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.

________________________________________________

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.

________________________________________________

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.

________________________________________________

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.


Medication Madness

February 18, 2011

Several months ago, I blogged tips for getting your sick pet to eat and take his medications.

This week, I thought I would give tips for the pet owner to help safely and correctly administer medications.

Prescribing medications starts at the scale. At The Animal Medical Center (AMC), we weigh pets in kilograms, a great frustration to many pet owners who carefully monitor their pet’s weight in pounds. We do this because most drug dosages are given in mg/kg and weighing in kilograms eliminates one step (and one potential place for error) in the calculation of a drug dosage.

If you multiply the weight in kilograms by 2.2 you get the weight in pounds or ask the staff at your veterinarian’s office to weigh your pet in pounds for you. Most scales have a switch you flip to toggle between pounds and kilograms.

Liquid medications are commonly prescribed for cats and small dogs. Most liquid medications have a short shelf life and you will be called upon to reconstitute a second bottle if your pet needs a long treatment. If you have to reconstitute the medication, read the directions carefully. At the AMC, we include the correct sized syringe to measure the water accurately into the bottle. Make sure you know exactly how much water to add so the medication is neither too weak nor too strong.

Before you leave the veterinarian’s office, make sure you have the answers to the following questions regarding your pet’s new prescription.

  • If you have never given your pet medications, ask the veterinarian or the veterinary technician (nurse) for a lesson.
  • Should the medication be given with, without food or in no particular relationship to feeding?
  • Can the medication be given with any other prescriptions your pet is taking?
  • If your pet is very difficult to medicate, ask which are the most important medications to administer. Give the most important medications first, in case your pet becomes resistant and you become unsuccessful at medicating.
  • If you pet is very difficult to medicate, ask if the medication is available in any other form, i.e., liquid, not pills, injections, not liquids, or even a transdermal gel.
  • How should the medication be stored and if it is a liquid, does it need to be shaken?
  • If you miss a dose or find a pill under the sofa cushions, what should you do?
  • What would a medication reaction look like and how should you respond?

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 www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


What Was Best about Best in Show?

February 16, 2011

Empire State Building. Photo: Dr. Philip Fox

Last night was the grand finale of the 135th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. By all measures, the event was grand. The purple and gold Empire State building illuminated New York City while 179 breeds were whittled down to a single, Best in Show dog. The Animal Medical Center team worked hard in our booth and in the Westminster booth rolling and packing signed posters purchased in support of the AMC’s Postgraduate Education Programs.

David Fitzpatrick and Malachy. Photo: Dr. Philip Fox

The successful WKC Show struck me as being different than in previous years. The media presence was huge — note the photo of Malachy the Pekingese being interviewed by Fox News.

The group winners were not breeds seen every day on the streets of New York, and haven’t been big winners at past WKC Shows. The size variation between the Best in Show competitors could not have been greater. Even the judge was unique — the first Italian to ever judge WKC Best in Show.

The dogs showing at the WKC Show are divided into seven groups and the seven group winners move up to the Best in Show competition. Last night, the seven dogs — Scottish Deerhound, Shar Pei, Bearded Collie, Portuguese Water Dog, Black Cocker Spaniel, Smooth Coated Fox Terrier and Pekingese — represented less common breeds and infrequent winners. The Pekingese last won in 1960, the Black Cocker Spaniel in 1941 and the Smooth Coated Fox Terrier in 1910. The Scottish Deerhound has been shown at the WKC show since the very first show, but it has not previously won a Best in Show.

The view from Madison Square Garden. Photo: Dr. Philip Fox

The Best in Show competition involves the dog version of a catwalk around the floor of Madison Square Garden. Keep in mind this floor accommodates a basketball court, a hockey rink and next week, Lady Gaga and her fans. No problem for the leggy Scottish Deerhound to waltz back and forth over the AstroTurf covering the floor. The same goes for the Smooth Coated Fox Terrier who moved like the Energizer Bunny; but the poor little Pekingese must have taken ten times as many steps as the Deerhound to complete his show ring trip due to his small stature.

From my vantage point, opposite the judging table, there was not a clear crowd favorite. Some years you can predict the winner based on the decibels of cheering from the audience. If that had been true, the Bearded Collie would have taken home the trophy. The person to my right whispered the Pekingese would be hard to beat and the person to my left was betting on the Shar Pei.

Even though the regal Scottish Deerhound, Hickory, took home the most prestigious prize in dogdom, the best part of Best in Show was that last night “Dogs Ruled.”

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 www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Orange, Crème or Calico?

February 8, 2011

A boldly colored orange & black calico cat

A visitor to The Animal Medical Center’s Facebook page wrote us to ask if a regular calico cat and a dilute (pale) calico cat could come from the same litter. Coat color in cats is controlled by a complex set of genes. Even though genetics are not everyone’s cup of tea, it is common knowledge that cats with calico or tortoise shell coats are usually, but not always female. So, how does this happen and what is the genetic mechanism for dilute calico coat color?

Animals have two types of chromosomes, the autosomes and two other specialized chromosomes, which determine gender. Animals, including us, get one from each parent. If you have two X chromosomes you are female; an X and a Y you are male. The gene for orange is found on the X chromosome. Since males have only one X chromosome they are either black or orange indicating the presence or absence of the orange gene. With their two X chromosomes, females can have coats with both orange and black (i.e. calico or tortoise shell) at the same time. If you find a male calico cat, you have found a rare cat indeed. Only 1:3000 male cats are calico and they have a genetic disorder where they have two X chromosomes giving them the black and orange coat color and one Y chromosome making them male.

