Are Chinese herbal products safe for cats?

Shmalberg J, Hill RC, Scott KC. Nutrient and metal analyses of Chinese herbal products marketed for veterinary use. Journal of animal physiology and animal nutrition 2013;97:305-314.

Chinese herbs and herbal mixtures are often fed to animals in order to treat certain medical conditions. Practitioners of traditional Chinese veterinary medicine primarily utilize two companies that provide products specifically for veterinary medicine. Some contain measurable quantities of toxic metals, but the composition …

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Seven Most Common Illnesses in Senior Cats

The Daily Vet is a blog featuring veterinarians from all walks of life. Every week they will tackle entertaining, interesting, and sometimes difficult topics in the world of animal medicine – all in the hopes that their unique insights and personal experiences will help you to understand your pets. Jul 15, 2013 Seven Most Common Illnesses in Senior Cats by Dr. Lorie Huston Share Save to mypetMDToday, our cats are living longer than ever before, thanks in part to advances in veterinary medicine, pet …

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A Collection of Veterinary Nutrition Studies

I spent last week in Seattle, WA at the 2013 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum. My professional organization, the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition, held its 13th Clinical Nutrition and Research Symposium in conjunction with the forum. The symposium features oral and poster abstract presentations of recent or soon to be published studies. I would like to spend the next three blogs filling you in on some of the interesting research findings featured at that symposium.

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The Nation’s Animals (and the Veterinarians Who Care for Them) Need Your Help

Without passage of the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act, veterinarians are unable to properly care for the nation’s animals. Learn why and what you can do to help.

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Canine Vaccination Series: Part 1

I’m afraid that sometimes I get distracted by the more esoteric aspects of veterinary medicine — the latest and greatest treatment for some rare disease that most of you (hopefully) will never encounter. I want to take some time to focus on something that all pet owners have to deal with … vaccines. Specifically, trying to help you understand how veterinarians determine which preventative vaccinations a particular dog should and should not receive.

To answer this question, it is helpful …

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Choosing a Career Path in Veterinary Medicine

Back in veterinary school, I was faced with the decision about what exactly I wanted to do after graduation. It seemed there were two paths I could choose from: one would lead towards becoming a general practitioner and one would lead towards becoming a specialist.

Unlike some of my peers who knew exactly what they wanted from the minute they entered the clinics, the decision wasn’t simple for me. Each option had proverbial pros and cons and benefits and drawbacks. I wasn’t entirely sure how to …

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The Agony of Arthritis – Is Your Cat Hurting?

Since May has been proclaimed Arthritis Awareness Month, it seems a good time to discuss the issue of arthritis in a place you might not expect to find it — your cat.

When I started practicing veterinary medicine over 20 years ago, we (the veterinary profession) believed that dogs frequently suffered from arthritis but cats rarely did. However, in the past 10-15 years, we’ve come to realize that this assumption is simply not true. We believe now that cats suffer from arthritis much more commonly …

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“Animal Practice” TV Show Cancelled by NBC

As a veterinarian and an animal lover, I was looking forward to watching the new comedy on NBC  “Animal Practice” , but after watching just a few episodes, the only redeeming factor on the show was Crystal, the Capuchin monkey. Many veterinarians cringed and the inept portrayal of the medicine aspect of the veterinary hospital leaving us wondering who the veterinary technical adviser, if any, was on the show. With the shows like CSI, ER, House and other medical shows, great attempts were made to keep the medicine somewhat believable, but the veterinary scenarios presented on “Animal Practice” left many of us veterinarians scratching our heads and asking “Where did they come up with that?” I hope that if any network does try to get another animal show going, that they make at least an attempt to portray the veterinarians, the medical scenarios, treatments, surgeries and the practice of veterinary medicine in a more accurate light. I had high hopes for such a program as well as many of my animal lover friends. I guess I will have to go back to Benji and Lassie reruns to get a worthy animal lover show.

Debra Garrison, DVM

 

NBC Cancels “Animal Practice”

Monkey Business on “Animal Practice”

 

What is your favorite animal show?

Introducing Puppy Care 101

Sad, but true, many puppies never live to see their first birthdays. Some succumb to infections diseases such as distemper and parvovirus, while some loose their lives due to parasites such as hookworms and heartworms. A vast majority of of the puppies are relinquished to animal shelters due to behavioral problems such as house soiling, aggression and destructive behavior.

