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“Is My Cat Blind?”: How to Tell and What It Means for You & Her

If you’ve noticed your cat attempting to jump up on furniture and missing or tripping over objects that are part of her everyday life, it’s time to visit the vet. These could point to impaired vision or blindness. Blindness in cats most often occurs gradually, although it can come on suddenly. Learn what causes blindness in cats, the symptoms, and what happens next for a blind cat.

What Causes Cats to Go Blind?

There are many reasons a cat can experience worsened sight or sight loss, ranging from disease to damage to the eyes. Common causes of blindness are:

– Cataracts

– Trauma to the head

– Ingestion of an antibacterial medication (enrofloxacin) that damages the retina

– Chronic hypertension that causes the retina to detach

– Glaucoma

Optic neuritis (inflammation of optic nerve)

Nuclear sclerosis (vision loss due to old age)

Inherited causes can also occur, but they’re less common in cats than in dogs. Unfortunately, they do happen more often in purebred cats.

one cat eye through white blinds

How Loss of Vision Is Diagnosed

Blindness Symptoms in Cats

The first signs of blindness that most cat owners notice are behavioral, and even these can be tricky. Cats are generally very good at coping with blindness. They compensate for a lack of one sense with their others. Some owners are shocked when they find out from a vet that their cat is blind in one eye!

Keep an eye out for a cat that:

– No longer attempts to jump onto furniture or high places; or if she does, she misses.

– Falls from familiar places

– Doesn’t move around the house as much as she used to

– Is more vocal – This could be because she’s calling out to you for your whereabouts, or she’s uncomfortable. (Glaucoma, for instance, can be painful because of increased pressure in the eyeball.)

– Trips over objects on the floor

– Bumps into objects or furniture that have always been there

– Won’t run if she’s startled, but instead freezes in place

But often physical symptoms are there as well. Dr. Kern, associate professor of ophthalmology at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, urges cat owners to regularly check their cats’ eyes for:

– A hazy appearance

– Trouble focusing on objects in close range

– Cloudiness or opaqueness

– A change in the color of the iris(es)

– Two pupils that don’t look like each other.

Diagnosis by a Vet

If you’re not sure how to check your cat’s eyes, ask your veterinarian. They can show you what to look out for.

If your cat is showing signs or symptoms of vision impairment, take her to the vet for an official diagnosis. They’ll also give you important information about caring for a blind cat.

To determine what’s going on, first your vet will ask about your cat’s history, then they’ll administer vision assessments.

Your Cat’s History

These are some questions you should be prepared to answer about your cat:

– Do you think she’s partially or completely blind?

– Has the change been gradual or is it sudden onset blindness?

– When did you start noticing signs of vision loss?

– If the appearance of the eyes is different, when did that happen?

– Is she on any medications?

This will help the vet understand whether the blindness might be related to an underlying condition.

Vision Assessments

There are lots of tests that help a veterinarian determine whether a cat is blind. Most are done twice—once for each eye.

– The cotton ball test – Your vet will throw cotton balls (or something else without a scent or a noise) into your cat’s field of vision to see if he flinches or reacts.

– The pupillary light reflex test – In a dim room, your vet will shine a bright light into your cat’s eyes to gauge how his pupils react.

– Blood pressure test – This can help determine if hypertension is the issue.

– Brain scans – These look for tumors.

– Blood tests – These detect diseases, like kidney disease, that can cause eye problems.

How to Care for a Blind Cat

The diagnosis of partial or full blindness is scary, but in some cases, blindness in cats can be treated. For instance, the drug amlodipine is often used to treat high blood pressure. This is why regular check-ups are so important; catching issues early can prevent blindness!

If your cat has cataracts, take her to a veterinary ophthalmologist right away. This specialist may be able to perform cataract surgery and restore some sight.

If your cat’s loss of sight is permanent, don’t panic! Blindness in cats is manageable. Cats are incredibly adaptable. With a little help from you, yours can have a very fulfilling life.

Adopt some of these changes to make your cat as comfortable and capable as possible:

– Don’t allow your cat to roam by herself outdoors – If you’d like your cat to experience the world outside, consider training her to walk on a leash. And don’t forget to have your cat microchipped!

– Restrict your cat to a small, familiar space at first or if she’s in a new environment.

– If you need to introduce your cat to a new space, scatter treats on the floor. She’ll use her nose to find them and move slowly, familiarizing herself with the area.

– Don’t rearrange the furniture – Your cat has a “mind map” of your house. She may even attempt to leap from the floor to that counter or bookshelf she loves, confident in her surroundings!

– Add bells or tags to yourself and other animals in the house, so your cat knows where you are.

– Keep the floor clear of small objects, so your cat doesn’t trip.

– Highlight tricky spots like the top of the stairs with a scent with strong pheromones. Keep the scent consistent, so your cat knows what to expect when she smells it.

– Speak to your cat as you enter and leave a room, so she knows where you are – You may notice your cat becomes more clingy after losing her sight; she’s using you as a guide!

– Speak before you pet your cat to avoid an aggressive startled reaction.

– Keep her food and water bowls, litter box, and bed in the same places as usual.

– If your cat has glaucoma, speak to your vet about pain management.

If you think your cat is going blind, remain calm. She’s likely feeling anxious and scared, so keep your voice low and your movements predictable. Reach out to your veterinarian to schedule official vision assessments. They’ll be able to give you helpful tips as well.

And make sure to visit the vet for routine care, so they can spot and treat illness or disease before they cause blindness.

Ready to make an appointment for your kitty? Contact Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital today!

Show Your Love by Keeping Your Pets Safe on Valentine’s Day

We’ve written before about sharing the joys of Valentine’s Day with your canine friend. This holiday can be an awesome time to show your love by giving your pet more cuddles, a new toy or treat, or an extra long walk. But many of the trappings of a great Valentine’s Day for humans aren’t fun for dogs and cats. Here’s how you can make sure yours stays safe through the season of love.

Keep an Eye on the Alcohol

Champagne and cocktails are festive Valentine’s drinks, but just like too much alcohol can cause issues for humans, it can do the same for pets. And they’re much smaller! Even a tiny amount of alcohol can quickly lead to intoxication in cats and dogs. If you’re not sure your pet ingested alcohol, but she’s acting strange, keep an eye out for:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Disorientation
  • Difficulty breathing

These and other symptoms can be signs of intoxication in animals.

Signs of Poisoning in Dogs

Don’t Treat with Sweets

That beautiful box of chocolate should be kept out of reach of all your furry friends. Chocolate contains theobromine, which is easy for humans to digest but takes dogs and cats much longer, meaning it can build up to toxic levels in their bodies. Besides that, the high fat content in many chocolates can lead to an upset stomach.

