Monthly Archives: April 2014

Be Aware

Many animals are being poisoned accidentally by their owners giving them human medications. Some of the most common poisons were attributed to Ibuprofen like Advil, Tramadol, Xanax, Ambien, Aleve, Naprosyn, and Tylenol. These products cannot be given to dogs and cats. They are toxic and can be lethal.  Many other human medications are toxic to our pets. Examples are beta-blocker heart medicines, cold medications, cough syrup, anti-depressants and caffeine pills, etc. Always check with your veterinarian before giving any of your medicines to your pet. Chocolate leads the list of reported animal poisonings. In fact, last year there were over 7,500 chocolate poisonings reported to the ASPCA Poison Control Center. That’s 21 calls per day. Xylitol was second, with over 8 cases per day. However, xylitol is on the rapid increase. Although many people are aware that this is a very toxic substance, they are not aware it is in so many products that are in the house or that humans consume. Xylitol is increasingly being used by  manufacturers  because it is so cheap and it is over 5 times sweeter than sugar. It can be found in a wide variety of products, ranging from gum, toothpaste, mouthwash, mints, candies, throat lozenges, vitamins, nasal sprays and even some fabrics, (don’t know why). There is even a granular form of xylitol that is used in baking, instead of sugar. It is found in many “diet foods” and “sugar free” pastries. It is extremely toxic to dogs. For example, the amount of xylitol in gum ranges from 1mg per piece to over 1000mg per piece. Ingestion of only 35 mg per pound of body weight can be toxic to a dog. That means a 10 lb. dog that eats only 1/2 of a piece of gum that has 1000mg per piece, is poisoned. Consumers must read labels and keep these types of products away from their pets. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center recently listed the top ten categories of toxic substances to animals as the following:

  1. Human prescription medications
  2. Insecticides
  3. Over the counter human medications
  4. Human food
  5. Household items
  6. Improperly used veterinary medications
  7. Rodenticides
  8. Plants
  9. Lawn and Garden products
  10. Automotive products

Please note: the direct line of the Animal Poison Control Center is 888-426-4435.

Pet Therapy

Previously, I have written on how pet ownership can be beneficial to your adult health and also help children emotionally and medically, but now the Mayo Clinic has taken it to another level. The newest trend in medicine is to implement “Pet Therapy”. It has been reported that pet therapy and animal assisted therapy not only help healing in general, but lessen depression and fatigue. So what is pet therapy? It is a term that is applied to any animal-assisted activities that help people recover from surgery, illness, and/or better cope with their health problems and aging. This therapy has been helping the physical and mental handicapped population for decades. Recently, the Mayo Clinic reported success in the treatment of heart disease, cancer, and serious psychiatric problems. In addition, they reported success in pain reduction, and depression especially in nursing home residents. They have also reported success in reducing pain in children having dental procedures, and with our veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. In fact, they have a dozen certified therapy dogs in their program called the Mayo Clinic?s Caring Canine Program. The biggest concern in hospitals and nursing homes with this program is sanitation and safety. There are strict rules in force to ensure that all the animals used are clean, house broken, vaccinated, well trained and screened for the proper behavior. In fact, the Center for Disease and Prevention (CDC) has never received a report of illness transmitted to a human being from the utilization of animal -assisted therapy. One of the newest programs being initiated is in the non-medical fields of higher education and community programs. In these, often considered high stress situations, it has been found that pet therapy, pet-assisted programs and pet ownership (in dorms for example) often reduce high anxiety and stress. It has even reduced the student suicide rate in certain university settings.

Generic Drug Costs Soaring

It was recently reported in The National Journal that generic drugs costs are increasing at an alarming rate. In fact, during the last six months of 2013, certain essential drugs such as the antibiotic Doxycycline “spiked upwards of 1000 percent” according to a survey by the National Community Pharmacists Association. Doxycycline is the main drug used in the treatment of Lyme disease in animals and humans. Another organization, Pembroke Consulting, reported that the costs of more than a dozen drugs increased 10 fold. Also, over 75% of pharmacists polled reported large increases in their costs of purchasing many generic drugs. These costs, of course, are passed onto the consumer. The manufacturers, the drug companies, are usually blamed for the excessive price increases. Sometimes there is even a huge price differential in the dosage of the same drug. For instance, the generic drug Irbesartan, a common blood pressur e medication, was nearly $300 for a 90-day supply of the 150 mg. tablet, yet the cost of the same supply of the 300 mg. tablet was only $30.  There have been many explanations offered. Avalere health, a consulting firm, reported that the “prices of generic drugs have gone up because demand for them has risen.” The demand will go up because of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare). This new health reform law will increase the demand for drugs as more people will have insurance. This will cause the prices of generic medications to rise even higher in the future. The laws of supply and demand do not work in the pharmaceutical field. The bottom line is that it is an unregulated market dictated by profit. As the major drug companies lose their patents on many drugs, they will look to make up the financial difference somehow, and the easiest way is in the drugs they already have, only the generic version of it. This is called the “patent cliff”. This “patent cliff” is affecting many major companies like Pfizer, and Eli Lilly, etc. It affects the drugs used in the veterinary profession as well, as we purchase pharmaceuticals from the same major companies.