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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!

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011
Cool Tips
By Dr. Chris Pinney
Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011 09:32
I'm always on the look-out for cool tips that can prove useful to pet owners. That said, here are three that you might find helpful. 
1. Tired of hearing those collar tags jingle? Here's a great idea from Jayne Burns of Sebastopol, California: Those plastic covers you place over your keys to help identify them and to reduce their jingle? You can use those for your pet's tags as well. 
2. Bathe a dog, and there's a good chance you'll get wet when he shakes the water from his haircoat. That is, unless you know this simple tip. When a dog shakes, it starts at the nose. Knowing that, simply hold your dog's muzzle until you can get a towel over him. 
3. If you own a cat with chronic bladder issues, you know the meaning of frustration. Now there's news from the research front that these cats may benefit from the addition of glucosamine to their diets. The glycosaminoglycans in these supplements help protect the bladder lining from the damage caused by urinary crystals (the number cause of straining and bloody urine in cats with bladder disease). In one recent study published in the American Journal of Veterinary Research, cat owners reported once -a-day dosing with a glucosamine supplement for 28 days reduced signs of pain and discomfort in affected cats. 

Monday, Oct 17, 2011
The Dangers of Acetaminophen for You and Your Pet
By Dr. Chris Pinney
Monday, Oct 17, 2011 11:33
Acetaminophen is an oral analgesic and anti-fever drug that is found on drug store shelves in many over-the-counter medications. Tylenol is certainly the most well-known brand out there, but acetaminophen is also available in many generic forms, as well as combined with other drugs in popular cold, flu, allergy, and/or sinus formulations.

As a rule, acetaminophen or combination products containing the drug should not be used in dogs and cats. Cats especially are extremely sensitive to acetaminophen and can die after consuming only very small amounts. Dogs do not metabolize acetaminophen as well as humans and can develop liver disease because of it.

And that brings me to A VERY IMPORTANT POINT! And it deals with us, not our pets. As you may have seen or heard, the FDA recently updated the hazard warnings on packages of products containing acetaminophen, and for good reason. Do you know the reason for this? If not, don't feel bad. Most people don't. And that ignorance not only threatens their health, but that of their children as well.

When taken in excessive amounts, acetaminophen can lead to liver disease and liver failure in humans. This is happening with increasing frequency. The problem is that so many over-the-counter products contain acetaminophen. And that means that cold or allergy suffers who take multiple OTC medications for their symptoms could be unwittingly overdosing on acetaminophen and damaging their livers.

In addition, acetaminophen and alcohol is a deadly combination for your liver. People who drink and take acetaminophen at the same time (i.e. for a hangover headaches, or cold/ allergy sufferers who drink) are at risk of blowing out their livers. As a result, it is vital to stress to your drinking age loved ones (and to your underage kids) to NEVER take Tylenol or another product containing acetaminophen when alcohol is around. To do so could be tragic.

It's amazing how so few people know this. Please pass the word

Monday, Oct 10, 2011
Pet Health Insurance: Friend or Foe?
By Dr. Chris Pinney
Monday, Oct 10, 2011 01:02
In a recent article by MSN News, the consumer group Choice stated that taking out pet insurance could be a viable option for concerned owners in view of the soaring veterinary costs. The reason: Increased treatment options and technological advances have led to a steep rise in some veterinary costs. They came to this conclusion after reviewing pet insurance claims. And get this. The highest recorded claims they found were for an ear infection costing $8,780 and a snakebite costing $11,035!

There are three problems with this.

First, those fees are nothing short of OUTRAGEOUS for the medical conditions addressed. In other words, the veterinarians involved should be reprimanded by their respective State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners for overcharging and padding the bill. If it took that much effort on their part to diagnose and properly treat those conditions, they need to be sent back to school to hone their diagnostic and treatment skills.

Secondly, I doubt very seriously if the insurance company allowed these claims. If they did, they're not very smart at what they do. If they didn't, then the owners of these pets were left holding wallet-crunching bills.

Thirdly, contrary to what Choices recommends, this example illustrates the reasons why insurance is not the answer to the rising cost of pet health care. With third party payment, its just too tempting for veterinary health care providers to raise fees under the false assumption that pet owners won't be affected because of the insurance.