You may be thrilled to get sugar-free candy for Valentine’s Day. (Your loved one finally remembered you’re on a diet!) But your pet won’t be so thrilled if she gets ahold of a piece. Xylitol is a common ingredient in sugar-free candy, and it’s extremely dangerous for dogs—and not good for cats either! It can cause vomiting, tremors, seizures, and even death.

Read more about what dogs shouldn’t eat here. And about what cats shouldn’t eat here.

Avoid Toxic Plants in That Beautiful Bouquet

Everyone loves getting a romantic bouquet of flowers, but if you have pets at home, check the ASPCA’s list of toxic plants before you display your gift somewhere your pet might get it. Several flowers that are wonderful in bouquets also happen to be toxic!

Common flowers that are toxic to dogs include:

  • Birds of paradise
  • Many varieties of lilies
  • Carnations
  • Dahlias
  • Daisies

Common flowers that are toxic to cats include:

  • Aloe
  • Many varieties of lilies
  • Birds of paradise
  • Butterfly irises
  • Carnations
  • Maidens breath

If your dog or cat has ingested a poisonous plant, you’ll likely notice them becoming lethargic and vomiting and/or experiencing diarrhea.

Signs of Poisoning in Cats

Don’t Gift Flowers with Thorns

Roses with thorns are another flower to keep out of your Valentine’s bouquet. Roses without thorns are just as beautiful, so avoid the risk of a pet gnawing or stepping on them altogether.

If you buy roses with thorns, plan to de-thorn them yourself, do so away from your pet, and make sure you clean up thoroughly. A thorn that’s swallowed can be dangerous to dogs and cats.

Roses aren’t the only spiky plants that are best avoided in festive bouquets. Thistles and plants with pointy stems can also pose a risk.

Monitor Open Flames

You’ve cooked an amazing meal, laid out your best china on the table, and found the candlesticks to complete the romantic setup. All that’s left to set the mood is to dim the lights and light those candles!

This sounds like a beautiful scene; just be sure to blow the candles out again if they’re out of your eyesight. Whether you’re in the kitchen preparing dessert or you and your partner retire to the living room for a movie, open flames should never be left unattended with pets in the house. A curious pup or kitty could get too close or even knock them over, posing a hazard to themselves and your house.

Store Wrapping Materials Safely Away

cat sniffs red Valentine's flowers

Ribbons and bows make Valentine’s presents look festive, but they can pose a risk of choking to pets that see them as tempting items to taste. Whether you’re wrapping for someone else or opening a gift from your loved one, securely store or trash wrapping materials once you’re done with them. That includes:

  • Balloons
  • Cellophane
  • Ribbons
  • Bows
  • Tape
  • Anything else you think your pet is likely to get curious about

Ribbons and balloon strings are especially tempting playthings, but if they’re ingested by pets can lead to choking or getting wrapped dangerously around the digestive tract.

The holiday of love can be tons of fun for your pet as well as you! She doesn’t need chocolate, roses, or fancy Valentine’s Day gifts. Treat your pets this Valentine’s Day with your time: A day at the dog park, a trip to the pet store, even some quality cuddles on the couch can make her Valentine’s Day—and yours—extra special. Get even more ideas here.

If you have questions about the safety of common household items for your pet, don’t hesitate to give us a call at Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital. We’re happy to give you advice anytime!

7 Foods Cats Can’t Eat

It may seem more likely for a dog owner to have to worry about their pet snatching a toxic food from the countertop. Human food shouldn’t make up more than 15% of the diet you feed your cat, but if you’re a cat owner, you know they can get into anything they set their minds to! This includes human foods that are unhealthy and sometimes dangerous.

Foods Cats CAN Eat

Learn about several foods cats can’t eat and why.

1. Onions and Garlic

Although a meal almost always benefits from onions or garlic, your cat doesn’t. That includes scallions and shallots too! The compounds found in these foods can do damage to red blood cells and cause anemia.

If your cat consumes a food in the onion family, you’re likely to see symptoms like:

  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Pale gums
  • Lessened appetite
  • Orange to dark red urine

While these foods are generally toxic when eaten in large amounts, be careful of concentrated foods as well, like garlic powder and onion soup mix.

2. Caffeine and Chocolate

You’ve heard that dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate, but did you know it’s dangerous for cats too? That’s because it contains theobromine, a methylxanthine. Theobromine is found in cacao seeds, and while it’s easy for humans to digest, it isn’t for cats.

small pieces of chocolate

Symptoms of chocolate toxicity include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Muscle tremors
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Hyperactivity
  • Unusual heart rhythm

Caffeine is another methylxanthine and just as bad for your cat. She should never have tea, coffee, soda, or other caffeinated beverages or items. If your cat ingests caffeine, she’s likely to show the same symptoms as she would if she ate chocolate.

3. Candy

It may be tempting to let your feline friend nibble from your piece of candy, but there are better ways to share! Many candies, gums, and baked goods contain xylitol, an ingredient that can be toxic to cats. It’s a sweetener often used in sugar-free candies, but it also shows up in products like vitamins, toothpaste, and mouthwash.

Vets report seeing fewer cases of xylitol poisoning in cats than they do in dogs. This could be because cats are pickier about what they eat. (They also can’t taste sweet!) But the definitive answer is not yet known.

Symptoms of xylitol ingestion include:

  • Vomiting
  • Lack of coordination
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures

4. Alcohol

Alcohol in any form is dangerous to cats. But alcohol isn’t just limited to your after-dinner drink. It can be found in many other items, like syrups and rum-soaked cakes.

Your cat is much smaller than you. Even a tiny amount of alcohol can lead to quick intoxication.

If you think your cat accidentally consumed alcohol, look for these symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Disorientation
  • Muscle tremors
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coma

If it’s not caught right away, alcohol ingestion in cats can lead to death. Should you need to take your cat to the vet, try your best to tell them how much your cat consumed and the strength of what she had.

5. Raisins and Grapes

Grapes and raisins are fun for people to snack on, but they can cause rapid kidney failure in cats. It’s not known why grapes and raisins are foods that are dangerous, but it’s not worth the risk of having them around!

If your cat experiences kidney failure as a result of consuming grapes or raisins, it can cause vomiting within 12 hours. Within 24 hours, she may exhibit:

  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Reduced appetite
  • Decreased urination

Kidney failure is not something to wait on. Bring your cat to the vet immediately if she shows signs of having it or if you know she’s eaten grapes or raisins.

6. Raw Dough

Raw yeast dough—like bread dough—is dangerous for cats because it contains alcohol. It creates alcohol in a cat’s stomach, causing the stomach to expand.

