Archive for November, 2010

Finding the Cure for Drug Delivery Ills

November 29, 2010

While I’m busy recovering from some back surgery, you have the good fortune of reading posts from some of my favorite doggie bloggers!  Today’s post comes from Dr. Patty Khuly whose writes the Fully Vetted blog at www.petmd.com/blogs/fullyvetted.  Please make her feel welcome by posting your wonderful comments.  Be back soon! 

Best wishes,

Dr. Nancy Kay

Getting pets to pop their pills is a huge issue. So huge, in fact, that a drug’s delivery method often informs veterinary decision making, sometimes more than the drug’s other properties. Side effects, for example, matter far less when the alternative is no treatment at all.

 

The “drug delivery” issue is getting more play recently, what with the growing list of drugs we’re now prescribing for our patients. This, coupled with issues of accessibility, availability and price fuels a sizable niche industry created specifically to meet the needs of pets who won’t — or can’t — tolerate drugs and supplements designed to treat and/or prevent their ills. After all, pets can be picky about what we put in their mouths or mix into their meals. And you would be too if you didn’t understand why you needed to take that multivitamin, glucosamine, or fatty acid gelcap on a daily basis.

This is why compounding pharmacies exist. For the modern veterinarian, being able to access our favorite compounding pharmacy’s expertise in the formulation of new versions of the same-old drugs that line our shelves is a boon to our profession. But few veterinary clients fully understand what it is our compounding pharmacies do for us. To help unmuddy the waters, here’s a brief list of how these places help us bring better care to our patients:

1. Delivery, delivery, delivery

As for the real estate and location truism, so too does the veterinary drug industry rely on the “D” word.

As a pet owner, you know how it is. We try everything to get meds into our pets. Some of us hide our pets’ pills in foodstuffs or treats: cream cheese, peanut butter (chunky works best, IMO), ham, chicken breast, pill pockets, filet mignon …

As veterinarians, we also do whatever it takes to get the meds into our patients. And, yes, sometimes it takes a lot of trial and error.

More than anything else, what we all want is a cure that requires no daily discomfort, wriggling, stressing, in-the-towel-burrito-ing or the potential for biting, scratching or generalized inter-species strife. This is where the compounding pharmacy comes in with their ability to turn…

a.    chalky to chewy
b.    bitter to tasty
c.    oral to topical

Yes, topical. So it is that sometimes compounding pharmacies can manage the seemingly impossible.

2. Availability

Is your drug on back-order? Discontinued? Supply chain hassles? Never fear. You don’t have to compromise your pet’s care if you can find a compounding pharmacy willing to make it for you. That’s what lots of veterinarians are doing now with drugs like ophthalmic cyclosporine. When the supply goes dry, compounding pharmacies’ production ramps up.

3. Safety

I’m not big on doing chemotherapy in-house. I’d always rather send my patients to the specialists where the required drugs are more safely housed. Yet I have plenty of clients who prefer that I administer these drugs personally, citing their pets’ greater comfort in a place they already know well.

This is where compounding pharmacies come in. They’ll ship pre-measured doses to me, already in their syringes and ready to inject. Safer for me, my staff, and my patients.

4. Convenience

Want your meds shipped directly to you? Your vet can arrange for that. Pharmacies will ship monthly, on cue, if that’s what you need.

It’s hard to quantify, but we suspect that non-compliance resulting from an inability to administer meds is among the biggest drivers of poor clinical outcomes in veterinary medicine (if not the biggest). Then there’s the issue of antibiotic resistance to deal with when antibiotics are started. The pill is found under the sofa … started again … spit out again … repeat …

Given this setup, is it any wonder that compounding pharmacies are finding veterinary medicine a lucrative place to invest their time and money?

But the take-home message here is not about building new businesses with our pet-dedicated dollars; it’s more about the willingness to meet our pets’ needs by making medications work through any means necessary.

Trouble is, clients don’t always inform us when the meds aren’t going down the gullet. Not every pet owner is educated enough about drug choices to know they can ask us for alternatives. And, truth be told, we don’t always pointedly ask whether an unhappy outcome might be the result of poor drug compliance. (It just seems kind of rude to ask, you know?)

However, now that you’ve read this, you know what you need to do. When you come across a tidy stack of tablets your dog has hidden under the bed, or your cat drools for hours after taking her pill, consider asking for another method. No one needs to suffer when so many other options are available.

