Happy Halloween from your Embracers

Otis_the_hot_dog_halloween_2007 Today is the day of ghost, goblins, and hot dogs (of course!). Here's Otis taking a morning nap at the office. It's hard work entertaining the adoring fans.

It's also a day of treats and sweets and yummies. Remember, moderation for the human ghosties and ghouls, abstinence for our four-legged fiends.

Happy Halloween!

Embrace Pet Insurance featured on CNN.com

Embrace_pet_insurance_featured_on_2 We're very excited at Embrace today!

CNN.com just posted an article about pet insurance featuring Embrace Pet Insurance that talked about one of our Embraced dogs, Storm, who was attacked by the dog next door.

They had some great pointers on what to look for when buying pet insurance:

  • Are my claim payments based on my vet bill or the insurance company's benefit schedule?
  • Are drug and dental coverage included?
  • Will my premium go up over time, as I file claims, or my pet gets older?
  • How will I be reimbursed? Do I pay the vet and then submit the bill, or will the vet handle billing?
  • Does the plan cover chronic or recurring conditions?
  • What are the financial limits of coverage? How are they applied?

And of course, make sure to get a quote from Embrace Pet Insurance and check out our reviews in at www.petinsurancereview.com/embrace.asp :)

Ultrasound of thrombosis

If you are into the medical side of thrombosis, the Veterinary Radiology blog has an entry on ultrasound of aterial and venous thrombosis. It's quite technical but worth a look if you are interested.

Aortic_thrombus_2 In the acute phase, thrombi in the arterial or venous systems are typically anechoic. These can be caused by migration of a fragment of thrombus from the left atrium to the terminal aorta (such as cats with cardiomyopathy), or a portal vein thrombus that causes portal hypertension and ascites. Acutely formed thrombi are anechoic. You may see some faint echogenicity within the vessel, but these are usually diagnosed using Doppler ultrasound. The color flows around the filling defect in the vessel.

Related Posts:
Saddle Thrombus in cats
Causes and signs of saddle thrombus in cats
Cardiomyopathy in cats related to saddle thrombosis
Memories of Dave
Blood clot in cat: Q&Amp;A with Dr. Carleton

if you have a cat...

A Tuesday smile for you.

Rob, one of the commenters over at Invisible Voices, posted this video to make us laugh and laugh I did. Reminds me of my poor husband who likes to sleep in and our cat Barnes putting his nose on John's arm to get him up.


Cardiomyopathy in cats related to saddle thrombosis

The most likely cause of a saddle thrombus in cats (a blood clot that blocks arteries in the legs) is cardiomyopathy or congestive heart failure. Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle that prevents the muscle from being able to pump effectively.

I spoke with Dr. Prueter, an internal medicine veterinary specialist here in Cleveland, to learn more and here is my summary of our conversation. Note that I've taken the liberty of summarizing our conversation in lay person's language (because that's what I am) and so any inaccuracies are all mine!

Blood_flow_through_the_heart_2What happens to the cat's heart with cardiomyopathy and how is it caused?

In the case of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), the left side of the heart thickens so much that abnormalities can occur where the blood exits the heart (the areas in red in the diagram). HCM is generally found to be hereditary, particularly in Persians and Maine Coon cats.

Restrictive cardiomyopathy occurs when the inner lining of the heart becomes stiff, causing the heart muscle to thicken to try to pump harder, setting the stage for blood clots as well. Not much is known about the cause of restrictive cardiomyopathy.

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) occurs when the heart muscle weakens. DCM used to occur frequently before it was discovered that the lack of the amino acid Taurine in cat food caused the condition. Taurine is very heat sensitive and the taurine in meat was destroyed in the pet food processing. Now that we know better and pet food is supplemented by taurine after the heat processing, this condition is much less common than before. 

How exactly is a blood clot caused by heart disease in the case of a saddle thrombus?

The abnormalities from cardiomyopathy cause turbulence or "swirling" of blood inside the heart instead of the usual flow of blood out into the artery (aorta), which creates prime conditions for blood clots to form.

If a clot does form and moves out of the heart, it very often goes down the aorta and gets stuck where the artery splits (bifurcates) into the iliac artery, which lead down into the legs.

But a clot can go anywhere: into one of the legs where the whole or part of the leg is blocked off; the front legs; the brain. None of it good although it's much easier to tackle a lower leg blockage with surgery than a total leg blockage. Once the thrombus blocks the artery, it is very hard for a cat to recover from the damage caused.

Treatment Options for Saddle Thrombus Once It Has Happened

Veterinarians used to recommend surgery after a dye study is performed to determine where exactly the clot is located but even if the clot was removed successfully, many times another clot would replace it, sometimes within minutes. Nowadays, vets are not very likely to take this course of action.

Current treatments use drugs to break down the clots and to keep the clots from forming such as Acepromozine, which dilates the blood vessels.  But there are adverse effects of these drugs and they don't always work, certainly not in the time frame needed to recover the use of the cat's legs.

How can you tell if a cat has heart disease? What are the symptoms?

Cats are notorious for not showing their symptoms externally. It is quite possible for your cat to have advanced heart disease and appear completely normal. Heart disease usually occurs as a cat ages but it is possible for younger cats and even kittens can get heart disease.

The symptoms can be found internally through a veterinarian's examination. A heart murmur or gallop rhythm (arrhythmia) can indicate an issue with the heart that has the potential for a clot to form.

The good news is that a cat can have a heart murmur for several years without any issue so it's important you take your cat to the vet for her regular check up to catch issues early. Heart disease can be managed well for many years before any heart failure occurs.

Treatment of Heart Disease and Blood Clots in Cats

Heart_xray If your cat has signs of heart disease, your vet may take an X-Ray of your cat's heart for indications of an enlarged or weakened heart muscle. For more refined measurements, he/she may also do an ultrasound. It is possible to see a thrombus in the left atrium if it's there but it may not always be visible.

If there is evidence of a clot, the vet will usually prescribe aspirin immediately and maybe even heparin to prevent further growth of the clot and to encourage the body's own internal mechanisms to break down the clot.

In short, take your cat to your veterinarian regularly so you might catch the early signs of heart disease and be able to prevent a saddle thrombus before it happens.

As with any of your pet’s health conditions, if you are worried about your pet, talk to your vet.

Related Posts:
Saddle Thrombus in cats
Causes and signs of saddle thrombus in cats
Cardiomyopathy in cats related to saddle thrombosis
Memories of Dave
Blood clot in cat: Q&Amp;A with Dr. Carleton

Heart diagram courtesy of The Children's Heart Institute
X-Ray courtesy of VetGo Cardiology

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