Every Pet Deserves A Good Home…

Dog Waits at Gate for Cat to Come Home [video]

Video: Dog Waits at Gate for Cat to Come Home

Tobias the cat was very ill or injured and at a vet clinic for three weeks. Watch as sweet Camila, a yellow lab, welcomes her kitty home.

September 29, 2013 Posted by | Animal and Pet Photos, animal behavior, animals, Animals Adopting Animals, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Pet Friendship and Love | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fly Guy – Simon’s Cat Cartoon

Video:  Fly Guy – Simon’s Cat Cartoon

h/t to Patricia Gillenwater

September 28, 2013 Posted by | animal behavior, animals, Just One More Pet, pet fun, Pets | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Drug Allergy: A Hidden Cause of Itchy Skin That Many Vets Don’t Know About

Story at-a-glance
  • Drug sensitivities in pets often take the form of allergic dermatitis (itchy skin rashes). They can also show up as blood abnormalities and liver damage.
  • Frequently, a drug allergy doesn’t create obvious symptoms for months or longer. This is one reason vets don’t make the connection between a pet’s illness and an adverse reaction to a drug.
  • Another reason DVMs don’t recognize drug allergies is because the subject isn’t taught in veterinary schools. Dr. Sidonie Lavergne hopes to convince vet schools that drug hypersensitivities are a real problem so they will begin including the subject in pharmacology or toxicology courses.
  • Dr. Lavergne’s laboratory can test an animal’s blood for the presence of memory T cells and antibodies to determine what drug might be causing an adverse reaction. She is currently providing diagnostic services, sample supplies and shipping at no cost to DVMs who would like a patient’s blood tested. She also provides free phone consultations to vets.

Pet Allergies

By Dr. Becker

Dr. Sidonie Lavergne, assistant professor of pharmacology at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, believes drug hypersensitivities in animals are probably much more common than veterinarians realize.

Dr. Lavergne is heading up a research project with the goal of identifying sensitivity reactions in dogs, to raise awareness in the veterinary community. The primary focus of her research is on delayed allergic reactions that affect the skin.

Drug Allergies in Pets Often Show Up as Allergic Dermatitis

"When drugs are given to pets, either orally or injected, the number one organ that’s affected is the skin," says Lavergne. "My laboratory is trying to understand why."

This will come as no surprise to regular readers of Mercola Healthy Pets, since I often discuss the fact that sensitivities of all types in pets tend to express themselves through the skin as a condition called allergic dermatitis. In my opinion, drug allergies are certainly a contributor to the epidemic of itchy skin conditions we’re seeing in pets these days.

Dr. Lavergne’s experience is that not only do drug allergies manifest as skin conditions like rashes, they also show up as blood abnormalities and liver damage. And she explains that while major adverse reactions like anaphylactic shock typically occur within a few hours of administering a drug, most reactions are actually delayed and symptoms don’t become obvious until the animal has been exposed to the drug for months. This, of course, means veterinarians are even less likely to make the connection that the problem is an allergic reaction to a drug.

Adverse Drug Reactions Aren’t Part of Vet School Curricula

According to Dr. Lavergne, "Most veterinary curricula don’t include adverse drug events in their courses. If students aren’t trained to be aware of it, it probably won’t be on their radar."

This is the principal reason traditionally trained DVMs don’t connect the dots between an animal’s symptoms and an adverse drug reaction. (Holistic vets are much more apt to make the connection.) Lavergne says veterinary schools need to be convinced that drug hypersensitivities are a real problem so they will begin including the subject in pharmacology or toxicology courses.

She believes once vets are made aware of adverse drug events, they will realize it happens more often than they think.

While I’m excited and hopeful about Dr. Lavergne’s research, I’ll be interested to see how much headway she’s able to make in bringing vet schools around to her way of thinking. My suspicion is that veterinary drug manufacturers will work diligently against efforts to bring more awareness of drug allergies to vet students.

Imagine if graduating vet students became so knowledgeable of the potential for adverse side effects that they prescribed fewer veterinary meds, and perhaps even looked for safer, more natural therapies instead? And what if they began to view vaccines and chemical pest preventives with the same degree of caution?