7. Raw Meat, Raw Eggs, and Bones

Raw eggs, meat, and bones all have one hazardous thing in common: the risk of salmonella and E. coli. While cats are carnivores and need meat to thrive, it’s best to cook it. The possibility of E. coli and salmonella is too risky to take the change that it harms your cat or you, as it could pass through your cat and remain in the excrement you clean out of her litter box.

Symptoms of these bacteria include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Letheragy

Raw eggs and bones carry additional risks:

  • Raw eggs – They carry an enzyme that can cause problems with your cat’s coat and skin.
  • Bones – Besides being a choking hazard, a hard bone can harm your cat’s teeth, and a sharp bone can damage her digestive tract.

Vet Note: Dairy

puddle of splashing milk

Many people think dairy is dangerous for cats. You should avoid feeding your cat dairy products because it is most likely lactose intolerant, and products like milk, cheese, and butter can cause her digestive upset (vomiting and diarrhea). While most cats become lactose intolerant as they mature, some cats can still enjoy dairy in small quantities. If you feed your cat a dairy product, keep an eye on her afterwards to see if it made her sick or uncomfortable.

If you think your cat has eaten one of these items, take her to a veterinarian right away. Note a couple of important things:

  • What she ate
  • How much she ate
  • When she ate it

You don’t have to answer all of these questions! Even a little information can help your vet craft a plan of action for your cat’s health.

You should also bring your feline friend to the vet if she’s showing any of the common signs of poisoning, even if you aren’t sure of what she ate. Those signs include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

Learn more about cat poisoning here.

Prevention is best! Avoid feeding your cat these foods. And keep foods that are dangerous out of reach of your furry friend’s mischievous paws. Always clean up after making a meal.

Do you believe your cat ate a toxic substance? Don’t wait! Bring her to an experienced veterinarian, like those at Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital, right away. Ask a question about poisonous food or let us know you’re coming by giving us a call at 281-693-7387.

6+ Human Foods That Are Safe to Share with Cats

You find your feline friend on the countertop or the dining room table, lapping up milk at the bottom of a cereal bowl or tasting cake batter. Is that okay? If you’ve wondered, “What human foods can cats eat?”, keep reading. We’ve compiled a list of six common food groups it’s okay for cats to try.

Vet Tip: Cats generally get all the nutrients they need from commercial cat food, so any people food should be given in moderation unless you get veterinary advice first. If you suspect your kitty is nutrient-deficient, make an appointment with a vet, who can run tests to ensure he’s healthy.

A Key to Nutrients

Under each food in our list, you’ll see the nutrients it provides. Here’s a key to help you understand how each helps your cat:

Antioxidants – Protects your cat’s cells from damage caused by free radicals (molecules that can harm cell membranes, enzymes, and DNA)

Calcium – Helps blood clot and supports teeth and bone health

Fiber – Maintains a healthy microbiome in the gut and helps food move through the digestive system

Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Keep the coat shiny and healthy and support the immune system

Protein – Helps repair and build tissue and muscles and contributes to healthy hair and skin, a strong heart, good vision, and a healthy reproductive system

Vitamin B – Maintains the digestive system and promotes good blood circulation

Cooked Meat

Cats are carnivores. They need meat to thrive! A little extra cooked and unseasoned meat in your cat’s diet can be a great addition. Trim off the fat, as it can be hard for cats to digest and can result in diarrhea. Turkey can be especially high in fat.

Approved foods:

  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Turkey

Nutrients:

  • Protein

Cooked Fish

tuna fish

The most common image of a cat enjoying people food is a happy feline lapping from a bowl of milk. The second most common is a happy cat enjoying tuna! Tuna fish and other cooked or canned fish is healthy for cats, and they love it.

Serve canned or fully cooked fish to avoid parasites. Raw fish also has too much thiaminase, which breaks down thiamine, an essential vitamin for your cat.

Approved foods:

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Swordfish
  • Flounder
  • Halibut
  • Cod

Vet Note: Carnivorous fish (swordfish, tuna, salmon) tend to have higher levels of mercury than flounder, halibut, and cod. Tuna has high levels of polyunsaturated fats, which can deplete your cat’s vitamin E. If you love to feed your cat fish, do so in moderation, and choose a variety of types!

Nutrients:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Protein

Cooked Eggs

Wild cats commonly raid nests to eat eggs. Your cat is just as likely to enjoy eggs in his diet, but be sure they’re cooked, not raw. The risk of E. coli and salmonella is too high in raw eggs. And while your cat might successfully pass salmonella or E. coli, it could remain in his excrement, which you clean up.

Scrambled eggs are a quick, easy way to deliver nutrients like:

  • Protein
  • Riboflavin
  • Vitamin B

Dairy

Dairy can be a confusing subject for cat owners. You’ve probably seen images of cats drinking from bowls of milk. But you may also have heard that milk is bad for cats. Which is true?

Both.

Foods That Are Dangerous for Cats

Lots of adult cats are lactose intolerant. They can digest milk as kittens but lose that ability as they age. You can know if your cat is lactose intolerant if he vomits and/or has diarrhea after he eats a dairy food.

Most cats—even cats that are lactose intolerant—enjoy dairy, even if it causes them stomach upset. And dairy is a source of protein, although it’s not as beneficial a source as meat, fish, and eggs. If you struggle to give your cat medicine, it can be very effective to grind up the pill and put it in cheese or butter. This should only be done in very small amounts of dairy.

Approved foods:

  • Milk
  • Cottage cheese
  • Sour cream

Nutrients:

  • Calcium
  • Protein

Vegetables (and Fruit)

see-through cucumber slices

Cats are carnivores, but they do like greens and need them in their diets. The main benefit of greens is fiber; otherwise, they don’t provide many nutrients.

Dogs love fruit, but while some fruit is fine for cats, they don’t get super excited about it because they can’t taste sweet! Fruit can also be high in sugar.

Approved foods:

  • Winter squash
  • Green beans
  • Baked carrots
  • Fresh cucumber
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Steamed asparagus

Nutrients:

  • Fiber
  • Water content

Remove the cores and seeds of the fruits and vegetables you serve your cat to prevent choking.

Vet Tip: If you notice your furry friend chomping on grass or trying to chew a houseplant, he might be lacking fiber, and you can take it as a sign that he may like his diet supplemented with greens.

Whole Grains

Whole grains can be an excellent source of soluble fiber, which helps keep your cat’s bowel movements regular. Make sure any grains you serve are cooked and maybe mashed, so your cat can digest them. Don’t add sugar or any other flavoring.

Avoid feeding your cat bread. It’s full of carbohydrates and calories without providing much nutritional value.

