Dogs Get Cirrhosis? Cats Get Lung Cancer?

April 9, 2014

cat and dogFrom a medical perspective, we are not that different from our pets. Humans, dogs and cats have many diseases in common and the treatments for these diseases are often strikingly similar. Diabetes in pets is treated with a special diet and insulin injections; radioactive iodine therapy is used to treat feline hyperthyroidism; and dogs with heart disease receive diuretics (water pills) and ACE inhibitors. Despite these similarities, disease in our pets is not always the same as it is in humans.

Dogs Get Cirrhosis?
In people, cirrhosis of the liver is most often associated with alcoholism, or hepatitis virus infection. Since dogs don’t drink (or they shouldn’t) and the hepatitis virus is a human virus which does not infect dogs, how do dogs get cirrhosis? The diagnosis of cirrhosis does not imply a cause and the cause in dogs differs from humans. Cirrhosis is a liver disorder in which the liver loses its normal structure and function as a result of chronic inflammation. Inflammation, in turn, causes replacement of normal liver cells with scar tissue and destroying their function. If enough of the liver is damaged, dogs show signs of liver failure: jaundice, accumulation of abdominal fluid (ascites) and a bleeding tendency. Labrador Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels and West Highland White Terriers are breeds with an increased risk for developing liver inflammation and cirrhosis. The inciting cause of the inflammation in dogs remains a mystery.

Lung Cancer in Nonsmokers?
The number one cause of lung cancer in humans is cigarette smoking. Since pets don’t smoke, why do they get lung cancer? Veterinarians don’t know exactly. Studies evaluating the impact of the home environment on dogs with lung cancer did not find an association with either living in an urban or a rural environment. We know secondhand smoke affects pets, increasing their risk of lymphoma and oral squamous cell carcinoma, but secondhand smoke has not yet been linked to lung cancer in dogs and cats. If you smoke, don’t do so near your pet; better yet, quit.

But What About Heart Attacks?
Heart attacks, a leading cause of sudden death in the United States, occur when the blood flow to the heart is abruptly blocked. Most heart attacks are the result of high cholesterol and blockage of the coronary arteries which supply blood to the heart muscle. Dogs and cats do not develop coronary artery disease as a result of high cholesterol, and thus do not have heart attacks like their human companions. However, since heart attacks often cause sudden death, grieving families frequently blame a heart attack when their pet dies unexpectedly. Heart disease in pets can be a cause of sudden death due to abnormal heart rhythms, ruptured heart valves and bleeding tumors of the heart.

To read more on disease affecting pets and people, read some of our previous blog posts.


Medicine By the Numbers

March 26, 2014
Dr. Ann Hohenhaus

Dr. Ann Hohenhaus

We all rely on numbers to help us make decisions. The stock market is above 16,000; time to sell. Your chance of winning the Powerball Jackpot with a two dollar ticket is one in 175 million, but it’s only two dollars so you buy yet another losing ticket. One in four Americans dies of heart disease every year; more exercise and less butter for you. In my line of work, veterinary medicine, quoting numbers is not nearly as easy.

I have been struggling with a particularly complicated cancer case the past few weeks. After hours of discussion and many more of pondering the options, a clear plan has emerged for this patient. And then the client asked the number one question: “What are the chances my pet will benefit from this procedure?” Having never been much of a math whiz or very successful at gambling, explaining the concept of odds is difficult. The odds of A versus B are calculated from a large group of patients with the same disease. But when I am talking about Fluffy or Fido, it becomes harder to predict the outcome for an individual patient. In some ways it’s a 50-50 coin toss. Your pet gets better or it doesn’t. Because medicine rarely has 100% certainty, no doctor, human or animal, will ever guarantee a 100% chance of success. Even with a 99.9% chance of success, there will be some patients who do not have the desired outcome after the test, treatment or surgery is completed.

An article in last week’s New York Times ‘Science Section’ written by a physician, numbers and their connection to disease appear again. Dr. Abigail Zuger writes about using a reasoned numerical approach (“30 percent of people with your problem of X will develop Y”). Yet, she writes, “many studies (and all casinos and lotteries) illustrate how abysmal is the average person’s understanding of risk when couched in mathematical terms.” Her patients have a hard time grasping the importance of risk factors on their future health or as she calls them “pre-diseases.”

If two medical professionals have difficulty using numbers in their daily practice, then how can people or pet owners make well-informed decisions on healthcare matters?

  1. Preventing disease is much easier (and cheaper) than correcting a problem. If your veterinarian gives you numbers on preventing disease, pay close attention. For example, obesity quadruples your dog’s risk of cruciate ligament rupture. Getting your dog’s weight down saves money two ways – you buy less food and your dog doesn’t need an expensive reconstructive knee surgery.
  2. There are actually some medical conditions that doctors can predict the outcome with reasonable certainty; for example, diabetes. Without administration of insulin, which is deficient in dogs and cats with diabetes, your pet will die of high blood sugar within days.
  3. Since not all diseases come with certainty of outcome like diabetes, think about quality of life. If your pet’s current problem is decreasing their quality of life, consider a treatment to improve it. Keep in mind this is where numbers can become overwhelming and sometimes a decision is made based on your heart rather than your head.