Dr. Patty Khuly

www.petmd.com/blogs/fullyvetted

Patty Khuly VMD, MBA is a small animal veterinarian in Miami, Florida, where she practices medicine at Sunset Animal Clinic and serves on the board of the South Florida Veterinary Medical Association. She is a graduate of Wellesley College, the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, and The Wharton School of Business.

_____________________________________________________

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of  Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association 2009 Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, 2009 Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, 2009 Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook 

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller. 

Free Christmas or Chanukah guft wrap with books purchased between now and December 25th (www.speakingforspot.com/purchase.html).

A Gift of Spot – Black Friday Special

November 26, 2010

Purchase Speaking for Spot through this link between November 26, 2010 and November 30, 2010 at a special “black Friday” price of $15.00.  Your book(s) will be personally signed and, if desired, receive complimentary holiday gift wrap.

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of  Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association 2009 Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, 2009 Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, 2009 Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook 

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

The Real Reason there are More and More Women Veterinarians

November 26, 2010

While I’m busy recovering from some back surgery, you have the good fortune of reading posts from some of my favorite doggie bloggers!  Today’s post comes from Dr. Larry McDaniel who blogs regularly at www.scratchingsandsniffings.com and on the PurinaCare™ Blog.   Please make him feel welcome by posting your wonderful comments.  Be back soon! 

Best wishes,

Dr. Nancy Kay

In 1960 the Veterinary profession was 98% male. Today, it’s about 50/50 and in the future it will be mostly female. Since 1984 more women have been admitted to Veterinary School and more have been graduating since 1988. Right now about 80% of the current vet students are women.

Why?

Dr-Larry-and-puppy

There are standard explanations, often supplied by male Deans of Veterinary Colleges or male heads of professional associations. These sage pronunciations are routinely repeated by an incurious popular press. One of the more common explanations is that men are seeking higher paying professions and women in the profession have their husband’s salaries to fall back on. That’s also one of the more patronizing explanations and, according to Dr Anne Lincoln, a sociologist from SMU, it’s simply not true.

DrAnneLincoln-SMU

It is true that Law and Medicine have higher average salaries than Veterinary Medicine, but in her  recently published paper; The Shifting Supply of Men and Women to Occupations: Feminization of Veterinary Medicine, that is not the primary driver of change. It turns out that decisions about cost of tuition and eventual compensation affect women and men equally. In fact, Veterinary Medicine is simply ahead of the feminization curve and the Medical and Legal professions are heading in the same direction.

Instead, Dr Lincoln cites these three primary reasons for the gender shift in Veterinary Medicine. 

First, there was landmark anti-discrimination legislation passed in 1972. Elements of Title 9 made it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender for application to graduate programs. The percentage of female applicants and graduates in the 28 Veterinary Colleges around the country has been on the rise ever since.

Secondly, there are simply more women with the qualifications to be admitted to Veterinary School than men. More women are graduating from college than men. More women are applying to college, too, by the way. My wife sees this as proof of her long held tenet that women are simply smarter than men.

The final reason is the most interesting. Simply stated, men seem to prefer the company of men. That seems contrary to logic and personal experience to me. What man wouldn’t prefer to spend his time surrounded by women? Apparently most of us, according to Dr Lincoln. She states that, “The feminization of Veterinary Medicine is really the demasculinization of Veterinary Medicine, driven by men’s lower rate of college graduation and their aversion to the presence of women.

Dr-Larrys-new-ride

Why the aversion to the presence of women? I have my own theory on that. We men secretly realize that we have a hard time measuring up. Let’s face it. Women work harder, are better team members and possess higher emotional intelligence than men. At some level most of us men realize that we should just get out of the way if anything positive is going to happen. No wonder an aspiring male veterinary student freaks out when he visits an actual Veterinary School. Does he really want to be confronted with his basic inadequacy on a daily basis for four years?  No way.

Don’t get me wrong. I have lots of male friends. I love hanging out with them and I spend a good deal of time riding bikes with my pals. Unfortunately, these cycling interactions only seem to reinforce my conclusions. Our rides aren’t really social events where we discuss our feelings or seek emotional support or enlightenment. These “rides” most often degenerate into Darwinian bouts of survival where the goal is to punish the weak and assert one’s physical dominance. I really get into it, by the way.

These skills are very useful, of course, especially for a hunter gatherer on the Serengeti 250,000 years ago. Not so useful in the boardroom or the classroom, sad to say. In the good old days we could survive and get our props by simply being the best at chasing it and killing it. That was pretty much it though, because after that we gave it to the women and they did everything else. I guess you could say nothing really ever changes.