Approved Foods:

  • Corn
  • Polenta
  • Oats
  • Brown rice
  • Barley
  • Couscous
  • Millet

Nutrients:

  • Soluble fiber
  • Protein

Feeding your cat new foods can be fun! It’s interesting to learn what they like and what they don’t. And it’s nice to know that these foods aren’t just delicious; they can benefit your cat too! If you have questions about nutrient deficiencies or you’re wondering if a food listed above is safe for cats, ask one of our vets or vet techs at Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital. We’re always here to help!

“Is My Dog Blind?”: How to Tell and What It Means for You & Him

If you’ve noticed your dog moving cautiously around the house or bumping into objects that are part of his everyday life, it’s time to visit the vet. These could point to impaired vision or blindness. Blindness in dogs can happen gradually or suddenly, and it can mean a big lifestyle change for both your pooch and you. Learn about the causes of blindness, the symptoms, and what happens next for a blind dog.

What Causes Dogs to Go Blind?

There are many reasons a dog can experience worsened sight or sight loss, ranging from disease to damage to the eyes. The most common causes are:

hand pets white dog's face

– Cataracts, often caused by diabetes

– Progressive retinal atrophy

– Retinal detachment, often caused by kidney failure and the hypertension that results from it

– Glaucoma

– Suddenly acquired retinal degeneration syndrome (SARD)

Some breeds are more likely to develop cataracts than others. These include:

– Miniature schnauzers

– Miniature poodles

– Cocker spaniels

– Golden retrievers

– Boston terriers

– Siberian huskies

Others are more likely to develop SARDS:

– Miniature schnauzers

– Dachshunds

– Pugs

– Maltese

– Mutts in general

If a dog goes blind, it will most likely happen to him in his old age.

SARDS

SARDS is especially alarming because it’s sudden blindness. If your dog could see yesterday and can’t today, he may have SARDS. The median age of dogs who develop SARDS is 8.5, and 60% to 70% of them are female. Unfortunately, the cause of sudden onset blindness isn’t yet known. Some specialists suspect an inflammatory or autoimmune culprit, or allergies.

How Loss of Vision Is Diagnosed

The first symptoms of blindness in dogs are often noticed by their owners. Forty to fifty percent of visually impaired dogs drink more water, eat more food, and urinate more. They also experience weight gain and often don’t want to play as frequently. They sleep more and might show signs of depression. You may notice your pup moving cautiously around the house and/or bumping into things in his environment. Some owners report these signs even in dogs with SARDS, where loss of sight is sudden.

For your dog to be officially diagnosed and to get the important information you need about caring for a blind dog, it’s crucial to take him to the vet. First, your vet will ask about your dog’s history, then they’ll administer vision assessments.

Your Dog’s History

These are some questions you should be prepared to answer about your dog:

– Do you think he’s partially or completely blind?

– Has the change been gradual or was it acute (He could see yesterday, and he can’t today.)?

– When did you start noticing signs of vision loss?

– If the appearance of the eyes is different, when did that happen?

– Is he on any medications?

This will help the vet understand whether the blindness might be related to an underlying condition.

Vision Assessments

There are lots of tests that help a veterinarian determine whether a dog is blind. Most are done twice—once for each eye.

– The maze test – The vet sets up a series of harmless obstacles in the room and asks you to stand on the opposite side of them from your dog, then call him. The vet will see whether your dog can make it to you on his own.

– The cotton ball test – Your vet will throw cotton balls (or something else without a scent or a noise) into your dog’s field of vision to see if he flinches or reacts.

– The menace assessment – The vet makes menacing gestures in the direction of your dog’s eyes. They are careful not to make them too close to his face, so he doesn’t feel air moving on his eyes. If your dog sees the vet’s gestures, his menace response will be to move his head or blink.

– The visual placing reaction (best for dogs that can be picked up) – The vet will hold your dog with his legs dangling and move him toward the surface of a table, as if they’re going to place your dog on it. If your dog can see, he’ll move his legs to step onto the table.

– The pupillary light reflex test – In a dim room, your vet will shine a bright light into your dog’s eyes to gauge how his pupils react. This helps reveal whether there’s a lesion.

How to Care for a Blind Dog

The diagnosis of partial or full blindness is scary, especially because most of the time, there is no treatment. If your dog has cataracts, take him to a veterinary ophthalmologist right away. This specialist may be able to perform cataract surgery and restore some sight.

If your dog’s sight loss is permanent, don’t panic! Blindness in dogs is manageable. In fact, most dogs adapt to loss of vision better than their owners expect. In a survey of 100 SARDS dog owners, just 9 reported that they thought their dogs’ quality of life was poor. In almost all cases, they said their dogs’ ability to navigate their house and yard and new places was moderate to excellent! Dogs are incredibly adaptable, and with a little help from you, a blind dog can have a very fulfilling life.

Adopt some of these changes to make your dog as comfortable and capable as possible:

– If your dog is crate-trained, take advantage of that at first—especially if he has sudden blindness to confine him in a familiar space when you’re not around. If he’s not crate-trained, use baby gates to restrict him to safe areas.

– Add bells or tags to yourself and other animals in the house, so your dog knows where you are. This can be especially helpful outside.

– Get down on his level to discover and remove any dangerous obstacles, like table corners. If you can’t rearrange something, add essential oils or another scent to it, so your dog recognizes when he’s near it.

– Utilize textures! Put a carpet runner at the top of the stairs, so he knows when he’s approaching them or a mat under his food and water bowls to help him find them.

– Keep him on a leash outside, so he doesn’t wander too far away, at least until he gets used to your enclosed yard.

– If you need to introduce your pup to a new space, scatter dog food on the floor. He’ll use his nose to find it and move slowly, familiarizing himself with the area.

– Teach him important commands:

    • “Heel” keeps him from wandering away when on walks.
    • “Stop” or “wait” warns him when he’s approaching an obstacle like a table or a tree.
    • “Step (up or down)” tells him stairs are in front of him.

Don’t forget to play! Your dog may not feel like playing as often as he once did, and you might need to adapt play to include noisy toys, but no dog’s life is full without some fun.

If you think your dog is going blind, remain calm. Your dog is likely to be anxious and scared himself, so keep your voice low and your movements predictable. Reach out to your veterinarian to schedule official vision assessments. He or she will be able to give you helpful tips as well. If your dog is partially blind or still seeing, do what you can to protect and strengthen his eyes. Beta carotene is great for dogs and can be found in many foods they like, including cantaloupe and carrots. And make sure to visit the vet for routine care, so they can spot and treat illness or disease before they cause blindness.

Ready to make an appointment for your pup? Contact Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital today!

The Big List of Human Foods That Are Safe for Dogs & Make Healthy Treats!