Blood Test to Determine What Drug Is at Fault

As part of her research project, Dr. Lavergne’s laboratory has the ability to test animal blood for the presence of memory T cells and antibodies — immune markers that can determine what drug might be causing an adverse reaction. Lavergne is currently providing diagnostic services, sample supplies and shipping at no cost to DVMs who would like a patient’s blood tested. She also provides free phone consultations and can help vets with diagnoses, even in cases where a suspected adverse drug reaction happened in the past.

"Even if the event happened years ago, a dog will have memory immune cells in its blood that can help confirm whether there was an allergic reaction," Lavergne says. "And if the animal was on multiple drugs at the time, I can determine which one is likely to have caused the problem."

Dr. Lavergne believes that not only will her diagnostic service help vets treat animal patients currently experiencing adverse drug reactions, but the knowledge gained through her research will help future allergic pets as well.

If you suspect your pet might be allergic to a drug she is taking or was given in the past, consider letting your vet know about Dr. Lavergne’s research project. She can be reached at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine at (217) 265-0315, or by email at slavergn@illinois.edu.

September 27, 2013 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal Related Education, Dogs, Dogs, Pet Health, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , , , | 1 Comment

Detroit Grapples With Latest Crisis–Stray Dogs

Video: ACE – American Strays the Series

Detroit Is Going To The Dogs – Literally

JoshuaPundit: As Detroit continues to circle the drain, there’s yet another hazard to contend with – an estimated 50,000 stray dogs roaming the streets and vacant homes menacing residents and city workers.

To make it even more interesting, pit bulls dominate the dog packs, due to the popularity of the breed in the largely black city as watchdogs and for dog fighting.
Many of the dogs have simply been abandoned and left to fend for themselves as the owners move on, something uniquely cruel when it comes the Man’s Best Friend. The dogs often roam in packs and shelter in Detroit’s abandoned homes, where rats can also be hunted as a food source.

And the bankrupt city, as things stand right now, can’t really do much about it.

“With these large open expanses with vacant homes, it’s as if you designed a situation that causes dog problems,” said Harry Ward, head of animal control.
Ward has four officers to cover the 139-square-mile (360-square-kilometer) city seven days a week, 11 fewer than when he first took over animal control in 2008. He has one dog-bite investigator, down from three.

Back in July, the City shelters actually had to stop picking up stray animals for a month because the city hadn’t paid a service that hauls away euthanized animals for cremation at a cost of about $20,000 a year. The freezers were packed with carcasses, and pens were full of live animals until that bill was paid.

In some particularly bad areas, the U.S. Postal Service has had to temporarily halt mail delivery in some neighborhoods because of attacks by aggressive dogs, said Ed Moore, a Detroit-area spokesman. He said there were 25 reports of mail carriers bitten by dogs in Detroit from October through July.

Another problem is that many of the residents of Detroit who still remain and own dogs aren’t bothering to get them neutered, are not getting them their rabies or distemper shots and are simply letting them wander. There simply isn’t any budget to enforce these measures any more.

Yes, there are a number of jokes I could make here, but to tell you the truth, I feel sorry for the dogs. They at least did nothing to create this and deserve better.

Abandoned Dogs Roam Detroit in Packs as Humans Dwindle

September 23, 2013 Posted by | Adopt Just One More Pet, animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, NO KILL NATION, Pets, Political Change, Stop Animal Cruelty, Stop Euthenization, Unusual Stories, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Pet Alzheimer’s Disease – Is Your Dog or Cat Showing Signs?

Story at-a-glance
  • As your pet ages, he can develop canine or feline cognitive dysfunction syndrome, which is a degenerative brain disease similar to Alzheimer’s in humans. Studies show 40 percent of dogs at 15 have at least one symptom, as do 68 percent of geriatric dogs. About half of all cats 15 or older also show signs of cognitive decline.
  • Veterinary behaviorists are speaking out about the need for vets to monitor behavior in older pets just as they do other body systems. The earlier a cognitive problem is recognized, the earlier intervention can begin, giving pets more quality time with their families.
  • Cognitive dysfunction is not “normal aging.” Diagnosis of the disease is a diagnosis of exclusion, since many health conditions in older pets have symptoms that mimic those of cognitive decline.
  • A balanced, species-appropriate diet, exercise, mental stimulation and environmental enrichment are basic tools for pet owners who want to help their dog or cat stay mentally sharp.
  • There are also several supplements that can be beneficial for older pets, including SAMe, coconut oil, resveratrol, ginkgo biloba, and phosphatidylserine.

Aging Pet

By Dr. Becker

Unfortunately, just like people, dogs and cats also develop degenerative brain diseases known as canine or feline cognitive dysfunction syndrome. But unlike humans, often the signs a pet is in mental decline go unnoticed until the condition is so advanced there’s little that can be done to turn things around or at least slow the progression of the disease.

Often, even an animal’s veterinarian is unaware there’s a problem because he or she doesn’t see the pet that often and always in a clinical setting vs. at home. In addition, according to Dr. Jeff Nichol, a veterinary behavior specialist in Albuquerque, NM, many DVMs aren’t aware of just how common cognitive dysfunction syndrome is. Vets assume pet parents will tell them when an older dog or cat is experiencing behavior changes, while owners assume the changes are just a natural part of aging.

In a large Australian study published in 2011 on canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD),1 scientists at the University of Sydney reported that about 14 percent of dogs develop CCD, but less than 2 percent are diagnosed. In addition, the risk of CCD increases with age — over 40 percent of dogs at 15 will have at least one symptom. Researchers also estimate the prevalence of cognitive dysfunction in geriatric dogs at 68 percent.

In a study also published in 2011 on cognitive decline in cats,2 a researcher at the University of Edinburgh, Hospital for Small Animals estimated that a third of all cats between 11 and 14 years of age have age-related cognitive decline. That number increases to 50 percent for cats 15 years and older.

Are You Discussing Your Pet’s Behavior Changes with Your Vet?

Veterinary behaviorists are beginning to speak out about the need for vets to monitor behavior in older pets just as they do other body systems. According to Dr. Marsha Reich, a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behavior:

“Just because he’s getting old doesn’t mean that we just stand on the sidelines and let him get old. There are things we can do to intervene and improve the dog’s ability to function and improve its quality of life.”

Dr. Gary Landsberg, a veterinary behaviorist in Ontario, Canada, agrees. "This is critical. Early recognition allows for early intervention,” he says.

One of the challenges for vets is that older pets often have multiple health conditions that must be managed, and behavior issues – when addressed at all — often take a back seat. This is especially true for DVMs who expect pet parents to make a separate appointment to discuss behavior changes they’ve noticed in their dog or cat. Typically by the time that happens, if it happens at all, it’s too late.

Animal behavior experts would like to see vet clinic staff give owners a behavioral questionnaire to complete before the dog or cat is taken to the examination room. (Questionnaires could even be emailed to pet owners a day or two before a scheduled appointment.) The vet can then quickly scan the questionnaire to see if there’s a need to discuss changes in an animal’s behavior with the owner.

The questionnaires, if done routinely, also provide a history both the vet and pet owner can refer to as the dog or cat ages.

At my practice, we have clients complete a “Catching Up” form every 6 months at their wellness exam, which covers any new behaviors that may have developed over the past months since their pet’s last exam.

Your Pet’s Mental Decline Has a Physical Cause

Cognitive dysfunction presents as a psychological problem, but the root cause is actually physical and is the result of age-related changes within the brain.

Dogs’ and cats’ brains age in a similar fashion and undergo oxidative damage, neuronal loss, atrophy and the development of beta-amyloid plaques. These ß-amyloid plaques are also seen in human Alzheimer’s sufferers.

According to Dr. Nicholas Dodman, professor and program director of animal behavior at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, “normal aging” does exist. Some features of cognitive function do decrease with age, but cognitive dysfunction of the type seen in Alzheimer’s disease is not normal.

While canine dementia isn’t exactly the same disease as Alzheimer’s in people, the development of ß-amyloid plaques in pets results in confusion, memory loss, and other symptoms related to mental function. And the condition can come on and progress very rapidly.

Diagnosis of cognitive dysfunction in a pet is a diagnosis of exclusion. There are many conditions older animals acquire that mimic the signs of cognitive decline, so it’s important to rule out all other physical reasons for a change in behavior. For example, a small seizure can cause a pet to stand still and stare. If your pet seems detached, he could be in pain. Inappropriate elimination can be due to kidney disease. These disorders and many others can result in a change in behavior unrelated to cognitive decline. That’s why it’s so important to rule out all possible alternative reasons, especially in aging pets.