When Life Gives You Lemons, You Need a Buddy

February 20, 2014

gray tabbyTracy and her 14 year old grey tabby, Baller, have experienced a few bumps in the road this past year. In April, Tracy noticed Baller, named after a rap song, was defecating outside his litter box. He also had diarrhea, but he didn’t seem very sick since he was eating well and was his usual playful self. Her neighborhood veterinarian examined Baller and found two pounds of weight loss. Tracy thought she could breathe easier when she heard the blood tests were normal, but an abdominal ultrasound revealed Baller had colon cancer.

Minimally Invasive Testing
Tracy brought Baller to The Animal Medical Center for a consultation with one of our board certified oncologists. Baller’s oncologist, Dr. Maria Camps, explained the most common type of cancer in cats is lymphoma, and recommended a minimally invasive approach to diagnosis since lymphoma is treated with chemotherapy, not surgery. Ultrasonography was used to direct a small needle into the colon tumor and retrieve cells from the tumor. Within hours, Tracy found out she and Baller were facing an uphill battle against lymphoma. The anticipated survival time for a cat with lymphoma treated with chemotherapy is less than one year.

Chemotherapy Helps
Dr. Camps actually gave Tracy so much hope, and Dr. Mollica, Baller’s regular veterinarian and a former AMC intern, was also very supportive. These two veterinarians really gave Tracy that extra oomph she needed to continue Baller’s treatment. Ms. Koch says, “I knew the chemo was working almost immediately. Right after his first treatment he was feeling better again. He is one to make it known when he has issues by hiding under the bed, not eating and not able to use the bathroom. But, it was amazing that right after his first treatment he was back to his normal routine. I thought it [the chemotherapy] would help a bit, but I didn’t realize how much better it would make him feel. He was like a whole new cat, which makes me sad because who knows how long he was feeling bad before he really started to show it.”

About one third of the way through his prescribed course of chemotherapy, and just when Baller’s cancer seemed to be in control, a roadblock obstructed the path to further cancer treatments; Tracy was laid off.

Buddy Fund Helps Out
This is where the Buddy Fund comes in to assist Tracy and Baller. The Buddy Fund, one of AMC’s Community Funds, was established to provide financial support for AMC patients with cancer whose owners could otherwise not afford to treat their four-footed family members. The name of the Buddy Fund has a double meaning. The original donors to the fund had a very special cat named Buddy and the fund acts as a “buddy” to owners of pets with cancer. Baller’s oncologist recommended him for the fund because he was responding exceptionally well to the prescribed course of chemotherapy. Discontinuation of treatment would put him at high risk for relapse of his cancer.

Thanks to the Buddy Fund and its generous supporters, Baller completed his chemotherapy protocol just before Thanksgiving and without missing a single treatment. At his most recent follow up appointment he was given a thumbs up because no tumors were detected during the examination. Going forward, Baller will continue to be monitored for tumor recurrence. As the one year anniversary of his diagnosis approaches, everyone has their fingers crossed for Baller. Tracy looks forward to a time when she is employed again and can be a “buddy” to another deserving cat through a contribution to AMC’s Buddy Fund.


Clea’s International Healthcare Team: Partnering for Cancer Care

December 18, 2013
Clea

Clea, French fashionista poodle

Last spring, I was contacted by a New York City veterinarian who often refers patients to me for second opinions. This time, his request was a bit different. One of his patients, a French poodle named Clea, was in France and had been diagnosed with melanoma of the tongue by a French veterinary oral surgeon. Clea’s owner wanted her treated with the DNA melanoma vaccine, a treatment not available in France. She and Clea would return to New York City, but she needed a local veterinary oncologist, so I was asked to help. Of course, I said yes.

Transatlantic medical information
Within minutes of saying yes, my email box filled with photos of Clea’s tumor, a biopsy report and photographs of the actual tumor cells under the microscope. Clea’s owner contacted me and arranged two appointments for Clea, one with me and one with our radiation oncologist, Dr. Rachel St-Vincent.

Treatment of melanoma of the oral cavity in a dog involves controlling the oral tumor using surgery or radiation therapy and using a vaccine to induce an immune response against the tumor in hopes of preventing spread of the tumor, especially to the lungs. The vaccine is not available in France, necessitating a trip home for the melanoma vaccine. Clea stayed with friends for eight weeks while she received four treatments of radiation and four doses of melanoma vaccine. When treatment was completed, she returned to France and her French veterinary team.

The French team

Clea's veterinary team

Clea’s veterinary team at Clinique Vétérinaire Advetia (www.advetia.fr)

Even though Clea has both an American and a French team of veterinarians, we all speak the same language – veterinary medicine. The French oral surgeon, Dr. Phillipe Hennet, trained in the United States and holds a certification by the American Veterinary Dental College. When new tumors showed up in Clea’s lungs, he referred Clea to an American trained board certified small animal internal medicine specialist at his clinic, Dr. Suzy Valentin. She and I conferred via email to initiate the next step of treatment.

Back in the USA
Clea was back in New York City a few weeks ago and Dr. Valentin wanted another chest x-ray. Clea arrived at The AMC with a report by a French radiologist (in French) and a CD containing her lung CT scan from a month prior. The AMC has a radiologist, Dr. Alexandre Le Rouxwho happens to be French. Looking for a translator, I took the written report and the images to him. To my surprise, the trail of veterinarians caring for Clea came full circle when Dr. Le Roux announced he knew Clea’s French radiologist!

Treatment success
For older pets like Clea, quality of life is possibly more important than quantity. I think Clea’s international healthcare team has achieved success based on this note from her owner: “So Clea is doing well. She is eating twice a day and loves the beef stew from the restaurant across the street. Dog food is definitely part of her past….”


Lung Disease with a Twist

October 23, 2013
Muneca

Muneca

“I’m sorry, but you need to take your dog to see a cancer specialist.” These are words no pet owner wants to hear, but despite their anguish about their beloved dog’s illness, Muneca’s (a name which means “pretty baby doll” in Spanish) family followed the recommendation of their primary care and emergency room veterinarians and brought the little poodle to be examined by the Oncology Service at The Animal Medical Center. This photo shows what a happy dog she was before her illness.

Muneca’s story starts with a trip to her primary care veterinarian who, using an x-ray, discovered that fluid was accumulating around her lungs. Shortly after seeing her primary care veterinarian, Muneca’s appetite decreased and she had trouble breathing, so she was brought to the to the ER by her owners.

Emergency room visit
The ER doctors found Muneca had a blue tongue. She was not getting any oxygen into her bloodstream because the fluid surrounding her lungs prevented them from expanding. Carefully, the ER doctors administered a light sedative to allow nearly one liter of bloody fluid to be removed from around the lungs of this 25 pound tan poodle. Immediately she was her old self, but the ER doctors again recommended Muneca be examined by an oncologist.

A new diagnosis
Although cancer is a very common cause of fluid accumulation around the lungs, there are other causes. When I saw Muneca, another x-ray was taken to determine if the fluid had returned since it had been removed by the ER doctors. The fluid had returned, but when Dr. Anthony Fischetti, one of The AMC’s board certified radiologists, reviewed the new films with me, he saw something that intrigued him – bubbles of air trapped within the right middle lung lobe. Immediately he became optimistic that Muneca could be saved! The diagnosis was revised to lung lobe torsion.

A lung lobe torsion is a rare disorder seen in dogs, cats and humans. The lung lobe twists around the bronchus, or air tube, and the blood vessels supplying the lung. This traps air and blood in the lung lobe, explaining the bubbles seen on the x-ray and the accumulation of fluid around the lungs. Fluid leaks out of the lung because the blood cannot exit though the twisted vessels.

Muneca recovering after surgery

Muneca recovering after surgery

Major surgery
The treatment for a lung lobe torsion is surgery to remove the twisted lung lobe, but this is a major procedure. In Muneca’s case, The AMC provided more than just the diagnostic and surgical expertise. One of our Community Funds, the Patient Assistance Fund, covered the majority of the cost for Muneca’s surgery. Muneca’s surgeon, Dr. Janet Kovak, entered Muneca’s chest on the right side between the third and fourth ribs and removed the right middle lung lobe, which was swollen and adhered to the diaphragm. Muneca recovered rapidly and was discharged from the hospital to her happy and grateful family two days later. In the second photograph, you see her completely recovered and resting at home in her favorite spot.

A winning team
Muneca is just one patient example of why I love working at The AMC – it’s all about the team. Without The AMC team of specialists, that includes board certified radiologists and surgeons, Muneca would not be healthy once again and home with her family and what’s not to like about that!


How to Recognize a Sick Cat

October 2, 2013
Abyssinian cat

Abyssinian cat

Cats are the masters of disguise. Here we see a beautiful Abyssinian cat decoratively perched on a pedestal and disguised as a piece of sculpture- that is until she changes her mind and becomes something else!

Although cats in disguise bring enormous enjoyment to our lives, many cat owners are frustrated with their favorite fur person’s Academy Award-winning ability to masquerade as a healthy cat until hospitalization and intensive care are required. Sick cats commonly hide under the bed or in the closet; however, many cat owners mistakenly believe this behavior is simply their cat expressing its feline independence rather than a potential sign of serious illness. Another sick cat behavior frequently mistaken for bad cat behavior is a loss of litter box training.

Common illnesses, common signs
According to Best Pets Insurance, the top five medical claims for insured cats include: chronic kidney diseasehyperthyroidism, allergies, cancer and diabetesThese five diseases make up one-third of all feline claims to Best Pets Insurance. I don’t want to minimize the important impact allergies have on your cat’s quality of life but, in general, allergies are not life threatening and because they manifest on the outside of your cat, allergies are easy to detect. This blog will focus on how to recognize the big four: chronic kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, cancer and diabetes.

Weight loss in all
Many cat diseases look the same, which is one reason it is difficult for cat owners to identify that their cat may be ill. In fact, weight loss is a common clinical sign in cats with chronic kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, cancer and diabetes.

Increased water drinking in most
When I talk to cat owners at an annual physical examination, I ask about water consumption. Increased drinking can result from chronic kidney disease, hyperthyroidism or diabetes. Only occasionally, does cancer cause cats to drink more water.