A dilute calico cat with muted coloring. Photo by Jana Marr

A mutation called the Maltese dilution mutation is responsible for making a dilute coat color. This gene requires two copies in a single individual to make a dilute coat color. A gene requiring two copies in a single individual to express a trait is called recessive. If cats carry two copies of the dilution mutation orange becomes crème or yellow and black becomes blue or gray. The mutation causes the melanin pigment granules to be enlarged and unevenly distributed in the hair shaft, resulting in the dilute coloration of the coat. Incidentally, the Maltese dilution mutation is the one responsible for the coat color of a blue point Siamese which is the dilute form of a sealpoint Siamese coat. To see beautiful cats with the Siamese cat coat color variations, visit the National Siamese Cat Club website.

To answer the Facebook reader’s question, yes, female kittens in the same litter could be both dilute and non-dilute calicos. The dilute would carry two copies of the mutated Maltese gene and both a black and orange gene on their two X chromosomes. The non-dilute would have one or no Maltese mutated genes. For more detailed genetic information about feline coat color or to have genetic testing performed on your cat to determine coat color go to the UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory website.

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 www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Anesthesia in Veterinary Dental Care

February 4, 2011

Photo: Dr. Stephen Riback, The AMC

When people go to a human dentist, we sit in the dentist’s chair, often time grasping the armrests tightly with white knuckles in anticipation of the procedure about to happen. When the dentist or hygienist tells us to say “ahhhhhhhh” or turn our head, or open our mouths, we may be reluctant, but we can follow their directions to facilitate their work. When they place x-ray films or digital sensors in our mouths and tell us to hold them while they walk out of the room, we do as they say.

The photo shows a dog under general anesthesia having its teeth scaled. You can see the “breathing tube” inserted in the mouth and attached to an anesthesia machine.

February is Veterinary Dental Month. Our pets need the same dental care as we do; maybe more, since they don’t brush or floss twice a day. Our pets are not as cooperative when it comes to saying “ahhhhhhhh” or when it comes to following directions, yet they often experience the same anxiety as their owners when a stranger is poking and squirting things around their mouths.

There has been recent movement to perform anesthesia-free dental cleanings on veterinary patients. The rationale for performing dentistry on awake dogs and cats is that it will be cheaper for the client and safer for the patient. This movement is in direct opposition to the American Veterinary Dental College’s position statement entitled, “Companion Animal Dental Scaling without Anesthesia.”

I understand that many people are reluctant to perform proper dental procedures because of the need for general anesthesia, especially in the older patient. I am a firm believer that “age is not a disease,” and age should not be the deciding factor in determining the safety of general anesthesia for any patient. Pre-anesthesia testing can help determine the risk associated with general anesthesia and aid in the decision whether or not to perform a dental procedure. These tests help determine the function of the internal organs such as the liver, kidneys, heart and lungs, which are necessary to help the body safely handle anesthesia.

Proper anesthesia starts with the pre-op testing but also involves choosing the proper anesthetic drugs safest for each pet. The Animal Medical Center’s Dental Service always places an intravenous catheter to administer drugs, fluids and emergency drugs if needed. We also place an endotracheal, or breathing, tube to protect the airway and deliver the anesthetic gas and oxygen mixture to the lungs. Anesthetized dogs and cats at the AMC are connected to various monitoring equipment to measure the vital signs such as pulse rate, blood oxygen levels, blood pressure, electrocardiogram, and carbon dioxide levels. Finally, we monitor at regular intervals to make sure the vital signs are stable. If any painful procedures need to be performed, we also have the ability to utilize local anesthesia to minimize the amount of general anesthesia needed.

There are many advantages to performing any dental procedures under general anesthesia. First, when we scale the calculus (also known as tartar) off the teeth, there are often large or small pieces of calculus removed. If an animal is properly intubated with a breathing tube, then this calculus cannot be aspirated into the lungs or “swallowed down the wrong pipe.” The biggest advantage to working on a patient under general anesthesia is the ability to work around every side of every tooth. In the awake patient, the veterinary dentist has a very limited view of most of the teeth in the mouth. It’s easy to see the outside of the front teeth, but virtually impossible to evaluate the inside surfaces of many teeth and impossible to see many of the back teeth. A proper cleaning involves cleaning off all of the calculus from every surface of every tooth, both above and below the gum line. In the awake patient, the area below the gum line cannot be seen, yet under anesthesia it is much easier to fully visualize this area.

Once the teeth are cleaned, they need to be evaluated for periodontal disease. This involves gently probing under the gum line in several areas around each tooth in the mouth to measure periodontal pockets, or separation of the gums from the tooth root surface. Imagine trying to do this in an awake dog.

Approximately 75% of cats presenting for dental procedures have a decay of their teeth called tooth resorption. These are holes or decay in the teeth that often start at the gum line. They are quite painful and diagnosed by probing along the gum line with an instrument called an explorer. Again, this is not the type of procedure that could be tolerated by a cat without general anesthesia.

Proper dental procedures require intra-oral x-rays to make a diagnosis. A piece of film or a digital x-ray sensor is placed in the pet’s mouth. The person taking the x-ray steps out of the room and exposes the film or sensor and then walks back in the room. Not too many awake pets will tolerate this type of procedure.

Finally, with 75% of cats having tooth resorption and 80% of all dogs over the age of 5 years having periodontal disease, most veterinary dental patients need some type of surgical procedure to correct the abnormality. Finally, it is much easier to perform oral surgery when I’m not working on a moving target.