It’s also important for your vet to review any medications your dog or cat is taking. Older animals metabolize drugs differently than younger pets, and if a dog or cat has been on a certain medication for years, it’s possible it is having a different effect as he gets older.

And keep in mind your aging kitty may need a more accessible litter box, and an older dog may need more trips outside to relieve herself.

How to Help Your Aging Pet Stay Mentally Sharp

Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help your aging pet maintain good mental function for as long as possible, and delay the onset and progression of cognitive decline.

  • The foundation for good health and vitality for pets of any age is a nutritionally balanced, species-appropriate diet. Your pet’s diet should include omega-3 essential fats, such as krill oil, which are critical for cognitive health. Your pet’s body needs an ideal energy source to promote the processes of metabolism, growth and healing. That perfect fuel — especially for aging pets — is a healthy variety of fresh, living food suitable for your carnivorous cat or dog.
  • Keep your pet’s body and mind active with regular exercise appropriate for your pet’s age and physical condition, and mental stimulation (puzzles and treat-release toys can be beneficial). Make sure your dog has opportunities to socialize with other pets and people. Think of creative ways to enrich your cat’s indoor environment.
  • Provide your pet with a SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) supplement as a safe and effective way to stall or improve mental decline. Consult your pet’s veterinarian for the right dose size for your dog or cat. There are also commercial cognitive support products available.
  • Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) have been shown to improve brain energy metabolism and decrease the amyloid protein buildup that results in brain lesions in older pets. Coconut oil is a rich source of MCTs. I recommend 1/4 teaspoon for every 10 pounds of body weight twice daily for basic MCT support.
  • Other supplements to consider are resveratrol (Japanese knotweed), which protects against free radical damage and beta-amyloid deposits, ginkgo biloba, gotu kola and phosphatidylserine – a nutritional supplement that can inhibit age-related cognitive deficits. Consult a holistic veterinarian for dosing guidance.
  • Cats are often nocturnal throughout their lives, but older dogs can develop problems sleeping at night. They tend to sleep all day and stay awake all night, pacing, making noise, and feeling anxious and uncomfortable. Behaviorists recommend melatonin, which is not only a sedative with a calming effect, but also an antioxidant. I also use Rhodiola, chamomile and l-theanine in both cats and dogs with excellent results.
  • Keep your pet at a healthy size – overweight dogs and cats are at significant increased risk for disease as they age.
  • Maintain your pet’s dental health.
  • I recommend twice-yearly vet visits for pets no matter the age, but this becomes even more important for animals getting up in years. Keeping abreast of your dog’s or cat’s physical and mental changes as she ages is the best way to catch any disease process early. Ask your vet to perform a blood test to check your dog’s internal organ health to make sure you are identifying possible issues early on.

When your pet begins to respond to therapy designed to improve cognitive function, in the case of a dog, you can begin re-training him using the same techniques you used when he was a puppy – positive reinforcement behavior training involving lots of treats and praise.

Of course, none of these recommendations will be terribly helpful for a pet in the advanced stages of cognitive decline, which is why it’s so important to diagnose and begin treating the problem as early as possible.

Cognitive dysfunction is a progressive disease that can’t be cured, but early diagnosis and intervention can slow mental decline and offer your aging pet good quality of life.

September 23, 2013 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal Related Education, Dogs, Dogs, Holistic Pet Health, Just One More Pet, Pet Health, Pet Nutrition, responsible pet ownership | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Talking Pet Auditions

Video: Talking Pet Auditions

h/t to Dr. Becker

September 23, 2013 Posted by | Animal and Pet Photos, Just One More Pet, pet fun, Pets | , , | 2 Comments

Getting To The "Root" of Bad Breath In Dogs And Cats

Dog Smiles 2

Dog SmilesBy Donna Spector  -  HaloPets: Periodontal disease is one of the most common and serious pet health problems, affecting approximately 80% of dogs and 70% of cats by age 3. At-home prevention is as important as regular teeth cleaning by veterinarians. In fact, unless pet owners provide teeth cleaning for dogs and cats at home, periodontal disease will progress regardless of the care provided by veterinarians. Periodontal disease often results in tooth and gum infections, pain, loss of teeth and even organ damage in pets. Studies have shown that dogs with severe periodontal disease have more damage in their kidneys, heart muscle and liver than dogs without periodontal disease. This organ damage occurs when bacteria from the infected tooth roots and gums gain access to the blood stream (a condition called bacteremia). The key to management of gum disease (for humans or pets!) is prevention. As long as the surfaces of the teeth are cleaned frequently, the gums will stay healthy

