We will be featuring cases of common pet ailments on our blog. Rest assured, we’ve asked our client’s permission prior to featuring their case and we will protect their identity.
Princess is a 12 year old cat that came to us for vomiting. After going over with her owner what had been happening we performed a thorough examination. We first ruled out any intestinal parasites (worms) as the cause of her throwing up. Since she was an older cat, we decided to perform a quick blood screen on her. With a few drops of blood we were able to obtain a complete picture of how well her liver, kidneys, and thyroid gland were working.
In her case we discovered that Princess had a common condition of making to much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroid). We then discussed treatment options for Princess. Recently a new prescription diet was introduced for treating feline hyperthyroid. We elected to start Princess on this diet, call Y/D by Hills Science Diet. So far Princess has been doing great. She will still need regular blood tests to make sure the diet is treating her condition adequately, but she will not need any other daily medications.
I’m now going to take a step back and discuss the diagnosis and treatment options of hyperthyroid in cats. The thyroid gland drives our body’s metabolism. In other words, it revs our engine. Cats are prone to producing too much thyroid as they get older. The condition can go undetected for many years. Most recently we’ve started recommending a quick blood screen for all cats over the age of five year. We can do this test in a matter of minutes in our hospital.
Cats with hyperthyroid will often begin to shed excessively. They will start to eat more and more voraciously, and often throw up. They will drink more water and urinate more often. They may seem agitated and behave differently. When we examine any cat we look for other changes that might give us clues to this condition. We listen for an elevated heart rate. We palpate along the bottom of the neck (Adam’s apple) to feel for swelling. We also check the eyes for signs of hypertension and if needed we can do blood pressure checking. While there are other conditions that can cause these same signs, we look at the patient as a whole and decide if we need to blood test.
Once we’ve diagnosed the condition with a blood test, we have three treatment options. Daily medication, surgery, a special treatment with Iodine, and now we have the Y/D diet. All the treatments have their pros and cons and have various costs. Fortunately the cost of the diet is very similar to that of the daily medication and regular diet. Many cats are not easy to medicate, so the diet also brings the convenience of just being able to treat your cat with food alone. Regardless which treatment has been chosen, there is still close monitoring of your cats blood chemistry values and urinalysis that is required.
For cats that are already being treated for hyperthyroid, they can be transitioned for daily medication to the diet. For families with more than one cat there are special considerations as well, but under the right circumstances the diet can be fed in a multi-cat household.
If you have a cat with hyperthyroid or if you just have an older cat that you’d like us to check out, please let us know. Keep in mind, this diet is considered to be a prescription. Your cat has to be a patient with us for us to dispense it.
Please contact us by phone 757-340-6996 to make an appointment if you wish to discuss any of your pet's medical concerns.
Here's a follow up on Princess. She is doing great on the y/d diet. Her hair coat is shinier. She is not vomiting as frequently and she is gaining weight.
Like all hyperthyroid patients, we will continue to monitor Princess' progress with routine checkups and testing. This is done to ensure we are providing her with the safest treatment possible.
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