Positive effects of stroking on the immune system in shelter cats

Both the physical and emotional health of pet cats has been shown to benefit from gentle petting by their owners, accompanied by soft vocalisations. The authors investigated the effects of this sort of interaction with humans, which they call ‘gentling', on 139 cats admitted to a welfare shelter Cats in the treatment group received 10 minutes of contact with the same person four times daily for 10 days, or if deemed too aggressive to be handled, they were caressed with the soft rubber end of a stick. Daily assessments of the cats' mood as anxious, frustrated or content showed that the treated cats were significantly more likely to be judged ‘content' than the untouched control cats. Measurements of immunoglobin A, a key component of the mucosal immune defences, secreted in the faeces were higher in the gentled than the control animals. Shedding of pathogens such as Mycoplasma felis, feline calicivirus, feline herpesvirus-1 and Bordetella bronchiseptica increased over time in non-gentled cats and they were almost twice as likely to develop upper respiratory tract diseases. The authors highlight the need for disease management practices in welfare shelters to take account of the cats' emotional state.

Preventive Veterinary Medicine 117(1), 266-275 

Nadine Gourkow and others, University of Queensland

Quality control issues for in-house laboratory testing

Technologies allowing veterinary practices to conduct their own laboratory tests have evolved considerably over the past 30 years but in most developed countries there is little regulatory control over the quality of the results. The authors review the challenges that must be met to ensure the creation and maintenance of appropriate standards. They identify a lack of training for clinical staff, a lack of emphasis on quality control issues by equipment manufacturers and a lack of support services among the main challenges facing veterinary practices. They suggest a need for improvements in continuing education opportunities for veterinary technicians (ie, veterinary nurses) and for national organisations to develop guidelines on quality control issues.

Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 50(6), 375-382 

Bente Flatland* and Glader Weiser University of Tennessee*

Management of inappetence in the cat

Loss of appetite is a common finding in sick cats and prolonged periods without food can be particularly dangerous in this species because of the risks of complications, such as hepatic lipidosis. While the first clinical priority would be to identify the underlying condition responsible for the loss of appetite, the animal's recovery can be accelerated by encouraging it to start eating normally Reviewing current strategies for treating feline inappetence, the authors note that there are no medications specifically approved for this condition and while several agents have been used in the past as appetite stimulants, the only ones currently recommended in this role are cyproheptadine and mirtazapine.

Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 16(9), 749-757

Wendy Agnew and Rachel Korman, Veterinary Specialist Services, Underwood, Queensland

Neostigmine used in combination with morphine for epidural analgesia in dogs

Morphine provides highly effective and long lasting epidural analgesia in dogs but does have significant adverse effects such as nausea, vomiting and urine retention. In human surgery agents with a different mechanism of action such as neostigmine have been found to produce safe long term analgesia. The authors investigated this combination in dogs undergoing surgery on the pelvic limbs. Neostigmine alone was ineffective as an epidural analgesic but the combination with morphine did provide effective analgesia, with a reduced requirement for rescue medication to control breakthrough pain than either agent given alone.

American Journal of Veterinary Research 75(11), 956-963 

Rodrigo Marucio and others, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil

Feeding strategies used by dog breeders in the US and Canada

An appropriate diet is essential for optimum fecundity in the brood bitch and for the growth and survival of her puppies. The authors investigated the feeding policies of more than 2000 dog breeders across North America and the extent to which they followed the advice of the body responsible for setting national standards, the Association of American Feed Control Officials. Substantial numbers of breeders reported giving diets that were not recommended for the gestation and lactation phase (126 out of 746 respondents) or during the puppies' growth phase (57 out of 652). Veterinary practices were generally viewed as trusted sources of information on nutrition but less so by those breeders feeding home-prepared diets. The authors suggest that veterinary staff should take a more proactive role in providing clients with information on canine diets.

Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245(6), 669-676 

Kevin Connolly and others, Tufts University New Grafton, Massachusetts

Continuous rate infusions in the treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis in cats

Ketoacidosis is a severe complication of diabetes mellitus in newly diagnosed and poorly controlled diabetic cats and dogs. Continuous rate infusions of insulin have become the standard treatment for such cases, as it allows a slow and steady decline of blood glucose and resolution of electrolyte imbalances. The authors carried out a retrospective evaluation of 10 feline cases treated with continuous rate insulin infusions. The mean duration of hospitalisation was 3.8 days and five cats survived to discharge. In those five patients, an insulin CRI allowed a short hospitalisation period and a transition to long-term injectable insulin treatment but many cats with diabetic ketoacidosis have complications due to concurrent disease.

Canadian Veterinary Journal 56(1), 35-38

Pamela Bollinger and Lisa Moore, Affiliated Veterinary Specialists, Maitland, Florida

DOI: 10.1080/17415349.2015.1016260 

Veterinary Nursing Journal • VOL 30 • March 2015 •