Hungry all the time in a few
Hyperthyroidism causes metabolic rate to soar. Hyperthyroid cats are hungry all the time to compensate for their increased metabolic rate. Diabetic cats lack insulin, which allows nutrients to enter the cells. Diabetic cats are hungry because their bodies cannot utilize the food they eat. Cats with cancer and kidney disease usually have poor appetites.

Early recognition

  • An annual physical examination by your veterinarian will go a long way to detecting weight loss, which is a common feature of the big four.
  • Collect a urine sample and take it to your cat’s annual physical exam, since abnormalities like sugar in the urine will help diagnose diabetes early.
  • If your pet is showing any of these signs, discuss blood testing with your veterinarian to help identify your cat’s medical condition.

A Good Day @The AMC!

March 15, 2013

I had an especially good day at The Animal Medical Center one day last week and so did everyone else. Our hard work was rewarded with positive outcomes for many wonderful pets.

A cancer check up

Becky swimming

Becky

Becky, a graceful Golden Retriever, had an appointment for a follow up on her thyroid tumor which was surgically removed nearly a year ago. After surgery, she received a total of four chemotherapy treatments. I administered two drugs, doxorubicin and carboplatin, using an alternating treatment protocol. Now she needed a new chest x-ray since the lungs are where thyroid tumors spread most commonly. It was a tense wait for everyone, her owner and her oncology team, but we were rewarded when the radiology report indicated her tumor had not spread.

A happy heart

The cardiologists saw a Boxer who suffers from a form of heart disease found commonly in this dog breed. In Boxers, fat replaces the normal heart muscle and causes abnormal heart beats which can lead to sudden death. This disease, known as arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, was first diagnosed by cardiologists working at The AMC and studying Boxers with heart problems. This particular Boxer and her cardiologist were having a good day, like I was. At first she had 22,000 abnormal heart beats measured using a continuous heart monitor called a Holter monitor. Initial results indicated treatment with heart medications decreased the number of abnormal beats to only 51 abnormal beats in over 110,000 beats counted in a 24 hour period!

Renal medicine rejoices over urine

Since every pet urinates, you might think urine would not be a cause for celebration, but The AMC’s Renal Medicine & Dialysis Service does. When kidneys suffer from serious infection or obstruction, they can actually completely stop making even the smallest drop of urine. Using dialysis, AMC’s kidney specialists can replace the filtration function of the kidneys and prevent serious illness from a buildup of toxins in the bloodstream. But until the kidneys start to heal, cats and dogs may not urinate for days. The first time a dialysis patient urinates, an average day becomes a great day since we know the kidneys are finally getting better.

Surgeons perform less surgery and are glad

Henry was diagnosed with a lung tumor. Because his doctors made an early diagnosis, his tumor was small making it amenable to a minimally invasive removal. The surgeons used a thorascope – a device with a tiny camera attached. The camera was inserted into Henry’s chest through a small incision. Its progress toward the tumor was viewed on a large screen monitor. Once the exact location of the tumor was identified, a second small incision was made through which the lung tumor was removed using a surgical stapler. Because of the minimally invasive approach, Henry was discharged from the hospital the next day rather than several days later, which is typical when traditional surgery is used.

Even though these stories are about different pets, different diseases and different veterinary specialists, they share a common theme, improving the health of pets so they spend as little time as possible @The AMC and spend more time at home with their families enjoying life.


Tripawds Awareness Day

March 5, 2013
Jill tripawd

Jill

Sunday was Tripawds Awareness Day on the cleverly chosen date of 3/3. To celebrate tripawds, I thought I would tell you about a triplet of tripawd patients.

Every veterinarian has dog and cat patients with only three legs, or as one website calls them, tripawds. Because I am a cancer specialist, my tripawd patients all have a malignant tumor as the cause of their amputation, but other veterinarians perform amputations to treat a variety of diseases and injuries. One common cause of amputation in cats is a serious fracture that cannot be repaired. Infections of the bone cannot always be cured by antibiotic therapy and if the infection starts to cause pain, an amputation controls both pain and infection. When hit by a car, dogs and cats may suffer nerve damage to their front leg, sometimes resulting in paralysis. The paralyzed limb may drag on the ground and develop sores. Amputation resolves this problem once veterinarians have determined there is no hope of the limb regaining function.

Handsome Lester

Lester, a refined gentleman of a dog, came to The Animal Medical Center nearly two years ago. He has the black tongue of a Chow Chow, the coat of a Samoyed and sadly, osteosarcoma. Osteosarcoma is the most common bone tumor in dogs and in my practice is the most common cause of amputation. Because amputation treats the tumor in the bone but does not treat the little tumors lurking elsewhere, like the lungs, Lester received chemotherapy intravenously for a few months after surgery. Then Lester exceeded our expectations and was tumor-free for over one year. Late last summer, chest x-rays picked up new tumors in his lungs. Thanks to an oral chemotherapy drug, tripawd Lester continues to exceed our expectations with a great quality of life – walking on the beach with his naughty brother Nicholi.