Dr. Larry McDaniel

http://www.scratchingsandsniffings.com/2010/11/the-real-reason-there-are-more-and-more-women-veterinarians-.html#more

Dr. Larry McDaniel has had a life long love affair with animals.  Dr. McDaniel graduated from the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine and entered private practice in Northern Idaho. There weren’t any jobs available with wildlife agencies so Larry worked in a mixed animal practice working on both ranch animals and dogs and cats. Turns out this type of work suited Larry just fine and he opened his own practice in Western Montana. It was here that Dr. McDaniel developed and interest in animal nutrition.

Larry was elected the President of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition in 1994 and continues to consult with major pet food manufacturers on therapeutic small animal nutrition. He is excited about participating in the blog and hopes to be able to offer some useful information on all issues related to the care of our family pets.

_____________________________________________________

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of  Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association 2009 Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, 2009 Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, 2009 Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook 

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller. 

Free Christmas or Chanukah gift wrap with books purchased between now and December 25th (www.speakingforspot.com/purchase.html).

Holiday Roads and Traveling with Fido

November 24, 2010

While I’m busy recovering from some back surgery, you have the good fortune of reading posts from some of my favorite doggie bloggers!  Today’s post comes from Carol Bryant and Susan Sims who blog regularly at blog.fidofriendly.com.    Please make them feel welcome by posting your wonderful comments.  Be back soon! 

Best wishes,

Dr. Nancy Kay

Marsing, ID – Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go. No doubt, millions will trek to the abodes of family and friends as the holiday season approaches. Just how many are traveling with Fido this holiday season? 

PetRelocation.com released recently the results of its first annual Holiday Pet Travel Survey of more than 7,000 pet owners worldwide, finding that sixty-three percent of pet owners say they travel at least 50 miles with their pets during the holidays. 

Leave No Dog Behind® is the FIDO Friendly mantra and getting there safely is of utmost importance. In some states, seatbelts are mandatory for dogs. From a safety perspective, unrestrained pets are responsible for more than 30,000 accidents every year according to the ASPCA. 

FIDO Friendly shares a ‘Holiday Road Warrior Survival Guide’ as we take to the highways and byways for holiday gatherings with family and “fur-ends.” 

Vaccination Records
Keep a copy of all vaccination records in your doggy’s duffel bag. Should an emergency arise once you are on the road, you will have the important information you need. You will also need these records when boarding Fido for the day or overnight if you take in an excursion where your furry companion is not allowed. 

Collar and Leash
Remember that taking Fido out of the car for potty breaks must include his collar being secured and him being leashed (don’t forget the poop bags). A foreign territory brings unique smells that are oh so hard to resist, and your little darling can escape before you can say, “Sit, stay.” 

Harness

With the lives of you and Fido on the line, isn’t it important then to consider a safety harness when traveling? The back seat is the safest place for Fido to avoid air bag deployment in the event of an accident. Acclimate Fido to the harness by allowing him to wear the harness around the house for a few minutes at a time. Graduate to short car trips in the area. Work into longer trips and never scold Fido in the process. He’s getting used to it just as you are. If he could thank you for saving his life, right now he is. 

Things to look for in a good safety harness? Strong webbing such as nylon, strong stitching, allow the pet to sit and stand comfortably, and comfort combined with reliability if an accident occurs. 

Tags
Fido won’t want to get lost, so be sure that he has a current tag with an emergency phone number firmly attached to his collar or harness. Most people travel with a cell phone, making this the perfect number for your dog’s tag. 

First Aid Kit
There are a number of doggy first aid kits on the market, and if you have the time, you can even put together your own. Check out the FIDO Friendly blog for a walk-through to get you through. Some essentials to include are:

  • Tweezers to remove ticks
  • Styptic powder to stop toenail bleeding
  • Eye wash to flush wounds
  • Gauze bandage
  • Adhesive tape
  • Scissors
  • Antiseptic moist wipes 

Food and Water
Be sure to bring along Fido’s favorite food so as not to upset his stomach. There are great roadworthy foods and treats on the market. If you will be cooking for Fido, make the food ahead of time, and pack it along with your own goodies. Your dog is used to drinking water from your hometown, and when traveling it’s a good idea to bring along as much of Fido’s drinking water as you can, and rely on bottled water as back-up. Nothing puts the damper on holiday spirits like an emergency visit to the vet. 

