Archive for the ‘Dog care tips’ Category

Canine arthritis: Symptoms and treatment options for arthritis in dogs

December 6, 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. Lorie Huston who blogs regularly at Examiner.com.   Please make her feel welcome by posting your wonderful comments.  Be back soon! 

Best wishes,

Dr. Nancy Kay

Canine arthritis: Symptoms and treatment of arthritis in dogs
Canine arthritis is a common and painful disease for affected dogs.

Canine arthritis is also commonly referred to as degenerative joint disease. Arthritis in dogs can have many causes. It may be:

  • caused by a congenital deformity in the affected joint, as in hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia
  • caused by a previous injury
  • caused by aging and the resultant “wear and tear” on the affected joint
  • caused by infectious agents, such as Lyme disease
  • caused by autoimmune disorders

Symptoms of canine arthritis

Whatever the cause of arthritis, degenerative joint disease in dogs causes pain in the affected joint. Arthritis may affect any joint in the body, including hips, knees, elbows, shoulders, and spines. Arthritis may involve many joints or may affect only one joint.

Symptoms commonly seen with arthritis are related to pain in the affected joint and may include:

  • an abnormal gait (i.e. limping or carrying the painful leg)
  • stiffness
  • difficulty going up and down stairs or climbing into cars, onto furniture, etc.
  • difficulty finding a comfortable way to rest or lie
  • difficulty rising from a sleeping or seated position
  • lack of appetite
  • irritability

Treatment of arthritis in dogs

Treatment of arthritis in dogs may involve many different tactics. The immediate objective in treating arthritis is to decrease the pain associated with arthritis, which is often done through the use of pain relief medications. However, there are many other things which may also be recommended to improve the joint health of dogs suffering from arthritis.

Weight control is important for arthritic dogs

For those arthritic dogs which are overweight or obese, weight control should be a top priority. Besides adding additional weight to diseased joints leading to increased pain, fat as a tissue is increasingly being recognized as a secretory organ which produces substances which may in themselves contribute to causing pain. By reducing the weight of an arthritic dog, if appropriate, joint-related pain may become easier to manage.

Pain control for arthritic dogs

There are numerous pain control medications available for dogs with arthritis, including numerous NSAIDS (such as Rimadyl, Etogesic, Deramaxx, Metacam, Previcox and others) as well as medications such as tramadol, gabapentin and amantadine.

Cortisone or steroid products, such as prednisone, prednisolone or dexamethasone, are sometimes used to control the pain associated with arthritis under certain circumstances as well. These medications do have side effects and should be used as directed by the veterinarian. NSAIDs are contra-indicated when these products are being administered.

Nutraceuticals and other medications which may improve joint health

Various dietary supplements have been identified which may help to improve the health of affected joints, thereby easing the symptoms of arthritis. These supplements, also known as nutriceuticals, include:

  • glucosamine
  • chondroitin
  • omega-3 fatty acids
  • Methyl-sulfonyl-methane (MSM)

Pet owners should use caution in choosing nutriceuticals for their pets, however and should deal only with reputable drug manufacturers. Nutriceuticals are not regulated as most other pharmaceutical medications are in the United States and there have been many instances of labelling discrepancies with some of these medications.

Adequan is another medication which is often used to help improve the health of an arthritic joint. Adequan is an injectable medication which contains a protective cartilage component known as polysulfated glycosaminoglycan. Adequan has been used with success in relieving pain for some dogs with arthritis and other forms of degenerative joint disease.

Alternative medicine options for relief of arthritis pain in dogs

Acupuncture is being used more commonly to relieve the pain associated with arthritis in dogs and may an alternative in some communities where the services are readily available.

Physical rehabilitation is also becoming more widely used to control chronic pain such as that seen with arthritis as well. Physical therapy may range from modalities such as laser therapy or hydrotherapy to range-of-motion exercises which loosen and strengthen injured muscles, tendons and joints.

Adult stem cell therapy in treating canine arthritis

Stem cell therapy is another treatment option which is showing promise in the treatment of canine arthritis. Adult stem cell therapy has been used for several years as a treatment for muscle, joint and tendon injuries in horses and has more recently become available as a treatment option for dogs with similar injuries or diseases.

