You Learn Something New Everyday…About Pet Food

May 5, 2011

Pet food is important to pet lovers since we all want to feed our pets a diet which will help to keep them healthy family members for as long as possible. Many veterinarians at The Animal Medical Center prescribe special diets as part of the treatment for medical conditions. Research into various disease states has resulted in the development of “prescription diets” to meet the nutritional needs of pets while treating a medical condition.

Heart diets have lower sodium, joint diets contain ingredients to promote healthy joints and other diets are easily digestible for pets with gastrointestinal problems. These diets are an important part of many medical interventions. In fact, kidney-friendly diets have been shown to prolong survival in pets with kidney disease.

One of my patients, a French bulldog being treated for allergies, eats a Royal Canin novel protein diet composed of duck and potatoes. He has responded well to this diet and scratches much less when than when he was eating a regular dog food. His owner called me a day or so ago because the bag design had changed. The label said the food was the same, but when the bag was opened the nuggets were a different color.

I called the veterinary hotline staffed by customer service representatives of Royal Canin to check and be sure the food was really the same inside the bag since the outside had changed. The very helpful staff confirmed the food is being made in the same plant and the only change to the recipe was an increase in some vitamins to improve coat health. They also mentioned other consumers had called because of the color change in the food. According to the representative to whom I spoke, there is seasonal variation in the color of the duck meat and potatoes used to formulate the diet. This most recent batch was lighter than usual.

If you have a question about your pet’s food, check the label on the bag. Most pet food companies have a consumer hotline and, as I found out, they can be very helpful. Or call your veterinarian. They are a wealth of information and already know your pet’s medical issues. For tough nutritional issues, your veterinarian may suggest you consult a board certified veterinary nutritionist.

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This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Melanoma Monday: May 2, 2011

May 2, 2011

The term “Melanoma Monday” is a service mark of the American Academy of Dermatology and seeks to promote awareness about melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer in humans. Melanoma is one of the diseases humans share with animals – so I thought I would take this opportunity to alert dog owners about melanoma in dogs and point out the similarities and differences to the human disease.

Canine oral melanoma

Canine melanoma occurs in different locations than the disease does in humans. The most malignant form of the disease occurs in the mouth and toes. Unlike humans, where skin melanomas are commonly malignant, skin melanomas in the dog are often benign. The circle in the photograph on the right is a malignant melanoma of the gum just below one of the large back teeth.

Dogs with a melanoma, or any other tumor of the oral cavity, often have severe halitosis. The family might notice blood tinged saliva or a reluctance of their dog to carry toys in his mouth. Oral tumors such as melanoma can be painful and a dog with an oral tumor may suddenly refuse to eat dry dog food or dog biscuits.

X-ray of a toe melanoma. Note the swelling (white arrow) and destroyed nail (red arrow).

Melanoma of the toe typically starts at the junction of the nail and the toe. You might notice your dog licking at the toe or a swelling at the junction. A broken nail, without preceding injury, may signal the need for an evaluation by your veterinarian as tumors can weaken the nail and allow a spontaneous break.

As with humans, an early diagnosis of this disease often leads to a much better diagnosis. Teach your puppy to let you open his mouth so you can identify any oral abnormalities. Bad breath, reluctance to eat and blood tinged saliva might not necessarily indicate the presence of a tumor, but may indicate dental problems which may also need to be treated. In either case, your veterinarian should see your dog immediately. Toe swellings, pain or nail problems should also provoke a visit to the veterinarian as early diagnosis and treatment with surgery, radiation and a melanoma vaccine clinically tested by the Animal Medical Center oncology team can save your dog’s life.

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This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Hairballs Can be Dangerous!

April 28, 2011
Friday, April 29th is National Hairball Awareness Day and I have the poster patient for this disorder. Sunshine looks just like her name, a sunburst of calico color on one very charming cat.
 

Photo: Rachel Bob

So how did she get to be the poster patient for National Hairball Awareness Day? A hairball nearly killed her.

Sunshine has been a patient of The Animal Medical Center since last summer and is under treatment for a fairly common form of intestinal cancer. One night, her owner came home and could not find Sunshine. When she did, Sunshine was hiding and refused to eat dinner. Her owner brought her straight to the AMC Emergency Room.

This is Sunshine’s abdominal x-ray; the black circle outlines a gigantic fluid-filled stomach. The black arrows point to just a few of her gas-filled intestinal loops. AMC’s radiologist, Dr. Anthony Fischetti, honed in on these abnormalities immediately and diagnosed an intestinal blockage. We were worried the blockage was due to a recurrence of the tumor, but we couldn’t be sure with the information we had.

The same night, Sunshine had an emergency exploratory surgery by Dr. Courtney Ikuta of the AMC’s Surgery Service. Boy was she surprised to find a hairball lodged in Sunshine’s intestine as the cause of the blockage!

Hairball obstruction is very uncommon, although a couple of medical issues might have contributed to this dangerous hairball. Sunshine receives chemotherapy bi-weekly. Her haircoat appears normal, but she probably has more hair loss than the average cat. Her cancer is responding well to treatment, but her intestines are not normal and may not have been able to handle the excess ingested hair. Finally, Sunshine has just been diagnosed with an even rarer condition than a hairball obstruction, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. She doesn’t make adequate digestive enzymes, contributing to a buildup of hair.

