Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pet obesity in the news

Pet obesity is a serious medical issue that can result in a myriad of health problems including diabetes, heart disease and joint disease.  The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention just released a new study that reveals more than half of the dogs and cats in this country are overweight.  Frank and I spent this afternoon with Fox 5 and ABC 7 to help spread the word about the dangers of pet obesity.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Washington Post Article vs Client Privacy

This past Monday, in what I can only assume was a slow news day, a column in The Washington Post seemed to question Friendship's handling of a request for a patient's vaccination information.  Click here to read the full article.

A woman who was not the owner of the dog called Friendship to request the information after she had been bitten.  The bite occurred while the dog was being walked by the pet sitter.  Friendship refused to release the dog's vaccine status without the consent of the owner but did offer to contact the owner, which she declined.  The Post's article indicates that she did call the police but also declined their offer to help her.  Had she reported the bite to the authorities, as the law dictates, they could have easily obtained the dog’s vaccine status. She apparently chose not to do so and, instead, contacted the Washington Post.

When I spoke to columnist John Kelly last week he told me the woman "didn't want to get the dog in trouble" and that was why she decided not to report the bite.  Informing animal control about a dog bite, especially in this situation, is essential.  If the dog really just walked up and bit her as the woman described then there needs to be a record of this.  What if this happens again?  What if it is a child's face next time?

I am in no way saying that this dog is vicious, in fact I don't think I have ever met a mean Greyhound.  This was most likely an isolated incident, but if a pattern of aggressive behavior develops there should be a record of it.

In addition, a dog owner needs to be aware if his or her dog is involved in a bite incident, be it with a person, wildlife or another dog.  When I questioned Mr. Kelly how it was that both the woman who was bitten and the pet sitter were unable to get in touch with the owner to discuss the event he was only able to say that "the owner was out of town".  In the age of smart phones, email and Facebook surely they could have contacted the owner.  If one of my dogs were to bite someone while I was away I would want to be notified immediately.

My discussion above is really immaterial, here is the bottom line: at Friendship, we value the trust our clients instill in us and part of that trust requires us to keep all client/patient information confidential.  It has been and always will be our policy to not disclose information unless specifically asked to do so by the owner of a patient, another veterinary hospital or other law enforcement organization.  

Apart from my position as a veterinarian, as a dog owner I support Friendship's policy and I would think the majority of our clients do too.  Please feel free to post respectful comments below.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Frank on Fox 5 for Fashion for Paws

Frank and I were thrilled to be on Fox 5 this morning for their "Ask a Vet" segment with Annie Yu.  Frank is working hard at raising money for Fashion for Paws and this was a great opportunity for him to get the word out about the event.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fashion for Paws!

Today marks the start of fundraising for Fashion for Paws.  Sparkle and I had a great time last year and raised over $8000.  This year I will be walking the runway with Frank who is already planning his outfit, but we need your help to make this happen.  There are many ways you can contribute:

  • Join us on March 19th for a Yappy Hour at Pete's Apizza
  • Buy a ticket to the event and see Frank strut down the runway in all his glory
  • Purchase an ad for your business to be displayed in the official program book
  • Stop by Friendship and enter our raffle for the chance to win many great prizes
  • Make a direct donation by visiting my fundraising website

In case you are not familiar with the event, Fashion for Paws in now in it's fifth year and has raised over one million dollars for the Washington Humane Society (WHS).  Friendship is the emergency hospital for WHS and I have personally treated many of the abused and neglected rescued by WHS Humane Law Enforcement Officer.  This has given me a first-hand view into the critical work that WHS provides for the animals and people of our community.

All proceeds from the Fashion for Paws Runway Show directly benefit the more than 30,000 homeless, lost, neglected and abused animals WHS cares for each year.  Your donations will also support vital programs such as Humane Law Enforcement, Humane Education, low cost vaccination and spay-neuter programs, Dog Tags and the WHS Behavior and Learning Center.

I would greatly appreciate any help, this organization and the amazing work they do is very close to my heart.  To make a donation please visit my fundraising page or post a comment with any questions and I will be happy to get back to you.

Thank you!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Treating Arthritis in Dogs and Cats

On Thursday I gave you tips to prevent arthritis but if your dog or cat already has signs of arthritis--be it mild or severe--there are many things you can do to help keep him pain free.

Try a specialty diet such as the J/D diet made by Hill’s Prescription Diets, which is specifically formulated for dogs and cats with joint disease. The diet was created using nutrogenomics--a fancy word that means they used DNA sequencing to locate the genes that are active in animals with arthritis and created a diet to alter expression of these genes.  Not only is this really cool, but several studies show the J/D diet really works.

It’s never too late for a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement.  Along with Cosequin, Nutromaxx also makes a product called Dasuquin, which supplements the glucosamine and chondroitin with a special avocado extract that has been shown to help decrease joint pain.  You can also up the ante with Adequan injections. This injectable supplement is administered by a veterinarian and is similar to glucosamine/chondroitin but quite a bit more potent.

Try laser treatment. At Friendship we have a therapeutic laser that uses specific wavelengths of light to decrease inflammation and stimulate healing. During each painless treatment, the laser light interacts with tissues at the cellular level to increase metabolic activity within each cell. A cascade of beneficial effects is initiated, increasing circulation and drawing water, oxygen, and nutrients to the damaged area. This creates an optimal healing environment that reduces inflammation, swelling, muscle spasms, stiffness, and pain.
Does it work? You bet. There are more than 100 rigorously controlled, scientific studies that document the effectiveness of laser for many clinical conditions such as joint pain, hip dysplasia, swelling, ligament sprains, muscle strains, bite wounds, traumatic injuries, post-surgical pain and chronic wounds.

If the above methods don’t do the trick, then it is time to start a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication such as Rimadyl or Metacam.  These drugs are extremely effective at controlling and alleviating arthritis pain.  I have had clients tell me their dog is running around like a puppy again after starting Rimadyl.  The NSAIDs can change a dog’s outlook on life but need to be used carefully.  Just like all medications, NSAIDs have side effects. These include gastrointestinal upset, stomach ulcers, liver and kidney disease. Because of these side effects I always recommend monitoring bloodwork every 6 months for all my patients on these drugs.  There are other pain medications available but none of them work as well for arthritis pain as the NSAIDs do.

Prevention is the best medicine, as the saying goes. I hope I have given you some tips to keep your pet’s joints healthy.  Remember, if you do notice some stiffness, limping or slowing down in your dog or cat, talk to your veterinarian right away. With so many options for slowing down arthritis and keeping your pet pain free, you won’t want to wait to get started.