Long live Ajax

Ajax, a 10 year old tripawd Labrador, appeared in an earlier blog when he had two simultaneous tumors, a thymoma near his heart and a soft tissue sarcoma on his hind leg. The sarcoma attached itself to his leg bone and could not be removed without losing the functionality of his leg. Ajax’s soft tissue sarcomas behaved very differently than Lester’s osteosarcoma. Amputation was the only treatment required to cure him of this tumor and he has survived nearly three years since the surgery.

Cheerful Jill

Jill’s family desperately tried to save her leg. They let several pathologists study her toe biopsy and we were hopeful surgical removal of the toe would be all the treatment she needed. Several months after the toe amputation, Jill’s family found a hard mass on the back of her leg, and a biopsy indicated the giant cell osteosarcoma of the toe had recurred. Since the possibility of amputation was discussed during the evaluation of the toe biopsy, Jill’s family was not surprised at the recommendation for an amputation once the tumor had returned. We also recommended chemotherapy, the same drugs we used successfully in Lester. To hear more about Jill and her adventures, read her blog on Tripawds.com.

Want more information about tripawd dogs? 

  • In addition to the Tripawds website, there is also Canine Amputees. Their page of links is excellent.
  • Watch a video of a pair of bi-paws and their new rolling front legs.

National Pet Cancer Awareness Month

November 21, 2012

November is a busy month. Not only is it National Diabetes Month, but it is also National Pet Cancer Awareness Month.

Cancer and diabetes are two important diseases the veterinarians at The Animal Medical Center treat every day.

According to VPI, a pet insurance company, their top ten insurance claims for pet cancer treatment include tumors we veterinary oncologists commonly treat.

  1. Lymphoma or lymphosarcoma
  2. Malignant skin cancer
  3. Splenic cancer
  4. Bone or joint cancer
  5. Liver caner
  6. Chest cancer
  7. Bladder cancer
  8. Brain of spinal cord cancer
  9. Mouth cancer
  10. Cancer of the cells lining the inside of the chest and abdomen

Surgery and cancer

Surgery is often the first procedure for a cancer patient and is commonly performed to get a biopsy of a lump which leads to the diagnosis of cancer. For one or two of the tumors on the top ten list, surgical excision might be the only treatment needed to control the tumor. If surgical excision isn’t enough to control the tumor, we often recommend chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy concerns

The tumors listed in the top ten insurance claims also include tumors veterinary oncologists manage with chemotherapy treatments. Chemotherapy helps us control the spread of some tumors and shrink others, improving both the length and quality of a pet’s life.

Many pet owners express concern over the potential side effects of chemotherapy treatment on their pet. Scientific research has proven their concerns unfounded. Carboplatin, a chemotherapy drug used to treat bone tumors called osteosarcoma and other tumors in dogs and cats, receives high marks for improving quality of life.

A combination of chemotherapy drugs for the treatment of feline lymphoma also improved the quality of life of cats suffering from this common tumor.

Setting expectations

Veterinary oncologists successfully give chemotherapy to dogs and cats on a daily basis. Because we have been treating pets with cancer for decades, we know what doses are safe and what additional therapies to administer to limit adverse reactions. In my experience, dogs tolerate chemotherapy better than people and cats tolerate it even better than dogs. I think psychology plays a role in chemotherapy reactions. Humans know what chemotherapy can do. My patients, smart as they are, have no clue about chemotherapy. The typical pet receiving chemotherapy has one or two off days following treatment and then their appetite and energy rebound. We obsess over every patient’s white blood cell count and send them home without treatment if the count is too low for safe administration. Every one of our patients has at least two people helping with chemotherapy administration: someone who holds the pet on a soft, comfortable mat, and a nurse specially trained in administration of chemotherapy drugs.

What can a pet owner do about cancer?

Take an active role in screening your pet for cancer using the Veterinary Cancer Society’s Ten Common Signs of Cancer in Pets.

Investigate pet insurance to see if it is right for your family. If you already have a policy, find out if cancer treatment is covered.


Of Man and Dog: The Fight Against Cancer

June 7, 2012

Humphrey is available for adoption through Petfinder (see details below)

Dogs, surprisingly, retain physiological and genetic similarity to humans. Dogs and humans also share a common environment and suffer from the same diseases, such as cancer. In many cases, studying dog cancer can lead to advances in the treatment of human cancer.

Strike it rich with Golden Retrievers

Take for example the Golden Retriever, with a lifetime risk of lymphoma in the United States of 1:8. Veterinary researchers collaborated and struck “research gold” when they found a deletion in a canine chromosome in a high percentage of Golden Retrievers with B cell lymphoma. The same deletion was found less often in other breeds with lymphoma.

Because genetic abnormalities in human cancers are difficult to pinpoint, studies such as this one help to identify genetic abnormalities to target in future human studies of lymphoma. A newer study employed a virtual rearrangement of chromosomes from Golden Retrievers and other breeds to match the distribution of genes on human chromosomes and identified human chromosomes 8 and 21 as areas for further study to advance knowledge and treatment of human lymphoma.

Research of this caliber requires multiple investigators, each contributing to the work from their own area of expertise. To help decipher this information, I spoke with my friend and one of the investigators, Dr. Jamie Modiano.