Seat Covers and Blankets
Holidays are supposed to be fun, and nothing says fun like four muddy paws…not! Protect your seats with covers and blankets made especially for your type of automobile. Be proactive: Always carry additional towels and wipes to clean off your rambunctious Rover when visiting with family and friends. 

Beds and Crate
Don’t leave home without Fido’s favorite blankie or bed. You don’t want him sleeping on the guest bed-or do you? Bring sheets, too, so if your furry companion is accustomed to sleeping on the furniture, he won’t leave any tell-tale signs. If Fido calls his crate his den, then bring it along for a good night sleep during your Thanksgiving trip. 

Fun Stuff
Don’t forget the toys! If Fido is a nervous Nelly when away from home, help ease his discomfort by bringing as many toys from home as you can. Familiar smells and chew toys will help calm even the most anxious pet. If Rocky is a Rachmaninoff aficionado, by all means pack his favorite CD for his and your listening pleasure. 

Double-Check Hotel Reservations
You are ready to go-but before you back the mini-van out of the driveway, call your hotel to confirm your reservation and that they are expecting Fido. Nothing says bummer like a newly implemented “no pets allowed” policy since you made your reservation. 

FIDO Friendly is the only magazine dedicated to the Travel & Lifestyle of our canine friends and according to APPA, (American Pet Products Association) spending on pets has increased from $34 billion in 2004 to $47.4 billion now, partly because people are spending more to travel with their pets. The Travel Industry Association of America says 78% of the pets taken on vacation are dogs, with cats coming in second at 15%. 

Susan Sims (Publisher), Nicholas Sveslosky (Editor in Chief), and Carol Bryant (Social Media Director and Writer/Blogger) are available for interviews on any dog-related travel topics as well as dog training advice, trends, dog news, and health/wellness/fashion issues for Fido.

For more FIDO Friendly content, subscribe to the magazine at www.fidofriendly.com and visit our blog at http://blog.fidofriendly.com.

_____________________________________________________

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of  Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association 2009 Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, 2009 Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, 2009 Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook 

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller. 

Free Christmas or Chanukah gift wrap with books purchased between now and December 25th (www.speakingforspot.com/purchase.html).

Avoiding Pancreatitis During the Holidays

November 22, 2010

I wrote the following for one of my favorite magazines, BARK (the inventors of “Dog is my co-pilot”).  With the holidays once again upon us, I thought I’d toss this information out into cyberspace as a timely reminder to avoid overindulging our dogs!

‘Tis the season for family gatherings, gift giving, and food galore.  Veterinarians know that this is also the season for canine pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), a painful, potentially life-threatening condition most commonly caused by overindulgence in foods that are particularly rich or fatty. And what kitchen isn’t overflowing with such foods this time of year?

The pancreas is a thin, delicate-appearing, boomerang-shaped organ that resides in the abdominal cavity, tucked up against the stomach and small intestine. While the pancreas may be diminutive in appearance, its actions are mighty! It is the body’s source of insulin and enzymes necessary for food digestion. When pancreatitis is chronic or particularly severe, this little factory sometimes permanently closes down, resulting in diabetes mellitus (requires insulin shots) and/or exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (requires digestive enzyme replacement therapy). 

When a dog eats, enzymes are released from the pancreas into the small intestine, where they are activated for food digestion. Sometimes, for reasons we do not understand, these enzymes are activated within the pancreas itself, resulting in the inflammation of pancreatitis. In addition to rich or fatty foods, certain drugs, hormonal imbalances and inherited defects in fat metabolism can also cause pancreatitis. For some dogs, an underlying cause is never found. Classic pancreatitis symptoms include vomiting, abdominal pain, and decreased appetite and activity levels. 

Short of performing a pancreatic biopsy (an invasive and risky procedure), diagnosing pancreatitis can be challenging, because noninvasive tests are fraught with false-negative and false-positive results. Veterinarians must rely on a combination of the following: 

• A history of dietary indiscretion, vomiting and lethargy.

• Physical examination findings (particularly abdominal pain).

• Characteristic complete blood cell count (CBC) and blood chemistry abnormalities.

• A positive or elevated Spec cPL (canine pancreas-specific lipase) blood test.

• Characteristic abdominal ultrasound abnormalities. 