Multi-modal treatment approach to treating canine arthritis

In most cases of joint pain and arthritis in dogs, a multi-modal approach which incorporates one or more of the available treatment modalities is advisable. Weight loss for those dogs which are overweight is essential and may in itself provide some pain relief. Nutriceuticals may be used to help improve joint health and provide long-term pain relief. In the shorter term, pain medications or other options, such as acupuncture, may provide more immediate relief from pain. Physical therapy may also be indicated to help keep otherwise unsued muscles strong and healthy.

Dr. Lorie Huston

http://www.examiner.com/pet-health-in-national/canine-arthritis-symptoms-and-treatment-options-for-arthritis-dogs

Lorie Huston currently works as a small animal veterinarian in Providence, dealing primarily with dogs and cats. She has been practicing veterinary medicine since 1986. Lorie is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Rhode Island Veterinary Medical Association and the Veterinary Information Network. She also does a large amount of work for the Volunteer Services for Animals, a non-profit local group dedicated to helping pet owners and their pets. Lorie has been writing online since 2001. She has published numerous articles to various E-zines and newsletters, as well as providing news material to PRWeb. Currently, she is also writing for Ehow.com and Suite101.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).

Advertisements

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).

Dogs That Fly

September 19, 2010

The United States Department of Transportation recently released breed-related information about dogs that have died while traveling in the cargo compartments of airplanes since May 2005. Of the 122 dogs that died, 108 were purebred. Brachycephalic breeds (ones I affectionately refer to as “smoosh faced”) such as Pugs, English Bulldogs, and French Bulldogs represented approximately half of the purebred dogs that took their last breath while in the plane.    

Credit: Dallasnews.com, Dallas Pooch Parade

You’d have a tough time finding a veterinarian who would be surprised by these results. For us, it’s a given that the vast majority of these adorable, snub-nosed dogs have some degree of upper airway obstruction because of nostrils that are too small, a windpipe that is too narrow, and/or excessive fleshy tissue in the region of the larynx (the anatomical entryway into the windpipe). When brachycephalic dogs breathe harder and faster in response to heat or stress (both may certainly be factors in the cargo compartment of an airplane) it makes sense that they are much more susceptible to heatstroke and/or respiratory compromise.    

What’s the take home point here?  One should always think long and hard about the potential pitfalls of transporting your dog to and fro via airplane. But if your heart belongs to a smoosh-faced dog, please strongly consider other options such as transport via car, renting a private jet (yeah, right!), or leaving your little sweetie at home. If flying is a must, ask your veterinarian to thoroughly assess your dog’s baseline level of respiratory compromise before you purchase your tickets and discuss ways to potentially make the flight less stressful.    

Have you ever flown with your dog? If so, please share your experiential wisdom.  

Now here’s wishing you and your four-legged family members abundant good health. 

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.   

You can support your favorite rescue group.  The Speaking for Spot Gives Back Program shares a portion of the sales proceeds with approved non-profit organizations when you purchase a book via the Speaking for Spot website and designate the organization at the time of purchase.

A Summertime Reminder

June 18, 2010

Tuffy, a scruffy and adorably sweet little terrier arrived at my hospital earlier this week in a state of collapse with profoundly labored breathing, purplish gums, and a temperature of 106 degrees Fahrenheit (the normal body temperature for a dog is 100-102 degrees).  Tuffy’s well-intentioned family let him accompany them on a brief outing and, while they were in the store for a mere ten minutes, Tuffy remained in the car.  The problem was, the outdoor temperature at the time was 92 degrees. The temperature within the car must have quickly soared to well above 100 degrees. Tuffy is one of the lucky ones.  He survived his episode of heatstroke without any lingering complications and has gone home to rejoin his grateful (and more knowledgeable) family.  Most patients with heatstroke don’t fare nearly so well.  Thank you Tuffy for reminding me that it’s time to rebroadcast a blog I posted last summer.  I encourage you to share this with anyone you know who loves a dog with hopes of preventing a needless tragedy.

 

Dog Days of Summer

Some of us take “dog days of summer” literally- we want to go everywhere accompanied by our beloved canine companions!  As tempting as this may be, keep in mind that when temperatures are soaring your dog is likely best served by staying home.  Heat has the potential to be hazardous to a dog’s health. 

