Effects of environmental enrichment on aggression in group-housed cats

Meeting the needs of cats living in rescue shelters can be difficult because of a lack of resources, as well as an inadequate scientific understanding of the factors affecting their welfare. The authors investigated the behaviour of cats in a stable group before and after environmental enrichment to assess evidence of a dominance hierarchy determining an individual cat's access to a desirable resource. The frequency of agonistic behaviours was recorded after the introduction of a puzzle feeder device that dispenses titbits during play. There was no increase in the number of aggressive interactions as a result of competition over the device. Since this form of behavioural enrichment increases the opportunities for performing exploratory behaviours, it may improve the welfare of cats kept in groups.

Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 239(6): 796-802.

Letitia Dantas-Divers and others. University of Georgia.

Control of constipation in cats with a psyllium-enriched dry food diet

Constipation in cats, as in other species, is often treated by adjusting the amount of dietary fibre. But some types of fibre can have unwelcome effects on gut bacteria or produce either excessively dry or abnormally liquid faeces. The authors investigated a diet supplemented with psyllium – a material derived from the seed husks of an Asian plant – in cats with recurrent constipation. The diet had good palatability and was well tolerated, producing improvements in faecal consistency in most of the treated cats. The requirement for additional therapy with cisapride or lactulose to ensure faecal evacuation was much reduced. 

Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 13(12): 903-911.

Valerie Freiche and others, Clinique Veterinaire Alliance. Bordeaux, France. 

Management of seizures following acute ischaemic stroke in a parrot

A U-year-old Congo African grey parrot (Psittacus erithacusI was evaluated for acute onset tonic- clonic movements and falling off its perch. A magnetic resonance imagining (MRl) scan revealed the presence of focal hyper-intense patches in two areas of the brain, consistent with a diagnosis of ischaemic stroke. The bird suffered seizures which were managed initially with potassium bromide and phenobarbital. Later, treatment was switched to levetiracetam and zonisamide, together with clonazepam and gabapentin. A second MRI scan showed regression of the hyper-intense lesions which matched the improvement in clinical signs.

Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 239(1): 122-128. 

Hugues Beaufrere and others. Louisiana State University. 

Relationship between dietary protein and renal function in healthy cats

Diet is known to have a considerable influence on various aspects of feline health. The authors investigated the effects of protein levels on renal parameters in 29 healthy, neutered female cats. The cats received diets containing either high or low protein (46 or 26 per cent of metabolisable energy) for 10 weeks. Blood and urine samples showed significantly higher urea nitrogen, albumin, alanine aminotransferase and urine specific gravity in the high protein phase and significantly lower creatinine and phosphorus. Therefore, an accurate dietary history is necessary to determine if renal parameters are being influenced by diet in a particular patient.

Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 13(10): 698-704.

Brianna Backlund and others, Texas A&M University. 

Review of current understanding of nutritional immunology in domestic species

More than 65 per cent of the immune cells within the body are present in the gastrointestinal tract, making the gut the most important immune organ. There is a growing appreciation of the interactions between diet and the immune system, through the developing discipline of nutritional immunology.

In reviewing current knowledge in this area, the author notes that life stage (neonate or old age) and natural stressors have taken over from malnutrition as the main cause of lowered immune status in otherwise healthy animals. An altered immune response then leaves the patient vulnerable to infection, autoimmune conditions and cancers.

Topics in Companion Animal Medicine 26(1): 25-32.

Ebenezer Satyaraj, Nestle Purina Research, St Louis, Missouri. 

Effects of increased dietary fat on blood parameters and associated enzyme activity

In contrast to the wealth of information from studies in humans and laboratory animals on the regulation of plasma lipids, there is little information on this process in cats and dogs. The authors investigate the effects of increased dietary intake of polyunsaturated and saturated fatty acids on plasma lipid and lipoprotein levels in healthy adult cats. Their findings showed that diets in which up to 66 per cent of total energy came from fat were well tolerated by the cats and did not affect their plasma lipid concentrations. Therefore, it is unlikely that high fat diets contribute to the development of hypercholesterolaemia or hypertriglyceridaemia.

American Journal of Veterinary Research 73(1): 62-67. 

Richard Butterwick and others, Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition. Melton Mowbray. 