There is no cure for pancreatitis—much like a bruise, the inflammation must resolve on its own. This is best accomplished by allowing the pancreas to rest, which means giving nothing orally (not even water) to prevent digestive enzyme secretion. Treatment consists of hospitalization for the administration of intravenous fluids; injectable medication to control vomiting, pain and stomach acid secretion; and antibiotics to prevent secondary infection or abscess formation. Dogs should be monitored around the clock for the life-threatening complications that sometimes accompany pancreatitis, such as kidney failure, heart rhythm abnormalities, respiratory distress and bleeding disorders. Small amounts of water and a fat-free diet are typically offered once vomiting has stopped, abdominal pain has subsided, and there is blood test and/or ultrasound confirmation that the inflammation has calmed down. If your dog has pancreatitis, count on a minimum of two to three days of hospitalization, and be sure to ask who will be caring for your dog during the night. 

Long-term treatment for pancreatitis typically involves feeding a low-fat or fat-free diet. This may be a life-long recommendation, especially if your dog has been a “repeat offender.”  Most dogs fully recover with appropriate therapy; however, some succumb to the complications associated with this disease.

Nicky 

How can you prevent pancreatitis during this food-oriented time of year? You can avoid feeding holiday leftovers altogether (this would cause canine mutiny in my household) or you can heed the following recommendations. New foods should be fed sparingly and only if well tolerated by your dog’s gastrointestinal tract and waistline.  Keep in mind that whether offered a teaspoon or a tablespoon of something delicious, most dogs will gulp it down in the same amount of time and reap the same psychological benefit. Don’t offer tidbits from the table while you are eating. This is a set up for bad behavior. Offer the treat only after you’ve left the table. If you shouldn’t be eating the food yourself (emphasis on shouldn’t), please don’t feed it to your dog! By all means, give your precious poopsie a bit of turkey breast, but without the turkey skin or fat-laden mashed potatoes and creamy gravy. Go ahead and offer your sweet snookums a bite of brisket, but please —no potato latkes or sour cream! Bear in mind that most dogs are so darned excited about getting a treat, they don’t care what it is, only that they’re getting it!

Some people dream of sugar plum fairies, a white Christmas or a stress-free family gathering. I’m dreaming of a holiday season in which not a single dog develops pancreatitis!

Wishing you and your four-legged family members a joyful and healthy holidays season.

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of  Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association 2009 Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, 2009 Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, 2009 Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook 

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller. 

Free Christmas or Chanukah guft wrap with books purchased between now and December 25th (www.speakingforspot.com/purchase.html).

L.O.V.E. for Health

November 21, 2010

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified animal behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet products industry, and the award winning author of 23 pet care books and thousands of articles and columns. She hosts Pet Peeves radio at PetLifeRadio.com, and is the behavior contributor at cats.About.com, and publishes a free Pet Peeves newsletter available from www.shojai.com. Amy lives in N. Texas with a Frisbee-loving German shepherd named Magic and a crotchety old-lady Siamese wannabe called Seren.   I’m delighted to present her guest post and to participate in her Golden Moments Senior Pet Blog Tour.

Dr. Nancy Kay

Excerpted from

COMPLETE CARE for YOUR AGING DOG

CHAPTER 3—L.O.V.E. for HEALTH           

It is important to be tuned in to your pet’s needs at any age, but vital when she becomes a senior citizen. . . .A good way to remember the special needs of your older dog is to use the acronym L.O.V.E. That stands for Listen With Your Heart; Observe For Changes; Visit the Veterinarian; and Enrich The Environment.

Visit the Veterinarian: Well-Pet Exams

            An annual checkup for your dog is a good idea whatever her age. In the past, annual vaccinations were recommended, and that was a good reminder to get a physical examination at the same time. More recent studies indicate that annual vaccines may not be necessary. However, since dogs age so much more quickly than people do, an annual physical—or “well-pet” exam—is essential to ensure that she maintains good health.

            The well-pet exam becomes even more important for aging dogs, because they have fewer reserves and can become ill literally overnight. Each year, mature dogs age the equivalent of about seven human years, so waiting 12 months between checkups leaves them at risk for major health changes. A twice-yearly visit for dogs over the age of eight makes more sense.          That’s the equivalent to a middle-aged person getting a physical about every three years, says Dr. Tranquilli, a professor of veterinary anesthesia and pain management at the University of Illinois. “It makes all the sense in the world to get more aggressive with checkups, and for the veterinarian to ask appropriate questions with regard to overall behavior changes,” he says.