Dogs are incapable of significant sweating- their only sweat glands are located on the undersides of their paws.   The major mechanism by which dogs dissipate heat is by panting, but this cooling system is easily overwhelmed when the temperatures climbs.  Panting becomes even less effective in humid conditions or for dogs with underlying respiratory tract ailments (collapsing trachea, laryngeal paralysis, lung diseases) or dogs that are overweight. Bulldogs, Pugs, Boston Terriers, and others I lovingly refer to as “smoosh-faced” breeds readily overheat because of their unique upper respiratory tract anatomy. 

What happens when dogs get too hot?  The result can be heatstroke, a life threatening condition.  Symptoms of heatstroke tend to occur abruptly and can include increased heart rate, labored breathing, weakness, collapse, purplish gum color, and even seizures and coma. Of all the “summertime diseases,” veterinarians dread heatstroke the most because we know that, even with aggressive therapy, many heatstroke victims will succumb to organ damage and death.

Most cases of canine heatstroke are a result of confinement in cars.  Perhaps the vehicle was parked in the shade, but the sun shifted, or a well-intentioned person thought that leaving the windows cracked or returning to the car quickly would be a safe bet.  Overactivity in the heat is another common cause of heatstroke. The desire to chase the ball trumps all else, and the person throwing it doesn’t recognize when it’s time to quit. 

If you suspect your dog has or is on the verge of heatstroke, spend just a few minutes cooling him off with water from a hose or covering him with towels soaked in cool water.  Then get to the closest veterinary hospital as quickly as possible. Time is of the essence- the earlier heatstroke is detected and treated, the greater the likelihood of a positive outcome. 

Knowledge is power when it comes to preventing heatstroke.  Here are some pointers to help keep your best buddy safe during these hot summer months: 

-Never leave your dog inside the car on warm or hot days.  A panting dog in an enclosed space quickly creates a muggy greenhouse environment that can quickly cause heatstroke.  Even with the windows down, temperatures inside a car can rise to 120 degrees or more.  If you happen upon a dog confined in a car on a hot day, find the owner of the vehicle or contact a police officer- whichever will most rapidly liberate the dog from danger. 

-Exercise your dog early in the morning or during evening hours to avoid the heat of the day.  

-Allow for plenty of rest and water breaks during play activity and exercise. Your dog may not know his limits and will continue to enthusiastically chase the Frisbee even when his internal thermometer is getting ready to blow a fuse. 

-Keep your dog indoors, ideally in air conditioning, on very hot days. 

-If your dog is left outside, be sure he has plenty of shade and provide him with access to a sprinkler, wading pool, or sand pit soaked with water. 

-If flying with your dog during the summer months schedule your flight for nighttime or early morning.  Check with the airlines to find out whether or not the cargo hold is temperature controlled. 

Now, here’s wishing you and your four-legged best friend a most enjoyable and safe summer!

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
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
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life

Website: http://www.speakingforspot.com
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, or your favorite online book seller.

Too Much of a Good Thing

March 7, 2010

We love when our animals are eating and drinking well.  After all, a hearty appetite and ample thirst are positive tangible affirmations about the quality of our pets’ lives.  I think this is the reason why so many people delay consulting with their veterinarian when they notice an obvious increase in their pet’s thirst or appetite.  They ascribe busting into the garbage pail, begging at the dinner table, and eating foreign objects to bad behavior rather than an underlying medical issue.  Filling the water bowl more frequently than normal may simply go unnoticed or may be viewed as simply “more of a good thing.” 

Well, I’m here to provide you with a wake up call! If your dog has recently turned into a major “chowhound” or your kitty has become obsessed with her water bowl, please schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.  An overt increase in thirst or appetite is often a symptom of an underlying medical abnormality.  Increased thirst typically accompanies kidney disease, liver disease, and underlying hormonal imbalances such as diabetes, Addison’s disease (too little cortisone), Cushing’s disease (too much cortisone), and overproduction of thyroid hormone.  A dog or cat whose appetite is uncharacteristically insatiable may have pancreatic disease, gastrointestinal disease, diabetes or Cushing’s disease.  (More information about all of these diseases can be found in Speaking for Spot).    

The good news is that, when associated with disease, increased thirst and appetite tend to be early symptoms.  Paying attention to them sooner rather than later will give you and your vet a head start on making a diagnosis and initiating therapy.  And in most cases, the earlier the disease is diagnosed and treated, the better the prognosis.  Remember, our dogs and cats tend to be creatures of habit.  Anything that seems out of character is deserving of your attention and discussion with your veterinarian.