When you’re eating dinner or prepping a meal in the kitchen, your dog is probably a close companion. Sometimes food gets dropped, or you have extra of one ingredient. In both situations, you’ve probably wondered whether it’s safe for your pup to munch on a human food.

There are lots of people foods that are perfectly safe for dogs to eat—most in moderation. We’ve compiled a big list of things that shouldn’t make you worry if they fall off the counter. Or get snatched by a mischievous dog!

What dogs CAN’T eat

Vet Tip: It’s fun to share food with your dog, but if you don’t want to encourage begging, be mindful of how you deliver it. Putting it in his food bowl encourages him to look for food where it belongs instead of under your feet while you cook or eat.

A Key to Nutrients

Under each food in our list, you’ll see the nutrients it provides. Here’s a key to help you understand how each benefits your pup:

Antioxidants – Protects your dog’s body from damage caused by free radicals (molecules that can harm enzymes, DNA, and cell membranes). There is research to suggest antioxidants can improve age-related issues in older dogs. Examples of antioxidants include vitamins E and C.

Calcium – Supports teeth and bone health and helps blood clot

Fiber – Maintains a healthy gut microbiome and helps food move through the digestive tract

Lauric Acid – Helps fight bacteria and viruses; freshens breath; and clears up skin conditions like flea allergies, itchy skin, and hot spots

Magnesium – Helps contract and relax muscles and regenerate them. It’s also an important part of a properly functioning liver, heart, and digestive tract.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Keep the coat shiny and healthy and support the immune system

Phosphorus – Ensures healthy kidney function and helps with muscle contractions

Probiotics – Improve coat appearance and bad breath, reduce gas and allergies, and regulate bowel movements

Protein – Helps repair and build tissue and muscles and contributes to healthy hair and skin

Selenium – Helps the thyroid function properly

Vitamin A – Aids fetal development and the function of cells and the immune system

Vitamin B Maintains the digestive system and promotes healthy blood circulation

Dairy

puddle of splashing milk

Dairy is generally fine for a dog unless he’s lactose intolerant. How will you know? He will vomit and/or have diarrhea after he eats a dairy product. Even if he doesn’t exhibit these symptoms, only let your dog eat dairy in small quantities. Dogs have low levels of lactase, the enzyme that breaks down the sugars in milk. To avoid too much fat in his diet, stick to low- or reduced-fat dairy.

Approved foods:

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Plain yogurt

Nutrients:

  • Calcium
  • Probiotics (in yogurt with active bacteria)

Cooked Meat

Unseasoned, cooked meats are great for your dog! Trim off the fat and limit portions sizes to avoid too much of it in your dog’s diet. Fat is hard for dogs to digest and can cause pancreatitis and inflammation. Also beware of meat with high salt content, like bacon and processed ham, and remove all bones.

Approved foods:

  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Turkey

Nutrients:

  • Protein

Cooked Fish

Several varieties of seafood are tasty and safe for dogs. Be sure the fish is fully cooked to avoid feeding your pup parasites.

You can deliver the benefits of food via salmon oil or cooked fish skins mixed in with his regular food.

Approved foods:

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Shrimp

Nutrients:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Vitamin B (in shrimp)

Fruit

watermelon cubes

Lots of fruits are safe human foods for dogs. They are full of vitamins A, B, and C, along with other nutrients. Fruit can be high in sugar, so make it a special treat for your dog, and be sure to remove the core and seeds to prevent choking.

Approved foods:

  • Watermelon – Chewing on the rind can cause an upset stomach, so toss that part in the trash.
  • Blueberries
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Pumpkin – Read our blog post on how to get pumpkin into your dog in fun, new ways here.

Nutrients:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B-6
  • Vitamin C
  • Magnesium
  • Antioxidants
  • Fiber
  • High water content

Vet Tip: Apple skins can help clean residue off your dog’s teeth, freshening his breath!

Grains

Some grains, like oatmeal, are excellent sources of soluble fiber, which can keep your dog regular. Others, like bread, are safe for your dog to eat but don’t provide nutritional value. Bread is also full of calories and carbohydrates, which are best kept to a minimum in your dog’s diet.

Approved Foods:

  • Bread
  • Cooked oatmeal – Don’t add sugar or any other flavoring.

Nutrients:

  • Fiber

Nuts

many cashews

Some nuts are safe foods for dogs, but almost all are high in fat, so they should be given in moderation.

Approved Foods:

  • Coconut – Dogs can eat the raw coconut fruit (outside the shell), coconut oil, and coconut milk.
  • Cashews

Nutrients:

  • Calcium
  • Antioxidants
  • Magnesium
  • Protein
  • Lauric acid

Other Delicious Things

There are many other people foods that are both safe and delicious for dogs! Here are the benefits of a few of the most common:

Cooked Eggs

Scrambled eggs are a quick, easy way to deliver nutrients to your pup, like:

  • Protein
  • Riboflavin
  • Vitamin B

Honey

Honey is okay for dogs to eat, but it can also be applied topically to help ease burns and superficial cuts!

Nutrients:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin C (and D, E, and K!)
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Antioxidants

Peanut Butter

bowl of peanut butter with spoon

Peanut butter is really nutritious for dogs, and it’s fun too! Put it in a Kong, let your dog lick the spoon, or use it to deliver medicine. Aim for raw, unsalted peanut butter, and never give your dog the sugar-free version. It contains xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.

Nutrients:

  • Protein
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin E
  • Heart-healthy fats

Popcorn

When you’re putting a bowl into the microwave for movie night, it can be tempting to slip your pup a piece. That’s okay if the popcorn is unsalted and doesn’t have added sugar or salt. Make sure there are no rogue un-popped kernels; they can be choking hazards.

Nutrients:

  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Zinc

Feeding your dog new foods can be fun! It’s interesting to learn what they like and what they don’t. And many of these make healthy meal replacements if you’ve run out of dog food. In almost all cases, your dog’s regular, commercial dog food gives him all the vitamins and minerals he needs, so supplementing with human food isn’t necessary. If you have questions about nutrient deficiencies or you’re wondering if a food above is okay for your dog, ask one of our vets or vet techs at Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital. We’re always here to help!

5 Fun, Easy Halloween Costumes for Your Dog!

If you’re taking your pup to a costume contest, a Halloween party or parade, out trick-or-treating, or just for a walk around the neighborhood on October 31st, try out one of these dog Halloween costumes. From unique to classic, you’ll find something that fits his personality.

1. A Hotdog

Say “hot dog,” and people won’t know whether you’re talking about the delicacy at an Astros game or a real dog, panting in the Texas heat! Why not combine both of these fan favorites in a costume that’s as cute as it is classic?

