themselves. Just like dogs and cats, their nails should be trimmed monthly, and you want to be sure to avoid the quick. This is the blood vessel in the nail, which can be very painful if snipped.

If you’re not sure how to trim your guinea pig’s nails, your vet or veterinary technician can help you find the spot safely, and demonstrate how to best hold your new pet while trimming.



While friendly, guinea pigs can also be a little skittish. After some quality time with their new owners, however, they become their happy playful selves. Since they’re social creatures, they will enjoy playing with you and they should be played with at least once a day.

To help your new pet get used to being held, pick her up gently by placing a hand under their chest and your other hand under their bottom. Hold her closely to your chest, while still cupping her safely. This will prevent her from jumping.

A long and wide cage is best for your guinea pig, they need plenty of floor space. The cage doesn’t need to be too tall, since they’re not big jumpers, but it should be at least 10 inches high to prevent her from escaping.

The best bedding options for your guinea pig are shredded paper, pellets, or certain wood shavings (avoid using cedar or pine shavings, their aromatic oils can lead to skin or respiratory problems).



No, regular check-ups aren’t necessary, however, there are times that you may want to bring your guinea pig in to be looked at. One of the best ways to spot that your pet isn’t well, is a reduction in appetite. Guinea pigs have a unique digestive system that makes them eat all the time. If they suddenly stop eating, it’s usually a medical emergency.

Guinea pigs can also develop many of the same issues that cats and dogs do. You may notice blood in the urine or a runny nose. These are other signs that your guinea pig isn’t well.

Fortunately keeping your new pet healthy and happy is easy. Their cage should be cleaned out (at least) every other day. A continuous supply of fresh food and water is also essential.

Why Your Weight Loss Resolution Could be Dangerous for Your Pet

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Most people will benefit when they reduce their sugar intake, but their pets sometimes pay the price. With more and more households cutting sugar out, there are more people using sugar substitutes such as xylitol.


Many sugar substitutes are dangerous for cats and dogs. Xylitol is one of the most dangerous for pets, because it’s very common. It’s a low-calorie substitute with a low glycaemic index. Xylitol is also preferred by people because it comes from nature including corn, mushrooms, lettuce, berries, plums, oats and other plants. You’ll find xylitol in everything from gum, to candy, to peanut butter, even toothpaste.

Toxicology experts at have confirmed; an increase in xylitol poisonings does correspond with the rise in xylitol products in our homes. Phone calls concerning xylitol poisonings increased 105% between 2015 and 2020.  In fact, xylitol poisonings are now the second most popular reason the Poison Helpline gets calls, with chocolate overdoses remaining their biggest concern.

Another source of the problem is rooted in the legalization of marijuana. While the number of poisonings increased over 100% in five years, the largest spike was from 2018 to 2019, when xylitol poisonings increased 47.2%. Experts believe that correlates with the sudden demand in THC infused edibles. Many edibles, be it brownies or candies contain xylitol. If it’s a chocolate edible with xylitol and THC, that’s a triple threat.


Both dogs and cats can get very sick, even die. Dogs, however, are affected the worst. At best your dog will experience a drop in blood sugar, but for many dogs that quick drop leads to unconsciousness and seizures. In high doses it will take just a few hours for liver failure to begin.


As far as sugar substitutes go, xylitol is one of the healthier options for humans. Since it occurs in many natural food sources, it’s not harmful to us. There are even some benefits; research is showing xylitol leads to better dental health, has antioxidant properties, and can prevent ear infections.


Most pet owners know that candies aren’t safe for their fur kids and keep them out of reach. However, one of the biggest sources of xylitol that dogs can consume is peanut butter. Many brands of peanut butter, especially diet varieties are sweetened with xylitol. If you share peanut butter with your pup, be sure to check the ingredients.

Some pets, dogs in particular, really enjoy chewing gum… we’ve heard many stories about pets finding their way into their owner’s purse or pocket, because they were lured by the smell of the gum. Like candy, gum can contain xylitol, regardless though, it should be kept away from your pets. It becomes a choking hazard when they’re chewing the gum and the wrapper at the same time.

If you suspect your pet may have ingested a poisonous substance or food, please call the ASPCA Poison Control Centre in Canada at 1-888-426-4435.

Is Your Cat at Risk for Diabetes?

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The rate of diabetes in cats has increased significantly in recent years. If diagnosed and managed successfully though, your cat can continue to live a happy, normal life. This article explores feline diabetes, including how to recognize its symptoms, how to manage treatment, and how to prevent it.



Diabetes Mellitus is the inability to produce enough insulin to properly manage glucose or blood sugar levels. Cats that are older, or overweight are more at risk for developing diabetes. The true incidence rate is hard to estimate because it’s likely to be under-diagnosed, but it’s believed to be around 1%-2% of the feline population.



If your cat relates to more than one of these common risk factors, then they could be more likely to develop diabetes:

  • Male and neutered.
  • Seven years or older.
  • Additional medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, renal issues, or an infection.
  • Relying on medications, especially corticosteroids.



It can be very tricky to spot feline diabetes. Many pet owners aren’t aware that their cat may  be at risk for diabetes in the first place. Veterinarians are often the first to notice a problem, during an annual check-up. Things to look out for if you are concerned about your cat having diabetes include:

  • Needing more water than usual or drinking from unusual places.
  • Dramatic weight loss.
  • Increased appetite or begging for food.
  • Walking on their heels (avoiding toes).
  • Urine that is sticky or hard to clean.
  • Decreased energy or activity.



If you or your veterinarian are concerned that your cat has diabetes, blood and urine tests will be done. The tests will look for repeated levels of hyperglycaemia (high levels of blood glucose). The tests will also rule out any other possible conditions that could be causing the symptoms.



Once diagnosed, you’ll work with your vet to try different treatment options. During this, it’s important you’re honest with your vet about how much time you have and your ability to monitor your cat. Regardless of the treatment, the goals are usually the same:

  • To stabilize and regulate blood glucose levels.
  • To reduce your cat to a more appropriate body weight.
  • To reach potential remission (which may not be possible for all cats).


There are two common treatments for feline diabetes:



To help control your cat’s diabetes, and to prevent further damage, your vet will likely start with changes to its diet. Just like humans, cats need a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. For some cat’s, changing the diet is all that’s needed. For many though, this is done in addition to other treatment options.


Your vet will help you find an ideal weight for your cat and the best ways to get there. Less food overall, as well as a low-carb diet, are often recommended.



There are several insulin options available to your cat, your vet may recommend trying a couple for best results. Insulin is typically delivered by injection. If this is the case for your cat, your veterinarian will show you how. You’ll also learn how to administer glucose level tests. Many cat owners find after administering insulin a few times it becomes easier for them and their cat.




When insulin therapy is first started, monitoring your cat’s response to therapy by periodic blood glucose determinations is important. Ideally, this involves serial blood glucose measurements in the form of a glucose curve.


Serum fructosamine levels can be used to help diagnose and further evaluate your cat’s response to insulin therapy. Fructosamine is measured from a single blood sample. No special preparation (e.g., fasting) is required before fructosamine testing. Serum fructosamine levels are proportional to the average blood glucose concentration that your cat has achieved over the past 7 – 14 days. Therefore, it can be used in long-term monitoring of diabetic cats.


At home, other important things you can do for your cat include monitoring her appetite, water consumption (if increasing or decreasing), energy level, grooming habits (unkempt greasy haircoat can indicate lack of diabetic control), and urine output. If you notice any of these changes, please inform your vet because these changes may signify the need for additional testing and/or adjustments in the insulin dosage. It is very important that you do not make adjustments in insulin dosage without first consulting your veterinarian!  By working together, you are your vet can continue to provide a healthy and happy lifestyle for your cat.



We know obesity is a huge risk factor in cats with diabetes. There are also some breeds that are more prone to diabetes than others. Unfortunately, though, enough studies haven’t been done to confirm techniques to prevent diabetes in cats. A low-carb diet has been shown to help manage diabetes, but there is no confirmation that such a diet will prevent diabetes in the first place.


Weighing your cat regularly and maintaining consistent yearly physical examinations with your veterinarian is currently the best way to stay ahead of any potential diabetes diagnoses.



Resources: Life Learn

Does Your Pet Have a UTI?

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When you notice your pet needing to go outside more often, or urinating in spots they’re not supposed to and straining to urinate, it could be a sign of a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). Both dogs and cats are able to develop UTIs, they are, however, more common in dogs, and in females as well. This article explores UTIs including how to recognize when your pet has one, and your treatment options.



When bacteria travel from a source outside of the body, up the urethra, and into the bladder it causes an infection in (what should be) a sterile place. Dogs are more prone to UTIs than cats because they pee outside (an uncontrolled environment) often. Females are more likely to experience UTIs than males in most mammals because the urethra is much shorter and wider in females, so bacteria can travel up quickly and easily.



The symptoms for a UTI are very similar in dogs and cats, because of their lifestyle and behavioural differences, however, pet owners need to be on the lookout for different signs.


  • CATS: Will start urinating in places other than their litter box and urinating more frequently. You may also see signs of blood in their urine.
  • DOGS: Will be going outside to pee more often. There may be blood in their urine, but it can be harder for dog owners to spot, unless the dog ends up needing to pee inside.


Both female cats and dogs may lick their vulva more often than normal while experiencing a UTI, but not all pets fall into this behaviour. If the UTI persists and a kidney infection has developed, symptoms extend into drinking more water than usual, not eating, and vomiting.



UTI’s are very painful for dogs and cats, it can also turn into a much bigger infection very quickly. That means you’ll want to bring your pet to your veterinarian immediately. Your vet will perform a urinalysis to confirm a UTI diagnosis. The culture and sensitivity of the urine will be tested as well. The culture will likely be obtained by inserting a syringe directly into the bladder.  This is the quickest, and least painful method on your pet, who is already experiencing significant discomfort.


Testing the sensitivity portion and the culture will help your veterinarian decide which antibiotic is best to use. This is why it’s important to bring your pet to the vet for every possible UTI, because the antibiotic needed may be different each time.


If a kidney infection is suspected, your vet will perform additional bloodwork and/or recommend an abdominal ultrasound.



Antibiotics are the only way to fight a urinary tract infection. Most treatments are 10-14 days long. Your dog or cat should be feeling better within the first five days though. Even if there are signs of improvement, it’s important to continue giving your pet the antibiotics, as the infection often lives on for a week after symptoms disappear.


Be sure to provide your pet with plenty of water during this time, and to keep an eye on their peeing habits, as well as their eating. If symptoms persist or worsen then your vet will likely want to examine your pet again, testing for a kidney infection. These infections are usually much longer to treat, averaging six to eight weeks. A serious kidney infection may require your dog or cat receiving intravenous fluid therapy and be monitored for a few days.



There are no preventive measures to take to avoid occasional UTI’s. Ensuring your dog or cat always has access to fresh water is your best bet. If your pet is experiencing recurrent UTIs, then your veterinarian can recommend supplements to make such infections less likely to occur or strengthen the immune system.   Further diagnostics may also be needed, such as x-rays and ultrasound of the abdomen, to rule out bladder stones.