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Feline Hyperthyroidism

Written by Jessica Lewis, DVM and Jennifer Blair, DVM, CVA, CVFT

Hyperthyroidism is a multisystemic disorder resulting from the excessive production and secretion of thyroid hormones by the thyroid gland. This is almost always the result of an intrinsic disorder of the thyroid gland itself, either hyperplasia (increased number of thyroid hormone-producing cells), benign tumors (adenomas) or less commonly, malignant tumors (carcinomas) of the thyroid gland. Approximately 20% of cats will only have 1 lobe affected, whereas the other 70-80% have bilateral involvement. Occasionally, animals will have ectopic thyroid tissue in the lower neck or chest that is causing the signs of hyperthyroidism. We have yet to uncover what stimulates this excessive growth or tumor formation within the thyroid gland, but both environment and diet have been implicated.

Anesthesia For Your Pet

Written by Dr. Kevin Roeser

At St Francis Animal & Bird Hospital, we use anesthesia nearly every day during routine and emergency surgeries, dental procedures, and other potentially painful procedures. The goals of anesthesia are fairly universal. We aim for a patient who is unconscious, immobile, and unaware of discomfort, but also for a patient who is breathing well and maintaining normal cardiovascular function, one who is maintaining an appropriate body temperature, and ultimately a patient who will recover swiftly but calmly at the end of the anesthetic episode. Though most veterinary practices perform anesthesia, not all anesthetic episodes are created equal. Our staff goes the extra mile to ensure the safest and most effective anesthetic practices.

Happy Halloween: Beware of Chocolate Toxicity

Most people enjoy chocolate, and not surprisingly, most pets do too! Unfortunately, chocolate can be toxic to pets and can lead to severe clinical signs including vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, ataxia (‘drunkenness’), increased heart rate, heart arrhythmias, increased blood pressure, increased body temperature, difficulty breathing, and even death.

The toxic compounds in chocolate are methylxanthines – this includes both theobromine and caffeine. These compounds inhibit cellular receptors, stimulate the central nervous system, and enhance cardiac and skeletal muscle contractility. In addition, the high fat content in chocolate leads to local gastrointestinal irritation (vomiting and diarrhea), and in severe cases, a serious disease called pancreatitis. Clinical signs occur within 12 hours, but most pets will begin exhibiting signs within 1-4 hours of ingestion.

Animal Pain Awareness Month

Jennifer Blair, DVM, CVA, CVFT

Animals experience pain and discomfort just as people do. While it is obvious that a pet who is limping is experiencing pain, often the signs of pain are much more subtle. These signs may include restlessness; gait changes or shifting weight; decreased mobility, activity or play; panting or rapid breathing; difficulty getting up or down; difficulty with stairs; inability to jump; vocalization; behavior changes (aggression, clinginess, attention-seeking, hiding, withdrawal from the family); decreased appetite; excessive licking, chewing or mutilation of a particular area of their body; lack of grooming; change in body posture (hunched, not curled up when sleeping, stiff, neck stretched out); or a change in housetraining or litter box habits. Many of these signs are incorrectly attributed to ‘old age’.

Chronic pain may be due to osteoarthritis, cancer pain, or pain associated with any of the internal organs. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of chronic pain. Managing chronic pain requires a multimodal approach. A multimodal approach uses a combination of medications, supplements, nutrition and other therapies together to achieve pain control while reducing risks of potential adverse effects. Considerations may include the type or source of pain, efficacy of therapy, concurrent medical conditions, safety, route of administration, frequency of administration, cost and the ability to administer the therapy and/or travel for care. We work with you to develop the best treatment plan for you and your loved one.

Feline Inappropriate Urination

Kevin Roeser, DVM and Jennifer Blair, DVM

Inappropriate urination or house soiling can be a challenging issue for cats, their owners, and veterinarians alike. For many cats, the underlying cause of this behavior is multi-faceted, making management more challenging. However, with patience and consistent behavioral modification, most owners can successfully manage this issue long term.

Cats that are exhibiting inappropriate urination should initially have a complete physical examination performed by a veterinarian followed by specific diagnostics that help to exclude an underlying medical cause for the behavior. Recommended diagnostics may include a) a complete urinalysis and culture to rule out infectious or inflammatory causes; b) radiographs (x-rays) +/- an ultrasound to identify stones, masses, or structural abnormalities; and c) baseline blood work to rule out concurrent or underlying diseases.