Given the complexity of the procedures necessary to clean, diagnose and treat a pet’s mouth, it is easy to understand why general anesthesia is so vital to performing proper veterinary dental care. My recommendation to anxious pet owners over the years is to use a little general anesthesia every year in order to maintain a healthy mouth, rather than wait until the mouth has severe disease and needs several hours of surgery to clean up a messy and painful mouth.

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 www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Pet Sitting

January 31, 2011

Now that the holiday season is over and we are into the doldrums of winter, many people are looking for a quick getaway to somewhere warm and sunny. That getaway may not include your pet since some pets are not good travelers, like fish or your family cat. Dogs can be good travelers, but are not always welcome in hotels and timeshares. Leaving the family pet behind is a tough decision, but advance planning will give you peace of mind and your pet a comfortable vacation too.

The most convenient option for many families is a boarding kennel. Check around before choosing a boarding kennel. Ask other pet owners and call your veterinarian’s office. The veterinarians at The Animal Medical Center have their favorite home care specialists and your veterinarian will too.

Consider contacting the Better Business Bureau for information on prospective kennels. Kennels provide an important service, but not all pets enjoy staying in kennels. The typical family pet is used to more space, better furniture and solitude.

Before you chose a kennel for your pet, visit the kennel. Is it clean or is there a bad odor? Will the kennel give medications and feed the food your pet is accustomed to eating? Kenneled pets are prone to hunger strikes and intestinal upset and feeding their regular food is one way to help prevent this. In case your pet gets sick while boarding, ask how the kennel handles medical problems. If the kennel is associated with your pet’s regular veterinarian, the answer is easy, but if the kennel is not, be sure they know who your pet’s veterinarian is and how to contact the office in an emergency. Good idea to let your veterinarian know where and when your pet will be boarded. Finally, read the boarding agreement carefully, especially dropoff and pickup rules or you might find your bill higher than you expected.

Home care is also an option for some pets, especially cats, birds, fish or reptiles. My clients have arranged home care for their pets from a variety of sources. They will often check with their AMC veterinarian or neighborhood veterinarian for a local pet sitter. A professional, such as a veterinary technician may be just what the doctor orders for pets with a medical problem like diabetes. A healthy hamster may do well with your neighbor teenager changing the water, bedding and food once a day. Some pets need a companion as well as a caretaker. If this describes your pet, you may look for a pet sitter who will move into your house while you are away. This setup works especially well for multiple pet households. For a short trip, a healthy cat can be left alone. One clever solution to the litter box problem if you leave your cat alone is an automatic toilet flusher for toilet trained cats.

Whenever you leave your pet with a friend, pet sitter or kennel, provide the substitute caretaker with:

  • Your travel schedule and contact information
  • The veterinarian’s name, number and location
  • A schedule of your pet’s daily routine
  • Enough of your pet’s regular food, medications and supplies (litter, pooper scooper, bags and chew toys) to last longer than your trip in case of a delayed return.

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 www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Acknowledge Miracles

January 24, 2011

The tragedy in Tucson is on everyone’s mind. Since I am very medical and not very political, I was captivated by a quote in the New York Times last week attributed to one of the neurosurgeons caring for Congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords. Dr. G. Michael Lemole, Jr. had been asked if Ms. Gifford’s recovery was miraculous. His reply indicates a doctor of great insight. He said, “Miracles happen every day, and in medicine, we like to attribute them to what we do or what others do around us. A lot of medicine is outside our control. We are wise to acknowledge miracles.”

Herbie in the hospital

Sick Herbie in AMC ICU with EKG monitor and hemodialysis catheter.

I want to acknowledge one of the Animal Medical Center’s miracles, Herbie. Herbie was a 3 month old, formerly bouncy Labrador retriever when he first came to The AMC. He came to us because of a critical illness involving his liver and kidneys, ultimately diagnosed as leptospirosis. Leptospirosis is a systemic bacterial disease of dogs, humans and wildlife. The bacteria can injury the kidneys so severely that hemodialysis is required to replace the normal function of the kidneys, while antibiotics eradicate the infection. If diagnosed early, and treated intensively, recovery is possible. Like Congresswoman Giffords, Herbie was on the critical list and was given a 10% chance of survival.

Intensive is the only word to describe Herbie’s treatment. In addition to hemodialysis, a pivotal decision was made by Dr. Buriko of the AMC’s ICU staff to perform an emergency, middle of the night surgery to correct an intestinal problem brought on by the severe vomiting and diarrhea from leptospirosis. Following surgery, he required a red blood cell transfusion to replace cells lost in surgery and in his stool. He also received a canine albumen transfusion to replace lost protein in his blood stream.

Herbie’s treatment was not just medical. His family believes AMC’s “human touch” made all the difference in their Labrador’s miraculous recovery. He had visits from Dr. Currao’s puppy who reminded Herbie life as a puppy was worth living. The ICU staff sat with him, encouraging him to eat homemade chicken. Herbie was one of those cases the ICU staff knew would recover faster if him family visited and his dedicated family complied, visiting him twice a day.

Herbie after treatment

Miracle Herbie at home last week.

Three weeks after he was admitted to the intensive care unit, Herbie was discharged to his family. At a follow up visit just before Christmas, Herbie’s kidney tests, which were five times the normal value at admission, were nearly normal. His family reports he is a cuter, friskier and smarter puppy than before he was stricken with leptospirosis. A miracle indeed.

