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- My dog has diarrhoea, what can I do?
- Increasing water intake in cats with cystitis
- Reducing stress in cats with cystitis
- The importance of fibre in the diet of rabbits
Digestive upsets can be upsetting and distressing for both you and your dog. It is important to seek veterinary advice whenever your dog is ill, but particularly when your dog’s appetite is reduced, your dog is depressed or lethargic, or there is blood in the stools.
- Water – to prevent dehydration it is important to ensure there is a constant supply of fresh water available to your dog.
- Diet – your veterinary surgeon will be able to advise you as to what to feed your dog during the digestive upset. It is usually advisable to feed a bland diet, which is low in fat and easily digested. The commonly recommended combination of chicken and rice meets these criteria. Your veterinary surgeon may provide you with a prescription diet that is suited to digestive upsets. Feeding small, frequent meals prevents the gastrointestinal tract from being overwhelmed and allows for thorough digestion of the diet.
- Access to outdoors – as part of the digestive upset your dog may exhibit urgency to defaecate. This may mean your dog needs to suddenly go to the toilet and so ensuring that they have frequent or free access to the outdoors can prevent accidents in the house.
Young to middle-aged cats with clinical signs of cystitis are thought to have a breakdown of the protective mucus layer that lines the inside of the bladder. This allows the urine to cause irritation of the bladder wall which causes the signs typical of a cat with cystitis. How irritating the urine is depends upon the concentration of the urine. One way to reduce the concentration of the urine and therefore how irritating it is, is to increase the amount that the cat drinks.
Encouraging a cat to drink more water is difficult but there are some methods that can be used to try to increase their water intake:
Consider switching from a dry diet to a wet diet
- Dry food contains approximately 10% water compared to 70% with tins or sachets of food
- Alternatively, water can be added to your cat's current diet.
Keep all bowls clean
- Cats are very sensitive to odours and fouling of the water
- Provide fresh water daily
Keep food and water bowls away from the litter tray area
- Cats do not like to associate toileting areas with feeding and drinking areas
Experiment with different water bowls
- Some cats prefer ceramic or glass bowls
- Metal bowls can taint the water
- Plastic bowls seem unpopular with cats
Keep water bowls filled to the brim at all times
- Cats do not like their whiskers touching the edges of a bowl
- A wider or shallower bowl may be necessary
Consider filtered or bottled water
- Cats have very acute senses of smell and taste and may be able to detect impurities or chemicals found in tap water
Some cats like more than one water bowl
- Provide multiple bowls in different areas of the house
- A bowl outside to collect rainwater can be popular
Consider running water
- Cats seem to like the increased oxygenation associated with running water
- Water fountains are popular with some although the motor noise can deter others
- Allowing a tap to run for periods during the day can be useful
Try flavoured water
- Try using ice cubes made from a tuna or chicken broth
- It is important to check that there are no onions or garlic in the broths as these are toxic to cats
All of these points will not be relevant to all cats; some may work better than others. It is advisable to discuss these options with your veterinary surgeon beforehand.
It has now been discovered that stress plays an important role in the development of cystitis in young to middle-aged cats. The way in which these cats deal with stressful situations differs from other cats.
It can be difficult to identify the potential causes of stress in cats and it is important to remember things that we see as stressful are different to what cats deem as stressful. Cats do not worry about work or deadlines as we do and are more concerned with their relationships with other cats (within the household and outside), with humans within the household and also their environment.
Potential causes of stress in cats include:
- Fighting between cats living together or other cats in the neighbourhood
- Problem is amplified by more cats living together
- Provide separate facilities for each cat for eating, drinking sleeping, toileting and playing
- Consider the issues associated with cat flaps and unwanted visitors
New additions to the family
- New puppies or kittens, new family members, house guests
- Provide the cat with a safe area to escape to
Changes in the cat’s environment
- Any change in the cat’s environment can be a stressor e.g. building work or renovations, moving house, moving furniture, new food bowls
- Does the cat have somewhere to escape to? Somewhere to hide?
- Pre-empt changes in the cat’s environment and provide calming agents where needed
Litter tray management issues
- Keep the litter tray as pristine as possible
- Ensuring adequate numbers of trays within the household
- Follow the 1+1 rule (i.e. one litter tray per cat in the house plus one extra)
- Consider the location of the litter trays, the type of substrate used, depth of litter, whether they are covered or open
Changes in diet
- Sudden changes in diet can provide a stress to cats
- Are the food and water bowls somewhere quiet and private?
- What is the relationship like between you and your cat
- Is there sufficient time for playing, petting, grooming?
- Visits to the cattery, vets or cat shows
- Changes in the weather
- Medicating the cat
- Restricted access to outdoors
A nice resource that is available to pet owners that can provide further advice on these points can be found here.
If potential causes of stress have been identified, they should be addressed where possible. This may not always be possible. There are products available from your veterinary surgeon that may help calm and relax your cat.
Rabbits are hind gut fermenting herbivores; this means that they have a well developed latter part of the gut which allows them to efficiently digest fibre in the diet. It is important for rabbits to have a high percentage of fibre in their diet as this keeps guts working normally. Diets with high fibre levels include grass and hay.
If there is insignificant fibre in the diet then there can be issues with soft faeces and faeces caking around the rear-end. This can be an issue in the warmer weather as flies are attracted to the faeces around the back-end, they can then lay maggots which burrow under the skin (known as fly-strike). Fly-strike can be a fatal condition in rabbits.