He says, “If, at the molecular level, you look at dog lymphoma pretending it is human lymphoma, the genetics are simpler and it becomes easier to find pertinent abnormalities. The molecular abnormalities stand out in the dog because of the reduced complexity of the genome in inbred, purebred dogs as compared to the complex human genome.”

Dogs guide researchers on the path to success

Osteosarcoma, the most common bone tumor in both humans and dogs, is a devastating disease. Only 80% of children with osteosarcoma live more than five years and for dogs the number is lower: only 20% of dogs survive more than two years. The similarities of the disease between humans and dogs makes osteosarcoma an important disease to study. Already studies in dogs have contributed to advances in limb-sparing surgeries and improved chemotherapy protocols in children and dogs. As with lymphoma, veterinary researchers collaborate to study dogs with osteosarcoma because dogs’ more narrow genetic diversity when compared to humans makes identification of genetic abnormalities a bit simpler. In one study, genes associated with cell proliferation, drug resistance, and metastasis were found to be turned on at a higher rate in dogs succumbing to osteosarcoma early, compared to dogs enjoying a longer cancer free life.

Genetic mutations driving tumor proliferation are often similar in human and canine cancers. Another collaborative veterinary research group investigated the similarities between human and canine genes in osteosarcoma.

First, dogs of breeds like Rottweilers and Golden Retrievers that are at high risk for osteosarcoma were studied. Tumor samples were analyzed to identify what genes were turned on in the tumors. This analysis divided the dogs into two groups and, based on the turned on genes, found a marked difference in outcome between the two groups. When the same genes in children with osteosarcoma were analyzed, again two groups with marked differences in outcome were identified. Now researchers can focus on turning off the genes and developing drugs to block the genes’ effects.

For more information about how purebred dog genetics are helping cure disease, read my previous blog, “Fighting Breed Related Diseases.”

Click here for more information about Humphrey!


Top 5 Health Issues Facing American Pets Today

March 19, 2012

1. Pets are becoming medically underserved

Data shows the pet population in the U.S. is climbing, but visits to veterinarians are declining. On an annual basis in 2007, dogs saw a veterinarian 2.6 times per year and cats only 1.7 times, indicating cats are affected more than dogs. This number has continued to decline in the aftermath of the Great Recession of 2008. Taking your cat or dog to the veterinarian allows early detection and intervention before medical problems like obesity cause serious disease.

2. Obesity in pets, like in humans, is skyrocketing

Veterinarians know pets are getting fatter, but research has shown pet owners are not likely to recognize obesity in their pets, perhaps because they themselves are overweight. In dogs, obesity is linked to an increased body mass index (BMI) in their owners. If you love your pet and want it to live a long, healthy life, keep its weight down. Obese pets have a shorter lifespan and increased risk of cancer, heart disease, respiratory problems, bladder disease, and, like humans, diabetes.

3. Diabetes is increasing in both cats and dogs

Banfield State of Pet Health reports a 32% increase in diabetes in dogs and 16% increase in cats, comparing 2006 to 2010. This is likely tied to the obesity epidemic in pets. Diabetes can be treated in dogs and cats, but it involves someone in the family injecting insulin once or twice daily under the skin and monitoring response to treatment. Preventing diabetes by maintaining an ideal body weight is simply easier for everyone.

4. Cancer: a major illness in both cats and dogs

According to the Morris Animal Foundation, 1 in 4 dogs dies from cancer and cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs over 2 years of age.

In dogs, breed is strongly associated with specific types of cancer. Golden retrievers commonly develop lymphoma, German shepherds a splenic tumor called hemangiosarcoma, and Pugs a skin tumor known as a mast cell tumor. Cats get cancer too, most commonly lymphoma. Annual examinations and blood tests by your family veterinarian will help to detect tumors while they are still easily treatable.

5. Dental disease is on the rise

Reluctant is the descriptor for many pet owners when it comes to dental procedures in their pets. I understand their concern for the required general anesthesia, but I am concerned their reluctance is compromising their pet’s health. Periodontal disease is very prevalent in cats and in one study, all cats had evidence of periodontal disease. Over 10% were severely affected and nearly all had bone loss in the jaw as determined by dental x-rays.

Having periodontal disease may cause collateral damage in other parts of your pet’s body. In dogs, periodontal disease was associated with increases in markers of systemic inflammation and indicators of failing kidney function, and was also associated with endocarditis and heart muscle problems.

For more information on healthcare issues facing American pets today, watch my video interview with Yahoo! Animal Nation.

Photo: iStockphoto
________________________________________________________

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.

 


Vacuum-Assisted Positioning Device: Another Cool AMC Tool

December 21, 2011

The Animal Medical Center has all kinds of cool equipment to help make treating diseases in dogs and cats faster, safer and more successful. Today’s blog is about one of those devices, the vacuum assisted positioning device used by our radiation oncologist.

The video below shows a feline patient under anesthesia and being positioned by Dr. John Farrelly, AMC’s radiation oncologist, in the vacuum-assisted positioning device.

When you watch the video you will:

Hear
The clicking on/off of the vacuum pump and the beeping monitors for the devices monitoring heart rate and respirations.

See
A cat under general anesthesia with a visible tumor, laying on his back on the vacuum-assisted positioning device pillow.

