Monday, 20 October 2014

Metacam, Rimadyl and Previcox - Are These Drugs Safe to Use for Arthritis in Dogs?

Drug treatments for osteoarthritis have one of two primary objectives: Firstly, to make the patient more comfortable i.e. reduce the symptoms and signs of the condition. Secondly, and this is one of the major goals of osteoarthritis research, to slow or even reverse the osteoarthritis process that is causing progressive deterioration and loss of articular cartilage. Compounds that can slow the osteoarthritis process down are referred to as Disease (or structure) Modifying Drugs (DMOADs).

In clinical practice for both humans and dogs, the concept of disease modification is still rather theoretical with no treatment proven to have this effect. The main second line treatments in small animal veterinary practice are anti-inflammatory drugs.

Anti-inflammatory drugs
Most canine patients with some lameness associated with osteoarthritis will be best treated with anti-inflammatory drugs.When we talk about anti-inflammatories and OSTEOarthritis we are virtually always referring to the Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories or the NSAIDs (pronounced as 'en-sayds').

The NSAIDs are a group of quite different drugs but they all work in a similar way. They all act to block the production of prostaglandins in body tissues. Prostaglandins are a family of chemicals produced by the body that promote inflammation, pain, and fever. As well as making the local blood capillaries more leaky (causing local swelling) they will make nerve fibres more sensitive and hence make us feel pain.

Anti-inflammatory drugs act to reduce prostaglandin production in the tissues and hence reduce inflammation and discomfort. Prostaglandins also have some beneficial and important protective effects in the body. These include regulating blood flow to the kidneys and maintaining a protective mucus barrier in the lining of the stomach. It is in blocking these actions as well as the 'bad' effects of prostaglandins that NSAIDs can cause some nasty and potentially fatal side effects.

NSAIDs act by blocking the action of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX), which is vital to the production of prostaglandins in the tissues. There are at least two forms of this enzyme referred to as COX-1 and COX-2.  Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) block the COX enzymes and reduce prostaglandins throughout the body. As a consequence, ongoing inflammation, pain, and fever are reduced.

Since the prostaglandins protect the stomach and maintain a healthy blood flow to the kidneys, NSAIDs can cause stomach inflammation, gastrointestinal ulcers and cause kidney damage by reducing renal blood flow. The risk of serious kidney damage is magnified in dehydrated patients or patients in circulatory shock from blood loss.  COX-1 is particularly important in housekeeping functions and COX-2 is increased in the presence of inflammation. NSAIDs that preferentially block COX-2 seem to cause fewer gastrointestinal side effects.

COX-2 selective NSAIDs have become available for use in the dog. Three of the newer and most widely used agents, Metacam, Rimadyl and Previcox are licensed for use in a number of countries. They show preferential inhibition of COX-2 and show a lower incidence of side effects compared to drugs such as aspirin.

Generally anti-inflammatories alone seem to work well in the dog with arthritis. There are some drawbacks, mainly vomiting and diarrhoea, which can limit their usefulness in some patients and, lead to very serious complications in some. Their effects on reducing blood flow to the kidneys can be devastating in certain situations, typically those where there is some form of circulatory system problem such as shock or dehydration.

Play it Safe
Although NSAIDs have been associated with some serious side effects and adverse reactions, they provide safe, effective pain relief in the vast majority of patients. However, they are potentially very dangerous drugs and should be respected. I would advise the following rules are adhered to in order to minimize the chances of adverse reactions:

1.    Only use a veterinary licensed product provided/recommended by your veterinarian. Some human preparations have a much narrower safety profile in dogs than in people. Don't do it!

2.    Stop using any NSAID immediately if your dog develops inappetance, vomiting and or diarrhoea. Consult your veterinary professional straightaway.

3.    Always consult your veterinarian before administering any other medications alongside NSAIDs.

4.    If at a veterinary visit you see a different person at the clinic, always remind them that your dog is on NSAIDs - It should be on your pet's clinical notes but better to play it safe and mention it.