Comparison of the behaviour of pit bulls and other breeds after rehoming

There are particular concerns over the rehoming of pit bull terrier-type dogs because of their reputation for aggressive behaviour. The authors looked at the results of rehoming of 40 pit bulls and 42 similar-sized dogs of other breeds at a Canadian animal shelter. Of these, one pit bull and 10 of the control dogs were taken back to the shelter because they were too aggressive, while similar numbers of new owners from the two groups reported less serious problems. So this study found no evidence of greater problems with aggression or poorer quality care in rehomed pit bulls than in dogs of other breeds.

Animal Welfare 20(4): 463-468.

Anna McNeil-Alcock and others, University of British Columbia. 

Effects of an exercise belt on weight loss in over-weight dogs

More than 30 per cent of pet dogs in the US are overweight and while owners are usually prepared to reduce their pet's calorie consumption, many find it difficult to provide them with significantly greater exercise. The authors examined the effects in dogs of maintaining their normal exercise regime while wearing a weighted exercise belt. The TrimDog exercise belt was to be worn during five periods per week of brisk walking for 30 minutes over an eight-week period. Those dogs wearing the belts lost an average of four per cent of their total bodyweight compared with one per cent in the control group.

International Journal of Applied Research in Veterinary Medicine 9(2): 154-156.

Michele Rohrer and others, Atlantic Animal Hospital, Wilmington, North Carolina. 

Evaluation of a constant rate lidocaine infusion for anaesthesia in canine surgical patients

Balanced anaesthesia involves the concurrent administration of several anaesthetic drugs to minimise the adverse effects of any one particular agent. The authors investigated the role of lidocaine given as a constant rate intravenous infusion in dogs undergoing surgery involving acepromazine and buprenorphine premedication, propofol and midazolam induction and isoflurane maintenance anaesthesia. There was a significantly lower use of supplemental intraoperative analgesia in response to changes in heart rate and blood pressure i
n the lidocaine group than in controls.

Canadian Veterinary Journal 52(8): 856-860. 

Maria Ortega and Ignacio Cruz, University of Zaragoza, Spain. 

Public attitudes to the use of identity tags in cats and dogs

Wearing personalised identification tags containing home contact details is one method for ensuring that a lost pet can be reunited with its owners. Although it is a cheap and easy option, many pet owners consistently fail to provide their pets with suitable tags. The authors interviewed pet owners about the reasons for their decision. Only 20 per cent of the 291 pets in the survey had an ID tag with up-to- date information, but nearly 80 per cent of their owners accepted the importance of having one. The most common reasons not to have a tag were that the pet was kept permanently indoors or that it did not like wearing a collar.

Animal Welfare 21(1): 51-57.

Margaret Slater and others, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Northampton, Massachusetts. 

Welfare of rabbits used in an animal- assisted therapy programme for children

Rabbits are occasionally used as an alternative to dogs in animal- assisted therapy programmes used as a complementary treatment for patients with a wide range of conditions. Experience has shown that rabbits are especially attractive for children with emotional and physical problems. However, the authors note that the success of such schemes is dependent on the good health and normal behaviour of the rabbit. They argue that the participation of veterinary advisors during the design and implementation of such programmes is essential for the welfare of the rabbits and the success of the therapy.

European Journal of Companion Animal Practice 21(2): 167-170. [reprinted from the Journal of the Hellenic Veterinary Medical Society 61[3]: 220-225]

Katerina Loukaki and others, University of Athens. 

Basics of the health and welfare of miniature pot-bellied pigs

Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs are one of the more unusual species to be promoted as pet animals over the past few years. Although local authorities will normally treat them as livestock, they do make excellent pets if owners are aware of their normal behavioural needs. The author outlines what veterinary staff need to know about the management of miniature pigs and the main disease conditions to which they may be susceptible. She notes that these pigs are highly social animals, so keeping them in groups will minimise the risk of their developing behavioural problems. Exotic DVM 10[2]: 36-46.

Valarie Tynes, Premier Veterinary Behavior Consulting. Sweetwater, Texas. 

To cite this article use either

DOI: 10.1111/j.2045-0648.2012.00167.x or Veterinary Nursing Journal Vol 26 pp 126-127

Veterinary Nursing Journal • VOL 27 • April 2012 •