Monthly Archives: August 2010

Human Medications Toxic to Animals

According to the ASPCA, the most common cause of pet poisonings in this country is the ingestion of prescription drugs AND over-the-counter drugs used by humans. These drugs have topped the list each year since 2002 and the numbers keep rising. The most common drugs implicated are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory ones, known as NSAIDS, drugs such as Advil, Motrin and Aleve. Other drugs commonly eaten by dogs and cats include antidepressants like Prozac, pain medication like Tylenol, anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax, sleep aids like Ambien and beta-blocker blood pressure medications like Tenormin or Toprol. Please understand that some of the most toxic (to animals) substances we have in our homes are the common medications WE take on a regular basis. Child proof containers are not enough. Dogs teeth and cats teeth can break the vials very easily. Lock up everything, or put where they can’t get to them. The metabolism and digestive system of a dog and cat are completely different than ours. They can not digest and breakdown most, if not all, of these medications and the strengths and dosages of similar drugs used in veterinary medicine are different. Two examples of this is are: 1 extra strength Tylenol swallowed by a cat can kill it, and if just a little of the topical anti-cancer drug, Fluorouracil, is swallowed by a dog, it can be fatal. If caught early enough, the inducing of vomiting is the first thing you should do. Always keep a fresh supply of 3% hydrogen peroxide in your medicine cabinet. If you think your dog or cat ate something it shouldn’t have, induce vomiting by the oral administration of a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide per 10 lbs of body weight. If vomiting does not occur in 10-15 minutes, repeat the process. Call your veterinarian or go to an emergency clinic. The ASPCA’s Hot Line is 888-426-4435. Also you should consider having a “First Aid” kit for your pet. Go to www.avma.org/firstaid for a helpful list

PICA

This term refers to an abnormal behavior of some dogs and cats. It is the eating of unnatural objects such as carpeting, towels, toilet paper, dirt, sand, rocks, string, sticks, leaves, socks, and even their own feces or other animal feces. The consumption of anything that is not food is considered to be Pica. It is an unnatural and unhealthy act which is deliberate, intentional and dangerous. Pica not only becomes a nuisance for the owner, but the ingestion of these non-food objects can become a serious problem and threat to the health of the animal, causing obstructions which can result in costly emergency surgery. There are many varied causes which range from improper diet to boredom. Dogs and cats have simple digestive tracts and if fed an unbalanced diet there will be a craving for nutrients and minerals. Some of these nutrients can be found in other animals feces or even their own. Other causes are: intestinal parasites that cause an itchy feeling in their intestines, hunger, stress, change in diet, watching you pick up feces (so they want to help), having an accident and “getting rid of the evidence”, looking for attention, a carryover from being a puppy or kitten and playing with non-edible toys, lack of exercise and loneliness. The treatments of course vary as do the cause. Try to find and rectify the cause: feed 2-3 x daily smaller amounts, feed balanced diets with low fat content and high fiber content, perhaps change feeding times, discourage the act of foreign material in the mouth by substituting it with a tasty treat, eliminate access to certain objects like socks, towels, rubber bands, etc., give plenty of exercise. Discipline properly, retrain your pet if it lost house breaking habits, and if necessary ask for professional help. If your dog or cat eats feces (also known as coprophagia), there are products on the market to add to the food to discourage this. Ask your veterinarian for assistance in this matter.

