Top 10 Pet Safety Tips for July 4th

June 29, 2010 on 6:53 am | In General Posts | Comments Off

Resist the urge to take your pet to fireworks displays.

Keep your pets indoors in a sheltered, quiet area.

Consider boarding your pet for the night if you will be out late.

Consult with your veterinarian for ways to keep your pet calm if you know they are seriously distressed by fireworks or other loud noises. Natural therapies work best, and avoid acepromazine (Ace) tranquilizer as the sole medication due to side effects.

Make sure your pets are wearing identification tags so if they do escape their confines, they can be easily identified.

Never leave pets unattended, even in a fenced yard or on a chain.

If the party is at your place, never leave alcoholic drinks where your pets can reach them.

Do not leave your pet alone in your car.

Turn on your radio or television to help alleviate loud noises.

Do not use fireworks around your pets.

Keep These Medicines Out Of Your Pet’s Reach

June 27, 2010 on 2:41 pm | In General Posts | Comments Off

The Pet Poison Helpline recently shared their list of the top 10 human medications most frequently ingested by pets.

1. NSAIDs (e.g. Advil, Aleve and Motrin) Topping our Top 10 list are common household medications called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs), which include common names such as ibuprofen (e.g. Advil and some types of Motrin) and naproxen (e.g. Aleve). While these medications are safe for people, even one or two pills can cause serious harm to a pet. Dogs, cats, birds and other small mammals (ferrets, gerbils and hamsters) may develop serious stomach and intestinal ulcers as well as kidney failure.
2. Acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) When it comes to pain medications, acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) is certainly popular. Even though this drug is very safe, even for children, this is not true for pets—especially cats. One regular strength tablet of acetaminophen may cause damage to a cat’s red blood cells, limiting their ability to carry oxygen. In dogs, acetaminophen leads to liver failure and, in large doses, red blood cell damage.
3. Antidepressants (e.g. Effexor, Cymbalta, Prozac, Lexapro) While these antidepressant drugs are occasionally used in pets, overdoses can lead to serious neurological problems such as sedation, incoordination, tremors and seizures. Some antidepressants also have a stimulant effect leading to a dangerously elevated heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. Pets, especially cats, seem to enjoy the taste of Effexor and often eat the entire pill. Unfortunately, just one pill can cause serious poisoning.
4. ADD/ADHD medications (e.g. Concerta, Adderall, Ritalin) Medications used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder contain potent stimulants such as amphetamines and methylphenidate. Even minimal ingestions of these medications by pets can cause life-threatening tremors, seizures, elevated body temperatures and heart problems.
5. Benzodiazepines and sleep aids (e.g. Xanax, Klonopin, Ambien, Lunesta) These medications are designed to reduce anxiety and help people sleep better. However, in pets, they may have the opposite effect. About half of the dogs who ingest sleep aids become agitated instead of sedate. In addition, these drugs may cause severe lethargy, incoordination (including walking “drunk”), and slowed breathing in pets. In cats, some forms of benzodiazepines can cause liver failure when ingested.
6. Birth control (e.g. estrogen, estradiol, progesterone) Birth control pills often come in packages that dogs find irresistible. Thankfully, small ingestions of these medications typically do not cause trouble. However, large ingestions of estrogen and estradiol can cause bone marrow suppression, particularly in birds. Additionally, female pets that are intact (not spayed), are at an increased risk of side effects from estrogen poisoning.
7. ACE Inhibitors (e.g. Zestril, Altace) Angiotensin-converting enzyme (or “ACE”) inhibitors are commonly used to treat high blood pressure in people and, occasionally, pets. Though overdoses can cause low blood pressure, dizziness and weakness, this category of medication is typically quite safe. Pets ingesting small amounts of this medication can potentially be monitored at home, unless they have kidney failure or heart disease. All heart medications should be kept out of reach of pets.
8. Beta-blockers (e.g. Tenormin, Toprol, Coreg) Beta-blockers are also used to treat high blood pressure but, unlike the ACE inhibitor, small ingestions of these drugs may cause serious poisoning in pets. Overdoses can cause life-threatening decreases in blood pressure and a very slow heart rate.
9. Thyroid hormones (e.g. Armour desiccated thyroid, Synthroid) Pets — especially dogs — get underactive thyroids too. Interestingly, the dose of thyroid hormone needed to treat dogs is much higher than a person’s dose. Therefore, if dogs accidentally get into thyroid hormones at home, it rarely results in problems. However, large acute overdoses in cats and dogs can cause muscle tremors, nervousness, panting, a rapid heart rate and aggression.
10. Cholesterol lowering agents (e.g. Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor) These popular medications, often called “statins,” are commonly used in the United States. While pets do not typically get high cholesterol, they may still get into the pill bottle. Thankfully, most “statin” ingestions only cause mild vomiting or diarrhea. Serious side effects from these drugs come with long-term use, not one-time ingestions.

If your pet has ingested a human over-the-counter or prescription medication, please call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline’s 24-hour animal poison control center at 800-213-6680 immediately.

New Survey Links Certain Home Features To Dogs with Arthritis Problems

June 21, 2010 on 5:11 am | In General Posts | Comments Off

A survey of dog owners suggests certain types of homes and home features may exacerbate arthritis in dogs. Flexcin International, the maker of Flexcin with CM8™ joint pain supplements and FlexPet arthritis supplements for dogs, recently surveyed 500 dog owners throughout the country to learn if certain types of homes create an atmosphere for dog arthritis.

Flexcin team leaders uncovered a possible link between dogs that suffer from joint pain and arthritis and homes built a certain way or with specific features.