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 www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Pet Related Injuries

January 20, 2011

Martha Stewart with Francesca & Sharkey (photo: marthastewart.com)

The popular press reported last week how an accidental head butt from Martha Stewart’s French Bulldog Francesca resulted in an injury requiring nine stitches to repair the damage to Ms. Stewart’s lip. The accident occurred when the sleeping Francesca was startled by Ms. Stewart saying goodbye. Francesca jumped up — crashed into Ms. Stewart and illustrated the consequences of not letting sleeping dogs lie.

Ms. Stewart was not likely the only one seen in the ER last week with a pet related injury. A national sample of ER visits from 60 hospitals over a six year period reported 7,456 visits were related to falls caused by pets. On a national level, this would translate to nearly 90,000 fall injuries associated with cats and dogs per year. Researchers also found dogs were over seven times more likely to cause falls than cats were.

Women were twice as likely as men to be injured by pet related falls. The elderly had a highest rate of fractured bones, but children 0-14 years of age were frequently injured as well.

In addition to being injured in animal related falls, children are also the most frequent victims of dog bite injuries. A boy, aged 5-9 years is the typical dog bite victim and children are commonly bitten in the face and neck. Bites often occur when children try to take food away from the family dog or unknowingly approach an unfriendly dog.

Awareness of these types of injuries is just the first step in prevention. The Animal Medical Center’s veterinarians recommend teaching your pet manners through obedience training — one method of minimizing behaviors which might precipitate a fall, such as pulling on a leash or jumping up on people. Unneutered male dogs are more commonly involved in bite injuries than female dogs. Preventing bite injuries is just one reason The AMC’s veterinarians recommend neutering male dogs at 6 months of age. Children should be educated regarding appropriate behavior around dogs and should always ask permission of the dog owner if they want to pet a dog they meet on the street.

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 www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


To Visit or Not to Visit

January 17, 2011

Hospitalization of your beloved pet is tough on both ends of the leash. Difficult for your pet, because they are injured or ill and away from home. Difficult for you because you are worried sick about whether or not they will get better and worried sick about how scared they must be away from their family. A visit to the veterinary hospital should make everyone feel better, right? Well, I spoke with my AMC colleagues; I got more than one opinion.

The Case FOR

The Animal Medical Center has thousands of critically ill pets hospitalized in its ICU every year. I asked the Head Nurse, Theresa Kilichowski, LVT about her experience with pet owner visits to ICU patients. She feels it is very important for owners to visit their hospitalized pet to lessen the fear associated with being in a strange place with unfamiliar faces, particularly when the pet doesn’t feel well and doesn’t understand what is happening. For most pets, seeing the people they love gives them a positive feeling and encourages the healing process. Many pets will eat a little bit, interact more with the nursing staff and show more interest in what’s going on around them after a visit. Visits also give the owner a chance to meet and talk to the nursing staff. Many owners feel less anxious when they see first hand the level of attention and care their pet is receiving.

The Case AGAINST

For many years I have worked with a woman who has only gotten wiser as she has gotten older. She consistently discourages pet owners from visiting their recovering pets while they are in the hospital. Her intuition tells her both ends of the leash suffer because of the visit. In her opinion, a particularly tough day for a visit is the day of a major procedure, and on this issue I agree wholeheartedly. The pet is sedated from pain medications and is likely attached to a myriad of wires hooked to various monitors. Sometimes the pet is too sleepy to recognize the owner and the owner is upset not only by the lack of a greeting from the pet, but by the monitors flashing and beeping. If the pet is doing well and slated to go home within a couple of days, she recommends not visiting. Even though Ms. Kilichowski is a big supporter of owner visitation, she warns that some pets become so agitated during the visit or after the owner leaves that it is detrimental to their recovery. For those pets, we recommend discontinuing the visits.

Recently, there has been an interest in scientifically evaluating the benefit of visiting a hospitalized pet. Late last summer, I was lucky to be invited to the Merial-NIH National Veterinary Scholars Program where some of the preliminary results were discussed. Two pilot studies which may shed some light on the to visit or not to visit question were presented in the abstract session. Both studies were similar and evaluated the effect of owner visits to dogs hospitalized for more than 48 hours. The findings should be considered preliminary but were surprising. Researchers expected heart rate and blood pressure to decrease during the owner visits since the presence of the owner was hypothesized to relax the pet. Data showed an unexpected increase in both heart rate and blood pressure. The second study evaluated pain. Dogs did seem less painful during the owner’s visit, but near the end of the visit pain scores increased and stayed elevated for a period of time after the visit. These two studies suggest visits may be more beneficial for the human than the hospitalized dog!

So if your Fluffy or Fido is in the hospital, listen to your veterinarian when it comes visiting. For a short hospital stay, a visit may not be necessary or advisable, but if the nursing staff or your veterinarian requests that you visit, consider the visit part of the prescription for a swift recovery.

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

_________________________________________________

For nearly 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.

 

 


Albus Froggy’s House Call

January 10, 2011

Photo: Ann Hohenhaus, DVM

We have a pet frog. He is a South African clawed frog who we sometimes call Albus, after Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series. Albus is Latin for white, and Froggy, which is his other name, is an albino frog.

Albus Froggy’s first home was a 10 gallon fish tank with snails, tropical fish and one giant plecostomus, Platus. He was about the size of a quarter and he would eat bloodworms and shrimp pellets. I guess we didn’t recognize how big Albus Froggy was getting, but suddenly, fish were missing. We just thought they had died, but pretty soon Albus Froggy was looking very full and supporting himself on the leaves of the plants like he had a stomach ache. The next thing we knew, Albus Froggy was as big as your hand and he became the consummate predator, polishing off four neon tetras and a little school of fish we called the Police.