BUY THE COSTUME: target.com

Match Your Dog

Complete the hot dog theme by stepping out with your dog dressed as a vendor!

To make the costume yourself, you’ll need:

  • 1 shallow box
  • Bright red acrylic paint
  • Black acrylic paint
  • White acrylic paint
  • A large flat paintbrush
  • Painter’s tape
  • Burlap ribbon
  • Thumbtacks
  • A tape measure
  • Scissors
  • A hot glue gun & glue sticks
  • Props like ketchup and mustard bottles and an apron

GET THE FULL DIY INSTRUCTIONS: bystephanielynn.com

2. A Taco

Maybe hotdogs aren’t your favorite, but you never miss Taco Tuesday. This costume is perfect—complete with lettuce, ground beef, tomatoes, and cheese!

BUY THE COSTUME: amazon.com

Match Your Dog

What pairs nicely with tacos? Tequila! Dress yourself up in a white or gold dress, drawing or stamping a Patrόn emblem on the front. Don’t forget the yellow or green ribbon around your neck!

And if you have a partner or friend, a couples costume can easily be part of the delicious mix. A few pieces of green felt can be easily fashioned into a sash across your body that looks just like a lime slice.

GET DIY INSPIRATION: communikait.com

3. A Businessman

If you’ve always felt your dog was smarter than people gave him credit for, don’t pass on this cute little business suit, complete with navy jacket, crisp white button-down, and striking red tie. All he’ll need is a briefcase!

BUY THE COSTUME: amazon.com

DIY Dog Businessman

This DIY dog costume has all the important elements of a wear-to-work outfit, so it will look like your furry friend is ready to take on whatever Monday throws at him.

It requires some sewing skills, but the elements are so simple, it’s likely to be comfortable for your pup and an outfit you can break out year after year—or any time he needs formal wear.

To make the costume yourself, you’ll need:

  • A sewing machine
  • An iron
  • Straight pins
  • A stitch ripper
  • Hook and loop tape (Velcro®)
  • Scissors
  • An old dress shirt
  • A child’s clip-on tie
  • Matching thread

GET FULL DIY INSTRUCTIONS: hgtv.com

4. A Lion

senior dog in felt lion mane

Credit: HGTV

This is such a classic costume that it’s hard to pass by. Your little beast will look fierce with a brown or a brown and black mane (and those adorable ears too). Just make sure he doesn’t get too hot, and if he’s uncomfortable with fabric covering his ears, opt for a different Halloween costume.

BUY THE COSTUME: amazon.com

DIY Lion

If you have brown felt lying around, use it to craft a lion’s mane without going to the store or clicking “Add to Cart.” Old or young, any pup is sure to look ferocious (and adorable) in this DIY Halloween costume.

You’ll need:

  • 4 to 8 pieces of lion-colored felt
  • 1 package snap tape
  • Scissors
  • A hot glue gun and glue sticks

GET FULL DIY INSTRUCTIONS: hgtv.com

Match Your Dog

Everyone will recognize the sight of a ringmaster with his lion. The basic elements of a ringmaster costume are a red jacket with a white shirt underneath, a black bowtie, a black top hat, and gold elements in the right places. It’s a costume that can work for men, women, and children.

BUY THE FEMALE COSTUME: amazon.com

GET FULL DIY INSTRUCTIONS FOR A KID’S COSTUME: stylemepretty.com

BONUS: If you or your little one own the iconic yellow dress Belle wears in The Beauty & the Beast, get it out of the closet! Your dog in his lion’s mane would make the perfect Beast.

5. A Jester

boxer in colorful jester hat

Credit: HGTV

This simple costume is wonderful for a goofy, class-clown-of-a-dog. Don’t pass up the opportunity to embrace his true colors!

To make it yourself, you’ll need:

  • A printer
  • A sewing machine
  • An iron
  • Fiberfill
  • Hook and loop tape (Velcro)
  • Felt in 8 different colors
  • Red thread
  • Red felt
  • 11 jingle bells

GET FULL DIY INSTRUCTIONS: hgtv.com

Match Your Dog

Grab a crown or tiara, a long purple robe (Even a blanket would do.), and your most regal jewelry to dress up as the king or queen to your jester pup!

Tips for Making Sure Your Dog Stays Comfortable on Halloween

Each of these costumes for dogs is so cute, you might be tempted to put your pup in something he’s not entirely comfortable with. Both of you will have a much more enjoyable Halloween if he’s relaxed and not itchy, anxious, or in pain.

Avoid:

  • Costumes with potentially hazardous add-ons, especially if your dog likes to chew – For example, the jingle bells on the jester costume are best if you can trust your pup to leave them alone.
  • Fabrics and outfits that are too hot – Keep an eye on the weather for the day you plan to dress your dog up, and scale back the costume—or skip it altogether—if your dog runs the risk of overheating.
  • Costumes that don’t fit properly – Pay attention to sizing charts, and measure your dog before you buy or DIY.

Halloween is so much fun. Make it even better by sharing it with your dog! Choose from these dog Halloween costume ideas, and he’ll accompany you on your October 31st adventures in style.

7+ Human Foods That Are Dangerous for Dogs

Whether you’re an experienced dog owner or you’re enjoying life with your very first dog, you may be wondering, “Is there anything I shouldn’t feed my pup?” This is urgent if he just grabbed something off your dinner plate! Learn what dogs absolutely should not be allowed to eat.

What dogs CAN eat

1. Alcohol

Alcohol, in its various forms, can be quite dangerous to a dog. Giving your dog even a sip of your liquor, wine, or beer is a big no, as the ethanol in the drink can lead to serious health complications. But alcohol isn’t just limited to your drink at dinner. It can be found in many other products, including:

  • Syrups
  • Rum-soaked cakes
  • Yeast bread dough (raw bread)

Since dogs are smaller than humans and not used to consuming alcohol, they can become intoxicated much quicker than a human would.

Symptoms of alcohol ingestion include:

  • Disorientation
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Restlessness
  • Panting
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Difficulty breathing

Left unchecked, alcohol intoxication in dogs can lead to organ failure or death. With prompt and appropriate care from a vet, a dog that has ingested alcohol can recover. Make sure to tell the veterinarian how much your dog drank and the strength of the drink she had.

2. Chocolate 

Probably the most well-known people food that dogs shouldn’t eat, chocolate is dangerous because it contains theobromine, a methylxanthine. A substance found in cacao seeds, theobromine is easy for humans to digest, but this isn’t the case for dogs. They process the component much more slowly than we do, which allows it to build up to toxic levels.