            A veterinarian has a more difficult time diagnosing problems if he only sees the pet when she’s sick and has no way to compare to well-pet behavior, especially when looking for subtle disease. “I want to see the pet every year so I’ve seen him when he’s healthy,” says Steven L. Marks, DVM, a clinical associate professor of critical care at North Carolina State University. “If something changes, I want to pick it up early.”

            A complete physical should include an oral exam, says Bill Gengler, DVM, a veterinary dentist at the University of Wisconsin. “You may not be able to do an in-depth exam until the animal’s asleep, but at least you can advise the owner that yes, there’s halitosis; yes, there’s gingivitis; and there’s calculus [tartar] on the teeth so we need to get it off.”

            The veterinarian will listen to the dog’s heart and lungs, check her eyes, ears and teeth, exam her for parasites, and make a note of any behavior changes you might have noticed that could indicate a problem.

            “As these animals get older, one starts looking at their liver, their intestinal track, their kidneys, at their heart, and various body systems, looking for those organs that could be failing,” says Johnny Hoskins, DVM, an internist and specialist in aging pets. “The number one cause of death in older dogs is cancer.” Looking at the outside of the dog and listening to her breathing and heart won’t detect organ failures or cancer. Geriatric screening tests help veterinarians go beyond the hands-on exam and take a look at the dog from the inside out.  

Complete Care for Your Aging Dog is a DWAA Maxwell Award Winner, and the 2010 Amazon Kindle Edition has been revised/updated with “hot links” to the experts cited in the book. Amy Shojai, CABC is the award-winning author of 23 dog and cat care and behavior books, and can be reached at her website http://www.shojai.com

Please visit the remaining blog stops on the GOLDEN MOMENTS SENIOR PET BLOG TOUR

NOVEMBER 23rd   Aging Dog/Cat articles on pet introductions, health benefits, and more at  www.cats.About.com

NOVEMBER 27th telephone interview www.PetHobbyist.com.

_____________________________________________________

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of  Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association 2009 Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, 2009 Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, 2009 Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook 

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller. 

Free Christmas or Chanukah gift wrap with books purchased between now and December 25th (www.speakingforspot.com/purchase.html).

 

How to trust an ER vet you just met

November 20, 2010

While I’m busy recovering from some back surgery, you have the good fortune of reading posts from some of my favorite doggie bloggers!  Today’s post comes from Dr. Tony Johnson who blogs regularly at www.PetConnection.com.   Please make him feel welcome by posting your wonderful comments.  Be back soon! 

Best wishes,

Dr. Nancy Kay

“I’m sorry, ma’am, your pet is going to need surgery”. 

These are words any pet owner dreads hearing, especially on an emergency basis. For a pet owner, a trip to the veterinary ER can be a terrifying and frustrating experience; almost always unplanned… certainly unwelcome…usually expensive. 

Part of the stress of an ER visit comes from having to entrust your pets care, and very possibly their life, to someone you have just met. This is a little bit like embarking on a perilous sea voyage with a captain you know nothing about. It can be a very scary and unsettling prospect.

How can you come through this stressful experience intact? How can you maximize the chance of your pet having a successful outcome and minimize your stress level? 

Hopefully I can give you some pointers so this journey across the stormy seas of veterinary emergency care doesn’t end up on the rocks.

 

The first thing to know is this: Vets are not the enemy. They are in that ER in the dark of night because they want to help your pet get better.  Sure, there are dishonest veterinarians just like there are dishonest hairdressers and dishonest orchestra conductors, but the vast majority of animal docs are there because of a sincere desire to help.

I think the easiest way to find a path to trust in these circumstances is to plan ahead, so you are armed and empowered with some information before the crisis hits.  Emergencies don’t often give you the benefit of warning, but if you can pre-screen your veterinary ER options you will be ahead of the game.

I recommend contacting your trusted family veterinarian to find out where they send patients after hours.  Consider calling or visiting the ER before an emergency happens to get a feel for how they run their ship. Do they make you feel welcome? Secure? Is the hospital clean and well equipped? If so, then you will likely feel more trusting when a true emergency takes place.

During the emergency visit itself, try and get a feel for your doctor. Do they seem rushed and unfocused, or do they take the time to answer your questions? Do they seem confident, overconfident or insecure? In order to earn your trust, they should be willing and able to answer your questions to your satisfaction. Part of the responsibility falls on you, however, to limit your questions to the important ones and avoid repetition. (We want you to be informed, but time is a precious commodity in the ER). Bring a notebook and write down the questions as you think of them along with the answers.  It can be very difficult to remember all of the pertinent details when you are stressed and emotional.  And remember not to take your stress out on the doctor or staff.  Keep in mind that they are there to help you through this difficult situation. 

When it comes to making treatment decisions, the important words here are ‘options’ and ‘advice’. A good doctor will give you realistic options for care (from the basic to the cutting edge) and advise you as to the risks and benefits of each as you plot a course. Their job is to help you come to a decision you are comfortable with that also meets the medical needs of your pet. 

If the diagnostic and treatment options do not feel right to you, ask if there are any other options to explore.  In many cases (but not all) there are plans A, B and C (and even sometimes D). 

It is a tall order to be asked to trust your beloved pet’s life and health to someone you just met, but with just a little luck and a little knowledge, you can chart a course for a good outcome.

Dr. Tony Johnson

www.PetConnection.com

Dr. Tony Johnson received his veterinary degree from Washington State University in 1996 and obtained board certification in the specialty of emergency medicine and critical care in 2003. He completed a residency program in Portland, Oregon prior to becoming an emergency specialist. He is currently a clinical assistant professor at Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine and a consultant and editor for the Veterinary Information Network. He has lectured for several international veterinary conferences and is an active blogger for http://www.PetConnection.com. He is also the recipient of the 2010 Small Animal Speaker of the Year award from the Western Veterinary Conference.   

He used to live in a converted one-room schoolhouse in the middle of a cornfield, but has since taken up occupancy in a normal house in a normal neighborhood with very little corn.  He has a young son named Connor (which is Gaelic for ‘dog lover’) and a beautiful wife named Gretchen, who is also a veterinary emergency and critical care specialist.  

Their animal family consists of: The Cats:Cupid – formerly shot with an arrow, now a feline meatloaf and Crispy – formerly set on fire, now rules the basement with a furry iron fist.       

The Dogs: Rocco – missing a leg from a Buick-induced nerve injury and    NYSE – former hoodlum-owned Pit Bull, now a creampuff.           

The Lower Vertebrates:Fontina –  a cockatiel found in a parking lot  and he has lost count of how many fish they have, although it really isn’t that many, he  just isn’t all that good at counting. 

In his spare time Tony enjoys sleeping, eating and breathing with occasional forays into woodworking, cooking and reading and writing (but not arithmetic).

_____________________________________________________

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of  Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association 2009 Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, 2009 Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, 2009 Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook 

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller. 

Free Christmas or Chanukah gift wrap with books purchased between now and December 25th (www.speakingforspot.com/purchase.html).

Emily and Chester, at home

November 18, 2010

While I’m busy recovering from some back surgery, you have the good fortune of reading posts from some of my favorite doggie bloggers!  Today’s post comes from Yvonne DiVita who blogs regularly at www.scratchingsandsniffings.com.   In an earlier guest post Yvonne introduced us to Chester (http://speakingforspot.com/blog/?p=1395).   Please make her feel welcome by posting your wonderful comments.  Be back soon! 

Best wishes,

Dr. Nancy Kay

Recently, we adopted a terrific coon hound from our local shelter. He was placed there by Kindness Ranch, a rescue that takes in research animals. Chester is 7 years old and the kindest, gentlest, sweetest dog I’ve ever met. We fell in love with him the first time we met him.

Shortly after adopting Chester, we contacted Kindness Ranch again to see about adopting a ‘friend’ for Chester. Somehow, knowing he’d been around other dogs his entire life, and that we occasionally have to leave our home-based office for business meetings, it seemed right to make sure he was not alone. Mind you, we have a cat we refer to as The Grumpy Old Lady, but … she wasn’t going to keep Chester company, trust me on that!

Chester and Emily at home

Well, it turned out that there was another hound at Kindness Ranch, a young, female, two-years old, who was Chester’s friend when he lived there. Her name was Emily. She was a Treewalker Hound. The folks at Kindness said they felt Chester and Emily would love being reunited.

And they were so right! We adopted Emily (after a nice visit one day…where she spent more time watching the birds in the trees than paying attention to us; probably because she wasn’t used to extra attention from ‘humans’) and brought her home and the change in Chester has been amazing.