Albus Froggy moved to his own private Baby Biorb tank. Every week he would get 10 or so 19¢ feeder fish from the pet store who would be his friends — only long enough for him to eat them. Then one day, Albus Froggy had a bloody nose. On closer inspection, there was a swelling on his face on the same side as the bloody nose. In another day, both nostrils were bloody. Being an oncologist, I was sure Albus Froggy had a tumor, but an Animal Medical Center specialist veterinarian knew how to save his little frog life. Dr. Kathy Quesenberry suggested Albus Froggy might have an infection and recommended antibiotic therapy. She prescribed an injection of a powerful antibiotic, gentamicin.

So much to the delight of our Saturday night dinner guests, slippery Albus Froggy was captured, weighed in a Gladware box on the kitchen scale and given exactly the right dosage of antibiotic in the fanny. For several days after the injection, we stood around the Baby Biorb trying to convince ourselves he was better. And he was! First the bleeding stopped a couple of days after the injection and then the swelling decreased. And now Albus Froggy is back to eating and swimming around the Baby Biorb.

The successful treatment of Albus Froggy is a good example of how important it is to find the right specialist is for your pet. In this case, I was just a regular pet owner who could recognize my pet had a problem. Albus Froggy needed the exotic pet specialist to hone in on the correct diagnosis and treatment leading to a successful outcome.

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

_________________________________________________

For nearly 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.


The Bunny: A Tale of Blood Types

January 4, 2011

Photo: Liza Wolsky

This is my patient “The Bunny,” who is not a rabbit but a blue, cream and white Cornish Rex cat. As you can see from this photo, The Bunny is an unusual cat. Her name comes from her dominant facial feature — those large ears, set high above her Roman nose. From the photo, taken by her owner, you can see her short coat has washboard waves. The Cornish Rex is a recognized breed by the Cat Fancier’s Association.

What you can’t see on the photo is another unusual feature of this fancy feline. The Bunny has type B blood. Most cats live their lives without knowing their blood type. But certain breeds have a higher number of cats in their population with this rare type and the Cornish Rex is one of those breeds. From The Bunny’s viewpoint, having blood type B changes nothing. From my viewpoint, if she ever needs a blood transfusion, finding a donor will be difficult, although not impossible, due to the rarity of cats with this blood type.

In the cat population at large, most cats have type A blood. Less than 1% of all cats have blood type B. Cats from certain geographic areas and of particular breeds have a high prevalence of type B blood. If we look at the typical domestic shorthair cat in the United States, California has more type B cats than New York. Worldwide, Australia and Turkey have very high numbers of domestic cats with type B blood, in Turkey nearly 25%. The Devon Rex, a cousin of the Cornish Rex, has a high number of cats in their population with blood type B. British shorthair cats, Abyssinian cats and a whole host of other purebred cats can be blood type B.

Although breed can provide a clue to the blood type of a cat, you can’t look at a cat and know its blood type. But determining the blood type of a cat is simple. Your veterinarian collects a small blood sample and tests it either using a kit in their office or by submitting it to a laboratory for testing.

Cat owners should know their cat’s blood type for a couple of reasons. If there is ever the need for an emergency blood transfusion following trauma or during surgery, you and your veterinarian will know in advance if finding a donor will be difficult. If you have altruistic cat who has the rare blood type B, your cat might want to volunteer to donate blood to help a cat in need.

Finally, if you are a cat breeder, you want to avoid a problem in your cat’s kittens called neonatal isoerythrolysis (NI). Part of the fading kitten syndrome, NI occurs when the queen (mother cat) and tom (father cat) have different blood types and the kittens develop anemia because the two types don’t mix.

Now for those of you interested in pet rabbits who started reading this blog based on the title, here is a prior blog post on rabbits!

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

_________________________________________________

For nearly 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.


Pet Resolutions for 2011

December 30, 2010

This time of year everyone is making New Year’s resolutions. Our pets are so much a part of our lives that when making resolutions for ourselves this year, why not consider a resolution or two that will help both you and your pet get a fresh start in the new year. Here are some possibilities to consider.

Choose healthy snacks in 2011.

Keep the amount of calories to 10% of your pet’s daily calorie requirement. Your veterinarian can help you assess how many calories this is. Choose healthy snacks like the 5 calorie baby carrot or the 50 calorie ½ apple. CittiKitty now markets Tuna Treats, premium bonito flakes for treating your cat, but a fish loving dog will find them tasty too. Because the tuna is dried and flaked paper thin, one cup has 35 calories. Using 10 flakes a day as a treat will contribute minimal calories and the taste will be a huge hit with your cat.

Get down to and maintain an ideal body condition.

Weight loss is on almost everyone’s New Year’s resolution list. Because pets come in so many sizes and shapes, it is hard to say your cat should weigh 5 or 10 or 15 pounds. What matters is maintaining an ideal body condition. Veterinarians commonly assess this during an annual examination. It is based on your pet having a waist and skeletal features you can feel with your hands. If your pet doesn’t have these, he/she is likely overweight. To see the dog and cat body condition scale, visit:

Take your pet to the veterinarian at least once a year.

