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Minnesota Veterinary Hospital Blog

What Every Cat Owner Needs to Know About Feline Calicivirus

Feline calicivirus is a common upper respiratory infection that can spread quickly among cats in close quarters and those who haven’t received a vaccination against it. Since it’s much more common in very young kittens, you need to use extra precaution when you introduce a new kitten to a household that already has cats. In fact, you should plan to isolate the kitten and older cats for five to seven days to ensure that everyone remains healthy during the transition period.
Calicivirus has symptoms similar to what a person suffering from a cold or the flu might experience. Your cat’s symptoms may be only mild or they could become quite severe. However, calicivirus is rarely life-threatening and cats can only transmit it to each other and not people or other species of animals.
How Calicivirus Spreads
Cats who live in unsanitary conditions and those who have not received a vaccination are most at risk of acquiring this virus. It can spread very quickly in boarding facilities and animal shelters. This is the reason why Minnesota Veterinary Hospital requires all cat owners to show proof of the calicivirus vaccine before boarding with us. Another way the virus spreads is when a non-infected cat has contact with the sneeze droplets, eye discharge, or other type of bodily fluid from an infected cat.
Recognizing Calicivirus Symptoms
A cat with calicivirus typically has clear discharge coming from the eyes and nose and will sneeze frequently. A normally rambunctious kitten or cat will not have the same energy level and show little interest in eating. Some other symptoms your cat could display include:
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Struggles to chew food
  • Drooling
  • Squinting due to eye ulcers
  • Pink eye
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Ulcers in the mouth
Calicivirus can make your cat feel miserable until the symptoms clear. Although no treatment currently exists, you can try several home care remedies to help your cat feel better.
Home Treatment for Calicivirus
Be sure to wipe the discharge from your cat’s eyes often to prevent them from crusting shut. A damp towel works just fine. We also recommend keeping the stress in your cat’s life to a minimum while he gets better. You may have to coax him to eat since the virus affects his sense of smell and cats don’t like eating anything they can’t smell. Another thing you can do is turn the shower on and then hold your cat in the bathroom for a few minutes. Breathing in the hot steam can help clear his lungs and sinuses.
If your cat normally goes outside, keep her in until she has recovered from the virus. Not only can going outside prolong her recovery, but she can spread calicivirus to other cats in the neighborhood even as she recovers from it.
Your cat may need medications, eye drops, IV fluids, or other interventions from us if he has a moderate to severe case of calicivirus. Fortunately, calicivirus is easily preventable with a vaccine. Please contact us to schedule an appointment if your cat has never received one or a booster if it’s been more than a year since the last dose.
Photo Credit: Martin Poole / Getty Images

It's Almost Time for National Mutt Day

Colleen Paige, a well-known animal activist, created National Mutt Day in 2005. She is also the person behind such campaigns as National Puppy Day, National Cat Day, and numerous others related to the well-being of pets. National Mutt Day now takes place every year on July 31 and December 2. The purpose of the campaign is to celebrate dogs with mixed parenting heritage and to encourage people to adopt them. According to Paige, mutts make up the largest percentage of euthanized dogs. Overbreeding in the quest for the perfect designer dog is one of the main reasons for this. This day is now also known as National Mixed Breed Dog Day.

The Advantages of Adopting a Mixed Breed Dog
Like most dogs, the mutt is lovable and loyal to her human family. If you purchase a mixed breed from a shelter or private party, the adoption usually costs much less than it would for a purebred dog. Other benefits of adopting from a shelter are that your new pet has usually been spayed or neutered, is up-to-date on shots, and has had a complete medical evaluation. When you adopt a mixed breed dog, you save a life and add much joy to your own.

Challenges of Owning a Mixed Breed Dog
Whether you bring home a cockapoo, labradoodle, or dog of unknown heritage, you may not have a lot of information about your new pet's background. That can make health, behavior, and future size hard to predict. However, you can overcome this lack of initial information with research and dedication to staying informed about your specific type of mixed breed dog.

All Dogs Deserve a Loving Home
Every dog, regardless of her parentage, deserves to be loved and cared for as part of a family. Even if you can’t adopt, you can help dispel myths about mutts that keep too many of them in shelters where they are often euthanized before they can find a home. In the words of Colleen Paige, "In every heart, there is a hole. In every shelter, there is love in which to fill it."
While you should never make an impulse decision when it comes to bringing home a new dog, know that mixed breeds can make delightful pets. Once you get settled with your new dog, bring him into Minnesota Veterinary Hospital for a check-up and to introduce him to our staff. We look forward to helping you care for your new family member for years to come.
Photo Credit: GlobalP / Getty Images

This Saturday is Pet Fire Safety Day

It might seem hard to believe that a pet can start a house fire, but it happens approximately 1,000 times a year in the United States. A curious cat can knock over a burning candle or an excited dog can accidentally bump a burner when jumping up on the stove to sniff dinner. This is one of the reasons that ADT Security Services and the American Kennel Club (AKC) teamed together to sponsor National Pet Fire Safety Day every year on July 15. The other is that 40,000 pets die and another 500,000 are injured in fires every year.
How to Prevent Fires with Pets in the Home
All homes should have a smoke detector with working batteries on every floor. This alerts you to the presence of smoke or fire somewhere in your household, but the alert only comes after the fact. By following these safety tips, you can stop a fire before it starts:
  • Pet-proofing your home may require you to get down on your hands and knees to see things from your pet’s point of view. For example, the stove can be easy for a dog to reach just by standing on his hind legs. Loose wiring may draw the attention of a curious kitty who could then electrocute herself in the process. It’s also important to ensure that you put any hot item away immediately after use, such as an iron.
  • ADT and AKC both offer free window clings that alert emergency responders to the fact pets are in the home. You can write the number and species of pets on it so they know what to expect.
  • If you’re going to be away from home for more than a few hours, place your pets near the front entrance of your home to improve the likelihood of a firefighter finding them. Before you leave, do a quick check to make sure your pet isn’t close to any fire hazards.
  • If you have a fireplace in your home or choose to burn candles, make sure that you supervise your pet around any open flames. Additionally, extinguish all flames before leaving the room and don’t allow your pet to investigate.
Plan How to Escape a Fire with Your Pet
We published a blog post last year about making a written disaster plan that includes your pets. Whether it’s a fire or another sudden catastrophe, make sure you have a first-aid kit and a stash of food, water, and toys already prepared for your pet. Keeping a leash and collar near the door allows you to get out of the house faster if you have a large or frightened animal who tries to run away from you. These are simple precautions, but they can save your pet’s life in a fire when every second counts.
Photo Credit: A Dog’s Life Photo / Getty Images