Symptoms of chocolate ingestion include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Hyperactivity
  • Unusual heart rhythm
  • Tremors
  • Panting
  • Fever
  • Abdominal discomfort

The most common symptoms are vomiting and diarrhea, but in large amounts, chocolate can lead to heart attacks or seizures in dogs.

black pug looks across table at pie

3. Caffeine

Another methylxanthine—like chocolate—caffeine is bad for your dog’s health. Under no conditions should she have access to coffee, tea, sodas, or other caffeine beverages or items. If your dog drinks caffeine, she may show similar symptoms to those of chocolate.

4. Candy 

Although you may want to share a treat with your dog from time to time, candy is not the way to do it. (May we suggest a pumpkin dog treat instead?) Many candy, gum, and baked goods contain xylitol. This substance is a sweetener often used in sugar-free candies, but it can also make an appearance in products like toothpaste, mouthwash, and vitamins.

Xylitol is harmful to dogs because it causes an insulin release that can lead to hypoglycemia and liver failure. Always avoid feeding your dog sweets or snacks that contain xylitol.

Symptoms of candy or xylitol ingestion include:

  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Collapse
  • Seizures

If you believe your dog has eaten a product or snack that contains xylitol, it’s important to bring her to a veterinarian immediately. A 10 pound dog only needs to eat one sugar-free piece of gum for a toxic dose of xylitol. Life-threatening low blood sugar levels can occur in less than 15 minutes.

5. Grapes and Raisins 

Grapes and raisins may not jump immediately into your mind toxic to dogs, but some pets can develop kidney disease from eating them. It’s unclear why grapes and raisins are dangerous to dogs and why some dogs are unaffected by the food while others have serious side effects. But it’s never worth the risk to find out if your pet is one of those that won’t be affected by eating grapes!

Symptoms of grape or raisin ingestion in dogs includes:

  • Dehydration
  • Lack of appetite
  • Increased urination and, later, decreased urination

If your dog has eaten one of these two foods, she will need to see a veterinarian. If left untreated, the symptoms can lead to long-term kidney disease or kidney failure.

6. Mushrooms 

Just like with humans, mushrooms can be toxic for dogs. The number of toxic mushrooms found in the wild are small, but it can be difficult to identify which are safe and which aren’t.

Symptoms in dogs vary depending on the type of mushroom eaten, but they could include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Aggression
  • Liver failure
  • Kidney Failure

A dog that has eaten toxic mushrooms may experience symptoms within the first 30 minutes; other signs will not appear for 24 hours. If you dog ate a wild mushroom, always err on the side of caution and bring her to a vet right away, along with any remains of the mushroom for identification.

7. Onions and Garlic 

Although a meal almost always benefits from some onions and garlic, a dog’s health doesn’t. All types of garlic and onions, including shallots and scallions, are toxic to pets. The compounds found in the food can do damage to red blood cells and cause other issues, including gastroenteritis and anemia.

Signs your dog ate something from the onion family aren’t always obvious and may not appear for a few days. Symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fast heart rate
  • Fast breathing
  • Drooling
  • Nausea
  • Pale gums
  • Collapse

Garlic is particularly dangerous to pets; it is five times as potent as onions. Also note that some breeds may be more susceptible to onion poisoning than others.

Other Foods Dogs Shouldn’t Eat 

There are quite a few other foods and snacks that are harmful to dogs:

If you believe your dog has eaten one of these products or another food that may be dangerous to her, take her to a veterinarian right away. Note what she ate, how much, and when. This will help your vet craft a plan of action for your pet’s health.

Prevention is the best approach! Ensure the foods that dogs should never eat are kept out of your pet’s reach, garbage bags are closed up securely, and you always clean up after cooking.

Do you believe your dog ate a toxic substance? Don’t wait! Bring her to a veterinarian right away. Ask a question about poisonous food or let us know you’re coming by giving us a call at 281-693-7387.

How Is Pet Cancer Treated?

Has your dog or cat been recently diagnosed with cancer? We’re so sorry to hear that. We understand it’s a trying and stressful time, but know that there may be hope for your pet. There are treatment options out there for many forms of cancer. Here are a few of them.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is often used to treat cancer in humans, but it’s also a treatment option for cats and dogs. It’s a drug that works to kill off cancer cells. If your vet recommends this route, your pet will be monitored to ensure the treatment is working and not causing any serious side effects.

Many people worry about the chemotherapy drug affecting their pet’s quality of life. Fortunately, chemotherapy side effects in dogs and cats are less pronounced than they are in humans.

Chemotherapy for Cancer in Dogs

Chemotherapy is generally recommended for dogs suffering from lymphoma or for those whose cancers have spread, or metastasized, to other parts of their body. Most dogs have very minimal side effects from the treatment. You may notice:

  • Thinning of your pet’s fur
  • Temporary vomiting or diarrhea
  • Slight loss of appetite

Depending on how your dog reacts to chemotherapy, your veterinarian may change his dosage or drug to ensure your pet gets the most effective treatment for cancer. The amount and frequency your dog will need depends on the drug prescribed.

Chemotherapy for Cancer in Cats

Chemotherapy is also a cancer treatment option for cats. As with dogs, it is usually recommended for lymphoma. Studies have found that lymphoma generally reacts to chemotherapy and 75% of cats treated with it enter remission.

If your cat is on a chemotherapy treatment plan, he should get plenty of fluids and any other drugs prescribed, including nausea medication or prednisone. Side effects may include:

Radiation Therapy 

cat laying in pink blanket

Radiation treatment, or radiotherapy, is another route that pet owners have for treating a furry friend’s cancer. While chemotherapy is a treatment that travels over the entire body, radiation is localized to the cancer. It is most often used to reduce the size of a tumor or completely remove it when surgery is not an option.

This treatment option can be difficult to obtain as it’s less available than chemotherapy. Radiotherapy treatments are generally administered several times over a period of a few weeks. Your pet will require a general anesthetic to ensure he doesn’t move during the procedure.

Radiotherapy for Cancer in Dogs 

Tumors can cause pain, block bodily functions, and cause bleeding, all of which radiotherapy aims to correct in dogs with cancer. A study found that about 75% of dogs responded to radiation therapy. Looking closer at the numbers, it was found that there is a 67% chance a dog’s tumor will stop growing or shrink in size if radiotherapy is used.

Radiotherapy in Cats 

Radiotherapy is also a great option for cats, but it may be recommended that your cat stay with his veterinarian over the course of treatment. Radiotherapy requires repeat sessions over a few weeks, and travel to and from can put undue stress on your pet.

Radiation for cancer treatment in cats is more palliative care—geared towards maintaining quality of life—than a cure for cat cancer. It’s used to ensure they’re comfortable, but it can also be a highly effective and even potentially life-extending treatment when surgery is not available or an option.