Cherry Eye

This is the common term applied to a medical condition of dogs and occasionally cats known as “prolapse of the gland of the nictitating membrane”. All dogs, cats and horses have 3 eyelids: the upper, lower, and third, also known as the nictitating membrane or “Haw”. This third eyelid is located in the inside corners of each eye and is usually out of sight, except when inflamed or infected. The purpose of this third eyelid is to keep the cornea free of debris. It sweeps across the eye every time the animal blinks, acting much the way a windshield wiper does. The gland of this 3rd eyelid is actually a tear gland responsible for tear production to keep the eye moist and lubricated. Occasionally the gland becomes inflamed or infected and enlarged and “pops” out. This is referred to also as a prolapse of the gland of the third eye lid. This prolapse is seen more frequently in Cockers, Beagles, Bassets Hounds, Pekingese, and Boxers. This leads researchers to believe that there is a genetic link, with a weakness in the connective tissue that holds the gland in its normal place. However, this prolapse can and does occur in many other breeds with eye infections and eyelid dermatitis. It is very annoying to the animal, causing them to blink more and rub at their eye(s) which often results in injury to the cornea. The treatment usually requires topical anesthesia and a dye to first see if there is a scratch or puncture of the cornea. If not, then the prolapse is first treated with antibiotics put directly into the eye in the form of drops or ointment. More often than not, the gland may recede but still is enlarged and inflamed and it often prolapses again. The only permanent solution is a “tack down” surgical procedure replacing the gland to its natural position, deep inside the eye ball socket. Most experienced veterinarians can do this procedure. This gland is important as it produces tears and without it the eye can develop another condition known as Keratits sicca (dry eye).

Pet Nutrition: Part 1 Update (Thrive not just Survive)

After the canned pet food problem in 2007, and the Salmonella scare in some pet foods  this year (2010), animal nutrition has been a major topic of conversation for veterinarians and their clients. Here are some important facts: Dogs are Omnivores (they can survive on a diet of plant OR animal origin), BUT, to thrive not just survive they should have animal protein (meat) in their diet. Cats are classified as true Carnivores because they must have meat to survive. Meat has all the amino acids for a good diet, but an all-meat diet is not good and is, in fact harmful, because it is not a balanced diet. A balanced diet must have protein, carbohydrates, fat, and essential vitamins and minerals, in the proper proportions. By law, meat such as beef, poultry or fish must be the 1st three items listed under ingredients. So, always check the list of ingredients on the label. The by-products that do not include hair, hide, hooves or feathers are also good sources of protein. In fact, the most digestible protein is egg white followed by muscle meats such as chicken, beef and lamb, followed by kidney, liver and heart. Next is milk, cheese and fish. Many dogs and cats can not properly digest dairy products such as milk, eggs and cheese unless they were introduced to them at a very early age and their digestive tract adjusted to it. Grains such as corn, wheat, rice, barley, & soybeans are good sources of carbohydrates, not protein. Grains are very low on the list of digestibility, but are commonly used because of the availability and low cost. In general, the higher the quality of protein, the higher the price, and the less the amount needed for proper nutrition, thus less grain “filler” is needed to meet the nutritional requirements.  Don’t forget, we want our pets to thrive not just survive. It is not recommended to feed raw foods of any kind, meats or vegetables, especially with the salmonella warnings currently being reported. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling all pet food AND pet food dishes, in fact, use a different sink if possible. Also, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, after handling and preparing the meats and vegetables you eat

ANESTHESIA

By definition, anesthesia is the “loss of bodily sensation with or without loss of consciousness”. This means the putting of a patient into a pain free state either by using “local” injectable anesthesia or “general” anesthesia. The “general” anesthesia can be administered either by injection or by gas. The medical advances that have occurred in the last century are truly remarkable. There is no better example of this than the various anesthetics available to the medical and veterinary medical professions. Ether was primarily used before a whole new category of anesthetics known as barbiturates was discovered, each with major risks and disadvantages. It wasn’t until “local” and “inhalant anesthesia” was introduced that the “risk factor” of anesthesia for major surgical procedures declined substantially. What has changed in the last 50 years is the refinement of anesthesia and the equipment to administer it. Today, we have complete control of the level of anesthesia, depth of anesthesia and length of anesthesia. We utilize all electronic equipment available to us, such as respiratory and cardiac monitors, pulse oximeters and sophisticated anesthesia machines that mix the anesthesia with oxygen. As a result, depending upon the surgery, dentristy, etc. that is performed, we can discharge the patient hours after the procedure is completed. Years ago we kept the patient in confinement for 1-5 days, depending on the procedure. Today, sophisticated pain killers are administered and the patient is discharged. BUT, what has not changed, is the ability of the body to heal quickly. The patient still needs time and rest to heal. Sutures do not heal, they only hold tissue together, so the tissue must still heal by natural means. Minimal physical exercise, rest and time is a must. Please follow your veterinarians post anesthesia/surgery recommendations.