However, pet owners will be affected, simply because the insurance companies have to make money. Considering that the majority of pet owners have not purchased insurance (nor plan to do so) and that dogs and cats have short life spans, these companies are going to have a rough time making up the money they payout in claims. The result: High deductibles and lots of exclusions for preexisting conditions. Either way, the end result for pet insurance is the same - The owner ultimately pays.

Monday, Oct 03, 2011
Saving Money With Good Communication
By Dr. Chris Pinney
Monday, Oct 03, 2011 07:20
Veterinary visits aren't cheap these days. But in many instances, they can't be avoided. As a result, your goal should be to maximize the return on your investment. And one way to do this is to ensure effective communication with your veterinarian the minute you walk through the door.
Here are a few tips/recommendations:

1. Never leave an appointment without your important questions answered or without fully understanding your pet's treatment/management instructions. That said, you don't want to ask too many questions. Appointments are usually allotted 15 minutes each, so be sure to prioritize those you want answered the most. Write them down ahead of time.

2. Describe, but don't diagnose your pet's condition.

Describing accurate symptoms to your veterinarian, including time of onset, rapidity of onset (did it come on slow or fast?) and the character of the symptom, can often help your vet establish a diagnosis without having to resort to lots of diagnostic tests, which can save both time and money in the long run.

3.Don't be afraid to tell your veterinarian that you did your research on the Internet.

Some vets cringe when they hear a client has turned to the Internet for information. I don't. To me, it simply means that the client is being proactive about his/her pet's health, and that's a good thing. However, understand that what you find on the Internet may not, in fact, be correct (go figure!), so your veterinarian's assessment is all the more valuable. Yet, that information you glean from the cloud could help your vet reach a diagnosis that much faster.

4.Try not to distract your veterinarian with questions while she is performing an exam on your pet.

Doing so could cause her to miss physical clues pertinent to your pet's condition. Instead, let your vet ask the questions during the exam. Your answers to those questions will serve to complement the exam and enhance its effectiveness.

As you can see, good communication during a veterinary visit is cost-effective and very important to your pet's overall health. Do your research and formulate your questions prior to the visit. Not only will you save time that way, but you'll know enough to carry on a viable two-way conversation with your pet's health care provider.

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011
It's More Important Than Ever to Keep Your Dog on Heartworm Prevention
By Dr. Chris Pinney
Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011 09:14
Veterinarians across the country have been notified by the large pharma company, Merial, that the drug Immiticide, used to treat heartworm disease in dogs, will be unavailable for an indefinite period of time. No real reason was given for this, but it does mean one thing: Many dogs currently infected with heartworms are going to suffer because of it.
Merial holds the patent for this drug, which means that demand can't be fulfilled by alternative manufacturers. Personally, I can't understand why the FDA doesn't yank that patent and allow other companies to manufacture the drug. Heartworm disease is just too prevalent to allow this to happen. If there were other fast kill treatments available, that would be one thing. But there aren't. Merial needs to do a better job informing the veterinary community about what exactly is going on. Hopefully steps are being taken to remedy the problem and prevent this from happening in the future.
Okay, enough ranting. The bottom line: Giving your dog his/her heartworm preventive medication every month is more important than ever. So be sure to mark it in big red letters on your calender. 

Sunday, Sep 11, 2011
New IPhone App and People with Ear Mites
By Dr. Chris Pinney
Sunday, Sep 11, 2011 01:07
There's a new IPhone app that's worthy of mention and it's called Dog Trainer Pro. It provides training and behavioral tips and advice for both puppies and adult dogs. The developer is a canine behavior specialist and  provides science-based advice. Many veterinarians refer to this site for info when faced with patient behavioral challenges, so you can bet the info offered is good!


Did You Know?

People can get ear mites from their dogs and cats! Although not considered a noteworthy zoonotic disease, there have been reports of ear mites infesting the ear canals of pet owners. Not only that, mites that are especially active can also cause itchy bumps on the hands and arms as well. 

One veterinarian actually placed mite-infested debris from a patient into his own ear to see if this was really true (I know, I know...). He found out it was. The way he described it, the mites seemed most active at night and not only that, the chewing sounds and movement going on within his ear kept him awake! Disgusting.

The moral to the story: Wash your hands after treating your pet for ear mites. And you might want to avoid that particular vet as well!

Here's your Insider Laugh of the Week:


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.


Have you ever wondered which is better, Heartgard or Interceptor? For the answer, check out this latest video posted on the Veterinary Insider YouTube Channel

Here's your latest Laugh of the Week:

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

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...