The NSAIDs are an important component of your pet's arthritis treatment plan but they should be used with care and under the strict guidance of your vet. They are just one factor in successfully managing canine osteoarthritis.

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Microchipping Your Pet

There are several reasons to get your pet microchipped. The main reason is that without doing so, there is little chance of your pet being reunited with you if it is lost or stolen. While collar tags are effective if your pet gets accidentally lost, they are easily removed, can fall off and are no deterrent for a thief. Microchipping is also the compulsory first step when applying for a pet passport, for those owners who wish to take their pet abroad.

Dog Theft
You may have laughed at Ace Ventura Pet Detective, but there are few more traumatic experiences that having a pet stolen. With the police seemingly disinterested, it has been reported that only one in 10 owners whose dog has been stolen is even given a crime number. As a result, in desperation to retrieve their beloved pet they give in to ransom demands. And as long as the thieves get away with it, they will keep on doing it.

A microchip is not a tracking device, it does not allow you to pinpoint where your pet has been taken to. However, if your pet is sold by the thief, the buyer is quite likely to take him or her to a veterinary clinic at some point in the future. Theoretically, when registering a new client a veterinarian will check the animal for a microchip, and run this number against the national database. If the pet was reported stolen, this will automatically be flagged on the system, and the previous owner can be notified. Of course there is the danger that a vet will not bother to check the animals microchip, but there have been many occasions where pets and their rightful owners have been reunited in this way.

Outdoor Cats
Cats given the license to roam around outdoors, especially in urban areas, run the risk of being involved in road traffic accidents. If the cat is not killed on impact, its instinct will be to bolt and then hide somewhere in the vicinity of the incident. Often it is not the owner of the cat who brings the injured creature to the veterinary clinic, and there are numerous cases of cats injured in road traffic accidents having being reunited with their owners via their microchips.

Pet Passports
There are three steps to attaining a pet passport for your pet in accordance to the strictly regulated PETS travel scheme:

Rabies vaccination
Blood test to check rabies vaccine was successful
What is the procedure?
A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice. It is injected under the skin in the scruff, on the back of the neck between the shoulder blades. It is quite a large needle, so can cause a sharp pain when inserted, though many animals do not even notice as there are so few nerves in the skin there. It can be done at any time, sedation is not usually necessary. However most vets prefer not to microchip puppies or kittens until they are at least 12 weeks old, or preferably when they are under anesthetic while being neutered.

Does it migrate around the body?
It should not move far from where it was injected. There have been rare reports of microchips migrating out of position, making them difficult to locate. However this is extremely rare, and scanners are very good at picking up the microchip signal when slowly moved over the back.

How does it work?
The chip contains a long number that is unique for that particular animal. When scanned by a handheld scanner (at a veterinary clinic, police station or animal shelter) the number comes up on the screen. This number can then be entered into a national database, which stores the name of the owner, the owners address, telephone numbers and email address.

Is it expensive?
Most veterinary clinics charge no more than US$ 50 (GBP £25) for inserting a microchip and completing all the necessary paperwork.

What if I move house?
Simply call the microchip company and change your details. Some companies provide you with a password and allow you to update your details online as and when necessary.

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Hip Dysplasia Can Cause Arthritis in Dogs and Cats

Hip Dysplasia can CAUSE arthritis in dogs
With the advent of many, MANY, MANY veterinary drugs designed to treat canine arthritis (Not sure I should name them all here), much has been said by Big Pharmaceuticals about arthritis treatment, but very little is published about how to prevent arthritis in the first place. Until now. Read on, dog lovers!

Arthritis in dogs is one of the most common conditions treated by veterinary clinics
But it's not all bad news. At least old age means that our companion animals are living longer! However, just like in older humans, older dogs (and cats) start to develop age-related changes and conditions they wouldn't develop when they were young.

What I'm going to describe to you is why Hip Dysplasia, which is something some dogs are born with, can lead to arthritis years and years later. Your understanding of how this happens can help you prevent arthritis in your old dog by making changes in how you raise your young dog. There are actions we can take to prevent Hip Dysplasia from turning into arthritis

Dysplasia in its purest form is a malformation of the hip joint on one or both sides, leading to a femur that does not fit correctly into the pelvic socket, and/or poorly developed muscles in the pelvic area. Remember it is not arthritis! Rather, arthritis forms because of the looseness of the hip joint caused by the congenital and environmental disease.