So in honor of National Hairball Awareness Day, brush your cat, use a deshedding tool and give plenty of hairball reducing treats.

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This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Amos, a 5 Year Old “Living Legend”

April 25, 2011
Every year, The Animal Medical Center honors “Living Legends,” patients who have survived what seemed to be insurmountable odds. Unlike most living legends, who have distinguished careers and are silver haired recipients, the 2011 AMC Living Legends are two youngsters who both have long lives left to live because of the care given at The AMC. Today, I am writing about Amos, a 5 year old Burmese cat. Our other living legend is Herbie, who I have written about previously.

Amos as a kitten

Amos’ story starts in early 2007, when he was just 10 months old. After a normal kittenhood, he began vomiting and his regular veterinarians determined he had developed a gas-distended and inflamed esophagus and stomach. It seemed nothing was going out of the stomach and everything was coming back up. Pretty much all cats vomit, but poor Amos was losing weight and was down to barely six pounds.

Amos came to The AMC when treatment elsewhere was unsuccessful. Dr. Janet Kovak McClaran of the Surgery Service performed a Bilroth I surgery. Named after a 19th century human surgeon, the Bilroth I performed on Amos removed a thickened part of his stomach which was blocking the exit of food into the intestine and reattached the stomach directly to the small intestine. Within three weeks following surgery, Amos was a new cat. He was not vomiting and had gained one pound on his way to being an eight pound cat.

Amos snuggles with a friend

But the story doesn’t stop here. Eight months ago, Amos returned to The AMC. This time he was critically ill, requiring urgent, emergency surgery. Dr. Sarah Petre was the emergency surgeon on call. The AMC veterinarians were concerned for an intestinal blockage or worse, leaking intestines. What they found during an abdominal exploratory surgery was an eight inch segment of intestine twisted upon itself and deprived of its blood supply, but unrelated to the previous surgery. Amos underwent a second remodeling of his intestine to remove the twisted segment and reattach the ends. Without this surgery, Amos would have certainly died.

Both Amos and our other Living Legend, Herbie, will be attending The AMC’s Third Annual Living Legends Luncheon. If you would like to attend the luncheon and meet these incredible animals click here for more information.

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This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Lilies and Your Cat

April 21, 2011

The genesis of this week’s blog did not come from one my patients at The Animal Medical Center, but from a trip to my local Food Emporium. As I walked in through the produce section, the smell of lilies wafted towards me. They were beautiful…and deadly, at least to cats.

The entire lily family, including Easter lilies, Asian lilies, the elegant calla lily and even the feline named tiger lily should be off limits for cat owning households. The toxic substance in lilies is unknown but the toxin appears to affect only the cat and not the dog. In addition to finding a freshly mangled plant on the windowsill, cat owners will see vomiting and diarrhea following lily ingestion. Blood tests often reveal kidney failure which in some cases can require treatment with dialysis and may be fatal.

Photo: Ann Hohenhaus, DVM

Lily ingestion is a year round problem because some cats cannot resist sampling the vegetation used to decorate the house — and the problem is not just with lilies. Many other ornamental plants can be toxic to cats. Common springtime flowers on this list include amaryllis, crocus, narcissus, daffodil and azalea. Cat owners must carefully select their houseplants to avoid a trip to the emergency room following unplanned consumption of a toxic cat salad.

If your cat inadvertently ingests one of these plants or any other plant for that matter, contact your veterinarian’s office to determine if treatment is necessary. You may also contact one of the animal poison control services included in the links below. These services are open 24 hours a day to advise pet owners and veterinarians on optimal management for pet poisonings.

Animal Poison Control Center

Angell Poison Control Hotline

Pet Poison Helpline

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This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Is Your Dog on the No-Fly List?

April 18, 2011

Airline Safety for Dogs

Eloise/Photo by Gregg Vogel

If you have a bulldog, it is now on the no-fly list for many airlines. Nationality doesn’t matter – American, French and English are banned. And it’s not because they are terror suspects; it’s a safety issue.

Over a recent five year period, 122 dogs died on airline flights. Twenty percent of those were English bulldogs and eight percent were French bulldogs.

Bugsy/Photo by Allison Younger

Bulldogs (like Eloise the English bulldog, shown at the US Capitol or Bugsy, the French bulldog) are members of a group known as brachycephalic (short nosed dogs and cats). Pets with short noses do not handle heat well and are prone to heat stroke during hot weather.

Many airlines restrict the breed of dog or cat accepted as cargo or checked baggage in the summer months. Very recently, Delta Airlines put American, English and French bulldogs on a list of breeds which cannot be flown as checked baggage or cargo at anytime of the year. American Airlines has rules similar to Delta. Air Tran and Southwest do not accept pets as checked baggage or cargo at any time of the year.

What can a pet owner do to ensure a safe flight for their pet? Before you plan your trip, check the airline’s website for detailed requirements. If your pet suffers from motion sickness, see your veterinarian before the trip to get a prescription to prevent motion sickness. When planning, keep your pet in the cabin with you, if possible. This is easier said than done if you have a large dog. Consider booking your pet a ticket on Pet Airways whose motto is “The First Airline with Four Leg Room.”