Not See
The anesthesia machine attached to the cat’s breathing tube and a nurse monitoring anesthesia. There is also a console outside the CT scan room where the machine controls are housed.

What is a vacuum-assisted positioning device?
The large white “pillow” the cat is laying on is filled with little pellets, similar to a bean bag. The pillow attaches to a vacuum device that extracts the air from the pillow causing the pillow to mold around the anesthetized cat. The device retains the shape of the cat after the vacuum lines are locked in place.

Why do we use vacuum-assisted positioning devices?
This device ensures exact placement of the patient for each radiation therapy treatment and allows very precise delivery of the radiation treatment.

All of us at The AMC hope your pet never needs radiation therapy for a tumor, but if he does, the vacuum assisted positioning device will help us (and other vets) deliver the best possible treatment available.

________________________________________________________

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.


The Great American Smokeout is for Pets Too!

November 16, 2011

Second-hand smoke is bad for the entire family, including pets.

Thursday, November 17 marks this year’s Great American Smokeout. Since 1997, this event has been sponsored by the American Cancer Society to encourage Americans to stop smoking. Reducing illness, disability and death related to tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure is one of the objectives of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. According to the CDC, an estimated 46.6 million Americans were smokers in 2009.

This number represents 20% of the United States population. I think everyone would agree that eliminating smoking in the United States is a worthy goal since tobacco-related illness is the cause of 443,000 deaths annually in the USA. Not accounted for in these statistics are those family members affected by second-hand smoke: adult non-smokers, children and, yes, the family pets.

Pets suffer from second-hand smoke
Studies from the United States, Brazil and Scotland demonstrate the impact of smoking on pets worldwide. Dogs and cats absorb measurable amounts of nicotine metabolites into their bodies when they live in a home with smokers. The more smokers and smoking in the household, the higher the levels of nicotine metabolites found in the family pets. Not only can the metabolites be measured, but if the lungs themselves are tested, deposition of carbon material, a byproduct of smoking, can bee seen.

Increased disease risk
Research has shown disease occurs in pets as a result of their exposure to tobacco smoke.

A recent study of dogs with a cough lasting greater than two months suggests dogs living in a household with a smoker are more likely to have a cough, but further research is necessary. Oral squamous cell carcinoma, a deadly tumor in the cat, has been associated with exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.

The most common tumor in cats is lymphoma and the risk of developing lymphoma is tripled in cats living in a smoking household.

In dogs, environmental tobacco exposure increases the risk of nasal cancer and lung cancer.

I hope I have convinced you to quit smoking today, and keep your whole family healthy. Remember, the Great American Smokeout is for pets too!

________________________________________________________

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.


Will My Pet Have Quality of Life?

October 4, 2011

As an Oncology specialist, I am frequently asked how cancer treatments will affect the quality of life for the dogs and cats in my care at The Animal Medical Center. I give these discussions with my clients as much time and attention as they need because I know my explanation will impact the pet owners’ decisions to treat their pets for cancer.

Quality of life is an important topic for most veterinarians and frequently discussed at meetings and professional seminars. It has been the topic of various research studies. For example, veterinary cardiologists studied quality of life in cats with heart disease as perceived by cat owners.

For the cat owners who took part in this study, appetite, litter box habits and sleep patterns were important markers of quality of life in their cat. And, these owners stated they would trade longevity for an improved quality of life for their pet with heart disease.

The study also showed that illness does not only impact the quality of life of the sick pet. Having a sick cat increased the owner’s stress with an increasing number of medications prescribed by the veterinarian.

Making the decision to amputate a pet’s limb, whether for an irreparable fracture or cancer, is another example of a wrenching experience for all pet owners and where the discussion of quality of life is inevitable. A recent study of cats undergoing amputation found a normal quality of life following amputation in nearly 90% of cats.

Dog owners feel the same way about their dog’s quality of life following amputation.

What, then, is the definition of quality of life for your pet? Is there a universal answer? Unfortunately not. Every pet owner has his or her own definition of quality of life for his or her pet. My clients have shown me through the love of their cats and dogs, the knowledge and understanding of their pets’ personalities how they have answered these difficult quality of life questions. The following video, photographs and one endearing text message illustrates how pet owners interpret their pets’ quality of life.

Dakota likes to fish. When his cancer relapsed, and he needed to start chemotherapy again, quality of life came up in our discussions. Here is a video of him fishing shortly after he restarted chemotherapy. As long as he can fish, his family knows he has a good quality of life.

Argos on a successful hunt.

Argos, like his mythical namesake, had superior tracking skills, especially for ducks. In this photo, Argos appears to be more successful at his chosen sport than Dakota! To maintain a high quality of life for Argos, his cancer treatments were scheduled around duck hunting season and, like Dakota, he could still have fun while being treated for cancer.

Penny accompanying her owner on a Maine bike ride.

Penny loves to romp in the Maine woods in the summer. It is her break from the heat and humidity we New Yorkers suffer from in the summer. This past summer, her cancer treatments were seamlessly transferred to a Maine-based veterinary specialist for her vacation in order to maintain both quality of life and remission.

And finally, a text message from an owner who was worried quality of life was waning:

“He played sock today and trotted around with a pair in his mouth. He’s back to himself.”