Comparing 2001 and 2006, a decrease of 1 million veterinary visits was recorded and visits have fallen further due to the Great Recession beginning in 2007. This means pets are medically underserved and small problems can quickly become big ones. Preventive healthcare prevents potentially fatal infectious diseases and difficult to treat disorders such as heartworms. Senior pets may need twice yearly visits as a pet’s lifespan is compressed into fewer years than ours are.

Give to less fortunate dogs and cats.

Local animal shelters and rescue group are always in need. Cleaning out your old and shabby towels? Call your local shelter and see if they could use them to give a homeless pet a place to curl up. Check with your local rescue group or food pantry about pet food donations. People without enough to eat may also have pets in the same situation. Offer to walk dogs or brush cats at your local shelter. I am sure any help you offer will be more than appreciated.

Spend quality time with your pet.

We all lead busy lives. It is often very easy to overlook spending good quality time with that four-legged, furry member of your family. Instead of just walking your dog to the corner and back, vow to take him to the park, play fetch or check out the new dog run in the neighborhood. Change your cat’s toys frequently to prevent boredom. By giving your pet this quality time once a day or even once a week, your pet will return the favor with love and devotion. And, guaranteed it will improve your own quality of life!

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

_________________________________________________

For nearly 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.


The Hedgehog Comes Home for the Holidays

December 27, 2010

While I realize this story is not on par with O’Henry’s Gift of the Magi or Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, from a New Yorker’s perspective and a veterinarian’s viewpoint, it is a truly heartwarming story for the season.

The story starts with the daily 5:30 am email to AMC staff announcing the overnight admissions to the hospital. At first the list did not seem unusual, a coughing dog, a vomiting cat. But then I got to the ICU admission of a “stray” hedgehog. Stray didn’t seem quite right, since hedgehogs are clearly not indigenous to New York City. When I arrived in ICU for morning rounds, sure enough, there was a hedgehog, pictured here, eating cat food pellets from a paper plate.

The ICU staff reported the hedgehog had been found the night before on Third Avenue near Dylan’s Candy Bar and was brought to The Animal Medical Center by a Good Samaritan who kindly took a shopping break to help this poor creature reach a safe haven. The hedgehog was not your “typical hedgehog,” it had a bandage on one of its hind legs and when the ICU staff examined the hedgehog, they found the bandage covered a recent surgical site. The AMC’s Avian and Exotic Pet Service was contacted and they reported caring for a patient matching the description of the hedgehog in ICU. The phone-a-thon to locate the owner began immediately, but was unsuccessful in reaching the hedgehog’s family.

The hedgehog stayed in the Exotic Pet ward at AMC for the next couple of days. Her presence made all of us smile to see such a cute little critter in our midst. At the end of the day, a few days after the hedgehog arrived at AMC, Dr. Cazzolli of AMC’s Emergency Service was heading home on the subway. Posted in the Lexington Avenue subway station were lost pet flyers announcing, you guessed it, a missing hedgehog. Immediately, Dr. Cazzolli called the owner who was overjoyed to learn her hedgehog was safe at The AMC, where she was happily reunited with Madame, the formerly stray hedgehog.

Pretty incredible, a city of millions of people, wrapped up in their pre-Christmas frenzy, a kind stranger and now a 300 gram hedgehog is back with her family for the holidays. As Tiny Tim would say, “God bless us every one.”

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

_________________________________________________

For nearly 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.


Winter Pet Hazards

December 21, 2010

The Arctic Express is moving through New York and the rest of the country in a little pre-holiday blitz. As a result of the low temperatures and last night’s freezing rain, this morning there was salt on all the sidewalks on my route to The Animal Medical Center reminding me it is time to talk about winter hazards for pets.

Salt and Ice Melt

Real salt (NaCl), or a calcium chloride salt substitute used in some ice melts, both contain chloride which is irritating to dog paws and stomachs if they lick the salt off their feet. Calcium chloride can generate enough heat to burn the skin on delicate paws. Several companies make a pet safe (salt and chloride free) ice melt. They are typically brightly colored pellets so dog owners can easily see where the salt has been spread. Morton’s is making an eco-safe/pet safe ice melt with plant fertilizer in it. PETCO also offers a non-tracking, pet safe ice melt

If you and your dog go on long walks and might encounter a non-pet friendly ice melt, you will need to wash your pet’s feet after the walk. You might also consider musher’s wax applied to the footpad or putting boots on your pet before a walk. Sled dog owners apply musher’s wax to the pads of their dog’s feet to provide a protective coating against ice and cold. Personally, I think the boots, which are like little balloons for dog feet, are really cute and the dogs I see wearing them don’t seem to mind. Here are some fun dog boots for the fashion conscious.

Frigid Temperatures

Dogs living outdoors in their own doghouse, a kennel or barn not only need a warm, snug place to sleep with some sort of bedding to keep them up off the cold ground, they also need food and water. When cold weather hits, your outdoor dog can get very hungry and thirsty if their food is outside and frozen. Check your outdoor dog’s food and water frequently to be sure it is edible and drinkable. If the water is frozen, get a dog water bowl heater or consider bringing your dog inside until the weather tempers a bit.

Stray Voltage

Every year there are frightening stories of dogs and their owners who are “shocked” by stray voltage on wet streets. The combination of salt, water and stray voltage from poorly insulated wiring on light posts or street and sidewalk electric boxes can be dangerous. Never tie your dog to a lamppost. To be safe, walk your dog a good distance away from these potential hazards and report any possible sources of stray voltage to the police or electric company. If your dog is the unfortunate victim of stray voltage (they usually cry in pain or collapse while walking near a light post or electric box on a wet or slushy day), it is important to get them to a veterinarian as quickly as possible. Street Zaps has other helpful information about protecting your entire family against stray voltage.

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

_________________________________________________

For nearly 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.


Puppy Problems: Preventing Electric Cord Injuries

December 13, 2010

Photo: Dr. Philip Fox

Although the cute animal pictured here may look like a Jack Russell Terrier, she and her sister are behaving more like beavers. With their razor sharp puppy teeth, they have severed several plugs from the ends of cords, one of which you can see in the photo below, as well as a cell phone charger and the corners of the kitchen cabinets.

Puppies love to chew and their major chewing effort occurs during teething. Peak teething in puppies is between 4 and 7 months of age. Chewing is dangerous because the urge to chew coincides with greater freedom to roam the house as puppies become more reliably housebroken. Electric cords are especially dangerous because if the cord is plugged in during the chewing episode, an ER visit may be required. The electric current traveling through the body can cause severe oral burns, facial swelling, heart arrhythmias, fluid in the lungs and sudden death.

What should a dog owner give to their chew happy pup? Veterinarians have taken some formerly favorite chew toys off the approved list. Veterinary dentists have taken tennis balls off since the furry yellow covering is abrasive to tooth enamel. Hard nylon chew toys are gone too since they can fracture teeth and previously I have recommended bones be taken off the list.

What did I recommend to the frustrated Jack Russell Terrier owner? I recommended distracting the puppies from chewing household items by providing them with plenty of exercise and safe chew toys. Tired puppies are less likely to chew, because they will be napping. A walk around the block may not be enough exercise for a frisky puppy. Make sure your puppy has a good hour every day of exercise, either romping with another dog or chasing balls with you.

A trip to the local pet store is also helpful in preventing dangerous chewing. While browsing the pet store aisles, I found several toys made of natural rubber to recommend. First were puzzle toys. These devices roll and wobble. As the puppy nudges them with their nose, the toy moves and a piece of dry food falls out as a reward. Puppies quickly learn to move the toy around to get more food. Another type of food dispensing toy is stuffed with canned dog food or a sticky treat like peanut butter. The puppy can lick and chew to get the food out of the central cavity and will be so busy they will forget about chewing on electric cords. Yet another puzzle toy is one with a slot holding a specially manufactured treat. As the toy is chewed, the rubber deforms and out comes the treat, rewarding your puppy and encouraging more chewing of the chew toy.

Puppies are spontaneous, delightful additions to the family, but just like a new baby needs nearly constant attention, a new puppy requires supervision, training and medical care to keep them safe and healthy.

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

_________________________________________________

For nearly 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.


Holiday Gifts for Your Pets

December 6, 2010

When shopping for the holidays, don’t forget a gift for the cat or dog in the family. To help the harried shopper, the specialist veterinarians at The Animal Medical Center have teamed up to create a holiday gift list for pets using ideas from the Pet Socialite’s “No Place Like Home” Pet Expo on November 9 in New York City. A member of the AMC staff has carefully selected each gift with a different health issue in mind. Everyone at The AMC hopes you and your family have a safe and happy holiday season. Be sure to review our holiday safety tips for pets.

From the Neurology Service and the Rehabilitation & Fitness Service: Surprise your dog with a bad back and a weak hind end by ordering a large roll of yoga mat. Trim the yoga mat to fit your slippery hallway and turn it into a non-skid walkway for your dog with bad back legs. As an added bonus, the mats come in many colors to match your décor or mood.

Photo: Pioneer Pet Products, LLC

AMC’s Renal Medicine Service is always prescribing more water for their feline patients with bladder problems. If the prescription for your cat is to drink more water, try a water fountain. Many cats find the bubbling water more attractive than still water in a bowl and will increase their water consumption with the fountain. Shown here is a Feng shui fountain. Even if your cat won’t drink from it, maybe his litter box use will improve just with a better flow of qi.

Photo: Jax and Bones

Selecting the correct chew toy for your dog is critical. AMC’s Dentistry Service recommends avoiding hard nylon toys and the Gastroenterology Service recommends avoiding real bones since they often lodge in the intestinal tract and cause serious problems. For a safe chew, consider these holiday themed toys from Jax and Bones. Colored with vegetable dyes and graded according to the “Chomp Chart,” these delightful toys can be wet and frozen to entertain chewers for hours.

Photo: Go Pet LLC

Is your pooch a weekend warrior who doesn’t exercise Monday-Friday? Weekday couch potatoes are prone to sports injuries. Keep your dog in tip top shape all week and avoid the need to see one of AMC’s orthopedic surgeons for a knee repair by exercising your dog everyday. The self-powered exercise wheel shown below is an in-home method of exercising your dog and a great addition to the family’s home gym.

AMC’s Dermatology Service frequently prescribes a t-shirt for their itchy patients. The t-shirt prevents excessive licking and scratching while your pet’s skin heals. How about having your pet recover in style with this cute t-shirt from Sexy Beast: Canine Style Unleashed.

Photo: Sexy Beast

Pills, pills and more pills — AMC’s Internal Medicine Service is a big prescriber. Diligent pet owners make charts, calendars and post it reminders and still have a hard time remembering to give medication. How about simplifying the system with a glow cap reminder system by Vitality GlowCap? The special lid has connection to a wireless network and fits on a regular pill bottle. A missed dose sends a text message or phone call as a reminder. You can even send a reminder to another family member who can give the missed medication.