Best wishes to you and your four-legged family members for abundant good health,

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
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
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life

Website: http://www.speakingforspot.com
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, or your favorite online book seller.

Too Much of a Good Thing

March 6, 2010

We love when our animals are eating and drinking well.  After all, a hearty appetite and ample thirst are positive tangible affirmations about the quality of our pets’ lives.  I think this is the reason why so many people delay consulting with their veterinarian when they notice an obvious increase in their pet’s thirst or appetite.  They ascribe busting into the garbage pail, begging at the dinner table, and eating foreign objects to bad behavior rather than an underlying medical issue.  Filling the water bowl more frequently than normal may simply go unnoticed or may be viewed as simply “more of a good thing.” 

Well, I’m here to provide you with a wake up call! If your dog has recently turned into a major “chowhound” or your kitty has become obsessed with her water bowl, please schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.  An overt increase in thirst or appetite is often a symptom of an underlying medical abnormality.  Increased thirst typically accompanies kidney disease, liver disease, and underlying hormonal imbalances such as diabetes, Addison’s disease (too little cortisone), Cushing’s disease (too much cortisone), and overproduction of thyroid hormone.  A dog or cat whose appetite is uncharacteristically insatiable may have pancreatic disease, gastrointestinal disease, diabetes or Cushing’s disease.  (More information about all of these diseases can be found in Speaking for Spot).    

The good news is that, when associated with disease, increased thirst and appetite tend to be early symptoms.  Paying attention to them sooner rather than later will give you and your vet a head start on making a diagnosis and initiating therapy.  And in most cases, the earlier the disease is diagnosed and treated, the better the prognosis.  Remember, our dogs and cats tend to be creatures of habit.  Anything that seems out of character is deserving of your attention and discussion with your veterinarian.

Best wishes to you and your four-legged family members for abundant good health,

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
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
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life

Website: http://www.speakingforspot.com
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, or your favorite online book seller.

Get Out Your Reading Glasses!

November 25, 2009

When was the last time you took a close look at your pet’s prescription medication label?  Would you be surprised to know that, by law, the label is required to include twelve different informational items? Have a look at this mandatory dozen and see if every single one of them appears on your pet’s prescription label.

Speaking for Spot's advice on reading your pet's medication labels

1.   Date the medication was prescribed

2.   Your pet’s name

3.   Your name

4.   The prescribing veterinarian’s name

5.   Address and telephone number of the facility filling the prescription

6.   Amount of medication dispensed (milliliters, ounces, number of tablets or capsules)

7.   Strength of the medication (milligrams, micrograms)

8.   Dosage and duration of treatment

9.   Route of administration (orally, applied to the skin, in the ear)

10.  Number of refills

11.  Cautionary instructions (“shake well,” “keep refrigerated,” “don’t let your dog drive”)

12.  Expiration date 

After performing this exercise, please let me know what you learned, other than, that’s one heck of a lot of information for such a tiny label?  It’s no wonder I need my reading glasses! 

Wishing you and your four-legged family members abundant good health,

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine 

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, or your favorite online book seller. 

Speaking for Spot, signed by Dr. Kay, a great gift idea for holiday 2009 shoppingOrder  a copy of Speaking for Spot personally signed by Dr. Kay – http://www.speakingforspot.com/purchase.html

Join our email list – http://speakingforspot.com/joinemaillist.html

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross

The Grapes of Wrath

November 15, 2009

What a gorgeous time of year it is where I live, in the heart of northern California’s wine country. The leaves of the grapevines are luminescent shades of orange, yellow, and magenta. The vintners are smiling because the weather has provided them with a bumper crop.  Their grapes have been harvested and the “crush” is on.

As much as I enjoy this season, the grapes always create some anxiety for me.  What most people don’t realize is that grapes (and raisins) can be terribly toxic for dogs.  Fortunately, not all dogs become sick after eating grapes or raisins, but nothing clearly predicts which ones are susceptible.  For those who are, ingestion of even a small amount (as little as 0.35 ounces of grapes per pound of the dog’s body weight and 0.05 ounces of raisins per pound of the dog’s body weight) has the potential to cause kidney failure that may be irreversible. The toxic component within grapes and raisins hasn’t been identified, but it is thought to be contained within the flesh of the grape (not within the seeds). 