Chester and Emily are perfect for each other. They adjusted to our house easily, although they still can’t figure out the cat. Together, they like to sleep in one dog bed on our landing. Together, we walk them and Emily rushes out front, to make sure nothing ever gets in our way, while Chester lumbers along, more intent on the interesting smells at his feet, than anything else.

Together, these two dogs have made our house a home. They bound to the door to greet us when we return from shopping or a meeting. They seem amazed at the treats we offer for good behavior. Chester, especially, regards treats with suspicious, until he sees Emily begin to devour them. They are learning to play with each other, to run around the back yard with all the abandon of a kid let out of school. At night, they share the dog bed… only occasionally coming into our room, as if to make sure we’re still there.

As the weeks go by, we’re noticing their personalities emerge. Chester, for all his easy-goingness, has learned to give Emily the low growl that says, “This is my bone, go get your own.” For quite some time, he just let her have his bones. Emily, to her credit, sneaks little bits of Chester’s food, from his bowl… always eying us, because she knows she isn’t supposed to take Chester’s food. I guess it’s okay for her to steal food, just not bones!

Neither dog knows how to play ball. They just look at it, and us, when we throw it in the backyard. They are learning to play tug-of-war with chew toys, but only minimally. Mostly, they like their walks and being home with us. And, we like that, too. We are so thrilled with these two dogs – it’s hard to remember life without them. I hope we never have to be without them!

Yvonne DiVita

_____________________________________________________

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of  Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association 2009 Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, 2009 Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, 2009 Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook 

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller. 

Free Christmas or Chanukah gift wrap with books purchased between now and December 25th (www.speakingforspot.com/purchase.html).

A Short Sabbatical

November 13, 2010

After four years of procrastination, I’m finally gonna do it!  I’m heading into the operating room, only I won’t be the one holding the scalpel blade.  A team of surgeons aim to fix a nagging back issue I’ve been annoyed by for far too long. Fret not, the prognosis is very good and I aim to be busy word processing again in no time!  In the meantime, some of my esteemed co-bloggers will provide guest posts that I know you will enjoy.  While in the midst of my post-operative narcotic haze, I won’t be emailing blogs as I normally do. Rather, I hope you will join me on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/speakingforspot) so you will be notified of new blogs as they are posted.  

And now for some shameless self-promotion!  I emphatically urge you to place Speaking for Spot at the very top of your holiday gift list for all of your dog loving friends, relatives, groomers, trainers, pet sitters, and dog park compatriots. And while you’re at it, don’t forget your veterinary hospital staff!  

Here are five reasons to give the “Gift of Spot” this year:  

  • Free Christmas gift-wrap included (an adorable double-sided wrap with bright Christmas doggie décor on one side and red and white dog bones on the other).
  • Free Chanukah gift-wrap included; sorry, no adorable canine theme (go ahead, you try to find dogs and Chanukah on the same wrapping paper!).
  • Four dollars from each book purchased will be sent to the participating animal-centered nonprofit organization you designate at the time of purchase.
  • Your gift will be personally signed by yours truly!
  • Your gift will provide an invaluable lifelong resource that is sure to enhance the life of a dog! 

Please visit www.speakingforspot.com/purchase.html to do your holiday shopping!  

Thank you for your readership. I extend my heartfelt best wishes to you and your loved ones (including those who are furry or feathered) for a peaceful and healthy holiday season.   

Dr. Nancy Kay
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of  Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association 2009 Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, 2009 Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, 2009 Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Gone to the Dogs for 24 Hours

November 12, 2010

When was the last time you pulled an all-nighter?  Beginning at 11:00 am PST on Saturday, November 13, 2010 eight fabulous bloggers will be blogging for 24 hours straight.  Why are they embarking upon such craziness?  They are blogging round the clock to raise money for some wonderfully worthwhile causes.  Please visit their sites and let them know that you support their efforts.   They are:

Dr. V – Pawcurious – http://www.pawcurious.com

Dr. Janet Crosby – http://aboutvetmed.com

Dr. Shawn Finch – http://rileyandjames.com/blog/

Dr. Laci Schaible – http://www.vetlive.com/blog/

Vicki Boatright – http://www.facebook.com/artistbztat

Jen Cleere – http://www.fetchingtags.net/blog/

Michelle Maskaly – http://www.mytailhurtsfromwaggingsomuch.com/

Felissa, Davinia and Indiana – http://twolittlecavaliers.blogspot.com/

Please look for my guest post within the Pawcurious blogathon.  I hope to join the ranks of the 24-hour bloggers next year!

Dr. Nancy Kay