What saddens me even more is that all of the above problems are preventable with vaccinations, parasite control and obedience training. After 30 years of practicing veterinary medicine, you would think I would eventually see a decline in the diseases, parasites and behavior problems, but alas, the truth is I have actually seen an increase in cases of distemper, parvo, heartworms and abandonment, partly due to the economy and tighter budgets and perhaps partly due to ignorance of what puppies need to survive their first year.

With the help of my internet friends who have been coaching me this last year, I have finally been able to assemble a web site geared to help solve and prevent many of these problems. Today, I am extending an invitation for you to explore my new website, MyPuppyCare101.com.

Although it is named puppy care, the dog training and health articles are great for any dog owner of any age dog.

MyPuppyCare101.com has a complete dog training course inside with helpful tips on:

  • house training
  • crate training
  • barking solutions
  • jumping up on people,
  • separation anxiety
  • submissive urination
  • walking on a leash
  • pet tricks
  • staying out of the garbage
  • eating “poop”

MyPuppCare101.com also has information on your puppy’s health

  • vaccinations
  • parvovirus and distemper
  • parasite control
  • heartworms
  • spaying and neutering
  • pet insurance
  • dental care
  • flea and tick control
  • skin care
  • allergies

Each week more information will be added for you to read at your leisure. I am hoping to add enough material to go even beyond your puppies first year.

For the next week, I am offering a trial membership of the website. I encourage you to check it out and I will welcome any feed back of the website. I want to know what you like about it and tell me of any topics that you would like to see addressed.

Go now to MyPuppyCare101.com and register for our free 7 day email mini-series on dog training just for visiting.

Taking better care of our older pets

Pets are living longer thanks to advances in veterinary care, diagnostics, and earlier intervention. But the key to enjoying our “senior” pets lies not only in extending their life span, but in helping them enjoy their later years to the fullest.

Like people, dogs and cats are prone to debilitating ailments as they age. Kidney failure, heart disease, arthritis, dental disease, cancer, and cognitive dysfunction can occur during the normal aging process. In the past, because many diseases weren’t diagnosed until advanced stages, veterinarians could do little more than make a pet’s golden years a little more comfortable by treating the symptoms of age-related illness. If the pet was lucky, the problems would progress slowly. Most pet owners just accepted the fact that their four-legged friends were just going to live a relatively short life, get old, and pass on.

But thanks to technical advancements in modern veterinary medicine, surgery, diagnostics and nutrition, not only do pets live longer but their quality of life has increased dramatically as well.

One example follows human medicine in the development and use of the new generation of non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs help the aches and pains of many senior pets while keeping side effects to a minimum.

Many age related problems are still seen as inevitable, but the attitudes of both veterinarians and pet owners have changed. The belief now is that “age is not a disease”, and veterinary medicine is putting increased emphasis on senior pet health through preventative wellness programs.

“The earlier we can intervene, the better, says veterinarian Dr. John Phillips in New York. “We now have greater knowledge, improved diagnostics and better therapeutics all of which mean we can effectively prevent or manage many senior health care issues.”

Eighty three year old Sam Edwards was raised on a farm and has had pets all of his life. He has taken advantage of advancements in veterinary medicine to extend the lives of his pets. “As I’ve gotten older, I’m glad that some of the same medical advancements that have helped me age well are good for my pets, too.”

Edwards shares his home with “Niki”, a 15 year old cat, and a 16 year old terrier mix named “Bones”. “If you had told me twenty years ago that I would be brushing my dogs’ teeth, I’d thought you were crazy. But I brush Bones’ teeth every night while we watch the news. It’s something we both enjoy and my vet says it’s one of the most important things I can do to keep the old guy healthy.”

Pets are living longer due to advances in veterinary care, diagnostics, and earlier intervention. Even so the key to enjoying our “older” pets lies not only in increasing their life span, but also in helping them enjoy their later years to the fullest.

Just like people, cats and dogs can be vulnerable to incapacitating health conditions as they grow older. Kidney failure, heart disease, arthritis, oral disease, malignant tumors, and cognitive dysfunction can take place through the typical maturing process. In earlier times, simply because quite a few health conditions weren’t recognized until the pet was in the advanced stages, veterinarians could do nothing more than make a pet’s golden years a tad bit more comfortable by caring for the symptoms of age-related health issues. If the pet was lucky, the issues could advance slowly. Most pet owners merely accepted the fact that their four-legged buddies were only able to survive a relatively brief life, get old, and pass on.