Surgery 

When surgery is opted for, it is used to remove as much of a tumor as possible.

Surgery for Dog Cancer 

It’s possible that your vet recommends surgery and no other course of action if your dog is diagnosed with cancer, but this depends on the type of cancer your pet has. Surgery may be an option, for example, if your dog’s tumor is close to the skin or if it is very distinct. Before surgery can happen, your vet will check to ensure the cancer hasn’t spread.

Surgery for Cancer in Cats 

Surgery is also an option for cats and may be the only treatment your vet recommends at first. How well this approach works depends on the pet, but ideally it will stop his cancer from spreading. Your cat may have to stay at the veterinarian after surgery for monitoring and tests, and care will be needed after he returns home.

A Combination of Pet Cancer Treatments 

While your veterinarian may only prescribe one of these three treatment options for your dog or cat’s cancer, they may also use a combination approach. Radiotherapy, for example, is often used in conjunction with surgery or chemotherapy—as well as other drugs—to improve quality of life and boost the effectiveness of the radiation.

While surgery may be enough on its own, it could be prescribed before or after chemotherapy or radiation treatment. Your pet’s doctor might recommend chemotherapy but finds it isn’t having the results they wanted, so they may go on to suggest surgical options or additional radiotherapy treatment.

“Cancer” is a scary word, but there are treatment options available for your dog or cat. Chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery are often used together and with other treatments and drugs to ensure your pet is as comfortable as can be and moving down the road to recovery, if possible.

If you believe you have a pet with cancer, it’s important to take him to your veterinarian right away. At Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital, we can help your pet with pain management or refer him to schedule an appointment with Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital, simply call us at 281-693-7387.

13 Signs of Cancer in Dogs

14 Signs of Cancer in Cats

14 Signs of Cancer in Cats

Cancer is one of the top disease-related killers of pets, including cats. As cats age, they can be more susceptible to health issues, including cancer, but they’re also excellent at hiding problems. Any change in behavior in your cat should be taken seriously. To help him live a long and healthy life, keep an eye out for these 14 signs of cancer in cats.

If your cat has an unusual bump, an odd smell coming from his mouth, or has taken to hiding in odd places, it’s time to visit the vet. These can all be symptoms of cancer. Get in touch with Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital at 281-693-7387.

Sign #1: Unusual Lumps and Bumps

Lumps and bumps can be obvious signs of a cat with cancer. If you notice a large bump, a lump that continues to grow, or a swollen spot that changes shape with time, you should absolutely schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. These can be a sign of mast cell tumors or another form of cancer.

Sign #2: A Bad Smell Coming from the Mouth

A bad smell emitting from the mouth of your cat could be a sign of oral cancer, or squamous cell carcinoma. This disease is often attributed to secondhand smoke, but oral problems can also result from dental issues. If your cat is suffering from this form of cancer, you may also notice a change in the color of his gums.

Sign #3: Difficulty Eating or Swallowing

Problems eating or swallowing can also be a symptom of oral cancer in cats, or even neck cancer. Just like a foul smell coming from his mouth, problems swallowing or eating could point to a dental issue. If you notice your cat is trying to chew with only one side of his mouth, an appointment with your vet is in order.

Sign #4: Loss of Appetite

A cat that refuses to eat anything may be suffering from a major illness like cancer, or he could have a foreign body trapped somewhere in his GI tract. If your cat has simply stopped eating, don’t wait to make an appointment with your veterinarian.

Does your cat have an intestinal blockage?

Sign #5: Sores That Won’t Heal

Wounds, lesions, or sores that won’t heal on your cat, even after he’s given oral medication or ointments, deserve a second look from a professional. They can be signs of cancer, an infection, or skin disease.

Sign #6: Hiding

One of the major signs of something wrong with a cat is excessive hiding. If your cat is suddenly spending a lot of time under the bed or in his favorite hiding spot, it could be a sign that something is wrong, especially if he won’t even come out for food or treats. This behavior doesn’t always mean cancer, but a vet can give you more information.

Sign #7: Nosebleeds

Nosebleeds are not normal in cats. Blood or pus coming out of your cat’s nose could indicate cancer, especially in older cats. In younger cats, it could mean something is stuck up there.

How to care for an aging cat

Sign #8: Abnormal Discharges

If you notice blood or pus in your cat’s mouth or anus, these can be signs of cancer, specifically oral or GI tract cancer.

Sign #9: Vomiting or Diarrhea

Vomiting and diarrhea can be red flags for a multitude of problems, including stuck foreign bodies, hairballs, and other illnesses. They are also common symptoms of cancer found in cats, specifically gastrointestinal lymphoma.

Sign #10: Changes in Bathroom Habits

Difficulty peeing and blood in the urine could be signs and symptoms of:

  • A urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Bladder crystals
  • Urinary cancer

Excessive litterbox use can also point to a problem, as can straining to defecate or blood in the stool.

Sign #11: Changes in Weight

Older cats can be skinnier than their younger companions, but drastic changes in weight—a gain or loss—can mean your pet is suffering from an illness. Weight loss is the number-one symptom of cat cancer, usually pointing to a gastrointestinal tumor.

Weight gain can also be a sign of a gastrointestinal tumor, as can bloating.

calico cat

Sign #12: Seizures

Unless your cat has a previously diagnosed issue with them, seizures are never a good sign for any pet and should be taken very seriously. A seizure usually appears as an uncontrolled burst in energy. You may see your cat jerking, chewing, or foaming at their mouth.

If your cat has a seizure, take him to the vet immediately. Seizures be caused by brain tumors, especially in older cats.

Sign #13: Difficulty Breathing

If you find your cat is having trouble breathing or is coughing, a trip to a doctor is in order. This could be a sign of fluid in the lungs or inflammation. In addition to cancer, problems breathing could be caused by heart or lung disease.

Sign #14: Lameness, Lethargy, Weakness, or Obvious Pain

Just like hiding, a sudden, massive change in behavior is a serious indicator that something is wrong in cats; it could be cancer. Cats go to great lengths to hide discomfort or pain because of an instinct to avoid becoming prey. If you notice your furry friend is depressed, lethargic, weak, limping, or in pain and crying out, don’t wait to schedule an appointment with your vet.

An owner who catches the signs of cat cancer early gives a cat his best chance at survival. Knowing what to look out for, especially as your cat ages, can help you maintain his quality of life. Annual wellness exams with your veterinarian can help. If you notice any of the signs or health problems above, don’t wait to go to the vet. Schedule an appointment immediately.

If you are in or near Katy, TX, contact Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital for a checkup or referral to a specialist. Call 281-693-7387 to make an appointment.