If your pet does travel as checked baggage or cargo, pick flights that will take off and land during the coolest part of the day, minimizing the risk of overheating. Give your pet plenty of water and walk it just before you load it in the carrier. Avoid tranquilizing your pet before a flight, as these medications block your pet’s ability to respond to stressful situations.

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This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Saving Patrick

April 15, 2011

Patrick in recovery at GSVS

The staff at The Animal Medical Center applauds the Associated Humane Societies and Team Patrick at Garden State Veterinary Specialists for their care and devotion to Patrick, the abused and starved pit bull who was apparently thrown down a trash chute in Newark, NJ. Based on the internet comments, many thought the dog left for dead would not survive.

For those of you who may have missed the Patrick story, the pit bull was found barely alive in a plastic garbage bag in the trash room of a Newark, NJ apartment building on St. Patrick’s Day, hence his name. The Associated Humane Society veterinarians tended to his immediate needs and then transferred him to Garden State Veterinary Specialists (GSVS) for round-the-clock care.

Patrick has his own website to chronicle his recovery. Please note, this website is not for the faint of heart; Patrick’s physical appearance was difficult to look at and is reminiscent of the horrendous photos depicting concentration camp detainees. You only have to look at the slide show to know Patrick has made a spectacular recovery. After three weeks of expert care, he has been resurrected from being near death.

According to the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, his owner has been charged with torment and torture and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of New Jersey law.

The AMC’s admiration for the Humane Society stems from our own roots, when over 100 years ago, Ellin Prince Speyer founded the Women’s League for Animals to promote humane care of the working horses in New York City. The Women’s League for Animals evolved into the AMC. Currently, we collaborate with New York City’s Center for Animal Care and Control and the ASPCA to care for patients like Patrick who have been abused, in the same way GSVS is working with the Associated Humane Societies.

Another reason the AMC is closely monitoring the treatment Patrick is receiving is his care and treatment is being administered by one of our own. The head of Team Patrick is Dr. Thomas Scavelli, who completed both his internship and surgical residency training at the AMC. When I came to the AMC as an intern, he was one of the staff surgeons whom I especially relied on for his wise counsel. Many of the other staff members at GSVS trained at the AMC as well.

The luck of the Irish is now in Patrick’s favor since he has such a well trained and experienced veterinary team making medical decisions for him. The AMC wishes Patrick all the best for the future and that he be placed in a wonderful “forever” home.

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This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Why Do People Treat Their Pets for Cancer?

April 11, 2011

People I meet socially are often surprised when I tell them I treat pets with cancer. The first level of surprise occurs because many non-pet lovers don’t know pets get cancer, so of course they are doubly surprised to meet some who treats it. For me, cocktail party conversation frequently centers around the question, “Why do people treat their pets for cancer?”

Since many pets are considered members of the family, pet owners want the same level of medical care for their pet as they do for themselves. At specialty hospitals like The Animal Medical Center, this high level of medical care includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

I am often asked if a dog is too old to get treatment. My patient population and that of most oncologists is elderly. To be trite: “Age is not a disease.” But some older pets may have diseases which complicate cancer therapy or have such a delicately balanced treatment regime that cancer treatment is not a good idea. Other older pets sail through cancer treatments, like Spenser.

Cuddles/Photo by Dr. Ann Hohenhaus

Cuddles the Cat is a chemotherapy patient. Notice the short stumpy whiskers on the right side of her face, which are the only outward sign of chemotherapy treatment she has.

Side effects — nausea, vomiting, hair loss — become another worry for pet owners based on their experiences with human family members. Veterinary cancer treatment goals are different. We strive to improve the quantity of life as well as the quality of life for our dog and cat patients. We usually can achieve this goal and if we can’t, we understand if the owners choose to discontinue therapy.

Since I am an oncologist, I bet you think all the pets I see get treatment for their tumors. Not so fast. The decision to treat cancer in a pet belongs to the pet’s family, not me. My job is to provide information about prognosis, complications and expectations. The family has to weigh the tough stuff and this decision is never taken lightly. I had one lovely, but unlucky cat owner client. Both her cats developed the same uncommon tumor. She chose to treat one, but not the other. Why? The two cats had diametrically opposed personalities. We treated the gentle, cooperative cat, but much to my relief, she perceived treatment of her ultra-cranky cat would be stressful for him, a tribulation for her and dangerous for the oncology staff.

If you are worried your pet might have cancer, click here to find the warning signs of cancer in pets.

If your pet is showing any of these signs, see your veterinarian right away.

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This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Helping Pets in Japan

April 7, 2011

In the wake of the tragic news of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, it is not surprising that reporters are also writing about the terrible effects these disasters have had on pets. I have noted some internet news specifically regarding post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

I checked books on animal behavior and found virtually no information on the topic in standard veterinary behavior books. The lack of information made me wonder if the diagnosis of PTSD was a human psychiatric disorder incorrectly attributed to pets. So I contacted a fellow dog lover and a professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, just up the street from The Animal Medical Center.