Yet breakthroughs in technical advancements in modern day veterinary medicine, surgery, diagnostics and nutrition, not only do pets survive longer but their quality of life has increased enormously as well.

One example follows human medicine in the development and use of the new generation of non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs help the aches and pains of many senior pets while keeping unwanted side effects to a minimum.

Several age related problems will still be viewed as unavoidable, however the attitudes of both veterinarians and pet owners have changed. The belief now is the fact that “age is not a disease”, and veterinary medicine is adding greater emphasis on senior pet health through preventative health plans.

“The earlier we can intervene, the better, says veterinarian Dr. John Phillips in New York. “We now have greater knowledge, improved diagnostics and better therapeutics all of which mean we can effectively prevent or manage many senior health care issues.”

Eighty three year old Sam Edwards was raised on a farm and has had pets all of his life. He has taken advantage of enhancements in veterinary medicine to lengthen the lives of his pets. “As I’ve gotten older, I’m glad that some of the same medical advancements that have helped me age well are good for my pets, too.”

Edwards shares his home with “Niki”, a 15 year old cat, and a 16 year old terrier mix named “Bones”. “If you had told me twenty years ago that I would be brushing my dogs’ teeth, I’d thought you were crazy. But I brush Bones’ teeth every night while we watch the news. It’s something we both enjoy and my vet says it’s one of the most important things I can do to keep the old guy healthy.”

At what age is a pet considered a senior? Generally, smaller breeds of dogs live longer than larger breeds, and cats live longer than dogs. Life spans vary with individuals, and pets, like people, grow older at different rates, some more gracefully than others. A few smaller breeds of dogs, like Bones, are considered geriatric at fifteen. Large and giant breeds like Labrador retrievers and rottweilers are considered seniors as soon as seven years old. Cats, especially if they are kept in the house, frequently live to their early twenties and do not attain their golden years until their teens.

The single most crucial way a pet owner can take to keep their pet happy and healthy as long as possible is to pencil in regular veterinary exams. As pets age, these exams tend to be more critical than ever, because as with people, quick detection is essential for disease and problem intervention. Younger pets need routine examinations once or twice yearly. However as dogs and cats approach middle age, these exams should be much more frequent because each year in a pet’s life is equivalent to 5-7 people years.

“Keeping Niki and Bones healthy helps me stay young, too”, says Edwards. “All of us have arthritis so exercise is important to stay in shape and keep from getting stiff. Years ago, when my pets got arthritis, I just accepted it as old age and let them lay around. Now, we go for walks, and there are safer medications for arthritis pain. They even get glucosamine and antioxidants in their senior pet foods!”

Veterinarians tend to recommend routine lab work, electrocardiograms, blood pressure monitoring, and x-rays to locate early conditions like thyroid, kidney, heart, and liver disease. With early detection, pets with organ function conditions can be treated with prescription medication along with specific doctor prescribed quality diets that not only prolong their life span but the quality of their lives. Sometimes, health conditions could even be arrested.

Dr. Leslie Maclean a Tulsa, Oklahoma veterinarian followed the advice she gives her clients and found a hormone problem in one of her own Scottish terriers. “I discovered a rare adrenal gland problem on Brin’s first senior wellness exam. He was acting perfectly normal but his lab work picked up a problem. Early detection meant early treatment and easy management of his disease.”

In general, quite a few early warning signs that your family pet might be having a problem are:

* drinking more water than usual and urination

* urinary incontinence or having mishaps in the house

* recurring throwing up

* terrible breath, drooling or difficulty eating

* excessive panting or tires more quickly when exercised

* lumps, bumps, nodules or alterations in areas of skin color, bumps that bleed or are ulcerated

* change in appetite – ingesting more or less than normal

* changes in behavior for example “spacing out” or increased whining

* abnormal bowel habits – diarrhea or constipation

* fluctuations in body weight – gaining or reducing weight

Watch pets closely and convey any uncommon behavioral or physical matters to your vet without delay. Talk with your veterinarian and develop a specific senior wellness strategy for your pet’s distinctive needs so your precious pooch or kitty can enjoy getting old gracefully.