Some dogs are more susceptible than others to build up of plaque. Factors that affect the risk of a dog getting periodontal disease include

  • Breed and genetics
  • Dog size
  • Flattened face (brachycephalic)
  • Age
  • Frequent mouth breathing

Vet inspecting a dogs teeth

Breed, genetic and tooth alignment can all affect how easily a dog gets plaque.

Small breeds tend to have crowded teeth and are at a higher risk of building up plaque and having dental problems.

Dogs with flattened faces having compressed upper jaws (such as pugs, boxers, etc.) also tend to have crowded teeth.

Older dogs are more likely to have dental problems.

When a dog breathes frequently through its mouth the drying of the teeth tends to harden plaque.

Smiling Chihuahua*Example: Chihuahuas are very lucky in that the fact that this breed has few health problems overall… but teeth issues is periodontal disease is one!  There is an old joke…”What do you call a room full of Chihuahuas?”…  “One full set of teeth.” Winking smile

Brushing your pets’ teeth at home

Cat SmilesThe gold standard for keeping gums healthy and plaque controlled in pets is twice daily tooth brushing. Each pet should have their own toothbrush and proper pet toothbrushes should have bristles to reach under the gum line. There are numerous cat and dog toothbrush sizes available to best fit your pets’ mouth. Human toothpaste contains detergents and should not be used in pets as they will swallow the paste. There are many cat and dog toothpaste flavors available and most pets seem to prefer the poultry-flavored types.

Proper brushing technique involves placing the toothbrush bristles at a 45 degree angle where the gum and teeth meet. Using a gentle oval pattern and covering three to four teeth at a time, the bristles should be moved around the teeth. Ten short oval motions should be completed before moving the toothbrush to a new location in the mouth. The outside upper teeth do the most chewing and should get more attention.

For best results, tooth-brushing should start when pets are young and will easily adjust to teeth cleaning at home. As pets age and develop tooth and gum disease, there may be pain associated with brushing and pets may be less willing to allow brushing. If your pet is completely unwilling to allow brushing, there are dental wipes that can help control plaque when rubbed twice daily against the teeth and gums.

Veterinary teeth cleaning

Cat Smiles 2In addition to daily tooth brushing, pets will intermittently require dental cleanings by their veterinarian to prevent periodontal disease from occurring. Veterinarians often perform fluoride treatments or apply plaque prevention gels that have a long-lasting plaque-fighting advantage. The frequency of these cleanings will depend on the success of the at-home dental care. They may be as frequent as every four to six months in a pet with severe periodontal disease or only every two to three years if a pet owner has been dedicated to maintaining their pets’ dental health at home.

Frequently asked questions:

  • Is anesthesia always required for teeth cleaning?

    Yes, anesthesia is required for a thorough teeth cleaning that will help prevent periodontal disease. As pet owners are often reluctant about procedures requiring anesthesia for their pet, some groomers and veterinarians are offering "anesthesia-free" dental cleanings. Anesthesia-free cleanings are not recommended by the American Veterinary Dental College, as these procedures always result in suboptimal examination and cleaning and also increase the risk of injury to the pet’s mouth.

  • Is dry food better for pets’ teeth?

    No. It is a myth that dry kibble helps remove plaque and that canned foods cause more plaque. Most dry food crumbles without much resistance, offering little to no abrasive action from chewing. Pets eating dry foods can (and do) develop heavy plaque buildup.

  • Does my pet need a special dental diet?

    Probably not. If your pet has particularly bad plaque problems, despite proper at-home teeth brushing and veterinary dental care, you should talk to your veterinarian about an appropriate dental diet. Approved dental diets contain chemicals that bind and facilitate breakdown of plaque. There is a list of approved foods and dental treats published by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC).

    Digestive problems can also contribute to bad breath in dogs and cats. If you haven’t already, consider switching to a natural pet food which promotes excellent gastrointestinal health.

