Monthly Archives: July 2011

Heat Wave and Swimming

Swimming is great exercise and a great way to cool down. But, depending on where your dog is swimming determines the hazards. For instance, swimming in your beautiful clean pool is great, but the chlorine can dry out the coat and cause severe itchiness. If the dog drinks too much of the water, it can cause gastric upsets. It is best to stay out of the pool for 24 hours after using chlorine shock, or any other pool chemicals. It is also recommended to rinse the chlorine off with clean water and/or bathe the dog immediately after swimming. Adding fatty acid supplements including omega 3 oil to the diet will counter act the drying out effect of the chlorine. Be aware that chlorine can bleach out a dark haired coat temporarily. If your dog goes swimming in salt water you must teach the dog not to drink the salt water. If enough salt water is consumed it can cause profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting. After swimming in the ocean the dogs coat should be throughly washed with soap and water to remove all the salt and sand. A good brushing will also remove any dead hair and prevent mats. Lake water can also be a great source of fun and exercise but it’s also not without hazards.This summers record breaking heat wave has raised the threat of illness from Cyanobacteria. This is also known as blue-green algae.The toxins produced by this algae has already killed several dogs. Just licking their coats after swimming in blue-green algae infected lakes can cause illness in 30 minutes. Choose fresh clear water that is moving and not stagnant water. Be aware that lake water is also frequently contaminated with E coli and Salmonella bacteria, so try to discourage drinking the water. In general, wherever your dog swims it is best to follow good grooming recommendations. Again, thoroughly wash your dog with dog shampoo, rinse well and towel dry. Do not use your shampoo as human shampoos have the wrong level of ph and using it will cause itchiness and a possible skin rash. Blow dry with warm or cool air, not hot air, and keep the blower moving. Consider spraying the coat before swimming with a hair conditioner. This protects the hair from drying out and many help in preventing mats and tangles. It is even recommended to protect the hairless areas with a sunscreen since dogs can and do get skin cancer. Don’t forget to clean the ears with an ear cleaner especially made for dogs. They not only clean but cut through the wax, restore the normal ph of the skin in the ears and treat yeast and some bacteria.

The “WOW Factor”

Preventative medicine is best, we all know that. The earlier we make a diagnosis of a disease process the better the results—-usually. Since our patients do not talk to us, veterinarians in small and large animal clinical practice rely very heavily on the information provided to us by the owners. Unfortunately, a lot of this information is misleading or just incorrect. Not all pet owners are aware of the health status of their pet other than “ADR” (ain’t doing right). Many owners are completely ignorant of their pets body functions and can not answer simple questions like “is your pet vomiting”, or “does your pet have diarrhea” or “is your pet drinking more water than usual”? Veterinarians are trained to not rely too heavily on information provided by the owners and instead rely upon their training and observations based on a complete physical examination. The complete physical examination includes examining the pet from nose to toes to tail, including using the aids available to us.These aids include: stethoscope, ophthalmoscope, otoscope, thermometer, radiographs, EKG, ultrasound, etc. The gums, and teeth are of the utmost importance as the mouth is the “gateway to health”. The only other means of diagnosing is by laboratory tests of blood, urine and feces. Wellness exams are done routinely to check all body functions and to make sure the patient is healthy. This should be done yearly. It is routinely done before anesthesia is used for any procedure. The “WOW” factor means that “Wow, I would never have found this if I had not run all of these tests”. Every day the “WOW” factor comes into my life as diagnosis of disease processes is part of my routine professional life. It makes veterinary medicine very interesting and rewarding and suffering is minimized and lives are saved

Generic vs Brand Name

This dilemma has been going on for years. The generic drugs are much less expensive than the non-generic for many reasons. The government allows the drug companies to patent and charge “whatever the market will bear” for these “Brand” name new drugs to recap their research, development and testing costs. It takes years of development from inception, safety and efficacy testing, to production, and these costs run into the millions of dollars, often hundreds of millions. To encourage development of new and better drugs, the government allows these drug companies to have the patent on these drugs for up to 12 years. According to the FDA generic drugs must be “identical in dose, strength, route of administration, safety, efficacy and intended use.” The generic drug must contain the same active ingredients as the original formulation. BUT, many of the generics are not exactly the same because of the non-essential ingredients. These non-essential ingredients are often the vehicle or additives in which the important ingredient is mixed with, to make the drug more palatable. Examples of drugs that are now routinely used in a generic form are: aspirin, penicillin, amoxicillin, ibuprofen, etc. In the next several months, many generic drugs are going to become more available to the public for human and veterinary use because patents are running out. Although most are by prescription only, the public, physicians and veterinarians have to be keenly aware of patient response. Currently, some of the existing generics do not work the same as the name brands so it is reasonable to assume that some of the new generics also will not work like the original brand names because they are not exactly identical. In addition, the FDA sent out a warning that many popular veterinary drugs bought on-line and over the counter are counterfeit, have been repackaged, are out of date, or are just made to look like the real thing. So now we have to worry about “knock-off” drugs, like “knock-off” watches and pocketbooks, etc. We all have to be aware that these things go on.