Dr. Richard A. Friedman explained to me how PTSD develops and how researchers study the disease. A benign occurrence such as the sound of a bell precedes a noxious stimulus such as a small, safe electric shock. Pairing the harmless sound with the noxious stimulus now makes the animal associate the sound with the painful shock and it has a fear response to the sound. This form of classical Pavlovian conditioning links a previously harmful stimulus (sound) to the hard-wired fear response and involves the formation of new neural connections in the brain, particularly in the amygdale — a region critical to fear response.

Once PTSD has developed, presenting the sound repeatedly to the animal, without a shock, the sound will ultimately cease to elicit a fear response, a phenomenon called extinction, which is essentially how psychiatrists like Dr. Friedman treat PTSD in humans.

This explanation of PTSD does not fit the one time earthquake/tsunami experienced by the Japanese pets now displaced from their homes and living in shelters. That is not to say these animals are not experiencing both mental and physical stress. Anxiety can result from the inability to escape or control situations that elicit an initial fear response. This definition makes it easy to imagine how displaced pets in post-earthquake Japan might be suffering from anxiety due to the loss of their home, their family and their normal routines. The physical manifestations of anxiety may be inappropriate eliminations, noise phobias and destructive behavior.

Many organizations aimed at helping animals are working together in Japan. The Japanese Animal Hospital Association (JAHA) has 45 member hospitals in the disaster area. JAHA President Takuo Ishida reports they are supporting relief efforts through two funds.

According to President Ishida, “One is for animals and their families, and the other is for veterinary hospitals. JAHA is now asking for relief donations via web site and letters to the member hospitals. The donations for the former purpose will be sent to Japanese SPCA and those for the latter will be sent to Japanese Veterinary Medical Association.”

World Vets, based in Fargo, North Dakota has some teams on the ground in Japan, but a full scale effort is hampered by the current radiation concerns due to damage of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) anticipates the animal relief efforts will ramp up shortly and be in operation for many months to come. The AVMF’s Animal Disaster Relief and Reimbursement Fund will be supporting animal disaster relief in Japan.

All the organizations included in the links above, as well as many others are accepting donations towards Japanese animal relief efforts.

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This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


How Common are Vaccine Reactions?

April 4, 2011

Several weeks ago a reader wrote in to ask a question about a very serious vaccine reaction in her cat, and last week I received a panicked phone call from the owner of one of my dog patients. The dog developed a little mass at her rabies vaccination site which has since gone away.

Here are answers to the cat owner’s question and a quick update on what to do if your pet develops swelling at a vaccination site.

How often do vaccine reactions occur?

Vaccine reactions are usually mild and fortunately are quite uncommon, occurring in 40-50 of every 10,000 dogs or cats vaccinated. Life-threatening reactions are extremely rare following vaccination.

What does a vaccine reaction look like?

Puppies and kittens may be tired, lethargic or have a mild fever after their first inoculations. This is also the most common reaction in adult dogs and cats. Allergic reactions also occur. A pet with an allergic reaction to a vaccination has facial swelling, redness around the eyes and itching. Allergic reactions can occur rapidly after a vaccination and you might notice one even before you check out of your veterinarian’s office. You might notice swelling at the injection site a few days after a vaccination is given.

What type of pet is most likely do develop a vaccine reaction?

Small breed, young adult dogs are at greater risk for developing vaccine reactions than are older, large breed dogs. Administration of multiple vaccines at one time increases the risk of a reaction in both dogs and cats. Cats are more likely to have injection site swelling than dogs.

What can be done to prevent a vaccine reaction the next time my pet is vaccinated?

Before vaccination, discuss your pet’s lifestyle with your veterinarian to help him/her recommend the best vaccination protocol for your dog. If multiple vaccines are to be administered, your veterinarian may recommend only one vaccine be given at a time. To lessen the signs of an allergic reaction and to make your pet more comfortable, your veterinarian may choose to administer medications which lessen an allergic reaction. In some pets the reaction is so severe, vaccinations are not administered again.

If you notice anything strange about your pet following vaccination, call your veterinarian. Guidelines recommend a post-vaccination swelling be biopsied if it is growing larger within a month after vaccination, is greater than 2 cm (1 inch) in diameter or persists 3 months after vaccination. If your pet is having an allergic reaction, head straight back to the clinic or to your nearest animal ER.

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This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Could My Pet Die from Epilepsy?

March 31, 2011

Learning a Lesson from Knut the Polar Bear

I have loved zoos since I was a child when my mother used to take me to the Como Park Zoo in St. Paul, Minnesota to see the Sammy the Seal show. I am a regular at the Central Park Zoo polar bear enclosure here in Manhattan.

Knut the polar bear

The death last week of 4 year old Knut, the celebrity polar bear, at the Berlin Zoo was exceptionally sad. On Monday, a Reuters news feed reported the cause of death as epilepsy.

Epilepsy is a caused by abnormal function of the brain. In its worst form, epilepsy causes loss of consciousness, recumbancy and generalized, uncontrolled movement of the body. Epilepsy is not the only cause of seizures, which can result from trauma, infection or tumor in the brain, or a low blood sugar depriving the brain of glucose for energy.

Several features of Knut’s case are apropos to our dog and cat companions who suffer from epilepsy. The Reuters article says Knut inherited epilepsy from his father, Lars. Epilepsy also runs in some dog breeds: border collies, Dalmatians, Siberian Huskies, German shepherds, golden retrievers and St. Bernards, who tend to have high frequency seizures. Some breeds seem to be less likely to have epilepsy such as the Doberman pinscher, Rottweiler and Newfoundland. Epilepsy is generally an uncommon diagnosis in cats.

A prolonged seizure, also called status epilepticus, demands a trip to the emergency room. Seizures occurring in rapid succession, also called cluster seizures, require an emergency room visit. There, testing will begin to determine if epilepsy is the cause of the seizure. If the seizures are recurrent or persistent, antiseizure medication will likely be administered. Like in the case of Knut, a severe or prolonged seizure can sometimes result in death if treatment is not immediately administered.

A word to the wise pet owner: know where your closest animal ER is and don’t hesitate to go — it just might save your pet’s life.

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This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit http://www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.

 


Saying a Good Goodbye

March 29, 2011

As a veterinarian for more than 25 years — and a pet owner — I know how difficult it is for pet owners to talk about or even ask about putting a sick pet down. Our pets are cherished members of their family and most people will do whatever it takes to help their beloved pet get through a health crisis. At The Animal Medical Center, our specialists successfully treat tens of thousands of patient cases each year ranging from renal failure in dogs to infections in frogs — from cancer therapy to cruciate rupture and from gall bladders to geriatrics, we see it all.

However, in cases where there is no quality of life for the pet, absolutely no chance of correcting the problem — if a prolonged illness causes the pet to suffer and have pain, the veterinarian and the pet owner often sadly come to the mutual and difficult conclusion to euthanize — a safe, humane option.

With that said, a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “Texas Adopts Animal Drug for Executions,” was brought to my attention by a client who had recently euthanized his beloved cat — and I had real concerns that pet owners might think euthanasia is bad.

For generations, veterinarians have used the drug pentobarbital, an anesthetic agent, for euthanasia because it is extremely effective. Pentobarbital — according to the American Veterinary Medicine Association’s Guidelines on Euthanasia — acts rapidly to smoothly induce euthanasia. For these reasons the Guidelines choose pentobarbital (or other chemically-related drugs) as the preferred compound for euthanasia in dogs and cats.

At The AMC we typically give a sedative, often propofol (the drug made famous by Michael Jackson) followed by pentobarbital. AMC staff sends sympathy cards and creates pawprint mementos following the death of a pet to help ease the grieving process. The family is always welcome to be present during euthanasia. The end of a beloved pet’s life is a difficult decision for every pet owner. Veterinarians everywhere work hard to make the loss of a beloved pet a peaceful experience.

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This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog from WebMD.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Heartworm Prevention

March 24, 2011

Are heartworms becoming resistant to preventive medications?

This week marks the first day of spring and for many dogs and cats, spring means a trip to the veterinarian’s office for a heartworm test and renewal of a prescription for heartworm prevention.

To help me address the timely topic of “heartworm disease,” I invited a recognized expert, Dr. Clarke Atkins, to provide some insight.

Q: Do dogs really need an annual test — and should dog owners stop giving the preventative medication when winter comes?

A: Year-around preventive and yearly testing are solidly recommended by the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) and the American Heartworm Society for these important reasons:

  1. Heartworm infections are actually greater than 10 years ago, making annual testing critical for your dog.
  2. Year-around preventive provides a safety net of prevention for your dog.
  3. Current heartworm preventives provide protection against other year round pests.
  4. Starting and stopping preventive administration has the potential to lead to lapses in preventive therapy.
  5. People in the metro New York area — those who either vacation at or have homes in “heartworm-endemic areas” — may be at risk year round.
  6. Financial savings are modest and very small compared to the cost of treating a heartworm infection.

Q: Some dog owners are worried about overmedicating their dogs and give the heartworm medication every other month. Do you advise this protocol?

A: The practice of every other month administration of preventive is frankly a terrible idea. Lapses of greater than 45 days between treatments can result in heartworm infection.

Q: Are cats susceptible to heartworms and should they be on preventative medications like dogs?

A: Cats are susceptible to heartworm infection, although less so than dogs, and there is no practical and safe treatment for this life-threatening disease in cats. In any region in which heartworm preventive is used in dogs, cats absolutely should be on heartworm preventive, even if they are housed indoors. Interestingly, in a study we carried out several years ago, the exposure rate to heartworms in cats in NYC was 5% and on Long Island was 9%.

Q: I’ve heard heartworms are becoming resistant to medication. What should a dog owner do?

A: In certain areas of the southern U.S. — specifically Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee and Mississippi — there are concerns with increasing reports of “lack of effectiveness” from medications, and there is some evidence to suggest that some heartworm preventives are not perfect against all strains of heartworm.

Pet owners should talk with their veterinarian if they have any concerns in this regard. However, the most important thing is that all pets receive heartworm preventive medications.

My thanks to Dr. Clarke Atkins, Diplomate, ACVIM (Internal Medicine and Cardiology) and the Jane Lewis Seaks Distinguished Professor at North Carolina State University, for his time and response to important questions about heartworm disease.

The Companion Animal Parasite Council tracks parasitic diseases in dogs and cats–including heartworms. The map below is courtesy of CAPC:

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This blog may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog from WebMD.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit http://www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Thinking Outside of the Box: Creative Medical Solutions

March 21, 2011

Creative solutions to manage tough medical issues.

My colleagues at The Animal Medical Center have recently come up with innovative solutions to two very interesting cases that I’d like to share with you.

The PEG Tube for Bloat

Rufus/Photo: Dr. Ann Hohenhaus

Rufus has a percutaneous endoscopically-placed gastrotomy tube (or PEG tube for short). These tubes are commonly used at The AMC in both canine and feline patients who cannot or will not eat voluntarily.  Rufus eats fine.   His problem is gas in excessive amounts, so much so he becomes dangerously bloated – commonly known as belly bloat.

Dr. Sarah Stewart of The AMC’s Internal Medicine Service determined that a strategically-placed PEG tube would relieve pressure and allow removal of excess stomach gas from Rufus’ stomach without the need for an ER visit.

Low profile tube in rufus/Photo: Dr. Ann Hohenhaus

The AMC team helped Rufus’ owners learn how to use the PEG tube at home to keep Rufus comfortable — and prevent hospital stays — while The Animal Medical Center team formulates a special diet and adjusts medications.  I am happy to report that the PEG tube is working so well, in fact, that Rufus’ owners have already managed several bloat episodes at home, by themselves, without any medical support from us.  The new diet is working and gas production is way down.  Yesterday, Rufus had a low profile tube placed to make him more comfortable.  I have included a photo of the new tube taken just after it was placed.

A Pleuroport  for Fluid Removal

Mencheese, a beautiful, 13-year-old cat, has a tumor in front of his heart. The tumor is producing fluid which accumulates around his lungs. This fluid build-up makes it difficult — and uncomfortable — for Mencheese to breathe.

Dr. Janet Kovak, a member of The Animal Medical Center’s Soft Tissue Surgery Team, placed a pleuroport which provides a device that quickly and painlessly allowed us drain the fluid from Mencheese’s lungs until the chemotherapy controlled the tumor and stopped the fluid production. Dr. Kovak treats many types of soft tissue injuries or illnesses through the use of minimally invasive surgery such as thorocoscopy and laparscopy.

Mencheese/Photo: Dr. Ann Hohenhaus

Take a look at the photo to see the pleuroport in action. Mencheese is sitting comfortably on a treatment table in the oncology treatment area at The AMC. You can’t see the pleuroport — it is under his skin — but you see the special needle and the tubing we use to drain the fluid. Keeping the fluid drained off his lungs has really improved Mencheese’s quality of life. He has been wolfing down cat food like he hasn’t seen a square meal in months!

Some readers may be familiar with a similar device called a vascular access port (VAP). Like the pleuroport, a VAP is surgically implanted. But instead of being placed into the space around the lungs, it is placed into a blood vessel. The VAP is used to draw blood samples and administer chemotherapy to cancer patients without the need for repeated blood draws or catheter placement.

The stories of Mencheese and Rufus are just two stories about “pets on the road to recovery” because of some creative care by The AMC staff and hard work on the part of devoted pet owners.

This blog may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog from WebMD.

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For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Facebook Gets a Puppy

March 16, 2011

Selecting Your New Puppy

Beast/Photo: Facebook

There is a new face on Facebook and it belongs to a dog.

The dog, known as Beast, is not just any dog; he belongs to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO. You and Mr. Zuckerberg have a love of dogs in common, but the similarities end there. Before getting a new pet, you must plan for the ongoing and unexpected needs of your pet. I suspect Mr. Zuckerberg does not.

Beast is a Hungarian Puli.

Pulis sport a very unique corded haircoat making them kind of the Bob Marley of the dog world. The article about Beast quotes his breeders as saying many Pulis end up in shelters because they are difficult to maintain. Mr. Zuckerberg can clearly provide any special grooming needs Beast requires, but the comment speaks to a bigger issue.

What questions should you answer before you get a new pet?

If, like Mr. Zuckerberg, you chose a purebred dog, investigate the health concerns that are specific for your breed. Interview breeders and determine how they are addressing these concerns. The American Kennel Club actively supports research into health issues of purebred dogs. Part of being a responsible breeder is to participate in and support breed club work to improve the breed. You might also consider adopting a dog from a breed-specific rescue organization.

Don’t forget to take into consideration other family members — including your other pets — when choosing the new addition. Although cute as a button, a puppy or kitten may be too much for an elderly family member to handle. Small children can be injured or can injure tiny puppies and kittens. In these cases consider adoption of an adult pet. Adopting an adult pet allows you to avoid the challenge of housebreaking and the chewing phase of development.

Develop a budget for your new friend. When organizing your pet budget, consider the cost of food. Cats are all about same size and food costs will be similar. The same is not true for dogs; consider feeding a Chihuahua or a St. Bernard! Investigate pet insurance and how it might help keep your budget on track in the case of serious medical problems. Determine if the pet will have special requirements for grooming or exercise. If so, what are the anticipated cost and include these costs in your budget?

As important, identify a veterinarian who will be the health care provider for the new addition to your family.

This blog may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog from WebMD.

