With so many great questions about pups and kitties from Monday’s Mini-Challenge
, Dr. Katy has answered three more below.
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Freshpet parent Tiffany asks... Dr. Nelson, I have a neutered male cat and understand that urinary tract infections are common. I feed him only Freshpet. Do you have any recommendations as to how I can prevent a future infection?
Actually, urinary tract infections are not as common in male cats as they are in female cats. If your cat has appeared to have a UTI in the past, what you are more than likely seeing are occasional flare-ups of Feline Idiopathic Cystitis, or Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD).
At times of flare-ups, treatment should be instituted by a veterinarian to control symptoms and prevent them from progressing. A variety of therapeutics have been found to be effective, so work with your veterinarian to determine the therapy that is right for your kitty.
But as you pointed out, an important part of treatment of FLUTD is prevention of further episodes. Diet plays a huge role in this. Cats typically do not drink a sufficient amount of water to keep their urine diluted. Therefore, a fresh, moist food is considered ideal as these foods are higher in water content than any kibble alternatives and tend to lead to more diluted urine.
Freshpet parent Aejin asks... What can I do to improve the condition of dog's teeth?
Just like in people, there is no substitute for brushing your dog's teeth for prevention of periodontal disease. Studies have shown that a minimum of three times a week is needed to prevent tartar build-up, but daily brushing is required to reverse gingivitis. There are numerous products out there to make the process easier for you and your pet: finger brushes, regular soft-bristled brushes, flavored toothpastes (do NOT use human toothpaste with fluoride), etc. Chew toys vary in effectiveness, and with severe dental disease are not advised, as teeth can be weakened and could potentially break. Bones and other hard toys are discouraged in these situations, as well.
Regular, anesthetized prophylactic cleanings done in your veterinarian's office are the very best way to get a thorough cleaning of the teeth, and are the only way to clean below the gum line, where the most dangerous bacteria tend to gather. Talk with your veterinarian to learn more about this process, and to have a dental exam done on your pet.
Freshpet parent Rob asks… My cat can only eat food without wheat in it. I feed him Freshpet, but he’s having trouble with hairballs. Is there a supplement I can give him to help with this issue? Something natural, perhaps?
Without having additional information, I can advise only up to a point. Hairballs are often blamed for a variety of actual diseases, and the reason so many hairball remedies are considered "ineffective" is because frequently they're being used to treat something that is a symptom, rather than addressing the real problem.
In my opinion, it's a lot easier (and cheaper) to start by giving your kitty a lion cut. Should the hairballs continue or begin to worsen, perhaps resulting in an upset stomach, it is likely time to talk with your veterinarian about instituting a work up to find what is troubling your kitty.
Please note that in-person veterinary recommendations are always the most appropriate way to deal with questions about your pet. Dr. Katy’s answers are well-informed, however, it can often be difficult to determine the best course of action without her seeing your pet in-person. As such, we recommend that prior to taking action, please visit your personal veterinarian to determine what’s right for you and your pet.