  • Are there treats that can help reduce plaque buildup?

    Yes. There are many treat products on the market that claim efficacy against plaque and tartar. The VOHC Seal of Acceptance can help pet owners distinguish which products are actually scientifically proven to reduce plaque and tartar buildup.

    Bad breath is just a minor symptom of the more severe periodontal disease occurring in your pet’s mouth. Work with your veterinarian to create a cat or dog dental care plan that will keep the bad breath away and maintain your pets’ health for years to come.

Donna Spector, DVM, DACVIM ,is a renowned, board-certified Veterinary Internal Medicine Specialist who has practiced at the Animal Medical Center in New York City and other leading institutions. She is an active member of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. Dr. Donna has written and lectured extensively on topics including nutrition, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, kidney failure and respiratory disease. She is widely recognized for her role as consulting veterinarian to HALO, Purely for Pets, her TV appearances with Ellen DeGeneres and her widely-quoted pet health advice in print and on radio. Dr. Donna performs medical, nutrition and weight loss consultations for dogs and cats through her web-based veterinary consulting service, www.SpectorDVM.com.

Here we have two laughing Chiweenie Sisters, Angelina and Princess, laughing as they wait for their Halloween Photos (2008)

September 19, 2013 Posted by | Animal Related Education, Chihuahua, Chiweenie, Dogs, Dogs, Holistic Pet Health, Just One More Pet, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Olate Dogs

Video:  Olate Dogs

As America’s Got Talent gets ready to choose this season’s new winner, it seemed like a good time to watch this video of last year’s winners, the Olate Dogs, again.

September 16, 2013 Posted by | Animal and Pet Photos, animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet and Animal Training, pet fun | , , , | 3 Comments

Don’t Be Duped By the True Intent of This Media Blitz

Story at-a-glance
  • A group called “Partners for Healthy Pets” is kicking off a campaign this month to promote more frequent vet visits by pet owners. The group is affiliated with the American Veterinary Medical Foundation and boasts a long list of members/sponsors from the veterinary drug and pet healthcare industries.
  • The campaign hopes to convince pet owners that regular vet visits are as important to their dog or cat as food and love. The target audience is women in their 30s and 40s with above average household incomes and above average spending on pet necessities and luxuries.
  • The traditional veterinary community’s characterization of “preventive healthcare” is focused primarily on re-vaccinations, pest preventives, and other veterinary drugs and products. Holistic vets like Dr. Becker, on the other hand, view those things as potentially devastating to an animal’s health. Needless to say, the holistic veterinary community has a very different approach to preventing illness in pets.
  • Dr. Becker and other proactive, holistically oriented vets focus on issues of nutrition, maintenance of the frame, immune system balance, and routine monitoring of organ function to manage the health of their patients.
  • Truly effective preventive healthcare involves regular monitoring of a pet’s health status, and taking proactive steps as necessary to prevent the development of disease.

vet-visit[1] By Dr. Becker

According to dvm360, “It’s no secret that veterinary clients don’t understand the value of preventive healthcare.”

This may be the case for clients of conventional vet practices, but the majority of pet owners in my proactive, integrative practice certainly understand the importance of regular wellness visits. In fact, my preference is to see younger, healthy animals twice a year, and older pets and those with chronic health conditions even more often.

‘Partners for Healthy Pets’ Campaigns to Promote More Frequent Vet Visits

To encourage more vet visits, a group called Partners for Healthy Pets (PHP) is waging a $5.5 million campaign to convince pet owners that visiting the vet regularly “is essential to responsible pet ownership” – and is “as important as food and love.”

If you’re wondering who is behind the campaign, this is from the PHP website:

"Partners for Healthy Pets is the face of the Partnership for Preventive Pet Healthcare™, a committee of the non-profit American Veterinary Medical Foundation that was created to ensure that pets receive the preventive healthcare they deserve through regular visits to a veterinarian. This alliance of more than 20 leading veterinary associations and animal health companies is committed to a vision of improved overall health for pets."

The list of members/sponsors reads like a who’s who of the veterinary drug industry and assorted pet healthcare companies.

The campaign was rolled out to veterinarians at the AVMA annual meeting in July. According to dvm360, the pet owners being targeted are “urban and suburban women ages 32 to 49 who already have a relationship with a veterinarian but who are not regularly seeking preventive care.” This demographic is being solicited for their $75,000+ household income and a willingness to spend 20 to 25 percent more than average on their pets.

The campaign kicks off this month and will run through 2014, so I imagine many of you will begin to see PHP advertisements encouraging preventive vet visits. You might also hear directly from your DVM, since veterinary practices can enroll in the program and receive information from PHP on how to promote the campaign at their clinics and on websites.

According to Dr. Ron DeHaven, CEO of the AVMA and chairman of PHP…

“This is an unprecedented opportunity for the veterinary care community. It’s a platform for all of us to communicate the importance of preventive care to pet owners, to enhance the relationships we share with them, and ultimately to deliver even higher quality preventive care.”

As a proactive, holistically oriented veterinarian, I’m certainly a huge advocate of preventive care for animals. However, preventive care in a holistic context is very different from what the vast majority of traditional vets consider it to be.

It’s clear from the Partners for Healthy Pets members/sponsors list where the conventional vet community focuses when it comes to preventive care for pets. It’s primarily about vaccines and chemical pest preventives, in a one-size-fits-all approach.

Why Yearly Vaccinations Should Never Be a Reason for Regular Vet Visits

Yearly re-vaccinations are unnecessary and dangerous and should never be used to promote annual veterinary visits. Even the latest canine vaccination guidelines, now two years old, no longer call for annual re-vaccinations. Unfortunately, veterinary compliance with the guidelines is not what it should be. It seems the majority of vets are still promoting annual re-vaccinations.

It saddens me that so many pet owners have been led to believe their dog’s or cat’s health revolves around yearly re-vaccinations.

In my practice, I tailor vaccine protocols to minimize risk and maximize protection, taking into account the breed, background, nutritional status and overall vitality of the pet. With healthy puppies, for example, I generally follow the protocol set by Dr. Ron Schultz. I give a single parvo and distemper vaccine at or before 12 weeks of age, and a second set after 14 weeks. I run a titer test two weeks after the last set and if the dog has been successfully immunized, she’s protected for life.

If titer tests on any pet no matter the age indicate vaccine levels are low, I recommend a booster for only the specific virus or viruses that titered low, and only for those to which the animal has a real risk of exposure.

I do not use or recommend combination vaccines (six to eight viruses in one shot), which is the traditional yearly booster.

Veterinary Wellness Exams Should Be a Review of the Status of Your Pet’s Health

In my opinion, more veterinarians could help pet owners understand the value of regular vet visits by rejecting the traditional notion of preventive healthcare (vaccines and other drugs) in favor of adopting a proactive approach to keeping their pet patients healthy. Being proactive means being focused on initiating change rather than simply reacting to events as they occur.

In my practice I use what I call the Three Pillars of Health as a proactive approach to wellness. These pillars form the foundation for your pet’s health, quality of life, and longevity. Pillar #1 is species-appropriate nutrition. The diet you feed your cat or dog should be balanced and biologically appropriate for a carnivore.

Pillar #2 is a sound, resilient frame. This aspect of your pet’s health involves maintenance of the musculoskeletal system and organs.

Pillar #3 is a balanced, functional immune system. The goal here is to keep your pet’s immune system in balance. It should protect against pathogens, but not be over-reactive to the point of creating allergies and other autoimmune conditions.

What Effective Preventive Healthcare Looks Like

One of the primary ways proactive vets like me keep on top of a patient’s health is by tracking blood work changes over time. Let’s say your cat’s kidney enzymes (BUN and creatinine) are climbing, but are still within normal reference ranges. A reactive vet will wait to see those enzyme levels climb above what’s considered normal before taking action. My approach is to pay attention to any change in those enzyme levels, and long before your kitty is diagnosed with chronic kidney failure, I will suggest lifestyle changes that can prevent the disease from developing.

Another way proactive vets manage their patients’ health is by regularly reviewing diet, supplement protocol, and exercise habits with pet parents. A dog’s or cat’s wellness and nutritional goals change yearly, and over the age of eight can require fine-tuning every four to six months. Cats, in particular, are very good at hiding illness and pain, so it’s not a good idea to wait until there seems to be a problem.