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For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit http://www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Take the Kidney Kwiz in Honor of World Kidney Day

March 9, 2011

World Kidney Day (March 10, 2011) serves to remind us how important early detection and treatment of kidney disease is in our pets. Estimates indicate 0.5-1.5% of dogs and 1-3% of cats seen in veterinary clinics suffer from kidney disorders. The Animal Medical Center’s Renal Medicine Service, headed by Dr. Cathy Langston, has developed a Kidney Kwiz to test your knowledge about your pet’s kidneys and how veterinarians manage kidney disease. To test your Kidney IQ, read the blog below and click on the link to the Kwiz at the end of the blog. Good luck to all.

Cats, dogs, birds and small mammal pets all have 2 kidneys. The kidneys are multitasking organs. It is common knowledge that kidneys clean the blood of the waste products of daily metabolism, but did you know they also maintain normal water balance in the body? Hence, one sign of kidney disease in pets is an increase in water consumption. Much less well known is the kidneys help to regulate blood pressure and produce hormones to simulate red blood cell production in the bone marrow, preventing anemia.

One test to help detect kidney disease is evaluation of a urine sample. Your veterinarian will love you if you collect a urine sample from your pet and take it to you pet’s routine physical examination. If your pet is diagnosed with kidney disease, your veterinarian will want to monitor blood pressure and also will prescribe a kidney friendly diet. High blood pressure (hypertension) is common in pets with kidney disease, 20% of cats with kidney disease and 75% of dogs have hypertension. Kidney disease in dogs and cats can be treated. The most important treatment you as a pet owner can give to your pet with kidney disease is to follow your veterinarian’s prescription for feeding a kidney friendly diet. Kidney friendly diets are designed to decrease the workload on the kidneys and have been proven to lessen clinical signs and prolong survival in pets with moderate to advanced stage kidney disease.

Are you ready to take the Kidney Kwiz?

This blog may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog from WebMD.

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For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


70 Pounds of Labrador Hair?

March 7, 2011

I just heard a staggering number, and it is not about our national deficit. In one year, your Labrador sheds 70 pounds of hair. Imagine what that number could be if your dog or cat develops a medical condition causing increased hair loss.

Shedding is normal, but there are medical conditions which increase hair loss. Skin infections, parasites and allergies cause itching, which causes scratching and results in hair loss. Ringworm, mange and fleas can affect both the pet and human family members with itchy skin lesions.

Hair loss due to Cushing’s disease/Photo: AMC

Hormone disorders can cause increased hair loss in pets. Called endocrine alopecia in textbook talk, pets with hormone disorders tend to lose hair on the body and retain hair on the face and feet as you can see in the photograph to the right. This dog suffered from an excess of hormone production from the adrenal glands called Cushing’s disease. Imagine how much hair was in this pet’s home. An underproduction of thyroid hormone is another disorder where hair loss increases.

West Highland White Terrier/Photo: AMC

Certain dogs on chemotherapy, such as Poodles, Old English Sheepdogs and Terriers tend to lose a lot of hair. The West Highland White Terrier pictured here has lost all his long feather coat due to cancer treatment, but retained his undercoat.

In addition to seeking veterinary care for your pet with excessive hair loss or bald patches, there are some solutions to the home hair problems. Wearing a T-shirt can help collect the hair of a pet with increased hair loss. The shirt can easily be laundered to remove the hair and prevent its spread around the house. For my chemotherapy patients, I suggest a short haircut before the hair loss starts. If your pet has a favorite chair, I recently saw an attractive chair cover designed with pets in mind.

Frequent brushing until the hair loss subsides is another method of coping with excessive hair loss. Special deshedding tools safely remove hair, and in cats, deshedding will have the added benefit of decreasing hairballs.

So if you notice bald patches on your pet, more hair on the furniture or more scratching than usual, it would be a good idea to visit your veterinarian for a full evaluation.

This blog may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog from WebMD.

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For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Traditional Chinese Medicine and Cancer Therapy for Your Pet

March 3, 2011

My inspiration for today’s blog post comes from two wonderful patients of The Animal Medical Center, Baby and Basil, who benefited from both traditional Chinese medicine and Western chemotherapy during the management of their cancer and inspired me to research the topic further.

Basil/Photo: Dr. Steven Chiros

Traditional Chinese medicine is an alternative medical system different from our more familiar Western medical system. Traditional Chinese medicine is based in the Taoist religion and encompasses acupuncture, herbal therapy, mind-body therapy and Chinese massage, Tui-na. Although these treatment modalities have been used to treat diseases for five millennia, their use is not widespread in the Western world.

Despite this, there are people in the West seeking traditional Chinese medicine for themselves and requesting the same for their pets.

Some traditional Chinese therapies have been used in pets. Acupuncture is one of them. According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, acupuncture has been shown to be safe in human cancer patients and may help to ameliorate treatment associated nausea.

The AMC’s acupuncturist, Steven Chiros, DVM, CVA used acupuncture to help decrease Basil’s nausea, improve her appetite and increase her energy. The photo of Basil shows an acupuncture treatment in progress. In addition to acupuncture, Basil received two Chinese herbal formulas. Basil’s owner reported a significant improvement from the two therapies. Based on its safety in humans with cancer and experience with acupuncture in my patients, I do not hesitate to have my patients see AMC’s acupuncture specialist.