In susceptible dogs, symptoms of kidney failure develop within 24 hours following ingestion of the grapes or raisins.  They include: lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. Partially digested grapes or raisins might be seen in the bowel movement or vomited material. What should you do if you discover that your dog has eaten grapes or raisins?  Seek out veterinary care as soon as possible- the earlier treatment is started, the better the prognosis.  If it has been less than a few hours, your veterinarian will induce vomiting to try to remove the toxin before it is absorbed into your dog’s bloodstream. If several hours have lapsed, hospitalization for treatment to prevent kidney failure will be recommended.  Once kidney failure develops, the prognosis is guarded. One study documented only a 53 percent survival rate even with aggressive treatment.  

So, here is the lesson of the season- dogs and grapes (or raisins) are a potentially lethal combination. Cats are thought to be susceptible to this toxicity as well.  Fortunately, cats who fancy fruit are few and far between! Please share this information with all of your dog-loving friends and relatives and ask them to do the same.  You just might save a life in the process! 

Wishing you and your four-legged family members good health,

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine 

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, or your favorite online book seller. 

Join our email list – http://speakingforspot.com/joinemaillist.html

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross

Will Your Pet’s Microchip Bring Him Home?

November 3, 2009

Other than hanging identification tags on collars, I’ve always thought (and advised my clients) that microchipping our dogs and cats is the best way to ensure that we will be reunited should circumstances separate us. As it turns out, microchipping is not nearly so foolproof as I’ve believed- not because the chips are defective, but rather, because of human error.  Have a look at what I just read in the November 1st edition of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA)

“A limitation of the microchip registry system is than many pet owners do not register microchips in their names according to ‘Characterization of animals with microchips entering animal shelters’ (see JAVMA, July 15, 2009).  In that study, shelters contacted microchip registries regarding 1,943 animals but found registrations for only 58.1 percent.  The registries were unable to find any information on the owner or on the person who implanted the microchip for 9.8 percent of the animals. Among other recommendations, the study’s authors suggested that veterinarians and shelter personnel should not only register pet microchips at the time of implantation, but also remind the pets’ owners to update information in the registry. 

Jason Merrihew, American Animal Hospital Association spokesman said, educating pet owners is a key step to improve microchipping as a form of pet identification. ‘Every time that they change their address or change phone numbers, then they need to update that microchip information,’ Merrihew said.” 

So what does all this mean? Here’s the bottom line in terms of achieving the intended purpose of your pet’s identification microchip: At the time your dog or cat is microchipped, be sure to complete the registration materials and have them processed with the appropriate microchip registry.  Be sure your veterinarian (or whoever it is that implants the microchip) does the same.  Additionally, update that registry whenever your contact data (telephone number, address) changes.  I haven’t moved or changed my phone number (or my name!) in well over a decade, so my pets and I are in good shape.  How about you and yours? Will your lost dog or cat be able to find you again?  If you know your contact information is not current, or you are unsure, pick up the phone or go online today.  It could make all the difference. 

Wishing you and your four-legged family members good health,

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine 

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, or your favorite online book seller. 

Join our email list – http://speakingforspot.com/joinemaillist.html

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross

Veterinary Care Links and Resources for You and Your Four-Legged Family Members

August 15, 2009

Some new educational links and resources have just been added to my website! I invite you to visit www.speakingforspot.com and take advantage of all that is there. In addition to the “Advocacy Aids” (free downloadable health care forms for your dog or cat), you will now find resources and links about all of the following:

1. Behavior & Training
2. Canine Disease Registries
3. Deciding Whether Veterinary Pet Insurance is Right for You
4. Disaster Preparedness
5. Disease-Specific Information
6. Paying for Veterinary Care
7. Pet Loss and Grief
8. Symptom-Specific Information
9. Veterinary References
10. Veterinary Specialty Organizations
11. What to Do When the Diagnosis is Cancer

All of this new material can be found on our “For Dog Lovers” pages. It has been designed to supplement the tools and information found in Speaking for Spot, and will be updated on a regular basis to keep you informed about advances in veterinary medicine. I hope you will find it useful and welcome your feedback. Please let me know what you think and advise me of any additions or changes that would make you happy.

Please feel free to link to our website and share the information with your animal-loving friends and relatives.

Now, here’s wishing you and your four-legged family members much good health!

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine

Join our email list – http://speakingforspot.com/joinemaillist.html

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook