Medication Mix-Ups

March 13, 2014
animal poison control image

Photo: aspca.org

Next week is Poison Prevention Week. According to ASPCA Animal Poison Control, the number one cause of poisoning in pets is prescription and over the counter drugs. The poisoning occurs because pets inadvertently consume either pet or human medications. To help raise awareness of potential sources of pet poisoning, here are some recent issues with medications reported to the veterinarians at The Animal Medical Center.

Name Swap
Most drugs have a brand name like Lasix® or Amoxi-tabs® and a corresponding generic name like furosemide or amoxicillin. I will admit I may use the brand name when speaking with pet owners but write a prescription for the generic medication because the generic brand is typically less expensive, though equally as effective. This dual naming system often creates confusion for the pet owner sometimes resulting in double medicating the pet. Oreo has heart failure and is being treated with Lasix. A second prescription of the same medication from a specialist said furosemide. The owner administered the new medication along with the old medication because she didn’t know the two were the same drug. Fortunately, the error was recognized and no harm came to Oreo.

Rainbow Roulette
Please keep in mind that your veterinarian usually doesn’t see the pills dispensed to your pet. Because I don’t see the pills, your description of “the oblong blue one” doesn’t help me determine the medication prescribed. Also keep in mind that generic medicines can be the same drug, but manufactured in different colors. If a medicine is dispensed and does not look like the last prescription for the same medicine, don’t hesitate to ask the pharmacist or someone at your veterinarian’s office to be sure the correct medication was dispensed.

A Pill for You and a Pill for Me
Last week one of our cat patients was inadvertently given one of her owner’s medications. Both pill bottles were sitting side by side on the counter. Even worse, the medication contained Tylenol® (acetaminophen), a human drug which is very toxic to cats. The owner quickly recognized the problem and successfully induced vomiting, but it could have been a disaster for the cat.

Yes, We Mean Three Times a Day
Three times a day does not mean, put all three pills in the food and hope your pet eats a bite of food containing a pill every eight hours. Don’t count on your pet to count the hours between doses. Give each pill separately at the prescribed intervals to avoid over- or under-dosing your pet.

Words to the Wise

  • Ask the prescribing veterinarian what each medication prescribed for your pet is meant to treat. If there are multiple medications to treat the same problem, ask if they are duplicate medications with different names on the labels.
  • If you see more than one veterinarian for your pets multiple problems, take all the medication bottles with you to each visit. Be sure each veterinarian knows what the other has prescribed.
  • Do not talk about the color of the pills with your veterinarian. We prefer the names of the medication to be read off the bottle. Even badly pronounced drug names are better than a description like “the white one, a little smaller than a dime.”
  • To avoid a medication mix-ups, store your medications in a different location than you store Fluffy’s.
  • Keep the toll free number of an animal poison hotline handy for an emergency:

– Pet Poison Helpline (800) 213-6680
– ASPCA Animal Poison Control (888) 426-4435


Pot for Pets

January 21, 2014
pot for pets image

Photo: Fox News

The New York Times recently announced that via executive action, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will relax the laws governing medical marijuana use in the state. New York State has some of the most restrictive and punitive laws regarding illegal drug usage, hold-overs from the Rockefeller era drug laws of the 1970s, and many feel these changes are long overdue. What does this mean for pets?

Increased Toxicity Cases
Veterinarians in New York State will need to be prepared to treat more dogs with marijuana intoxication if the experience in Colorado holds true here. Colorado is a state where medical marijuana is legal. Veterinarians in Colorado studied the number of dogs experiencing inadvertent toxicity from ingestion of marijuana. These researchers found a four-fold increase in the number of dogs treated for marijuana ingestion over a five year period. The increase paralleled the increase in the number of registered users of medical marijuana in Colorado. Pet Poison Helpline reports an increase in calls about canine marijuana intoxication as well.

Dog OD
Ingestion of marijuana, marijuana containing foods or inhalation of marijuana smoke can affect dogs; they become glassy eyed, uncoordinated, and may be very sleepy. These dogs need intravenous fluids to maintain hydration and warming blankets to maintain their body temperature. Often, dogs intoxicated by marijuana dribble urine. Some dogs become hyperactive. Severely affected dogs may seizure or become comatose requiring ventilator treatment until they regain the ability to breathe. Dogs typically recover in one to three days. Sadly, the study of Colorado cases of marijuana reports the death of two dogs ingesting baked goods made with medical grade tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) butter.

Iguana Intoxication!
Although dogs are the most commonly affected by marijuana intoxication, I found a report of three intoxicated iguanas. The iguanas had clinical signs similar to intoxicated dogs – seizures, stomach upset and one even required antiseizure medication. All three recovered fully.

Veterinary Medical Marijuana
So with marijuana legalized in some states for medicinal purposes, is medical marijuana for Fluffy and Fido next? Despite the obvious risks outlined above, some pet owners have taken marijuana for pets into their own hands.

Currently marijuana belongs to the group of drugs most tightly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Even though I have a license to prescribe some controlled substances, marijuana is not on the list of those I can prescribe. This tight regulation also restricts research with marijuana. Research is needed to help veterinarians understand what conditions the drug helps and how to use the drug safely and efficaciously in veterinary patients. So for now, I don’t know how to appropriately dose THC in my patients and I can’t do it legally.

If your pet inadvertently ingests marijuana or a THC containing product:

1. Keep marijuana and medical marijuana products out of reach of your pets.

2. Call animal poison control if you think your pet has eaten marijuana:

  • ASPCA Animal Poison Control (888) 426-4435
  • Pet Poison Helpline (800) 213-6680

3. Tell the animal ER what your pet ate. Making the ER veterinarians play a guessing game about your pet’s condition can delay appropriate treatment.


Pet Insurance: FAQ from The AMC

August 21, 2013

Pet-Insurance2The webmaster at The Animal Medical Center fields questions related to pet health from all over the world. Many of the recurrent questions are related to pet health insurance. Here are the answers to a few of the most common pet health insurance questions.

What insurance policies does The AMC accept?
Pet insurance is different than human insurance. My doctor’s office has negotiated contracts with several insurance companies; therefore, she cares for patients who purchase policies from those companies. The contract in pet insurance is between the pet owner who purchases the policy and the pet insurance company. The AMC provides information and invoices to the pet owner, who in turn submits a claim to their pet’s insurance company and is reimbursed for their expenditures by the insurance company.

What will pet insurance cover?
Coverage depends on the company and the details of the policy. Trupanion policies focus on coverage for illness and recovery rather than preventive healthcare. The ASCPA policy, underwritten by the Hartfield Group, has several different levels of care, two of which include coverage for preventive healthcare.

How much do policies cover?
Commonly, policies state they reimburse 80-90% of customary and usual charges for covered services. Each veterinary hospital sets its fees to reflect their costs of operation. If you live in a city where the cost of living is high, ask if the insurance company has higher “customary and usual charges” for calculating your level of reimbursement. Alternatively, ask a prospective insurer what percentage of submitted claims is paid out to pet owners in your area. Healthy Paws reimburses based on the actual veterinary bill as do a couple of other companies. Some companies have annual or lifetime caps on total payments. Others cap payments for specific conditions.

Can I get pet insurance for all my pets?
All companies insure dogs and cats. Insurance for the other members of Noah’s crew, including birds, reptiles, small mammals, marsupials, amphibians, rodents and lagomorphs is available only through VPI, the oldest pet insurance company in the United States.

What about coverage for pre-existing conditions?
Again, this type of coverage varies from policy to policy. For example, some policies exclude genetic conditions, such as elbow dysplasia and hip dysplasia, from coverage. If your dog has already had a cruciate ligament repaired on the left and the right cruciate ligament ruptures, he will not be covered by all policies as some consider cruciate disease to be a bilateral disease. Pets Best seems to be one exception to this exclusion.

Another point to keep in mind: your veterinarian may recommend therapies not covered by your policy. If she does, your claim would be denied. Before you renew your policy, ask if any illnesses reimbursed in the previous policy cycle will be excluded as pre-existing conditions once your renew.

Surprising coverage
I found several interesting features of the policies I reviewed. Pet’s Best lists coverage for some groundbreaking treatments, like stem cell therapy for feline kidney disease. I found a 13 page list of medications covered by one plan, and another with coverage for boarding if you are hospitalized and need to board your pet.

Employee Benefit?
A recent news article highlighted increasing numbers of companies offering pet insurance as an employee benefit. Check with your human resource department before you select a policy for your favorite fur person.

Final word: Read the policy carefully
I found at least one policy that does not cover two common (and costly) problems of older dogs and cats: heart disease and diabetes. Cancer is another group of diseases which are not covered by all policies; although many policies can be upgraded to cover cancer diagnosis and treatment.


What Can I Possibly Have in Common with Howard Stern?

July 3, 2013

Yes, I mean THE Howard Stern, shock jock, “America’s Got Talent” judge and the “King of All Media.” Are you surprised at this comparison – me, a NYC veterinarian and Howard, a media mogul? Don’t be, because the love of pets can be a great equalizer.

Howard Stern & Dr. Ann Hohenhaus

Howard Stern & Dr. Ann Hohenhaus

Take for example, dinnertime:

Howard Stern's foster kittens

Dinnertime at the Stern house (tweeted by @BethOstrosky)

Dr. Ann Hohenhaus' foster kittens

Dinnertime at the Hohenhaus house

In addition, both Howard and I live and work in New York City and can be heard on Sirius XM Satellite Radio. Of course, Howard has his own show, and I am a regular guest on “Doctor Radio” from NYU Langone Medical Center, with my friends Dr. Frank Adams and Samantha Heller. But the biggest similarity between us is our passion for foster kittens.

Families, like Howard’s and mine, who are willing to temporarily shelter young kittens provide a critical component of the adoption process. The Stern family works with the foster care team at North Shore Animal League and my fosters are part of the ASPCA program. If left in animal shelters, these young kittens are prone to contracting severe upper respiratory infections, which delay their adoption into forever homes. Moreover, kittens raised in homes develop better social skills and manners than those living in cages.

If you would like to learn more about my fun with foster kittens, read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting Kittens” or “Kitten Questions.” For insight into Howard’s foster care experience, read one of his recent blog entries about Tarzan, the cat.

There are always lots of young kittens in need of a “temporary” home before they find their way to their forever home. Join Howard and me in this important work by contacting your local shelter to become foster parents to some needy kittens.

And don’t forget, if you are already a foster mom or dad to a pet who may be experiencing health problems which could hinder adoption of the pet, check out AMC TO THE RESCUE. The AMC has established a fund for 501(c)(3) registered animal rescue organizations to aid in the cost of specialty care. It is The AMC’s way of helping pets find a forever home.


Finding a Lost Pet: Prevention and Response

August 20, 2012

Some startling numbers about lost pets were recently released by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). The article states that more than 10 million pets are lost annually. Over a five-year period, that translates to 15 lost pets of every 100 owned in this country.

Interestingly, dogs have a much higher chance of being reunited with their families than cats do. Only 74% of cats were returned to their homes while 93% of lost dogs were. Since cats see their veterinarian less often than dogs do, my theory is there are fewer cats with any form of ID, collars, or chips and fewer with a rabies tag to serve as identification.

Since these statistics show that the possibility of losing your pet is very real, here are some proactive steps to take before your pet becomes lost and how to respond if your precious pet disappears.

An ounce of prevention

  1. Your pet needs to wear some form of ID every day. Having two forms of ID, a collar and a microchip, increases the chances your pet will be returned home safely. If your pet is not microchipped, see your veterinarian and do it today!
  2. Keep up-to-date photos of your pet. I recommend a head shot and a whole body profile for making lost posters if you need them. Make updating the photos part of your pet’s birthday celebration or annual health check-up visit to help you remember to have a new version on hand.
  3. Anticipate escape. The Fourth of July is the number one day of the year for lost pets. Spooked by fireworks, pets often bolt and become lost. Another worrisome time: holiday parties. Be sure your pet is carefully locked away during these events. Guests coming and going through your front door offer a perfect opportunity for your pet to escape.

The pound of cure

  1. Harness the power of the internet. Many online organizations can help find a lost pet. Here are some for your reference:

    The Center for Lost PetsFido Finder(dogs only)

    Tabby Tracker (cats only)

    craigslist

    Pet Amber Alert

  2. Blanket the neighborhood with posters. Using your up-to-date pictures, put flyers in your veterinarian’s office, around your neighborhood, in the local shops, and on the website of your neighborhood association.
  3. Call your local animal shelters. Alert them to be on the lookout for your pet. Visit their website to view new pets admitted to the shelter. Visit the shelter in case the busy shelter staff doesn’t recognize your pet from the photos you provide.

I hope these tip help prevent your pet from becoming a statistic. Make a plan today!


What to Expect When You’re Expecting Kittens

April 9, 2012

Lucy and her litter

My family is trying something new this spring: we are hosting a pregnant cat as part of a local foster cat program. Destiny, now known affectionately as Lucy, will be in residence until her kittens finish nursing, are eating well on their own, and weigh two pounds each. Before she came to our home, we attended a training class on how to care for cats and kittens.

Expectant Waiting

Since Lucy was a foundling, no one knew when to expect the kittens. The situation was very different than in “What to Expect When You are Expecting Puppies,” where Tallulah’s litter was a planned pregnancy and we could calculate a delivery date quite accurately. Tallulah performed admirably, whelping (the dog word for the birth of puppies) on the middle day of the three days we anticipated delivery. Not so for Lucy. When I picked her up she seemed big as a house but wasn’t showing any nesting behavior. By the second weekend of her stay, I could tell the time was coming. She would go into one of the two cardboard boxes we strategically placed around her room, scratch and hang out in the box a few minutes. At the beginning of her third week with us, she started to produce milk.

Expectant Eating

Food motivated Lucy’s life, and no wonder, since she was eating for eight. She delivered six live kittens and one stillborn kitten, so she is now nursing a large litter. Before the kittens came, I noticed she would come into the kitchen while I was making dinner and yowl for food. I purchased a clicker at my neighborhood pet store and took advantage of her food motivation by clicker training her to come. I gave two clicks when she came into the kitchen and rewarded her with Greenies – her favorite treat. Pretty soon, she learned two clicks meant a Greenie and now she comes quite quickly when she hears the clicks. Now we are working on sitting on a mat for a Greenie.

Expecting No More

The kittens came three weeks to the day after Lucy arrived at our house. The morning started normally, with Lucy following me into the kitchen, but she refused even a Greenie, so I thought something was up. We had collected several cardboard boxes for use as potential queening (the cat word for birth of kittens) boxes. Being a New Yorker, Lucy chose to deliver the kittens in a Fresh Direct delivery box. [Fresh Direct is one of the most popular New York City online grocers]. The front of the box was covered with a fleece for privacy, but she removed every blanket, towel and pad I gave her for bedding and chose to deliver on the cardboard. I was glad I had collected other boxes before the kittens came. The Fresh Direct box was soiled and needed to be thrown out, so I was able to move the new family to another familiar, but clean box after all the kittens had come.

To see a video of the new family, click here.

The foster care program provides spaying and neutering for Lucy and her family when they are ready for adoption. I predict there will be seven very delighted cat-owning families sometime in the very near future.


A Matter of Taste: Why Dogs Love Sweets

April 6, 2012

Bitsy

Because at The Animal Medical Center every day is take your dog to work day, I know a quite a bit about the dogs who work here.

Bitsy, a nearly 4-year-old Maltese, likes sweets, especially apples. She doesn’t like more neutral foods such as carrots, and don’t come near her if you have just juiced a lemon. Bitsy’s love of sweets is not unusual. In fact, many dogs like sweets, as evidenced by the number of dogs seen for chocolate ingestion by our Emergency Service.

Treatment for ingestion of toxic substances is not unique to The AMC’s canine patients. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center reports 85% of the calls they receive are about dogs, many of them for ingesting toxic foods.

On the other hand, we almost never examine a cat for eating too many sweets. Cats seem to prefer moving food, perhaps due to their predatory nature. They will pounce on that pill you accidently drop on the floor or gnaw your spider plant down to a stump when the leaves are waving in the breeze from an open window. What accounts for this big difference between our two favorite companion animals?

Anatomically speaking, dogs and cats both have taste buds that can be seen on a tongue biopsy. But these taste buds may not be as sensitive to taste as ours are and many believe dogs and cats choose their food more by smell than by taste.

Both dogs and cats belong to the order Carnivora, but cats and dogs belong to different families within the order Carnivora. Cats belong to Felidae, which is a group of 36 different species of obligate carnivores, and dogs belong to Canidae, a group of 35 different species of omnivores—animals that eat both plants and meat. The fact that dogs are more flexible eaters may account for their ability to recognize different flavors in their food. Domestic and wild cats carry the gene for the sweetness receptor, but due to a mutation in the gene which makes the sweet detecting apparatus nonfunctional, cats cannot detect sweetness even if they eat a sweet food.

Similar mutations were discovered in other exclusively meat-eating animals, such as dolphins.

So the next time you find your dog eyeing the chocolate rabbit in your Easter basket, remember they have a sweet tooth like you and I do and may not be able to resist eating the entire rabbit in one sitting. Put chocolate and any other sweet treats out of range of your dog to protect them from a trip to the animal ER. The chocolate eggs and jellybeans may not be attractive to your cat, but the pot of Easter lilies on the window is. Keep all lilies away from cats as they can cause serious kidney problems.

For more information about taste in various other animals click here.

Photo: Courtesy of Bitsy’s Family


Pills and Poison Prevention

March 26, 2012

Sadie

Last week was National Poison Prevention Week and the 50th anniversary of this poison prevention campaign. The theme for the 2012 National Poison Prevention week, “Children act fast, so do poisons,” could also be: “Pets act fast, so do poisons.”

Here is the story of Sadie, a beautiful 9-month-old Weimaraner who acted fast and almost didn’t make it to her first birthday.

Weimaraners are energetic dogs, originally developed for hunting. Maybe that’s what got Sadie into trouble; she was hunting and the target of her attentions was an entire bottle of 200mg ibuprofen tablets. She consumed all the contents, as well as the bottle. Ibuprofen is a drug which should never be used in dogs. Sadie ate so many tablets she ingested 455mg of ibuprofen per kilogram of body weight. The over-the-counter dosage for an adult human is 400mg, given three times daily.

Triage

Sadie’s regular veterinarian initiated treatment by giving intravenous fluids, inducing vomiting, and administering activated charcoal to prevent absorption of the ibuprofen. Despite these treatments, Sadie’s condition deteriorated and when she arrived at The Animal Medical Center, she was nearly comatose and was having seizures.

Dogs are highly sensitive to the toxic effects of ibuprofen. The gastrointestinal tract and the kidneys are the primary targets. The ER staff administered three different drugs in an attempt to stave off rupture of an ibuprofen-induced gastric ulcer and the hemodialysis team was called in for consultation on how best to manage the potential kidney damage.

Charcoal perfusion

Oral administration of activated charcoal is a common treatment for intoxication. The charcoal is not systemically absorbed, but stays in the intestine and absorbs the toxin, preventing signs of illness. A novel method for using activated charcoal in cases of intoxication is to use charcoal hemoperfusion. Our hemodialysis team recommended a four-hour charcoal hemoperfusion treatment for Sadie and used the hemodialysis machine and a special charcoal cartridge instead of the standard cartridge used for patients with kidney failure. The treatment was completed very early in the morning and by the time of morning rounds, she was alert and feeling so well she was eating hospital food with gusto.

Only a few days in the hospital

Sadie stayed at The AMC for less than a week after her hemoperfusion treatment while her ibuprofen-induced diarrhea resolved. There was a brief scare when one of the kidney blood tests increased, and everyone held their breath while we waited to see if Sadie would take a turn for the worse. Happily, she was discharged to her relieved family five days after her charcoal hemoperfusion. Today, Sadie is a normal, happy 2-year-old Weimaraner.

Ibuprofen poisoning is common

According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, the number one cause of poisoning in pets is prescription and over-the-counter drugs, both of the human and pet variety, including painkillers, cold and flu preparations, and antidepressants. The Pet Poison Hotline reports nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like ibuprofen and naproxen are the fourth most common dog poisoning in their database for 2011.

Be sure you have the pet poison hotline numbers posted where you can easily find them, so you can act fast if your pet ingests something toxic like ibuprofen.

ASPCA Animal Poison Control
888-426-4435

Pet Poison Hotline
800-213-6680

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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.


World Spay Day 2012

March 1, 2012

February 28th was World Spay Day, the grand finale of Spay/Neuter Awareness Month.

Spay Day USA, started in 1995, originally focused on the need to spay and neuter feral cats. It now is a worldwide event focusing on eliminating pet overpopulation everywhere.

Why is Spay Day such a big deal? My pet is spayed.

Spaying females and neutering males is a 100% effective method of contraception in dogs and cats. By preventing unwanted litters of puppies and kittens, we decrease the number of animals ending up in shelters. Despite the effectiveness of this surgery, six to eight million dogs and cats enter animal shelters every year and sadly only about half find a forever home. Cats in shelters fare worse than dogs; only about 30% of cats from shelters find a forever home. This grim statistic is why the TNR, or trap, neuter, release programs are so important. Approximately 80% of pet cats are neutered, but only about 3% of feral cats are. Every spring, feral cats produce large numbers of kittens which frequently end up in shelters, but are too wild for adoption to a family.

Cats can’t add, but they can multiply!

This is a great one liner from an ASPCA t-shirt and it explains exactly why TNR programs are important. In a TNR program, feral cats are humanely trapped and then neutered by licensed veterinarians. Before they are released back into their colony, a ¼-inch of the tip of the left ear is removed. This provides a visual marker of neutering and prevents a cat from being re-trapped and taken for neutering a second time. Cats receive a rabies vaccination at the time of neutering. Because TNR cats are vaccinated against rabies while they are trapped, these programs also help to protect the humans and pet animal against contracting rabies.

Back in their colonies, TNR cats can no longer reproduce and fewer kittens are born, reducing cat overpopulation.

You can help

The pet overpopulation problem is a community problem and requires the entire community, government officials, animal welfare/rescue organizations, wildlife agencies, and concerned individuals to work together to create a solution. A TNR program is only one component; others include raising community awareness about the problem, securing funding for programs, and putting in place legislation for the good of all.

Want to know more about spaying and neutering? Click here to view an excellent series of videos on spaying and neutering dogs and cats.

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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.


The Danger of Xylitol to Your Dog and Ferret

September 26, 2011

My regular trip to the grocery store this week brought a health risk for dogs and ferrets to the forefront of my mind.

As I was standing in the checkout line, I noticed a number of hard candies and mints with xylitol on the label. Xylitol may help keep us slim and protect our teeth, but it is deadly for our dogs and ferrets. The Animal Medical Center’s Emergency Service has seen several dogs suffering from xylitol-induced illness. The danger is serious enough to have caused the FDA to issue a warning to pet owners because xylitol poisoning is on the rise.

Xylitol is an organic compound and a naturally occurring sugar alcohol used as a low calorie sweetener. Chewing gum and candies are commonly sweetened with xylitol. Recipes abound on the Internet for home baked treats using the sweetner as an ingredient. Medical products such as throat lozenges, cough syrup, children’s multivitamins, toothpaste and mouthwash contain xylitol because it helps prevent tooth decay.

When a dog or ferret consumes xylitol, blood sugar drops dangerously low (hypoglycemia) and can result in seizures. Even if the hypoglycemia is reversed with administration of intravenous sugar (glucose), there is still the potential for development of liver failure and death.

If your dog inadvertently ingests one of the many xylitol-containing foods, medications or any other potentially toxic substance, go to an animal emergency room immediately as the drop in blood sugar occurs very quickly. Take the package, bag or box containing the xylitol product with you. The information on the package will help when your veterinarian contacts 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.

