Solensia: A Breakthrough Drug for Cats

Solensia can help cats with osteoarthritis.

What is Solensia?

Solensia offers breakthrough treatment specifically designed to address osteoarthritis pain in cats. This drug offers a much-needed solution for feline well-being.

The Challenge of Osteoarthritis in Cats

Osteoarthritis (OA) commonly affects aging cats, yet effective pain relief options remain limited. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) approved for long-term use in cats are scarce, and steroids, while sometimes used, come with potential long-term side effects. Solensia is here to change that. Find out more about caring for Senior and Geriatric Cats by visiting our website.

How Does Solensia Work?

Unlike traditional medications, Solensia takes a different approach. Given by injection monthly, this cat-specific monoclonal antibody aims to prevent cats from experiencing the pain of osteoarthritis rather than by directly treating it. By targeting Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), a critical component in joint pain signaling and inflammation, Solensia’s active ingredient, Frunevetmab, binds to NGF, blocking its interaction with pain receptors. The result? Reduced pain sensations and increased comfort for your feline companion.

Administration and Effectiveness

Solensia is administered once every four weeks, typically requiring two to three doses to observe the full effects. Many cat owners have reported improvements after just a single dose. The subcutaneous injection takes minutes and is typically not painful.

The Benefits of Solensia

One of the key advantages of Solensia is its minimal impact on the liver, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract, making it a safe treatment option. In fact, 77% of cat owners have witnessed notable improvements in their cats’ pain symptoms.

Identifying the Need for Solensia in Your cat

To determine if your cat could benefit from Solensia, consult with your veterinarian and consider the following symptoms

  • Difficulty jumping up, resorting to using front paws/claws for assistance.
  • Challenges in jumping down from furniture, opting for alternative routes to minimize impact on their bones.
  • Reduced ability to climb stairs, resulting in bunny hopping and taking breaks during the ascent or descent.
  • Difficulty running, noticeable through a combination of walking and jogging.
  • Decreased enthusiasm or difficulty engaging in playful activities or chasing toys.

Potential Side Effects

While generally well-tolerated, Solensia may cause temporary side effects such as nausea, vomiting, or mild pain at the injection site. It’s important to note that Solensia is suitable for cats weighing at least 5 lbs and older than 1 year. Do not administer to pregnant, breeding, or lactating cats.

Consult Your Veterinarian

Talk to your veterinarian so together you can decide if Solensia is right for your cat. Your cat’s doctor will provide personalized advice and guidance. Call our hospital at 210-695-4455 to schedule a visit. Please visit Solensia’s website to learn more.

Identifying and Treating Pain in Pets

Learn to identify and treat pain in your pet.

Identify pain in your pet

Most people assume that they will easily recognize if their pet is in pain. After all, it should be obvious, right? Well, the answer is sometimes. While pain can be apparent in some cases, our pets have evolved to hide their discomfort, making it challenging to identify. Let’s explore the signs of pain in pets and discuss treatment options to ensure your furry companions receive the care they need.

Remember that for the purpose of this article, the pain we are talking about is chronic pain, not acute pain. Acute pain would be pain from an injury while chronic pain would be more like that from osteoarthritis for example.

Signs of pain in pets

Recognizing pain in your pet requires careful observation. Here are some common signs that may indicate your pet is experiencing discomfort:

  1. Decreased Activity: If your pet is less active or seems to be shying away from normal activities or behaviors, it could be a sign of pain.
  2. Difficulty with Movements: If your pet shows reluctance or difficulty going up or down stairs, it may be an indication of conditions like osteoarthritis or back pain. This is especially applicable to cats who struggle to jump onto surfaces they used to access with ease.
  3. Trouble Standing or Lying Down: Pets experiencing pain, particularly due to osteoarthritis, may have difficulty standing up or lying down comfortably.
  4. Over Grooming or Licking: Chronic grooming or excessive licking of a specific area can be a sign of referred pain. Your pet may be trying to alleviate discomfort in that particular region.
  5. Decreased Appetite: A decreased appetite in your pet can be a potential indicator of oral pain.