Baby/Photo: Leo Weinberger

Baby was a cat with intestinal cancer whose Chinese medicine practitioner referred him to The AMC for treatment with Western medicine chemotherapy in addition to the traditional Chinese therapies. Baby received an herbal antioxoidant, coenzyme Q and other herbal therapies as well as well as traditional chemotherapy. The use of Chinese herbal therapies in cancer patients is not as straightforward as the use of acupuncture.

Herbal therapies must be carefully selected in pets on chemotherapy. Strong evidence exists indicating St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforata) extract decreases blood levels of various anticancer agents in human cancer patients and this herb should not be used in conjunction with chemotherapy. Other herbs, such as ginko, may decrease the ability of the blood to clot, resulting in excessive hemorrhage during surgery.

Investigation of natural compounds active against cancer is currently an area of enormous interest. Between 1981 and 2002, 62% of cancer drugs approved by the FDA were of natural origin. Today, the National Cancer Institute Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine is funding studies on tumeric (Curcuma longa), a spice commonly used in African and Asian cultures, often as a component of curry powder, and in traditional Chinese medicine.

In the November issue of the American Journal of Veterinary Research, a laboratory study showed the carotenoid lycopene slowed growth and killed canine bone tumor cells grown in cell cultures. Even more promising was the fact that lycopene did not interfere with chemotherapy drug effects on the tumor cells. These are hopeful findings, not yet ready to be translated to use in clinical patients.

Right now, what is critical to treatment success is an open dialogue between your veterinarian and your traditional Chinese medicine practitioner. Be sure to tell them you are giving your pet herbs or they are undergoing chemotherapy.

This blog may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog from WebMD.

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For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Big Dog or Little Dog: Whose Bite is Worse Than Their Bark?

February 25, 2011

Two news articles caught our attention at The Animal Medical Center last week regarding the type of dogs involved in bite injuries to humans. The articles seem to tell different stories, or do they?

Would you believe that “tiny” dogs were responsible for a record number of reported bites in New York City, according to a recent NY Post article? Surprisingly, the leader of the pack was the chihuahua.

The infamous pit bull came in second on reported bites in NYC, and are the vast majority of dogs in NYC shelters, according to MSNBC.com.

It’s important to remember that “any dog — any size — can bite.” Some dogs, unaware of their actual size, may bite out of instinct, fear or surprise.

Small dogs may not have developed the social skills required for interactions with strangers, perhaps because their owners may not realize all dogs — even small ones — require some form of obedience training. Living and working in New York City, I see small dogs tagging along with their owners — whether it’s shopping, running errands (eg: dry cleaners, bank) or even to lunch. Often these little creatures are poking their heads out of a tote bag or being carried in the owner’s arms. Consequently, it’s not unusual for passersby to reach out and want to pet these adorable dogs. Perhaps fearful of their touch or surprised by it, many of these small dogs resort to biting as a way to protect themselves.

Based on New York City data, pit bulls were ranked second with reported human bites. Moreover, many municipalities are becoming increasingly concerned about the risks associated with pit bulls.

Research has shown that dogs who have been neutered and had some form of obedience training are less likely to bite. Unfortunately, it is a widely recognized that pit bull owners may be less likely to neuter and obedience-train their dog.

While pit bulls are all too common in New York City shelters, San Francisco has been successful in reducing the number of pit bulls in their shelters.Thanks to a “sterilization law” passed in 2005, San Francisco has reported 26% fewer pit bulls have been impounded and 40% fewer have been euthanized. No doubt, the reported number of bite injuries related to the pit bull has dramatically been reduced, too.

I’m happy to report that the ASPCA in New York City is taking action to help reduce the pit bull population. The program, coined “Operation Pit,” offers free spays and neuter surgeries for pit bulls. These surgeries have both health and reproductive benefits in dogs.

The Animal Medical Center applauds The ASPCA on this effort and recognizes this as a call-to-action for pit bull owners. Please take advantage of Operation Pit, along with any obedience training opportunities you can find. Let’s work together to get the pit bulls out of the shelters, trained, neutered and into loving homes…and off the top of the New York City biter list.

This blog may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog from WebMD.

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For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Seven Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Pet

February 23, 2011

Yesterday, February 22, was National Spay Day and some consider the entire month National Spay and Neuter month.

Spay is the colloquial term for ovariohysterectomy. Neuter, sometimes called altering, is the surgical removal of male reproductive organs or testicles. Both procedures have the same result: they prevent unwanted pregnancies.

But wait — these procedures have health benefits beyond preventing unexpected litters of puppies and kittens. The Animal Medical Center staff gives these seven reasons to “fix” your pet even if it isn’t broken!

1. Prevent pyometra a common, life-threatening uterus infection of unspayed dogs.

2. Eliminate the risk of testicular cancer and uterine and ovarian cancer.

3. Decrease the risk of prostatitis, a bacterial infection of the prostate.

4. Decrease aggressive behavior, especially in male dogs, helping to prevent dog bite injuries in humans.

5. Decrease the risk of breast cancer in both dogs and cats, especially if she is spayed before 6 months of age.

6. Avoid stinky male cat urine on your walls, drapes or bed.

7. Save approximately 4 million lives annually. These lives belong to unwanted dogs and cats euthanized in America’s animal shelters.

This blog may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog from WebMD.

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For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


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