Percentage of arthritic dog owners with these home features:

Homes have tile floors (68.3%)
Two-story homes (63.6%)
Backyard patios with cement flooring (54.2%)
Tall furniture in the home (43.8%)
No backyard at all (36.7%)
Small common space in home (24.7%)
No walk ways near home (23.5%)

In my opinion, the best home for arthritic pets would make it easy for their pets to move around. This would mean single-story homes with non-slick floor surfaces in access to backyard where the pet to get adequate exercise.

If It Doesn’t Work, Why Is It Allowed?

June 7, 2010 on 5:19 am | In General Posts | Comments Off

People who are skeptical about the value of natural medicine often like to point out that, in their opinion, natural medicine just doesn’t work.

This point of view got me to thinking about their position and I came up with the following questions:

“If natural therapies don’t work, and I continue to market them to the public and use them in my practice, am I guilty of ripping off the public?”

“If natural therapies don’t work, then why does the government (FDA, state licensing agencies, AVMA, etc.) allow me to use them in my practice?”

Let’s look at the first question: “If natural therapies don’t work, and I continue to market them to the public and use them in my practice, am I guilty of ripping off the public?”

The obvious answer would be “yes.” If there is no proof that any natural therapies ever work, and holistic doctors know that these therapies can’t possibly help our patients, we are nothing more than con artists, simply scamming the public to make a quick buck. Of course if this is true, that brings up several other questions such as “Why have I never been prosecuted and convicted of being a con artist?,” “Why do my patients improve when conventional doctors can’t help them?,” and finally “Why does the public continue to come to me, seeking the kind of care I can offer their pets that they can’t get elsewhere?”

Now let’s tackle the second question: “If natural therapies don’t work, then why does the government (FDA, state licensing agencies, AVMA, etc.) allow me to use them in my practice?”

This is an interesting question. Why would the government, especially the FDA, knowingly not just allow but also support the use of natural therapies in the practice of medicine unless they are in on the “scam” too? Why does the FDA regulate homeopathic remedies (which the skeptics claim don’t work) just like they do conventional medicines if these homeopathic remedies are nothing more than “sugar pills?” My own state licensing board of veterinary medicine not only is familiar with the type of medicine I practice, but they actually encourage it, even providing guidelines on the form new clients must use to register with our practice. Certainly if the state board suspected I was nothing more than a con artist, they could easily yank my license and put me out of business. Instead they stand with me, encouraging me to do everything I can to help my patients.

The only conclusion someone can draw from this discussion is simply this: since the government allows doctors to use natural therapies, these therapies must work and have some value in the practice of medicine. Otherwise the government could easily make it illegal to use natural therapies and prevent doctors from using them. Punishment for using these unproven natural therapies would be swift and severe, such as the loss of the license to practice medicine and possibly even criminal penalties. Since this doesn’t happen, it must be that the government recognizes the value of using natural therapies in the practice of medicine.

There Is Research But Skeptics Still Refuse to Believe

June 4, 2010 on 1:26 pm | In General Posts | Comments Off

One of the major objections posed by people who are against natural medicine is that there is no “proof” that any natural therapies work. This despite hundreds if not thousands of years of proof using therapies such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutritional supplements, and homeopathy.

I recently came across the following statements supposedly questioning the proof that shows the effectiveness of natural therapies.

“Often in natural medicine research, the preliminary, poorly controlled studies look weakly positive, then the later, better designed trials are negative.”

This statement is totally incorrect. It is true that there are poorly designed studies for both conventional as well as natural therapies, and it is true that sometimes preliminary studies in both natural and conventional medicine don’t turn out to be as good as originally hoped or hyped by the media. That doesn’t prove or disprove anything, only that more research is needed to determine what effectiveness if any is shown by the therapy being studied.

Another statement I came across that calls into question the effectiveness of natural medicine is:

“If a placebo produces results, then shouldn’t natural therapies, even if they don’t work, be prescribed instead of those nasty conventional medications that might also be ineffective. Never mind the evidence those natural therapies don’t work. Keep the patient suffering as long as you can, and just long enough to promote your garbage.”

This statement is obviously made by someone with an ax to grind against natural medicine. It is true that if the natural therapy only works via placebo effect, it would still be better to prescribe the natural therapy (which would not harm the patient) rather than to give the patient a conventional medication that produces no greater effect than the natural medicine or the placebo (and which may cause more serious side effects than either the natural therapy or the placebo.)

Of course if the patient is getting better by using the natural therapy, I’m not sure why the patient would continue to suffer as the above statement suggests. Additionally, if the natural therapy is effective, I’m not sure why anyone would call that therapy garbage when the patient is feeling better and recovering from his or her illness.

I’m currently working on a new book that involves a lot of research into natural medicine. There are literally tens of thousands of studies showing the effectiveness of these therapies. Why is it that these studies, which show the effectiveness of natural therapies, are continually ignored by skeptics who refuse to believe them? How many studies must be done before close minded people accept reality?

As a naturopathic doctor, I must remain open-minded to wherever the research leads me. If a certain therapy works, I continue to use it. If a certain therapy makes my patients feel better and helps them recover from their serious illnesses, I continue to use it. If a certain therapy is shown not to work, I stop using it and find something else that works better. However, I don’t close my mind to the tens of thousands of well-designed research studies showing something works just because I have my own agenda. That hinders medicine rather than helping it progress. And the only way we can never hope to cure horrible diseases such as cancer is to be open-minded and trust the research, wherever it may lead us.

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