Treatment for pain

Thankfully, advancements in pain management for animals have significantly improved over the years. When it comes to medicating your pet, it’s crucial to follow certain guidelines:

  • No Human Medications: Under no circumstances should you administer human medications, such as Tylenol or Advil, to your pets unless explicitly directed by your veterinarian. These medications can cause severe liver and kidney damage.
  • NSAIDs for Dogs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) made specifically for dogs, such as Rimadyl and Galliprant, can effectively treat pain and inflammation in canines. If your dog takes Rimadyl, be sure to check out the rewards program offered by Zoetis. Find more info here.
  • Feline-Specific Pain Medication: Cats cannot take NSAIDs like dogs. Instead, they have feline-specific pain medications used after surgeries or dental extractions. These medications are not used chronically however.
  • A new medication we have been using for cats is Solensia. Solensia is a monoclonal antibody drug that is given monthly by injection. Solensia works differently by preventing pain signals from reaching the brain, resulting in reduced or eliminated pain for cats. This drug is meant to be used as a chronic treatment for pain in cats.
  • If you like the idea of a monoclonal antibody drug to treat pain in dogs, keep your eye out! Librela has cleared FDA approval and should be available for dogs to treat osteoarthritis (OA) pain very soon. This drug would mean that dogs who cannot take NSAIDS will now have a good option for the treatment of OA pain.

Monitoring the medication

Proper monitoring is essential when treating your pet’s pain. For dogs receiving chronic NSAID treatment, regular drug-monitoring lab work is necessary to ensure their well-being. Blood work, assessing red and white blood cell count and major organ function, should be performed 2-4 weeks after starting the medication, and subsequently every 3-6 months.

Solensia for cats does not require drug-monitoring lab work, given its different mode of action compared to NSAIDs.

Takeaways on pain in our pets

If you notice subtle changes in your pet’s behavior, especially as they age, it’s crucial to consult your veterinarian. Your vet can conduct a thorough examination and, together with you, formulate a treatment plan for managing your pet’s pain. By addressing pain promptly, you can ensure your beloved companion leads a long and happy life.

Remember, understanding the signs of pain in pets and taking appropriate action is an essential part of caring for our furry family members.

Ultrasound Imaging – Does My Pet Need This?

Ultrasound imaging on small dog

Ultrasound imaging is just one of the diagnostic tools known as medical imaging. Ultrasounds are becoming very common in veterinary medicine. They give us so much information! To answer the question of whether a pet needs an ultrasound we must first talk about what that is.

The Description

Diagnostic ultrasound imaging is a method that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of structures within your pet’s body. The resulting image is a sonogram.  An ultrasound produces live pictures of structures inside the body. For more information visit our website.

What is the difference between an X-ray and an Ultrasound

Even though both are medical imaging, the difference is easy to explain.  Ultrasounds let us see soft tissue structures. You can also see the body working in motion.  Think of seeing a heart beating in action versus the still image an x-ray produces.

An x-ray allows us to visualize hard tissue and any part of the body that has air in it.  We use x-rays to see bones, teeth and lungs. We can see other structures with x-rays but this is a generalized explanation. An x-ray also shows air/gas patterns in the gastrointestinal tract or foreign objects that your pet may have eaten.

Foreign objects like this earring are better viewed with an x-ray instead of ultrasound imaging.

An x-ray does not require sedation unless the process is complex and we know your pet will not tolerate staying still. Ultrasound does not require sedation unless your pet is fractious or very anxious.

Neither of these procedures causes pain.  To perform an ultrasound a veterinarian or a technician places a probe, called a transducer, on your pet’s body using a slight bit of pressure.

What types of ultrasounds are done on pets?

There are generally two types of ultrasounds for pets. One is an abdominal ultrasound. We use this type to examine structures within the abdomen. The second type of ultrasound visualizes the heart in action. We call this an echocardiogram or echo for short. Let’s talk about echos at a later time.

Keep in mind that while imaging these organs is extremely helpful, the first tool in our diagnostic toolbox does not usually start with an ultrasound.

Diagnostic Tools

The easiest and most common diagnostic tool is laboratory testing.  Testing to include blood work and urinalysis is the first and least invasive way for us to look inside your pet’s body.  Blood testing tells us how organs are functioning. It also tells us the kinds and numbers of blood cells in the body.

A urinalysis helps to determine kidney function. It also tells us whether an infection is present in the bladder. In addition it aids in the screening for diseases like bladder cancer and diabetes. Using an ultrasound allows us to obtain a sterile urine sample that we can send off for culture when needed.

When is Ultrasound Imaging Appropriate?

Your veterinarian will tell you when an ultrasound may aid in diagnosing your pet’s illness.  Most of the time your pet needs an ultrasound when blood work or an exam shows an abnormality. If further blood work does not help with a diagnosis, an x-ray or ultrasound may be in order.

Abnormalities on a physical exam or from an x-ray may indicate that your pet needs an ultrasound. An ultrasound is also helpful as a screening tool as your pet ages. One of our doctors brings her own dog in for screening with ultrasound every year. 

