Veterinary Internal Medicine

February 2017 Patient of the Month

Pilot's Story

January 13 2016 is a day that I will never forget, that was the day my boy was diagnosed with Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia-IMHA. When your dog has IMHA, it means his immune system destroys its own red blood cells. Your dog’s body still produces red blood cells in the bone marrow to replace the destroyed cells, but, once they are released the immune system mistakenly recognizes them as something foreign. Pilot is a 3 year old Schipperke male who came into my life on October 19th 2013. I show dogs and I waited a very long time, years in fact, to get a dog as special as he is. He was the most confident dog I have ever seen and I knew he was going to be a top show dog, he loves everyone he meets and everyone who meets him loves him, a dream come true but that was not to be. He rose to the top in a very short time, finished his championship in record speed before his first birthday, on his way to becoming a grand champion. I had HUGE goals for him and he certainly was the dog to do it all. But I noticed that he was starting to fade just after his second birthday, he would what I call pass out with exertion lost interest in eating and developed bloody stool. I rushed him to Stack Vet Hospital to see what was wrong they took a blood sample and said they would get back to me with results the next day.

Well I got the call from Dr. Stack and he asked me if I could come up that day to review the results, I knew right then and there it was not good. I called my husband Spencer and we met at home to take our boy for results. I was told that Pilot had IMHA and it was a life threatening illness, a normal RBC is 45 and above, he was at 15.5. We were in total shock, I had never heard of this disease. They started him on Prednisone which is the first line of treatment. A follow up appointment was made for the following week for a RBC count. I went home to do my research on this illness. I contacted some of my show friends and no one really knew or had seen this before.

When we went for his follow up appointment it was snowing and blowing out. Pilots RBC count was now 7.5! Dr. Stack said to me Pilot needs a blood transfusion or he will die. I chose to take him to the Emergency Room at the Veterinary Medical Center (VMC) and the arrangements were made.

Well, the staff at VMC were just incredible! I was an emotional wreck thinking the worst and in shock myself. I was treated with such compassion and a better knowledge of what was wrong with my dog. I left knowing he was in good hands. They kept in contact with me throughout the night and his RBC count went up to 19. He was hospitalized for two days and transferred to the Critical Care Service. I was told how serious this was that some dogs do well but it is a long battle, our goal is to get Pilot into remission.

Pilot still has a long way to go and is going to need frequent visits with the Internal Medicine Service at the VMC. The Internal Medicine Service is the greatest “team” ever to care for him. My husband, Pilot and I would like to personally thank Dr. Heather White, Dr. Cortright, Kim (vet tech) and Toby (vet tech), and Tracie receptionist who just love my boy, hard not to since he is very special. I can honestly say my dog would not be here if it weren’t for the love and devotion they have for him and for the emotional support they have given my husband and I. As long as Pilot is willing to fight so are we!!!

Thanks so much to everyone who has been there for Pilot!!!

Spencer, Sandi and Pilot Lovelace…

10 Tips for Feline Weight Loss

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Did you know that approximately 35% of adult cats are overweight? If your cat suffers from obesity, know that you are not alone. In cats, as in people, obesity results when energy intake (through food and treats) exceeds energy expenditure (through exercise). Therefore, the best ways to promote weight loss in cats is to limit food intake and to increase exercise.

Limit food intake

Feed multiple small meals per day instead of allowing free access to unlimited food. Only the rare cat can resist the urge to overeat when provided with access to a 24 hour buffet.

Limit treats and table scraps. Did you know that feeding your cat just a 1 oz piece of cheese is equivalent to you or I eating 2 ½ hamburgers?! Due to their small body size even the smallest of treats can pack quite the caloric punch. Remember- cat nip is a calorie free treat!

Try switching to canned food. Canned food is high in moisture and protein, both of which have been shown to limit hunger. Also, it is lower in calories than the same amount of dry food. Importantly, cats should be offered canned food at first in addition to their normal dry. If they eat the canned food willingly you are free to substitute one or more meals per day with canned food.  Most cats should have no more than 1 large (8 oz) can of food per day or two small (4 oz) cans total.

Use measuring cups instead of “scoops.” In baking, 1 cup = 8 ounces. When your veterinarian hears that you are feeding 1/4th a cup of food we may assume you are feeding 1/4th of a measuring cup, or 2 ounces. Because dry food is very high in calories, cats should rarely eat more than ½ cup per day, total!

Try using an automatic feeder. An automatic feeder that can be set to dispense an exact amount of food at specific times of the day will not only control the calories that your cat receives but will also take you out of the feeding picture. This can be particularly useful when your kitty is begging early in the morning. *Note- avoid automatic feeders that dispense food based on motion sensing or pressing a lever- this is similar to a never-ending supply of quarters and a vending machine.

Cat tree

Increase activity level

Purchase or build a cat tree. A cat tree with multiple levels, climbing and scratching options, and dangling toys is an essential jungle gym of entertainment and activity for your cat.

Purchase or create toys that dispense food while the cat plays. Hollow toys can be filled with food that is dispensed only when the cat plays with and rolls it around. A water bottle with the cap on and small holes drilled in works fine. Remember that food used within the toy should be factored into the daily calorie count.

Cat Toy

Move the food dish around the house each day to make your kitty work for each meal. Moving the food dish to new location- upstairs then downstairs then upstairs again not only stimulates the cats’ natural hunting behavior but forces them to walk to the food dish each time.

Set aside playtime for your cat. Many cats love to chase after paper balls, feather toys, or the light from the laser pointer. Start slowly with 2-3 minutes each day and work up to 10-20 minutes per day. Interactive play promotes chasing, running, and jumping.

Arrange a hunt. Purchase a couple of crickets from your local pet store and release them in a confined space (such as a bedroom) with your cat. Crickets are a natural food source for cats in the wild and your cat will not be able to resist the urge to hunt. Note that younger crickets are less likely to chirp, but of course—be prepared for the occasional escapee. If you do not like the idea of releasing crickets you can still set up a “treasure hunt” by hiding small treats and cat-nip toys around the house and letting your kitty search for rewards. 

This blog post was written by Heather White, DVM, DACVIM, of VMC's Internal Medicine team.