For more information on other foods toxic to pets, visit:

Fur the Love of Pets: Kitchen Catastrophies

ASPCA: Poison Control

MSPCA Angell Poision 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 http://www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Take Your Dog to Work Day

June 20, 2011

Becky (L) & Percy (R) hardly working at The AMC

Friday, June 24th, is Take Your Dog to Work Day. Employees of The Animal Medical Center (AMC) are lucky since every day here is Take Your Pet to Work Day. Not surprisingly, The AMC is a pet-friendly employer.

Although most pets that come to work are dogs, we do have the occasional infant kitten or ancient cat who come to work because of special feeding and medication requirements during the day. The photo below shows Pepe avoiding work by hiding under a chair.

First celebrated in 1999, Take Your Dog to Work Day was created to celebrate the great companions dogs make and to encourage their adoption from humane societies, animal shelters and breed rescue clubs.

Pepe (available for adoption)

Companies, large and small, are recognizing the importance of pets in our social fabric. Some offer their employees pet insurance as one option in their benefits package. Inc.’s series, “Winning Workplaces,” highlights the increased worker productivity and camaraderie of workplaces where dogs are allowed.

Taryl Fultz, copywriter for Trone, Inc., a 70 person marketing firm in High Point, NC, with many pet care clients, including GREENIES® and NUTRO® says, “I absolutely [get more work done] when my sheltie is at work. He is very well behaved, but I feel better when I have him with me. I often stay later, bring my lunch those days and work through at my desk. When people/clients get tours of the office, he is always a featured stop along the way. Pets make most people smile. And can often turn a tense meeting/moment into a better one.”

I emailed with one employee of the marketing firm Moxie. Dogs are welcome at this 300+ person company, but visits must be scheduled in advance and misbehaving dogs are put on restriction. Visiting the office is not all fun and games. One Chihuahua was even pressed into service, when he was photographed wearing a wig and playing the piano for an ad campaign.

Trone, Inc. employees, from the VP for human resources to copywriters, have wonderful work stories about their pets. One 65 pound mutt works on stealing stuffed toys from other dogs, small children or co-workers’ offices. Another dog likes to work in a private space – behind the credenza — only she doesn’t quite fit and all her owner can see is the back half of a dog sticking out. Owen, a Plott hound, likes work because of the availability of GREENIES. One weekend Owen didn’t come when he was called. Finally he came running with a large mailing box where his head should have been. Owen had grabbed one of the mailing samples, which had a Greenie affixed to it. He was so excited to bring to his owner and then rip it off of the package.

If your office is going to be dog-friendly, you might want to consider establishing office etiquette guidelines. Our friends at the ASPCA have some useful suggestions.

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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.


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.


Battery Ingestion

July 19, 2010

The June issue of Pediatrics contained an article on the hazards of button battery ingestion in children. Button batteries are found in remote controls, battery operated toys and even greeting cards. Because battery operated devices have shrunken, so have batteries, making them easy for children to swallow. As the number of battery operated devices increases in our homes, battery ingestion is rising in children. The 20mm lithium cell was the most common culprit, causing severe injury in children. The study authors hypothesize that the battery’s size is just right to lodge in the airway or esophagus of small children, causing burns or perforation of the delicate tissues.

Because pets and children have many similar behaviors and are often about the same size, I was concerned about battery ingestion in dogs and cats. I called the ASPCA Poison Control Center (888.426.4435), which is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to get more information on this subject. Although there is a $65 fee to defray costs associated with providing this lifesaving service, it is worth every penny. Once you pay the fee and have a case number, you or your veterinarian can call the hotline as needed to get additional advice on optimal antidotes to whatever toxic substance your pet has eaten.

The staff of the ASPCA Poison Control Center was kind enough to answer my questions about battery ingestion in pets. They too are concerned about this problem in pets and recommend the following steps to owners if their pet inadvertently eats a battery. First, feed your pet a meal. Hopefully, the food will push the battery into the stomach, sparing the esophagus from damage. Then, immediately take your pet to the veterinarian for an x-ray. Fortunately, batteries show up on x-rays making it easy to determine where the battery is and what kind of damage it might be causing.

On a side note, if your child eats a battery, there is a national Battery Ingestion Hotline open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 202.625.3333 or call your local poison control center.

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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.


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