Welcome To Dr. Pinney's Pet Blog
Dr. Pinney's Pet Blog offers a glimpse into the dynamic and ever-changing world of veterinary medicine and pet health care.
In addition, our pet blog offers money saving advice and tips for the frugal pet owner in all of us!
|Thursday, Sep 01, 2011|
|Why Older Dogs Gain Weight|
|By Dr. Chris Pinney|
|Thursday, Sep 01, 2011 01:03|
As you might expect, dogs tend to pack on the fat as they get older. The biggest reason (besides lack of exercise) is this: As dogs grow older, they lose lean muscle mass, which in turn lowers the resting energy requirements needed to maintain them at their current weights. In other words, if you keep feeding the same amount that you always have, your dog will gain weight with each passing year. Oftentimes, a client will tell me that her older, obese pet "just doesn't eat that much" and she can't understand why her pet is overweight. Well, this is why.
As a result, it's a good idea to reduce caloric intake for dogs over 8 years of age by about 3% with each year that goes by (of course, this figure will vary somewhat with each individual, so check with your veterinarian before implementing such a calorie control formula). By doing so, you'll keep your pet at his desired weight and prevent those aggravating and expensive diseases linked to obesity.
Here's a quick tip on how to stay dry....When a dog shakes to rid its fur of water, it all starts at the head. That said, if you control the head, you'll be able to control the shake. So next time you give your dog a bath and you don't want him to spray water all over the bathroom walls, gently grip his muzzle to control his head and temporarily thwart the chain reaction - at least until you can get a towel draped over him.
Here's your latest Laugh of the Week: http://www.veterinaryinsider.com/public/Veterinary_Insider_Laugh_of_the_Week_8.cfm
|Saturday, Aug 27, 2011|
|Medical Marijuana for Pets|
|Saturday, Aug 27, 2011 10:57|
|You knew it was coming... |
A company out of Seattle is developing a transdermal pain patch for pets containing, what else, medical marijuana! The new "pot patch" could be made available to veterinarians sometime next year.
The company, Medical Marijuana Delivery Systems (MMDS), hold the patent for the patch, which will be marketed under the name "Tetracan". It will be made available for human use as well.
Fifteen states and the District of Columbia currently allow human medical marijuana use and a number of others are considering it. The legalities of its use by veterinarians on animals has yet to be established, but it's currently under review. We'll have to wait and see.
Until then, if they could only develop a weight loss patch for pets to curb those munchies!
|Wednesday, Aug 24, 2011|
|Veterinary Chiropractic Medicine|
|By Dr. Chris Pinney|
|Wednesday, Aug 24, 2011 12:35|
|Here's the final installment on our series on Holistic Pet Medicine. The subject: Veterinary Chiropractic |
As you may know, the focus of chiropractic medicine is centered on the spinal column, that portion of the central nervous system through which nerves course to and from the brain.
Chiropractic philosophy maintains (and rightly so) that all organ systems within the body are controlled by the nervous system. It does so through elaborate control systems (including those responsible for hormone production and release) and complex feedback mechanisms that coordinate all bodily functions and responses, including those related to health and to disease.
Any disruption of the free flow of nerve impulses throughout the body can disrupt homeostasis within the body and lead to poor immune function and subsequent disease.
Chiropractors target motor units along the spinal column. Each motor unit consists of two adjacent vertebrae and all of the nerves, muscles, ligaments, blood vessels, and ancillary structures associated with the joint formed by the two vertebrae. Either a "malarticulation" or a "fixation" of one or more of these motor units can disrupt the free flow of nerve impulses.
Such deviations from the normal anatomy and/or structural mechanics of the spinal column put pressure on and irritate the spinal cord, causing pain and/or preventing the body from mounting an effective response against other diseases. In addition, loss of motor unit mobility can slow the flow of spinal fluid, leading to malnourishment and degeneration of vital muscles, nerves, and other structures associated with the motor unit.
As far back a Hippocrates, spinal manipulations were used on people and pets to treat a wide variety of disorders. Today in pets, chiropractic adjustments are being used to treat lameness, hip dysplasia, intervertebral disc disease, non-specific joint pain, muscle spasms, and poor flexibility. In addition, chiropractic may be effective in managing gastrointestinal illness, musculoskeletal trauma, stress-induced exhaustion, and certain types of paralysis. Following chiropractic adjustments, many pets have been known to become more active and playful, exhibit increased appetites, and desire more interaction with their owners. The number of chiropractic adjustments required will depend upon the severity and duration of the problem and on the age of the patient. As a rule, the younger the patient, the fewer the adjustments needed to correct a malarticulation/fixation.
The chiropractic approach to treating disease in pets is becoming a popular holistic tool in veterinary circles today. I certainly feel it has its place in an integrative approach to pet health care. If interested in learning more, check out the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association website at http://www.animalchiropractic.org
|Thursday, Aug 11, 2011|
|Homeopathic Veterinary Medicine|
|By Dr. Chris Pinney|
|Thursday, Aug 11, 2011 11:28|
|Perhaps the most controversial of all alternative medical practices is homeopathy. The homeopathic movement found it origins in 18th century Europe and made its way to the United States in the early part of the 19th century. Well-known proponents of the day included Mark Twain, Daniel Webster, William Cullen Bryant and John D. Rockefeller. |
In 1844 the American Institute of Homeopathy was founded. In fact, this was the first national medical society formed in the United States. Interestingly, the American Medical Association was founded two years later. One reason for this: To counter the threat that the homeopathic movement posed to conventional medicine!
In veterinary medicine, the use of homeopathy remains controversial primarily because standards have yet to be established that takes into account the species, breed, and size of the patient being treated. For example, a small kitten and a large horse may both be prescribed the same remedy at the same potency.
Many medical doctors write off apparent homeopathic successes in humans as "placebo effects". Unfortunately, this does not explain the anecdotal successes achieved in certain clinical cases involving animals. Certainly any scientist or research practitioner would agree that when working with living organisms, countless variables exist that we do not understand or recognize. Perhaps it is one or more of these variables that accounts for homeopathic treatment successes when they occur.
Homeopathy is based on the Law of Similars, or "like cures like". This law contends that agents that cause disease symptoms at standard doses can cause the body to mimic those symptoms when introduced in extremely diluted doses and stimulate the body to cure the underlying disease. The goal of the veterinary homeopath is to support and strengthen the pet's "vital force", which is responsible for maintaining health and internal harmony within the body.
Clinical signs, which are recognized as simply outward expressions of disease and not diseases in themselves, are caused by imbalances affecting this vital force. Homeopathic treatment is designed to stimulate and strengthen the vital force into restoring its internal balance. When in balance, the vital force is able to effectively call upon the natural body defense mechanisms to rise to the occasion and eliminate the disease from the body.
Veterinary homeopathic remedies are administered to animals either as tiny pellets (crushed and placed on the tongue) or elixirs. For best results, they should not be given with meals. Remedies are formulated using herbs, extracts, heavy metals, minerals, toxins, or any other substance that has the potential to stimulate the vital force at homeopathic concentrations. If administered at full strength, many of these substances could harm or even kill a patient! However, when diluted the homeopathic way, they purportedly stimulate the body to heal itself.
Dilutions are performed in a step-wise fashion, with the preparations succussed (shaken) after each dilution in order to increase potency and vibrational energy. This process of dilution followed by succession is termed "potentiation". The more dilute the remedy, the more powerfully it acts to stimulate natural healing.
Interesting, huh? In my mind, the jury is still out on this particular holistic approach to pet care. I can grasp the others (herbal medicine, acupuncture, etc.) and have recommended them at times, but it'll take a major paradigm shift before homeopathy will gain my endorsement. But, hey, that's just my opinion...
|Thursday, Aug 04, 2011|
|Using Acupuncture on Pets|
|By Dr. Chris Pinney|
|Thursday, Aug 04, 2011 01:50|
The word acupuncture comes from the Latin word acus, which means "needle", and punctura, which means "to prick". Acupuncture involves the stimulation of specific points on the body in order to produce chemical and physical responses within the body. This ancient form of medical therapy is thought to have originated in the Far East over 7000 years ago. Due to the close interdependence of man and animal throughout the ages, it has no doubt been used as a form of veterinary medicine for thousands of years as well. Ancient civilizations certainly practiced acupuncture on their animals, as evidenced by the antiquated acupuncture charts that exist for a wide variety of species, including horses, camels, water buffaloes, and even elephants!
Several theories have been proposed in an attempt to explain the effects that acupuncture can have on pets (and people). The first theorizes that stimulation of an acupuncture point directly blocks the transmission of pain sensation along select nerve fibers within the body. A second theory postulates that chemicals called endorphins are released upon stimulation of an acupuncture point. Endorphins, which are up to 100 times more potent than morphine, effectively block pain sensations and can circulate in the bloodstream for several hours at a time, providing a lasting effect. Still another theory proposes that acupuncture stimulation causes select sensory nerve endings to transmit nerve impulses to the spinal cord and brain, and then back out again to glands located throughout the body. Upon stimulation, these glands release hormones into the blood stream that can exert various influences on the organ systems within the body.
More than likely, the actual mode of action for acupuncture is a blend of these theories. Interestingly enough, for acupuncture to work, a pet's nervous system must be intact. Studies involving patients suffering from nerve damage have revealed that the beneficial effects normally gained by stimulation of a particular acupuncture are actually negated by the damage.
Acupuncture has been used with success in pets to control pain associated with intervertebral disc disease, trauma, hip dysplasia, and other forms of arthritis. In addition, it may also help speed healing in pets stricken with allergies, epilepsy, nerve injuries, chronic respiratory disease, and disorders of the stomach and intestines.
Keep in mind, though, that acupuncture is only as good as the person performing it. The International Veterinary Acupuncture Society establishes a Code of Ethics and provides acupuncture certification within the profession. To help ensure competency when choosing a veterinary acupuncturist, always select one who has been certified by a veterinary acupuncture specialty organization such as the IVAS. Check out their website.
|Thursday, Jul 28, 2011|
|Botanical (Herbal) Medicine|
|By Dr. Chris Pinney|
|Thursday, Jul 28, 2011 02:28|
Here's the first article in our series on holistic approaches to pet health care:
Botanical Veterinary Medicine
The use of herbs to fight disease dates back far beyond the advent of modern medicine as we know it. Ancient people throughout the world, especially the Chinese and other eastern cultures, utilized herbs to treat illnesses and injuries arising from hunting and gathering, armed conflict, and recreational activities. Written documentation on the use of herbs for medicinal purposes apparently first appeared in ancient Egyptian culture. By 1000 BC, this knowledge had made its way across the ocean to Greece, whereupon Greek scholars such as Socrates, Pliny, Descordes and Krateus expanded on it, refined it, and recorded their findings in a Materia Medica. During the Middle Ages, European and Middle Eastern practitioners continued to expound on the works of the Greeks and helped solidify the foundation of the modern herbal Materia Medica.
Certainly the usefulness of an herbal remedy in the past depended upon that herb's availability in a particular geographical location. Unfortunately, herbal practitioners within the United States found many of the herbs contained in the Old World Materia Medicas could not be found in the New World. However, thousands of years before Columbus set foot on the shores of the Americas, local herbs had been used by Native American tribes to prevent and combat disease. This knowledge of New World herbal remedies was quickly assimilated into the new Euro-American culture and ultimately grew with subsequent westward expansion, leading to the formation of a Materia Medica dealing specifically with native New World herbs.
Thanks to the knowledge imparted by these pioneers in botanical medicine, today's veterinarians have valuable weapons at their disposal. Indeed, herbs can provide a powerful formulary against disease in pets. In fact, many of the active ingredients found in herbs are the same ones used in today's modern drugs. These active components include tannins, polysaccharides, glycosides, alkaloids, turpoids and essential oils.
Drug companies extract and isolate these constituents from the whole plant, then potentiate their strength in a laboratory, rendering them highly effective (and highly toxic). However, there has been a paradigm shift in recent years regarding herbs and their active ingredients. Scientists are now recognizing the therapeutic importance of certain "phytochemical" constituents found in whole plants that are absent in isolated extracts. Research is finding that these constituents may not only improve the effectiveness of the active ingredients within a patient's body, but also may lessen the risk of harmful side effects that the ingredients may cause.
Herbal remedies may be eaten, drunken, or applied externally as poultices. Both fresh and dried herbs can form the foundation for a particular remedy. However, with the exception of topical poultices (such as aloe vera poultices for burns), most herbal products used in veterinary medicine are made from dried herbs. These dried herbs are crushed and formed into pills or enclosed within gelatin capsules, made into tea-like preparations, or pulverized and mixed with alcohol to form elixirs. Herbal elixirs can be administered to pets in the same way as any other liquid medication, or they can be added directly to a pet's food. Pills and gelatin capsules can be administered directly or cleverly disguised in a treat.
Factors that can affect herbal potency include the method of drying used, the age of the herbal preparation, and the stage at which the plant was originally harvested. For example, dandelion leaves are most effective if harvested before flowering, whereas blue violet is best collected after flowering. Herbs that have not been dried properly may be contaminated with mold, which can certainly adversely alter their effectiveness. Also, the older the herbal preparation, the greater is the chance of a loss in potency due to natural degradation or mishandling.
As a rule, potency of herbal remedies will tend to diminish rapidly after one year on the shelf. In order to improve shelf life, herbal products should be stored in dark, airtight containers and in cool, dry locations away from direct light.
When addressing an illness, veterinary herbalists rarely use only a single herb, but rather use a combination of herbs. Doing so offers two powerful advantages. First, combining certain herbs will create a synergistic attack against the targeted disorder. Secondly, herbal combinations can be used to help dilute out undesirable side effects that may be caused by one or more herbs in the formula.
Herbal treatments in animals are usually prescribed for no more than two to four weeks at a time. Standard dosages are usually continued for two to three days following the disappearance of clinical signs, and then slowly tapered off over a week's time.
Herbal remedies cannot be used indiscriminately, nor, as mentioned above, should they be used long term. Realize that adverse interactions can occur with existing medications that your pet may be taking. Also, certain herbal remedies, given at improper dosages, can cause significant bodily harm. For instance, white willow and white oak bark contains salicylates and can be highly toxic to cats.
With more people turning to the Internet as their source for information, it is vital to remember this: Although this resource and others can indeed provide valuable information concerning herbs and their application in pets, they can also be the source of dangerous misinformation concerning dosages, duration of treatment, and applications of herbal treatments. For your pet's sake, always validate any information you may gather with a veterinary professional trained in botanical medicine and, of course, never administer a herbal preparation without first consulting him/her.
|Friday, Jul 22, 2011|
|Holistic Pet Medicine|
|By Dr. Chris Pinney|
|Friday, Jul 22, 2011 10:57|
It has been estimated that over 40% of Americans utilize some form of holistic self-treatment for their own medical ailments, spending billions of dollars in the process on holistic products and remedies. Its no wonder, then, that interest in holistic approaches to pet health care is increasing as well. And as this popularity rises, so does the need for continued education and research in order to identify and refine specific indications, techniques, benefits and limitations of holistic treatments in our furred and feathered friends.
The philosophy of holistic veterinary medicine is one of wellness and disease prevention. Holistic approaches are geared toward stimulating the body's own natural resources and internal mechanisms to afford self-healing and self-protection against disease. Holism targets not only the physical needs of a particular pet, but also takes into account the emotional and mental needs of that pet. These needs can be influenced by such factors as breed characteristics, individual personalities, socialization, environmental influences, and disease states that may alter the biochemistry within the body and adversely affect emotional and mental well-being.
It goes without saying that both traditional medicine and holistic medicine have their inherent strengths as well as their weaknesses. And this brings up a great point: When traditional and holistic medicine are used in synergy, their combined strength serves to diffuse any weaknesses that one or the other may possess! The use of both traditional and holistic approaches to patient care has been coined "integrative" veterinary medicine. Make no mistake about it: Acute life threatening injuries and illnesses are still best handled by traditional methods. However, chronic, long-term health challenges that have responded poorly to traditional methods can and should be approached holistically.
When searching for a veterinarian that supports holistic approaches to treatment, contact your local or state veterinary associations, or better yet, contact the American Association of Holistic Practitioners, the official licensing board of veterinary holistic practitioners. Just google their website for information.
Whenever considering a particular holistic practitioner for your pet, ask the following questions:
* Is he/she a licensed veterinarian who has specific training in the holistic specialty you are seeking?
* How extensive is his/her holistic training?
* How long has he/she been practicing holistic medicine?
* Can references or success stories be provided with whom you can make contact or follow-up?
* What are his/her feelings towards conventional veterinary medicine? Does he/she practice integrative medicine?
* Is he/she able to explain the reasoning behind any procedure that may be prescribed or performed?
The more popular types of holistic medical approaches or tools used in veterinary medicine include botanical (herbal) medicine, nutritional medicine, homeopathy, chiropractic, and acupuncture. In subsequent blogs, we'll touch on each.
|Friday, Jul 15, 2011|
|Arthritis, Toy Selection, Diabetic Cataracts, and Minimizing Pool Hazard|
|By Dr. Chris Pinney|
|Friday, Jul 15, 2011 10:34|
Keep Your Arthritic Pet Moving
Keeping an arthritic pet moving is a must in order to slow the progression of osteoarthritis. Yet even light exercise can stiffen up your friend within hours after your done. You can help, though, by giving your friend a ten minute massage in the region of the affected joints following your exercise sessions. It goes a long way to prevent those muscles from tightening up around those joints and leading to pain and stiffness.
Common Sense Approach to Selecting Toys for Your Pets
If a toy could be hazardous to a child, it could be hazardous to a pet. Sounds obvious, right? Apparently not, since veterinarians around the world still reap millions of dollars in surgical fees each year removing toys from the stomach and intestines of dogs and cats! So be sure to keep that simple principle in mind when selecting toys for your pet to play with
New Way to Prevent Diabetic Cataracts
Diabetes mellitus is a common cause of cataract formation in dogs (as it is in people).
Now there's good news on the research front. A new topical medication called Kinostat (an aldose reduction inhibitor, for those of you who care) has shown tremendous promise at preventing and inhibiting progression of cataracts in dogs suffering from diabetes mellitus. If you're dog has diabetes, be sure to check with your vet about this.
Prevent Accidental Pool Drownings
Believe it or not, well over 100,000 pets die each year as a result of accidental pool drownings. The majority of these pets are curious young puppies, as well as older dogs suffering from poor vision or diminished cognitive function. Homeowners with pools should protect their pets by installing a ramp that allows easy exit from the pool in case a pet falls in. Remember, though, to acquaint your pet with the ramp ahead of time so he knows where to go in case he accidentally takes a tumble. Several style of ramps are available; search the Net for options (one good site where one can be found is at skamper-ramp.com)
|Thursday, Jul 07, 2011|
|It Was Good While It Lasted. Or Was It?|
|By Dr. Chris Pinney|
|Thursday, Jul 07, 2011 10:29|
Word came down this week that a
U.S. District Judge Clay D. Land found Cipla (a maker of several generics) in contempt of a March 6, 2008 order prohibiting the company from infringing on Merial's patents and banned Cipla and another company, Velcera, from further sales of their "generic Frontline Plus" products in the United States.
The court's decision stated the following: "The court orders Cipla and Velcera to produce to Merial for destruction all inventory existing in the United States of any veterinary products manufactured by Cipla that contain fipronil and methoprene, including but not limited to the veterinary products that contain fipronil and methoprene sold under the brand names Protektor Plus, PetArmor Plus, TrustGard Plus and Velcera Fipronil Plus."
And that doesn't include the monetary damages owed Merial based on Velcera and Cipla's previous violations of the 2008 court order.
For consumers, though, no doubt its good news. Yes, I realize that PetArmor Plus and the others were about half the price of Frontline Plus.
But I also know that there were serious questions posed by veterinarians to these companies as to the "inert ingredients" contained in these generic products; questions that were consistently ignored. Not good.
Now it makes sense. I'm not sure what these two companies were thinking; how cocky can you get? Ignoring a court order and releasing an illegal copy-cat product?
Looks to me like they were out to make a quick buck - possible at the expense of your pet. After all, considering their company ethics, can you seriously trust them to produce safe, quality products? Not me.
Hopefully in the future, more affordable (and safe and effective) flea and tick control products from reputable companies will hit the market to help ease the burden on the pet owner pocketbook. But until then, stick to those products made by companies you can trust.
|Friday, Jul 01, 2011|
|Garden Hose Scalding Syndrome|
|By Dr. Chris Pinney|
|Friday, Jul 01, 2011 12:21|
Crazy as it may sound, Garden Hose Scalding Syndrome is an actual health risk to dogs and cats during the hot, summer months.
Colleagues of mine have reported that they've seen dogs come in with third-degree burn scalds on the face and along the back resulting from being sprayed with water out of a garden hose that has been sitting out exposed to sunlight and heat.
It makes sense: The water contained in that idle hose has ample time to heat up to incredible temperatures, especially if the hose has been exposed to direct sunlight for hours.
The same caution applies to you, the owner, as well. Be sure to turn on the hose and let it run for a minute or two before exposing yourself or your pet to its contents.
Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome
Also, keep in mind that pugs, boxers, and other flat-nosed breeds can suffer from a condition known as "brachycephalic airway syndrome" during the summer months.
Many of these dogs have extra long soft palates, which is that soft strip of skin that covers the back portion of the roof of the mouth (if your dog snores alot, he probably has an elongated soft palate). The high temperatures and high humidity associated with the summer months can cause swelling of the palate, which can interefer with air exchange. So be sure to shelter these pets from extremes in temperature and humidity.