At Hill Country Animal Hospital we can perform “screening” ultrasounds on site.  Our formally trained and certified technician performs these types of ultrasounds. This means that she can perform an ultrasound to determine if abnormalities are present. Some pets require a more diagnostic ultrasound from a specialist or they may require further attention from a surgeon or internist depending on the outcome of the ultrasound. If you would like to learn a little more about ultrasounds visit Texas A&M University Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

How to Prepare Your Pet for Ultrasound Imaging

The only thing you really need to do to prepare your pet or an ultrasound is to withhold food from him or her for about 6-8 hours. The reason we ask you to fast your pet is because we need to see the structures of the abdomen which include the stomach. If the stomach is full of food it can interfere with the detail in the images we are able to see.

As always, if you have questions about your pet’s ultrasound or need to schedule an appointment, give us a call at 210-695-4455.

I Think My Pet Ate Something Poisonous

Protect your pet from poisonous items around your home

Do you think that could be poisonous?

Have you ever uttered these words wondering if your pet just ate something that could be poisonous?  I think we all have at one time or another.  It is not a good feeling!  The situation is only compounded when your pet ingests something questionable AFTER your veterinarian has closed for the day or on the weekend. 

Does poisonous always equal emergency?

If you suspect your pet could have ingested something poisonous it could very well be an emergency, so the answer is maybe.  During emergencies, time is of the essence so I am going to walk you through what you should do if this ever happens to you.

Become familiar with common pet poisons

First, you should become familiar with some common pet toxins. Our website features an article that contains some of the top pet poisons called in to the ASPCA Pet Poison Control. You can visit that article to learn more about these common but sometimes deadly poisonous items for pets.

Chocolate is poisonous to pets
  • Over the counter human medication
  • Human prescription medications
  • Chocolate
  • Mouse and rate poisoning
  • Xylitol
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Vitamin D overdose
  • Onions and garlic
  • Alcohol
  • Caffiene
  • FOR CATS: Lilies (Lilium species)
  • FOR CATS: Spot-on-flea/tick medication (especially over-the-counter brands that contain pyrethrins)
Stargazer lilies are poisonous to cats

Some plants are poisonous too

These toxins represent a small sampling of things that pets ingest that end up to be poisonous.  Some plants are more toxic to cats than dogs or vice versa.  You can find a complete list at the ASPCA Pet Poison Control website. One plant that we have a lot of in the San Antonio area is Sago Palm.  Sago Palms are extremely poisonous to dogs if they ingest any part of the plant.  The seed or “nut” of the plant is the most toxic part of the plant.  Ingestion of this plant can result in liver failure within 2-3 days. 

Sago palms are extremely poisonous to dogs if eaten

Become familiar with the ASPCA Pet Poison Control Website

This list is by no means exhaustive so your best bet is to check the ASPCA Pet Poison Control (APPC) website if you are considering new plants in your house or yard, or using chemicals for your yard or for controlling pests.  You can get quick access to the ASPCA Pet Poison Control website via our app. Visit our website for a link to download our hospital app.

We know it’s poisonous and an emergency, so now what?

Now that you know what things to avoid, let us go back to what to do if you have an emergency with one of these poisons. When your pet ingests something that you think may be poisonous, it is everyone’s first instinct to call your veterinarian.  Your first call should actually be to ASPCA Pet Poison Control. 

Step 1, call the pet poison experts

The ASPCA hotline staffs veterinary technicians, Veterinarians and Veterinary Toxicologists to help you with your emergency.  They have a large database of information (more than almost any veterinary hospital) about commonly ingested items and can advise both you and your veterinarian as to the appropriate course of treatment for your pet.  

Many times even if you call our office, our advice to you will be to call poison control first and start a case.  Because of their expertise we find that working in concert with them gives us the best opportunity to provide life saving care to your pet. So step 1 is to start a case with APPC.

Step 2, call your vet

Step 2 is to call your vet. This is very close second to Step 1. In fact steps 1 and 2 are almost interchangeable but just know that you will probably still have to do both.

Once your pet is at our hospital we can begin treatment. We will outline the treatment plan for your pet as well as let you know what kind of follow on care will be required.

Above all, don’t wait to seek help!

The most important thing you can remember is not to wait when you suspect that your pet may have ingested something poisonous. Seek treatment as soon as you can because in so many cases the sooner we can intervene with treatment, the better. As always, call us with any questions at 210-695-4455.

Prevent Pet Poison Accidents

Protect your pets from poisonsPoison is a strong word but it is kind of a big deal!

This week is National Pet Poison Prevention week and we want you to know that poison can be anything from a toxic chemical to an accidental ingestion of something in a toxic amount. When pets eat things they shouldn’t we often refer their owners to the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control hotline.  This hotline is staffed with veterinary professionals who have access to much more reference information that a typical veterinary hospital.  Veterinary toxicologists Continue…