Your vet’s preventive healthcare goal should be to help your pet avoid preventable disease. Unnecessary vaccinations and other traditional chemical “preventions” will not ultimately achieve that goal, and can actually help create disease where none existed.

In addition, your vet shouldn’t wait around until your pet is sick or debilitated and then attempt to fix the problem. He or she should use your regularly scheduled wellness visits as an opportunity to check the status of your pet’s health and take proactive steps to prevent serious disease from taking hold.

This is the true essence of preventive healthcare, and I hope you’ll advocate for it with your own veterinarian.

September 15, 2013 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, animals, Holistic Pet Health, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , , , , | 2 Comments

Nature outdoes engineers again: High-speed ‘mechanical gears’ discovered for the first time on the hind legs of a plant hopping insect

  • The baby Issus bug has curved cog-like strips of teeth on each hind leg
  • These cogs can interlock and rotate like mechanical gears to help it jump
  • This is the first time that mechanical gears similar have been found in nature

DailyMail:  Scientists have discovered that nature created mechanical gears long before man made cars and bikes – in the legs of a tiny jumping insect.

The baby Issus bug, a plant hopping garden dweller, has curved cog-like strips of teeth on each hind leg which interlock and rotate like mechanical gears to help it jump.

The discovery proves that gear mechanisms previously thought to be a solely man made invention were in fact first created by nature.

This shows a microscopic close up of a juvenile Issus's rear legs.

The baby Issus’ rear legs has curved cog-like strips of opposing teeth hat intermesh, rotating like mechanical gears

Scientists at Cambridge University made the discovery using a combination of body structure analysis and high-speed video.

‘We usually think of gears as something that we see in human designed machinery, but we’ve found that that is only because we didn’t look hard enough,’ said Zoologist and paper author Gregory Sutton.

‘These gears are not designed; they are evolved – representing high speed and precision machinery evolved for synchronization in the animal world.’


Each gear on the Issus¿ leg is around 400 micrometers long, and there are between ten and 12 teeth on each leg

Issus's rear legs

The gears on the opposing hind legs lock together like those in in car gear box to make sure the legs are completely synchronized when they move

Each gear tooth on the insect’s legs has a rounded corner at the point it connects with the other gears to stop teeth from shearing off when they clash, similar to gears on a bike.

The gears on the opposing hind legs lock together like those in in car gear box to make sure the legs are completely synchronized when they move.

This is critical for powerful jumps as even a tiny discrepancy in the timing between the legs would see, the little Issus spin out of control.

The legs always move within 30 microseconds of each other, with one microsecond equal to a millionth of a second.

The mechanical gears are only found in the juvenile insect, and are lost when the bug grows into its adult phase

‘This precise synchronization would be impossible to achieve through a nervous system, as neural impulses would take far too long for the extraordinarily tight coordination required,’ said lead author Professor Malcolm Burrows.

The legs always move within 30 microseconds of each other, with one microsecond equal to a millionth of a second

Issus‘By developing mechanical gears, the Issus can just send nerve signals to its muscles to produce roughly the same amount of force – then if one leg starts to propel the jump the gears will interlock, creating absolute synchronicity.

The mechanical gears are only found in the juvenile insect, and are lost when the bug grows into its adult phase

‘In Issus, the skeleton is used to solve a complex problem that the brain and nervous system can’t.

‘This emphasizes the importance of considering the properties of the skeleton in how movement is produced.’

The mechanical gears are only found in the juvenile insect, and are lost when the bug grows into its adult phase.

It is not yet known why this happens, but scientists think it could be because if one tooth on the gear breaks, the whole mechanism is damaged, and while juveniles can self-repair, any damage in adulthood is permanent.

Each gear on the Issus’ leg is around 400 micrometers long, and there are between ten and 12 teeth on each leg.

Unlike man-made gears, each gear tooth is asymmetrical and curved towards the point where the cogs interlock.

This is because man-made gears need a symmetric shape to work in both rotational directions, whereas the Issus gears are only powering one way to launch the animal forward.

While there are examples of cogs in the animal kingdom, such as on the shell of a turtle, gears with a functioning role have never been found until now.

The findings are reported in the latest issue of the journal of Science.

September 13, 2013 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal Related Education, animals, Just One More Pet, Wild Animals | , , , | 1 Comment