It's very important to your dog's health that you understand the difference!

The causes of hip dysplasia are considered heritable, but new research conclusively suggests that environment also plays a role. Meaning, if your puppy grows up too quickly, or gets injured, or you overwork the hips with too much exercise too early, the hips may either not have time to develop properly, or will be literally forced by repeated motion into developing improperly. Research into environmental causes or contributions to hip dysplasia are ongoing, so my recommendations here must by definition remain generalized, but hopefully you'll get the idea. Just because your dog has Hip Dysplasia does not mean she will develop arthritis

What happens, then, if your dog has a poorly developed hip joint, is that she starts to subconsciously move differently to compensate and reduce pain. She may either "bunny hop", where both legs move together, or she won't run as much, or she'll be stiff all the time. Since the hip cannot move fully, the body compensates by adapting its use of the spine, often causing spine, knee or muscle / joint problems to arise.

Chronic mechanical misuse of the hip, spine and knees then leads to arthritis, which is simply inflammation within a joint.

So what do we do to prevent Hip Dysplasia from turning into arthritis? Here's a short list, we can talk about the details more when you call our office for an in-person appointment:


Bone surgery, for instance the Triple Pelvic Osteotomy or TPO can be performed by a board-certified veterinary surgeon, if the dysplasia is caught before 18 months of age, to reposition the joint over top of the femur so that the joint can move more naturally. X-rays performed at your local veterinary office can determine if Hip Dysplasia is present.

Large breed puppy food, which is lower in calories, can help your large breed dog grow more slowly, giving the joints adequate time to develop.

Physical therapy and low-impact exercise like long walks on the beach, swimming... exercise is good for the body, and good for the soul. In moderation, of course.

Prevent excessive weight gain. While it is widely known that helping an overweight, arthritic dog lose weight is extremely important to relieve pain, it's less proven - but no less obvious - that keeping a dog skinny as she grows up will prevent the development of arthritis in the first place.

It is known that supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin and Omega-3 fatty acids like those found in fish oil help keep joints lubricated and reduce joint inflammation. It is less known whether or not these supplements can prevent arthritis from developing in the first place, in otherwise normal joints. In dogs with Hip Dysplasia, however, since it is rational to expect arthritis may develop in the future, it is also rational to expect that supplements may help prevent or slow down the progression of that arthritis. In other words... it can't hurt.

Copywriting Makeover - Local Vet Increases Business Via the Web

After working for several years for a prominent, local veterinary practice that had multiple branches, Dr. Wendi Lily-Bare decided it was time to go out on her own. She arranged to purchase one of the smaller clinics which would allow her to keep the existing business name and equipment. However, the current website was not included in the bargain.

With an understanding of how important a high-ranking website is to a local, small business, Dr. Lily-Bare quickly began making plans for the creation of her online presence. Those plans included the use of copy (text) that connected emotionally with her site visitors and clearly showed them why they should choose Pet Friends over all the other available veterinary clinics in town.

Researching the Best Options for Keyphrases
As is the case with all search engine optimization (SEO) copywriting, the first step in the process of creating the Pet Friends site was to research the best keyphrases for use in the copy and tags.

These same keyphrases would also be used in developing the clinic's local Google listing. This would allow Dr. Lily-Bare's site to potentially come up in the "Local Business Results" section of Google whenever someone typed in a keyphrase related to one of her pages.

Being a local business in a relatively small town, we decided to work with general veterinary-related terms and attach what's referred to as a "geo-modifier" to them. (Local businesses must include their specific location in order to weed out prospects that are outside their service area.)

Basically, we looked for keyphrases such as "veterinarian" or "veterinary clinic" and added the exact locale which, in this case, was Northeast Columbia, South Carolina. After compiling a list of good phrase candidates, we divided them up among the site pages.

Hook Prospects Right from the Start
While many people believe writing copy only applies to the individual web pages, there is actually another step that is just as important. Writing the title and description tags for each page is vital in securing that initial click.

What happens when you go to Google or another engine and conduct a search? You're provided with a whole page full of possible websites that might meet your needs. How do you decide which ones to click? By reading the title and description of each site on the page.

Vets that have title tags which are bland (such as Veterinary Services, Vet in Baltimore, Pet Urgent Care) don't do themselves any favors. There are ways to include keyphrases and still make a connection with your prospects. For instance, Pet Friends' Home page title tag reads:

Because They're Family | Veterinary Clinic | Northeast Columbia, South Carolina (SC)

A keyphrase is there. The location is there. And there was still room for an emotional tweak at the beginning which helps to capture the attention of searchers. After all, if you can't get them to click your title tag, it won't matter much what you say on your Home page, will it?

Writing the Copy
If you've ever shopped at Walmart for toothpaste, you're sure to understand the frustration of most online searchers. On the toothpaste aisle, you see dozens of choices. All clean your teeth. All freshen your breath. If you rule out the specialty toothpaste products (such as those for sensitive teeth or with extra whitening power that cost $8.00 a tube), then that leaves many left over. How do you choose?

The same dilemma applies when searching for a local vet. Go to most vet websites and you'll find they talk about themselves instead of to the site visitors, they don't give a clear reason to choose them over all the other vets, and they have no special features/services. Remove all the specialists and you've got a whole list of "just vets" to select from. How are you supposed to make an intelligent choice?

When it comes to toothpaste, most people default to a mindset of "they are all the same." Unfortunately, most pet owners do likewise when searching for a new vet. We set out to make sure Pet Friends' site visitors knew they were different.

The Home page headline set the tone: "Because They're More Than Pets. They're Family." Rather than babbling on with company-focused copy, we shot an arrow into the heart of every pet-owning site visitor that landed on the Home page. Rather than displaying the same old list of standard services that every other vet had on their Home page, we played on the fact that pets are family members in every sense of the word. The copy clearly relayed a message that Pet Friends' staff members were all pet owners and pet lovers who saw your cat or dog in a very "human" light.

The Results
Because this was a brand-new site, there was no benchmark for comparison. Nonetheless, measuring results wasn't hard since they came so quickly and were so obvious.

Within days of launching the new copy, Pet Friends' site had worked its way up to top 20 rankings for many search terms. Within a couple of weeks, at least half of the terms ranked in the top 10.

Now, several months after launch, Pet Friends' site has page-one rankings for all but two of their 18 preferred keyphrases.

According to Dr. Lily-Bare, "We write on every new patient's chart how they found out about us. I always check when I'm looking over their chart. We've gotten a lot of new patients from people who have found us through Google and other search engines. It's an excellent way to advertise that continues to pay off month after month."

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Maintaining Sugar Gliders Health - What You Need to Promote Health

Aside from diet, another essential factor that should consider most is the sugar gliders health. Maintaining the health of your glider is hard if there is no veterinary that specialized on the sugar glider. Most of the veterinary that you can find on your area do not know about exotic pets. Finding the right veterinary can greatly help on the health of your sugar glider.

Get a visit on your local veterinary office and talk to them if they can deal with exotic animals, if not, they should told you the right doctor that can really help you on your problem. Since the animal is exotic, finding the specific vet can be a tough one. If you get the sugar glider from the pet shop, you may ask them were they actually find the right veterinary for their health care.

Before anything else, here are some important issues that affect the health of your sugar glider. You should always remember that the animal is exotic and new to the pet world. People don't know everything about this animal, diagnosing and treating the pet by your own is not the right thing to do. If some problem happens regarding to the sugar gliders health, licensed veterinarian should be contacted.

* Calcium Deficiency
Low calcium diet is the cause of this: it could lead to the paralysis of their hind leg that sometimes could be fatal. To avoid this kind of problem, always utilized to have vitamins and food supplements that could provide calcium. Feed them with well-balanced nutritional diet, you may also ask your vet for a good diet plan to help your little pet. Also, monitor its food consumption; you should change the food that they don't like to something different. They would not obtain their health nutrient if they do not eat.

* Constipation
Another sugar gliders health issues are the difficulty of having bowel movement; this condition is mostly painful for humans and even on the animals. Plenty of fluids, fibers and adequate exercise on its diet can help to prevent this condition. Constipation is the cause of gastrointestinal dysfunction, if the owner cannot solve this problem by exercise and diet; it is better to contact the nearest veterinary clinic for a check up.

* Depression and Stress
Depression and Stress are two factors that should be considered always, because it threatens the sugar gliders health. This can be the cause of loneliness because of the loss of companion, attention, and illness the sugar glider is suffering. To prevent this condition, owners should have a pair or a group of this exotic animal. Also, owners should give sufficient amount of time and attention with them.

Last thing to remember; always obtain annual or bi-annual check up with the vet for the animal's health and happiness. This is to make sure that they are not having any problem and they are on the right track.

Stop Your Dog's Side Effects From Medication

With the advances of veterinary medicine and research new and more powerful drugs have become the favorite of many veterinary practitioners to combat illness and eliminate pain that dogs have as a result of injury, age related conditions and surgery. The problem that travels with these new wonder drugs is the possibility of serious side effects.

When your dog displays signs of illness or discomfort the first course of action is to make a quick visit to the veterinarian. Depending on the symptoms that you describe and the vet observes, he may decide to do some tests to determine the cause. Some of the tests may include blood panels, stool and urine samples and X-rays to complement the examination.

It may take a few days for the laboratory results to be reported to the veterinarian. Once he has the lab reports he may prescribe antibiotics for infection, or a range of other prescriptive meds, even anti-inflamatory pain medication to help your dog. This is when your dog parent antenna should go up. Your vet is well intentioned, but your dog is your best friend and you will want have all the facts before consenting to the use of any medication

When your vet prescribes any medication you should ask what the potential side effects of that medication might be. For example, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which can provide substantial levels of relief to your dog after an operation or has joint problems, carry the associated risk of certain side effects.

Some of the less serious side effects from this type of medication include depression, vomiting, decreased appetite, lethargy and diarrhea. More serious side effects include liver problems and kidney damage.

Dr Michele Sharkey, DVM of the Office of New Animal Drug Evaluation at the Center for Veterinary Medicine says that "If the pet owner can recognize a possible reaction, stop the medication, and get veterinary help, it could mean the difference between a good outcome and a disaster."

Immediately ceasing to give your dog the prescribed drug and contacting your vet should be an almost simultaneous course of action. Early detection of the side effect, stopping the use of the medication and veterinary intervention are critical to your dog's recovery and health.

While this is clearly solid advice, many holistic and alternative medicine veterinarians suggest that the use of certain drugs and medications are inherently dangerous for dogs. They would suggest less toxic remedies as a first course, eliminating the need for some medications.

For example, many vets prescribe meds for allergic skin conditions that carry the potential risk of unpleasant side effects. What if your dog could eliminate the need for those meds? The risk of side effects to your dog would be eliminated and this is perhaps the best way to stop your dog's side effect from medication.

Explain to your veterinarian your preference for alternate, natural treatments whenever possible. Obviously, not every condition permits this type of approach as many serious illnesses and injuries require immediate medical intervention to save your dog's life. But for many, less serious problems, a less toxic, safer and more natural remedy may be just what the doctor ordered to heal your dog's condition and contribute to his long term health as well.

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Obesity In Pets

Obesity is an increasing problem for pets and owners alike with many pets being heavier than they should be which will shorten their lifespan and predispose them to many other medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, joint problems, liver disease, breathing difficulties, heat intolerance and digestive upsets. The extra weight will significantly increase any risks associated with anaesthetics or sedations and will cause your pet to require a larger dose of medication e.g. pain relief if they develop arthritis. Most medications are given based on weight so a heavier pet means treatment is more expensive as more tablets are required. This extra medication also needs to be processed by the liver and kidneys which should belong to a lighter dog so extra work is required to break down and remove waste products.

What is the correct weight for my pet?

There is a great variation in body type between breeds just as there is in people. A general rule to assessing whether a pet is overweight is how easily you can feel their ribs. You should just be able to feel the ribs without pressing too hard and not be able to see them. If you are having to press firmly then your pet is overweight, if you cannot feel their ribs at all then it is likely they are clinically obese and veterinary help should be sought immediately.

What should I feed my pet?

Most commercial pet foods are carefully researched and formulated to provide a balanced diet. You should look at the range on offer to decide which is most suitable for your pets health and lifestyle. We can give advice on a case by case basis via e-mail or alternatively contact your local veterinary practice or pet shop.

Many types of pet food will vary in the types of ingredients and the quality of the ingredients used and this will usually be reflected in the price. However some premium foods do not require as much to be fed so may not be as expensive as they seem on first impressions. It is usually the amount of food consumed rather than the type which leads to obesity. If more calories are being taken in than are used up these must be stored as fat. If your pet is overweight it is important to find out why as this can help with losing weight. The following points may help:

Are they neutered? This reduces the need for energy for reproductive reasons and may require an adjustment to their feeding regime post surgery.

How much are they fed? Is this a similar amount to the feeding guide on the food or is it more than recommended?

How much exercise do they receive and has this decreased recently?

How many people take responsibility for feed times?

What extras do they receive?

Has the food bowl been changed recently?

Where do I start?

Your veterinary practice will be prepared to advise you on a suitable weight loss regime and most offer free weight clinics with specially trained nurses. Some people feel embarrassed or find it difficult to ask for this kind of help just as some veterinary professionals find it a difficult subject to broach as people can take comments personally. People who are willing to put in the hard work usually receive the level of support they need it is those that ignore or are not willing to accept that obesity is a life threatening problem that frustrate those who are trying to help them.

Start by measuring out the amount of food your pet should be getting based on the feeding guide from the pet food packet. This is a guideline as some pets will require more and some less than the recommended amount to keep them at optimal body condition. If it is a dry food this can be marked on a cup or mug and represents their daily ration including treats and extras. If your pet is overweight then their intake of calories needs to be reduced to encourage the body to use fat reserves. Extreme care should be taken in just cutting down the amount you offer as you are also reducing the amount of vitamins and minerals they receive. If these drop below a critical point then there is a risk of nutritional deficiencies. The most successful and safest method of weight loss usually involves a calorie controlled prescription diet and exercise programme. Alternatively you could make gradual changes to the diet you already offer.

Begin by cutting out all extras and treats and weighing out the correct amount of food for your pets size. If you want to give a treat take it out of their daily food ration. It is the act of giving and attention received that is often more important than the treat itself.

Divide their ration into several small meals rather than 1 large meal.

Gradually increase exercise depending on the health of the pet and the degree of obesity. This can include making them find their food or having to extract it from a food dispensing toy. Swimming is good low impact exercise for arthritic animals and there are an increasing number of hydrotherapy centres available. Always stop if your pet appears distressed. Consult your vet for an exercise regime in cases of heart or lung disease.

Cats may need to be kept indoors initially to prevent them obtaining food from other sources such as neighbours or hunting themselves!

Reweigh every 2 weeks initially to make sure they are losing weight and this weight loss is not too rapid. Consult your veterinary nurse for advice.

Remember they are much smaller than you and a decrease of 100g in a 5kg Cat or Yorkshire terrier represents losing 2% of their body weight. This is the same as a 40kg Labrador losing 800g (1lb 12oz). This would be a safe amount to lose over the course of 2 weeks.

It may be possible to reduce your pets food intake by up to 15% but extreme care should be taken in doing this as nutritional deficiencies may result. Your veterinary nurse should be consulted for advice for reducing your pets daily ration.

Calorie controlled prescription diets should be considered for those pets who do not lose weight through controlling their current diet and gradually increasing exercise.

Remember to use the same scales and make a record of the weight so that the rate of weight loss can be seen.