Feline Tooth Resorption / Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions

Dr. Kevin Roeser

Feline tooth resorption, also known as Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions (FORLs), cervical line lesions (CLLs), neck lesions, cervical line erosions, and feline caries/”cavities”, are a common dental concern for cats. These lesions begin just below the gum line and progressively invade and destroy the affected tooth. As the tooth structure is damaged, the pulp (nerve and blood supply of the tooth) is exposed. This can result in chronic dental pain – think of it as a major toothache!

It is estimated that well over 50% of all cats will experience this disease at some point in their lives. Tooth resorptive lesions can be found in cats as early as 18-24 months, but most affected cats are middle-aged. Asiatic breeds (Abyssinians, Siamese, and Himalayans) may be predisposed, though all breeds may be affected. The cause of these lesions is yet unknown.

This month, our feature article was inspired by two eighth grade girls, Scarlett Morton and Elsa Yager, Girl Scout Troop #54296, working on their Girl Scout Silver Award Project. The Silver Award Project is a project designed to help the community. They chose to educate our community on blue-green algae, because sadly, Elsa’s family dog, Barney, passed away suddenly last year due to this toxin. Their hope is to spread the awareness of the dangers of this toxin to help save other pets’ lives.

View their project here!

Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, are bacteria that grow in slow moving or stagnant water such as ponds, lakes, or streams, especially in areas where water is rich in nutrients such as fertilizer. These bacteria are often called algae because of their appearance on the water, but they are not truly algae. These bacteria grow rapidly during the summer months, leading to accumulations along the shores. You cannot always visualize these algal blooms. Sometimes there is a ‘pea soup’ appearance to the water, but affected water can range from clear to blue to even red in color.

Welcome, Dr. Jessica Lewis

We are excited to announce the addition of our new doctor, Dr. Jessica Lewis, on Tuesday, May 29th. Dr. Lewis joined St Francis Animal & Bird Hospital in the spring of 2011 as a veterinary assistant while she was obtaining her Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science. She was promoted to a veterinary technician in 2013 and continued to work at St Francis part-time while earning her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) at the University of Minnesota. She completed a one month externship at St Francis during her clinical rotations and is elated to finally officially join the team as a veterinarian.

Jessica’s professional interests include small animal internal medicine, preventative care, nutrition, and anesthesia/pain management. She has completed the Fear Free Certification program and strives to reduce fear, anxiety, and stress related to veterinary visits. Jessica is a member of the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians (AEMV), and Association of Avian Veterinarians (AAV). In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, being outdoors, practicing yoga, and throwing the frisbee for her Australian Shepherd, Tig.

You are invited!

Please join Dr. Charlie Cosimini (aka Dr. Chuck) for a book reading/signing event.
Bring the whole family! Space is limited, so RSVP today!

When: Monday, May 14th, 7-8 pm

Where: St Francis Integrative Services

Located next door to St Francis at 1235 Larpenteur Ave W

To RSVP, please call (651) 645-2808 or email group@stfrancisabh.com

(This event is free. Donations of any amount will be accepted for the Falcon Heights Elementary Read-A-Thon.)


It’s Spring: Heartworm Disease and Lyme Disease

It’s April – and it finally is beginning to feel like spring. April is both Heartworm Awareness Month and Prevention of Lyme Disease in Dogs Month. Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes and can affect dogs, cats, and ferrets. Lyme disease is transmitted by deer ticks and is primarily a disease that affects dogs.

Fortunately, we have good protection for both of these diseases. Providing your pet with a monthly heartworm preventative is essential for anyone who has any mosquito exposure. We recommend Heartgard Plus for dogs and Revolution for cats and ferrets. To protect your dog against Lyme disease, we recommend a combination of a flea and tick preventative (Nexgard or Frontline Gold) as well as the Lyme vaccine for those dogs who have tick exposure.


From A Cat’s Perspective

Bringing your cat to the veterinarian can be a very stressful and scary experience -- for both you and your cat. One of the biggest stressors for your cat going to the doctor can be the carrier itself. Not only does the carrier mean that they are leaving the comfort of their own home to go to a potentially scary place, but the actual ride in the carrier can be very frightening. When a carrier is carried from the handle of the carrier, it is very similar to your cat being forced on to a roller coaster they don’t want to ride.

To help to eliminate the stress of the ride for your cat, we recommend carrying your cat’s carrier like you are handling a fragile package -- support the bottom of the carrier with both hands. This helps to eliminate the undulating movements of the carrier, helps to keep the carrier from accidentally bumping into walls and doors, and eliminates the possibility of the bottom falling out or the lid unlatching during carrying.