Photo: Doggles

Your dog only has one set of eyes and AMC’s Ophthalmology Service wants to protect them. These sport glasses designed with dogs in mind, keep out sun, are shatterproof and protect eyes from flying debris if your dog rides in a open car, a pickup bed or the sidecar of a motorcycle.

The entire AMC staff hopes for a safe new year for all pets. To be prepared in case your cat or dog gets lost, be sure they have both a microchip and a collar with ID tags. Neither is a foolproof method of identification, so use both to make sure your pet is home for the holidays.

And the entire AMC staff hopes for a healthy new year for all pets. To be prepared in case your new year comes with an illness or injury, consider purchasing an insurance policy for your favorite dog or cat. Having a pet insurance policy will help to ease the financial burden and let you make decisions based on good medicine and not on finances. Many different companies underwrite policies for pets, so investigate carefully to pick the best one for your family.

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

_________________________________________________

For nearly 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.


Collars and Chips for All Cats

November 29, 2010

kitten with collarWithout research into disease mechanisms, new diagnostic tests and better treatments, there would be no advances in the medical care of either animals or people. Yet some folks think all animal research is bad. Let me tell you about some recently published research that just might save your cat’s life. The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association has published a study “Evaluation of collars and microchips for visual and permanent identification of pet cats.” Since cats are now more popular pets than dogs are, this research is really important to those of us who love cats.

The lack of identification — either by a collar or microchip — is the main reason a cat’s owner cannot be found. Both indoor and outdoor cats can be lost and end up in a shelter so this study applies to all pet cats. Unfortunately, when cats end up in a shelter they are frequently euthanized if the owner cannot be found, making the question asked in this study, “What is the best method of identifying a lost cat, is it a collar or a microchip?” a matter of life and death.

The owners of 538 pet cats in Ohio, New York, Florida and Texas gave permission for their cats to participate in this creative study. All cats had a microchip placed for permanent identification and each cat wore a collar. To determine which collar would stay on the cat and provide the best opportunity for a cat’s owner to be identified, three different collars were evaluated in the study: a plastic buckle collar, a breakaway plastic buckle safety collar and an elastic stretch safety collar. Owners were surveyed at the beginning and the end of the 6 month study.

cat with microchip readerAs you might expect, the microchips performed extremely well. All but one was working well after 6 months, providing a ready method of cat owner identification. This information reinforces the need for every cat (and by the way, dogs too!) to have a microchip placed. But because this study identified a microchip failure, all cat owner’s should have their cat’s microchip function confirmed during an annual examination. This takes barely a second or two.

Not surprisingly, collars were less reliable than microchips, but they were still effective in identifying a cat. Just over 70% of cats wore their collars successfully for the duration of the study, underscoring the importance of the microchip as a backup method of identification. Owners frequently had to replace all types of collars, but the plastic buckle collar stayed on the best. No collar related injuries were identified, although 3.8% of cats did get the collar caught on an inanimate object or a body part such as their leg or mouth.

Cat owners, this is your call to action. Researchers have provided you with the tools to save your cat’s life. All you need to do is get your favorite feline a collar and a chip.

What kind of collar does your cat like best? Post your response in our comments section below.

Source: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 2010:237:387-394. Evaluation of collars and microchips for visual and permanent identification of pet cats. Lord LK, Griffin B, Slater MR, Levy JK.

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

_________________________________________________

For nearly 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.


Hitting the Road with Fluffy and Fido: Traveling with Pets

November 22, 2010

A recently published survey of pet owners throughout the world, found most 61% of pet owners take their pets on holiday more than once a year and travel more than 50 miles from their homes. Because so many pet owners who come to The Animal Medical Center ask a variety of questions about traveling with their pets, The AMC has two previous blog posts about travel to help address the common questions that arise. One post is devoted exclusively to international travel.

In addition, to help you prepare for any upcoming trips, I searched the Internet to compile a list of useful websites for the traveling pet and his owner. It is important to remember that the regulations for international travel are not standardized between countries and change frequently. So remember, your only source for pet travel information should be the country’s website and their consulate. The US Department of State has links to various countries’ consulates.

If you are bringing an animal into the USA from another country, importation is regulated by the Centers for Disease Control. This applies to American pets who are returning home as well as to foreign born pets entering for the first time.

General Travel Information

Pet Travel Clubs

These websites provide travel information for their members:

  • “Take Your Pet” offers a free pet travel newsletter to those who register. To access lists of pet friendly hotels, lists of pet related services and message boards, the fee is $1.95.
  • “Pets On The Go” is another membership travel website. To access their newsletter and concierge service for pet travel questions, the fee is $15/year.

Pet Shipping

Vacation is not always the reason for travel. When families relocate for business, moving the family pet can be challenging. To find a pet shipping service check the website of the Independent Pet and Animal Transportation Association International (IPATA). For a pet shipper to be a member, they must be legally registered to conduct business and provide animal shipping services. In the United States, shippers must be USDA certified to handle animals.

Pet Travel Products

  • Check out the Pet Travel Store for all your pet’s travel needs: collapsible bowl, disposable litter trays and a nifty hotel door hanger to remind the housekeeping staff you have a pet inside.
  • Life jackets for the boating dog and collapsible cat playpens may be just the vacation items your pets needs. They can be found online at J-B Wholesale Pet Supplies.

Be prepared. Do all that you can to ensure a safe and comfortable trip for everyone.

Have you taken your pet on vacation or traveled more than 50 miles with him? Share your experiences below in the “comments” section.

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

For nearly 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.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 181 other followers

%d bloggers like this: