Alabama Rot

As a dog owner we are sure you’ve heard and are scared stiff by the reports and rumours of Alabama Rot in the UK.  Yes it has been confirmed in the UK, but it is still very very rare.  There has been a total of 132 confirmed cases since 2012 with 12 of them being in 2018.  Its a good thing that everyone is aware of it but there is a lot of scaremongering going on.

So what is Alabama Rot?

The correct term for Alabama Rot is CRGV.  This is a bit of a mouth full so bear with; it stands for Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy.  This condition effects the skin (cutaneous) and the kidneys ( Renal Glomerular) blood vessels (Vasculopathy).   It causes damage to the tiny blood vessels in the skin and kidneys.  The skin tends to get lesions which is what most of you will be familiar with as Alabama Rot.  The damage to the Kidneys sadly leads to kidneys failure.

CRGV lesion
Alabama Rot Lesion

You maybe wondering why its called Alabama Rot?  Well in the 1980s a group of greyhounds in Alabama developed CRGV and bingo that’s where this horrible name came from.  At the moment no one knows what the direct cause of CRGV is.

 

How can I stop my dog getting it?

As there is no information on the cause of CRGV yet, it is very difficult to advise you guys on what you should or should not do.  Some have advised bathing any areas of your pooch that has come into contact with mud or wet, this is a possibility of how it is contracted.  Spotting the disease early is very important so if you do notice any unexplained lesions then get your pooch to the vet straight away.

CRGV
Bathing may help

Is there any treatment?

Your vet will be the best person to decide on the course of treatment,  it maybe that they need to start a course of antibiotics, pain relief and treat the wounds directly by dressing them.  The vet may also want to start treatment to support the kidneys such as intra venous fluid therapy.  In a lot of cases your vet may want to seek advice from specialist and even refer your pooch to them.

Where is it in the UK?

Have a look at the below map, it is as up to date as we can find at the moment.  As so little is known about CRGV it is difficult to pin point exactly where the dogs that have been affected picked it up from.

Alabama Rot confirmed cases UK

What can I do to Help?

There is research going into the cause of and treatment of Alabama Rot.  Research is always an expensive thing so if you really want to help you can hold fundraising events and spread the word to help support places like The Alabama Rot Research Fund (ARRF).  They are a national charity which are helping to raise awareness and funds for research into CRGV.  www.arrf.co.uk

Remember!

CRGV is very rare!  Be aware of it and act quickly if you are worried.  But remember guys they need to have fun and enjoy so don’t lock them away.

CRGV
Don’t keep them Locked in!
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Are Fur Balls Normal?

We all know that terrible sound Mr Fluffy makes when coughing up a fur ball, its etched into our minds! The sight of your cat twerking in font of you, makes you break into a sprint in a race against time to get something under them, before the parcel of doom descends onto your cream carpet.   If you do make it back in time there is that very realistic chance that your cat is going to miss the fur ball catcher and time it exactly so he vomits onto your hand.  They also may do the backwards shuffle while vomiting ensuring they cover as much an area as possible.  Oh and don’t forget the times we’ve stood on one bare foot! Ye we sure do love those little cute monkeys!

Sorry folks a bit graphic, but just so you know what they look like.

So what is a Fur ball?  A fur ball is a clump of fur that your cat has either passed in its vomit or its poo (eww right?).  The fur ball is caused by your cat grooming, it is normal for them to swallow their fur whilst grooming.  Those little rough tongues have little barbs pointing backwards, so the fur can only go one way and that is down.  The fur collects in their stomachs, usually its small enough to pass through into their intestines and they just poop that fur right out.  Sometimes its a little bit to big for it to pass into the intestines so your charming little fluff ball will just vomit it up to get rid of it.  A fur ball is usually sausage shaped with a lovely shade of vomit.  It is normal for cats to have occasional fur balls, and in longer haired cats it might be slightly more frequent than shorter haired.  It is not normal for you cat to be bringing up fur balls on a regular basis.  If this happens you should pop over to your vets to get them checked out.

Reasons that Mr Fluffy may be having more fur balls than normal maybe:-

  • Over grooming – cats may over groom if they are feeling stressed out by something.  Have you changed anything recently, moved house, new fur baby, moved thing around a bit ( you know how they hate change)?  They also may over groom if they are painful in an area.  Are they an older cat? Do they have arthritis over some of their joints or back?  Are they over grooming their tummy area? Are they grooming over their lower abdomen and private parts, this may show they have cystitis.  Have you been treating them regularly for those horrible little hoppers (fleas), they could be itchy because of a little blood sucker present.  They may also be itchy because of skin problem.
  • Tummy troubles – Mr Fluffy’s intestines may not be moving as well as they should, have you noticed if they are having difficulty going to the toilet?  If you do notice this you should definitely get them checked out.
  • Arthritis – This is very common in the older cat, its something that can be treated to keep your cat comfortable as they move into their senior years.  With the pain of arthritis they may not want to groom themselves as regularly, and when they do they have a lot more loose fur as they have not been keeping on top of their coat as well as they should.  This build up of fur goes straight down the hatch.

What can you do?

There are a few things you can do to help lessen or prevent the fur balls:-

  • Firstly get them checked out by your vet to make sure they are fit and healthy
  • Groom Mr fluffy regularly, especially if they have long fur.  By grooming them
    You don’t need to go to this extent to remove the fur!

    you are removing the dead and loose fur, which will stop them swallowing them so much.

  • There are diets out there like Royal Canin Hairball Care.  They have a special fibre in them that will increase the motility of the intestinal tract, this may help the fur pass through before it builds up in the stomach.
  • Hair ball pastes can be useful.  They usually have malt, liquid paraffin and/or cod liver oil in them, this can help the fur balls pass more easily through the digestive tract.  Usually cats will love the taste of these and will just lick them of your finger or off their paws.
  • Exercise, especially if you have an indoor only cat.  By moving round more your cats digestion system will work better, and lessen the chance of a fur ball building up.

As always guys if your worried please get your cat checked out by your vet.

If you have any questions or comments let us know.  We would love to hear from you.

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How Do I Tablet My Cat & Dog?

So you and your little one are at the vet, and you hear those dreaded words that make you shudder ” So Mrs Jones Fluffy will need to take a course of antibiotics twice a day”.  A cold sweat starts to break out and you just look at sweet little fluffy sitting there looking like butter wouldn’t melt.  You know that as soon as you get fluffy home and attempt to give those tablets, Fluffy is going to do everything in her power to not have that tablet go anywhere near her mouth.  Your sweet, cuddly affectionate fluffy is going to turn into the Tasmanian Devil!

As Veterinary Nurses ourselves we can let you into a little secret.  Our own pets are just as difficult to medicate as yours, and we can 100% sympathise with you.  Whether it is a short course of antibiotics or your fur baby needs long-term medication hopefully this post will help take the stress out of tableting your pet.

So before you go trying to shove your hand down the back of your pets throat try these tips.

  • Try hiding the tablet in a small amount of wet food, this is best done by waiting for your pets meal time so they are hungry.  You can actually hide tablets inside chunks of food, which fingers crossed will make it less detectable.  You should only attempt this a couple of times, if you are not being very successful with this your fur baby is bound to click on and may become worried about eating and in some cases may stop eating altogether.
  • Ask your vets if they have any gelatin capsules, I have managed to get away with putting nasty bitter-tasting tablets in these, they are less likely to smell and taste the tablets when tucked in to a gelatin capsule.   They are also very handy if you need to give more than one tablet at once.  If your vet doesn’t stock them then try on-line Amazon definitely do.
  • Hide them in a small amount of soft cheese, such as Primula, they can come in different flavours such as prawn and ham, Yum! (a small amount of butter maybe used for occasional medicating)
  • A tried and tested way which I use on my own tablet shy cats and those in hospital at our practice is soft treats.  For dogs you can get treat pods for tablets, an easy to use one which comes to mind is Vivi Treats.  This can be squashed and moulded around most tablets, and dogs love them so most of the time they are straight down the hatch!  Now cats on the other hand will not enjoy the dog treats and also they tend to be a little bit to big for their not so delicate little mouths.  After years of practice I have found that using the Webbox stick treats work really well, you can break them off to a size just a little bit bigger than the tablet then split them in half, length ways creating a little pocket you can pop the tablet in and squash it back together.
  • Some capsule medication can be sprinkled straight over the food or mixed and can be quite palatable (or so the people who make it claim!!!).  Always check with your veterinary surgeon that you can split, crush or sprinkle medications before you do.

Ok so the above tips hopefully will work for most of you, but there is always going to be the odd more suspicious bundle of fur that will not take anything in any way shape or form.  So what can you do?  Well there are 3 options left.  You can ask your vet if there is any alternative treatment/medication that can be used, the straight down the hatch technique or the Pill Giver.

Straight Down the Hatch!

For the brave souls out there that can manage this with no problem at all we salute you!  For those that are about to undertake this fete, have a read of this first for some pointers.

Cats!
If you have a cat that is placid and you know your not going to come out of this like something that’s been put through a shredder then this will be easy.

  • Sit your cat on a firm sturdy surface.  Holding on to the tablet all ready to go,  put one hand round the top of your cat’s head making sure that you are not covering their eyes as this will frighten them and they are more likely to freak out.  Holding their head firmly but to not to firm where you think you’re gonna pop their little heads.  Tilt the head back slowly.
  • As you tilt the head back with your other hand holding the tablet, use a finger to just push the lower jaw open.
  • Once the jaw is open drop the tablet into the back of the mouth as far back on the tongue as you can get, the further back you get it the less likely it is that your cat will be able to spit it back at you.
  • Sometimes you may need to use a finger to assist pushing the tablet back far enough.  Careful of those pearly whites.
  • Once the tablet is in hold the mouth closed and wait for them to swallow, this should mean that the tablet has gone.  Sometimes gently stroking them under the chin and neck can encourage them to swallow.

If your cat is not as placid then having a helping hand can be an option.  Get you helping hand to sit your cat on a firm surface with cats back to them (this will stop them reversing).  They can then hold those little front legs down, holding them around the elbow area and pushing the legs gently on to the surface they are sat on.  This then leaves you free to try the above technique with out those Freddy Krueger like paws getting you.  If the little darling is still being difficult and is using the back legs and managing to turn themselves practically upside down and inside out, then try wrapping them in a towel this is called the Purreto.  Lay a towel out flat, sit the little light of your life on the towel, and pull it up under their chin keeping the legs inside and wrap it snuggly round their back.  This should keep the ninja paws at bay.

Dogs!
They can be just as difficult to tablet as cats,  they are bigger, stronger and can drag you round your living room.

  • Have the tablet ready in one hand to give and get your dog to sit either by your side or with their bum against a wall. (this will stop the reverse, retreat tactic)
  • Place one hand over the top of their muzzle, make sure you do not cover their nose, we all like to breath and that’s not going to help.
  • Using the hand that’s over the muzzle gently squeeze their lips against their teeth and tip the head slowly back.
  • With the other hand that holding the tablet push the lower jaw down and either drop or push the tablet back as far onto the back of your tongue as you can.  Always be careful of those fine set of gnashers.
  • Close the mouth quickly and hold closed until they have swallowed

Pill Givers!
These can be very useful!  They kind of look like a syringe with no needle on it, they have a soft end on them that you can get the tablet to sit in.  There is plunger on the other end that you push down when you are deploying the tablet.  These can be especially useful if your little angel is very adapt at using their teeth to say no.  It means no hands in the mouth.  Yay!!!  The Pill Givers can be used by following all the above techniques for the Down the Hatch Section!  Just make sure that before you do that triumphant I won dance, there is no tablet still sitting in the end of the Pill Giver.

So there we have it! No one said it was going to be easy, but hopefully this post has given you a few ideas.  If you have any other tips then leave a comment we would love to share ideas.  Also if you have any questions then fire away!

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