Thursday, April 10, 2008

Cheap Prescriptions

OK, the other veterinarians in my circle may start throwing rocks thought my windows, but here it is: You know how Wal-Mart and some other pharmacies are advertising $4 prescriptions? It turns out the offer includes some drugs I use every day in my practice. Some now I only keep a very small amount on my shelf and I send people to the Kroger down the road. The clients save money and I don’t have to pay my staff to count pills. They have more important things to do. The lists are almost the same from place to place so here’s the Wal-Mart link ( Next time you need some medication for your dog or cat, you should check out the list, and send me a finder’s fee!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

RAW Diets

Then other day I was learning about food allergies on the web, at a site set up by some drug company. It's a good relationship, I get free continuing education, they try and sell me something. It works well when the company really tries to teach as well as sell. But, I made the mistake of typing "food allergy dog" into a search engine. It seems everybody thinks dog food is like feeding your dog poison. They all want to sell you something "organic" or "homemade" or my favorite "hypo-allergenic". Look up "hypo-allergenic" in the dictionary. You get a more specific definition for the word "thing". I don't know what any of those words mean on a bag of dog food.

One of the most violent reactions I get in the exam room is when someone wants to discuss raw diets with me. For those of you not familiar, raw diets are just what they sound like: uncooked meat. I wouldn't feed it to my dog, but I know people who feed this type of diet without any problems. Maybe I'm just lazy, but I like to just scoop the food out of a bucket and into a bowl. And, I've removed enough bones from dogs to think twice about willingly handing one over to a dog. Also, I've read some studies on the subject: how raw diets are incomplete or how they contain harmful bacteria. I'm not going to tell people not to feed a raw diet, but I think the arguments for a raw diet are a little flimsy.

Consider these two common arguments:

1) "It's what the dog would eat in the wild". Well, that may be true, but considering the average dog only lives in the wild for about 3 years, it doesn't seem that what it eats is as important as IF it eats. Also, I don't think your dog would last long outside your home. When the last pack of wild chihuahua you've seen on the nature channel?
Many of these people will feed horse or beef meat. Your dog in the wild would be eating much less appetizing fare.

2) "The processing causes food allergy, thyroid disease, cancer, etc...)
My only answer for this is that we eat nothing but processed foods and we do fine. As a matter of fact out food is getting MORE processed and our life span is getting longer. Pet food is whole lot less processed than some of that stuff you ate from the gas station in college and your doing just fine....

Monday, April 7, 2008

HIV and Pets

Most of us who wanted to become veterinarian did so because we couldn’t bear the thought of dealing with people and their problems all day long. That’s one of the problems with deciding on a career path in your early twenties: you’re still dumb enough to be arrogant. Did I really think the dog would just drive itself to the office? It never really catches up with you until you get to veterinary school and you realize how important you are going to be in some people’s lives.

Not too long ago I had a man come to my office because he knew I worked with the local shelter. He needed to give his cat up, but couldn’t begin to think about the cat being put to sleep. He wanted me to watch the cat and make sure he went to a good home. I told him I really couldn’t do that, because I just didn’t have that kind of pull at the shelter. I suggested that he hang on to the cat for a while and we could find the cat a home. That’s when he broke down and told me he had HIV and his doctor told him to get rid of the cat. The man agreed to wait a couple of days and let me do some research.

It turns out if you have an immune-related disease some doctors just tell you to move the pets out, without any thought as to what this is going to do to the mental health of their patient. It’s just not always necessary. There are some risks involved with keeping a pet under those conditions, but they are not absolute. Here are two great sites:

That incident was the first time I realized that I needed to pay attention to everyone in the family, not just the pet I was trained to help. Now I ask all kinds of questions: Is anyone in the house allergic to the medication I’m giving your pet?, Do you have children you visit?, Does anyone in the home have an immune-related condition? I’m not blaming the medical profession for missing the boat on this stuff; they have a hard enough job dealing with what they deal with. However, it turns out sometimes that I have to help them, whether the client knows it or not.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Cognitive Dysfunction in Dogs

Nothing frustrates me more than hearing someone say, “There’s nothing wrong with my dog, he’s just old.” Most of the behavioral changes people associate with “old” are actually disease processes that can be altered with medication, diet or changes to the environment. For example, many dogs that don’t want to play anymore are painful, not “old”, and a simple diet change may return them to their old selves. I have to dogs with hip X-rays so bad you cringe just looking at them. Both dogs are on Hills J/D and both get around just fine.

Some of the behavioral changes people associate with getting old may actually be Cognitive Dysfunction, or “Doggie Alzheimer’s Disease”. That’s right; dogs get many of the same brain changes seen in people with that debilitating disease. Most of the time, it’s the changes people notice. Changes such as: play, responses to commands, sleep patterns, interactions with people, pacing, staring into space, elimination areas.

While there is no cure, there are several things that can be done. Changes in diet and the environment along with new medications can extend the life of your pet and make that time more enjoyable for both of you. If you are noticing any of the changes noted above, have a talk with your veterinarian.
This is Pfizer’s site to sell you medication, but it’s still pretty good.