A Medical Breakthrough– 1st Time Ever

Feline Leukemia (FeLv) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)(similar to HIV/AIDS in humans) are now treatable for the first time ever. These two diseases are the most common, life-threatening infectious diseases in cats, especially cats allowed outdoors and stray cats. Although there is a vaccine against FeLv, it must be given each year. There is no vaccine for FIV. Once a cat contracts either one of these diseases their lives change, forever. A large number of them die, and those that due survive suffer with a suppressed immune system. This makes them very susceptible to many other infections, a shorter life span, and even certain cancers. Up until now, these diseases were considered incurable. As recently as last month, June 22rd, 2011, many veterinarians were alerted to a medical breakthrough, and were given instructions how and where to order this medical treatment. The treatment is not considered a “cure” but is referred to as an “aid” to the cats defense system. The medicine is known as LTCI , and it works by stimulating the cats immune system and thus its ability to fight infection. This stimulus allows the bone marrow and thymus gland to produce more of a certain type of white blood cell known as the CD4 lymphocyte. These CD4 lymphocytes are like stem cells for the immune system. These cells produce “cytokines” which then cause production of another cell known as the CD8 lymphocyte. These are the main “killer” cells that go to the infection sites, gobble up bacteria, find and destroy viruses in the body, and also kill cancer cells. The administration of the LTCI medication is by a simple injection given several times the first month, then every other week the second month, and then once a month thereafter, for as long as needed based upon the cats individual response and health status. This is the first time veterinarians in small animal clinical medicine, such as myself, have a weapon to help combat these two terrible diseases and stop the suffering.

Lyme Disease– New Test

The researchers at Cornell’s School of Veterinary Medicine just announced a new test to aid veterinarians in the diagnosis of Lyme Disease. Lyme Disease is a bizarre disease with many varied and unusual symptoms that range from absolutely no symptoms to varied symptoms such as: lethargy, severe lameness, joint swelling, kidney disease and even seizures. Up until now, many dogs tested positive but had no symptoms, so what to do? Wait for the dog to get sick, or treat? It is very important to catch this disease in it early stages. This new test helps the veterinarian differentiate between an active infection and those dogs who simply have antibodies from previous exposure &/or vaccination. Most importantly, this test can also distinguish between dogs with early-stage infection and those with low-grade chronic infection. This year the Center for Disease Control (CDC) came out with statistics showing that Lyme Disease is on the increase in the Northeast in PEOPLE, especially on Long Island. Some of this can be attributed to the “Indian Summers” we have experienced this past winter with temperatures in the high 60’s in February. Many of these cases come from ticks being brought into owners homes by their pet dogs. Ticks are the primary vector for spreading Lyme Disease to dogs, horses, people, and other animals. The ticks acquire the disease-causing bacteria by feeding on infected rodents and deer. Last year Yale researchers discovered that birds also spread this serious disease. Common birds, such as robins and blue jays, are considered reservoirs of this disease, as they can carry ticks long distances right into your own backyard. We had over 70 positive cases in dogs in the Locust Valley/Glen Cove and surrounding areas in 2010, and this year we are already diagnosing it in dogs that tested negative last year. The most effective way to protect your dog is by vaccination. The newer vaccines induce the body to produce antibodies against the bacteria in the tick and locks the bacteria inside the tick. So the vaccine actually works within the tick, not the dog. These are unique vaccines known as Recombinant Vaccines, and are considered “genetically engineered wonders of modern science.” They contain only a single protein which virtually eliminates all adverse reactions. The CDC now recommends the monthly applications of tick/flea products be applied to the dogs skin all year long instead of just the warmer months, because of the increasing threat to humans. These products kill ticks within 24 hours which is less time the tick needs to transmit the disease to the dog or human. Daily brushing and combing are not enough as the tick is so small it is usually missed.