I think that is what quality of life is: being yourself and doing the things you love to do. I am sure this is true for both man and beast.

________________________________________________________

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.


Will that be One Lump or Two? A Guide to Lumps on Your Dog

August 4, 2011

My telephone and email have been ringing and pinging this week with questions about lumps on dogs.

Lump near the tail base of a standard poodle.

The subject line of the first email said “Lump on Rump” which sounded like a line from an oncology book written by Dr. Seuss. When I examined the dog, I found a firm mass below the skin just to the right of the tail. Since this was a standard poodle, I suspected a sebaceous cyst, a common lump in this breed. But since you can never determine a benign or malignant lump by observation, I performed a fine needle aspiration using the same size needle I would use to administer a vaccination. Within 24 hours the laboratory confirmed my diagnosis. The worried owners were relieved, especially since no surgery was required for this benign lesion.

Small pea sized lump on the shoulder of a dog

The second call was from an AMC colleague who has just adopted a foster dog. He’s been vaccinated, groomed and has a spiffy new collar. His owner was petting him and found a lump over his right shoulder. The combination of the recent vaccination and the location of the lump (right where he would have been vaccinated for distemper/parvovirus) made me think it was a small-localized vaccine reaction. Since this dog comes to AMC most days, we carefully measured it on the first day and again a week later and it was already getting smaller. I will continue to monitor this lump but suspect it will go away in another couple of weeks.

The third call was from a friend of mine who is a veterinarian. She had found a lump on her own dog and performed an aspiration which diagnosed a mast cell tumor.

Because these tumors sometimes require specialist level care, she wanted input from the AMC about how best to approach this tumor surgically and input from me regarding an potential chemotherapy.

If you have a lumpy dog, have each lump evaluated by your veterinarian. I keep a line drawing of a dog’s body in each dog’s medical record. On the drawing I sketch the lump, record the size based on measurements and indicate the date aspiration cytology was performed. This process makes short work of determining if this is a new lump or not.

If your veterinarian recommends aspiration cytology or a biopsy, go for it. Without additional information, it is impossible for me or any veterinarian, to give an owner bad news or good news about the lump on their dog.

Don’t hesitate to seek the opinion of a specialist. A dog with a lump in a difficult location may need a advanced imaging to define the tumor location, a specially trained surgeon to successful remove a lump or a cancer specialist to provide follow up chemotherapy.

________________________________________________________

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

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


Why Do People Treat Their Pets for Cancer?

April 11, 2011

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

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

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

Cuddles/Photo by Dr. Ann Hohenhaus

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

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

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

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

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

________________________________________________________

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.


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.


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.


Does Getting Older Mean Getting Slower?

August 24, 2009

Oftentimes the owners of my older patients dismiss changes in their pet’s behavior by saying, “Well, you know he is 13.” I would like to caution all of us to think critically about the changes we are seeing in our older pets and examine the potential causes of these changes.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners classifies a senior cat as one that is older than 11 years of age and the American Animal Hospital Association defines a senior dog as one older than 6 or 7 years of age. There is great variability in the expected lifespan of dogs compared to cats and your veterinarian may not consider your dog to be senior until 9 or 10 years of age, depending on the breed. Panels of the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the American Animal Hospital Association recommend the senior pet be seen biannually.

Weight Gain
fat-dogOlder pets tend to pack on the pounds as they age. Your Dalmatian may be sluggish because she is carrying around too much weight for her slender frame.  Pet owners who are successful with a weight loss plan often comment on how much more active their pets are after they reach an ideal body weight. Veterinarians can help you to design a safe weight loss program which includes both diet and exercise for your pet. Obesity not only slows your pet down, but is a risk factor for diabetes, arthritis, respiratory disease, urinary tract disease and, worst of all, a shortened lifespan.

Arthritis
Slowing down may be a clinical sign of arthritis. Arthritis brings to mind the limping Lhasa or the achy Afghan, but did you know arthritis is commonly under-diagnosed in cats? Diet change, weight loss and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, specifically developed and tested in pets, can completely revert your arthritic pet’s personality back to normal.

Dental Problems
persian-catTooth problems can also slow your pet down too. When a pet experiences pain, it often causes a pet to be quieter than usual and dental pain is no different. An oral examination should be part of a complete physical examination. Removal of plaque build up, extraction of diseased teeth and treatment with antibiotics may be necessary to bring your Persian with a pout back to its usual vigorous self.

Cancer
When some types of cancer occur in a senior pet, the only clinical sign seen by the pet owner is a general decrease in activity. The decrease in activity may be due to pain or may be due to the growth of the cancer. Internal cancers, such as those of abdominal organs, lungs or nasal passages are types that can progress undetected, with the only sign being general malaise in your pet. Your veterinarian my recommend diagnostic imaging, such as x-rays, an ultrasound or CT scan to detect a possible cancer.

So remember, age is not a disease. Be sure to have your senior pet checked on a regular schedule and whenever your Abyssinian is apathetic.

To make an appointment for your pet, please call The Animal Medical Center’s appointment desk at 212.838.7053.
_______________________________
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 154 other followers

%d bloggers like this: