Every day, Cindy Fleischner lines up her crew of cuddly canines for breakfast. As the four other dogs eat, Cindy pulls Katy, her 12 year old Shepherd mix aside for a peanut butter treat. Katy is battling lymphoma and this treat hides her daily dose of chemotherapy drugs. Katy is not alone in this war. Canine cancer is one of the leading causes of dog deaths. Of the more than 100 million dogs in North America, about two in four will develop cancer and one in four will die from some form of this dreaded disease. In some purebred dogs, the percentages could be even higher.
Adopted from the Denver Dumb Friends League, Katy was no stranger to hospitals. As a licensed Therapy Dog, she spent many hours at a local hospital, bringing comfort and joy to patients.However, Fleishner began to notice that Katy, a normally sweet dog, became distracted and that something was not right. A physical examination found a growing mass on Katy’s throat. Further testing and surgery would determine that the lump was thyroid cancer.
Fleishner found that the whole process of determining the best course of action was confusing. After surgery, Katy underwent radiation therapy for the thyroid tumor at Colorado State University. She was able to win this battle, but her war against cancer wasn’t over yet. Katy was again diagnosed, this time with a lymphoma, requiring more treatments and time with a cancer specialist. Eventually, these treatments saved her life. Fleishner knows she’s lucky. In her metropolitan area, she had the choice of visiting a veterinary teaching hospital or a specialty center with a veterinary oncologist. Unfortunately, not all owners are as lucky. Sadly, cancer will claim almost 50 percent of dogs over 10 years old, leaving their owners bewildered and unsure of what to do. And of the almost 9,000 veterinary specialists, less than 200 specialize in veterinary oncology. A new collaboration, however, may help provide some answers – and options.
The Morris Animal Foundation, www.morrisanimalfoundation.orghas launched the Canine Cancer Campaign in an attempt to stop cancer in our pets with a goal to cure this deadly disease within the next 10 to 20 years. Another immediate priority of the foundation is collaborating with cancer specialists ensuring pet owners have access to treatment options and advice. A new service through Oncura Partners, a well-known oncology specialist group is paving the way for owners to receive a free consultation through their veterinarian. Additionally, the MAF Canine Cancer Campaign brings together research scientists, industry leaders and 44 million dog-owning households throughout the nation in an effort to eradicate canine cancer.
Already, multiple scientific endeavors are working towards this end. A canine cancer tissue bank has been created due to a generous $1.1 million donation from Pfizer Animal Health. The Golden Retriever Foundation has promised $500,000 towards research for early detection. This will be money well spent since approximately 60% of Golden Retrievers die from cancer. Fleishner happily reports Katy is doing well with her lymphoma treatments, and her sweet, good-natured personality has returned.
Beyond helping our dogs with new innovative therapies, the Canine Cancer Campaign offers benefits for us as well. Many breakthroughs happening in this research will help fuel further prevention, treatment and even cures for human cancers. Remember, there is hope for dogs and their owners – despite a cancer diagnosis. Like Katy, pets can tolerate cancer treatments. Your veterinarian will work with you, local specialists and national resources to ensure your pet receives the best outcome possible. To learn more about the Canine Cancer Campaign, visit www.curecaninecancer.org.
To most pet owners, the return of spring is a joyous occasion. The opportunity to spend quality time with your pet outdoors can be an exhilarating experience. Just be sure to watch out for some sneaky critters waiting to feast on your pet’s blood!
Everyone is well aware of the irritation that fleas can cause our pets, as well as pesky mosquitoes spreading heartworm disease. But another problem parasite that shows up in the spring and stays until about October is the tick – and they can cause serious problems, some of them deadly.
There are over 850 known species of ticks in the world and these relatives of spiders can be found as parasites on mammals, birds, and even reptiles. Here in the United States, dog and cat owners have less than a dozen species to deal with, but all of these ticks can harbor a variety of serious diseases, such as tularemia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Lyme Disease.
Adult ticks will climb to the top of a blade of grass or the edge of a leaf lying on the ground and wait for their potential host. This “questing” behavior puts them in the perfect position to sense movement, heat, and even carbon dioxide. Reacting to these stimuli, the tick will climb onto the new host.
Once on the pet, the tick will begin feeding. The tick’s mouth parts are designed to make removal difficult. Their barbed feeding tube has numerous backward facing projections and a substance produced in the tick’s salivary glands actually glues the tick in place. Some ticks can feed on 200 to 600 times their body weight in blood and may take several days to finish eating. It is during this blood meal that ticks can spread a number of diseases to their host.
For more information about protecting your dog from ticks, contact us at %CLIENT_PHONE%.
Dental care of dogs and cats is one of the most commonly overlooked areas of pet health care. Approximately 80% of all dogs and cats have periodontal disease by the time they are only two years old. Dental disease affects much more than fresh breath. It frequently leads to more serious health problems such as liver, kidney and heart disease. That’s why more veterinarians are not just treating dental disease, but taking new steps to prevent it. A major step in this process is encouraging owners to participate in their pet’s oral health at home.
Periodontal disease in pets is the same as it is in people. It’s a sneaky and insidious process that begins when bacteria in the mouth attach to the teeth and produce a film called “plaque”. When the bacteria die, they are calcified into “calculus” commonly known as tartar which makes a rough surface for even more bacteria to stick to. In the beginning, plaque is soft and can easily be removed by brushing or chewing on appropriate toys or treats. But if left to spread, plaque leads to gum inflammation (called “gingivitis”) and infection. Eventually, the infection spreads to the tooth root and even the jaw bone itself – causing pain and tooth loss.
The American Animal Hospital Association recently devised new guidelines for veterinarians in order to highlight the need for more professional oral hygiene care for pets. The organization stressed the necessity of going beyond the traditional “scraping the surface” of routine dental cleanings, known as “prophies”. Veterinarians are encouraged to teach owners the importance of good oral hygiene when puppies and kittens are only a few months old in order to begin a lifetime of healthy benefits that go far beyond sweet smelling kisses.
It’s important for all pet owners to know that pets can lead longer and healthier lives with good dental care. In fact, studies show that proper dental care can extend a pet’s life by as much as five years! Ask your veterinarian about good dental care for your special furry friend.
Many of us enjoy snuggling close to our pets and despite misguided news reports detailing health risks, most of us will continue to do so.
But, there is a risk of sleeping with pets and it has to do with diseases carried by our old enemy, the flea. So, what’s the best way to shut down this annual pest? Fleas may be one of our pets’ worst enemies, but they don’t have to conquer your pet or your home.
The most common type of flea in the U.S. is the Ctenocephalides felis…or the Cat Flea. Despite its name, this species will feed from cats, dogs and even humans. These wingless insects attack both people and pets and feed by drawing blood from their host.
While most people relate to the irritation of flea bites, fleas can transmit more serious diseases. Flea allergy dermatitis is certainly the most common problem associated with fleas, but they can also transmit Bubonic Plague, tapeworms and Feline Infectious Anemia.
The challenge of winning the flea battle lies in understanding the flea’s life stages, then attacking all levels of the life cycle.
Female cat flea – A single female flea can lay 20-50 eggs at a time, creating over 2000 fleas in her life span of three months. With just 25 adult female fleas that equates to more than a quarter of a million fleas in only 30 days!
The non-sticky eggs fall off the pet, ending up in your carpeting, pet bedding or furniture upholstery. Outdoor environments such as leaf litter, lawn or mulch in moist and shady areas are also ideal environments for egg incubation.
Flea eggs hatch after 1-10 days (depending on the temperature and level of humidity) into larvae. These larvae feed off flea feces and debris, then molts three times in a 5-25 day period before spinning a cocoon (pupae). The flea pupae then hatch in as few as 5-9 days to the fully formed adult….OR they can remain dormant for up to five months.
Adult fleas comprise only about 5% of the entire flea population. The remaining 95% consists of eggs, larvae and cocoons in the pet’s environment. It’s easy to see how the flea can quickly invade and even overrun your home.
Expert “Flea Guru”, Dr. Michael Dryden recommends a combination of products and procedures. The very important first step is a visit to your veterinarian. “You can beat the fleas, but you have to purchase the right products.” Flea products obtained from a veterinarian have been proven effective through rigorous testing. Topically applied products like Frontline, Advantage & Revolution have worked well in the battle against the flea as has the orally administered pills, Capstar and Comfortis. With the rapid life cycle of the flea, the product must have a kill ratio of 90-95% to be considered effective. Anything less will not do the job completely.
Dr. Dryden continues “That’s not the case for (generally less expensive) over-the- counter products. Natural and organic doesn’t necessarily mean safe. I’m all for green and saving the planet. But I am also all for using a product which is proven safe for my pets.”
Shampoos and collars are less effective and in some cases can even cause harm to your pet. For example, the wrong dose of your dog’s flea product can have devastating and even life-threatening results if given to your cat. It may sound silly, but the EPA estimates that this mistake happens thousands of times every year!
Once the flea does appear, Dr. Dryden promotes a 3-part plan. The first step: eradicate the existing fleas on your pet. Proper product usage is very important and, remember, one dose won’t eliminate all the different stages.
Flea spray label – Secondly, it’s necessary to ensure that you have rid the premises of the fleas. Use products that contain Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs) to kill flea eggs and larvae. Your outdoor environment may need to be professionally treated. You need to regularly clean the indoor areas frequented by your pets.
Treat ALL dogs and cats….not just the affected pet. And all pets should be treated for at least three to six months to ensure total elimination.
Thirdly, prevent new infestations with lifelong flea control. Using a veterinarian recommended flea product will kill all levels of the flea infestation. If the flea can’t reproduce, it will become extinct. However, if even one cycle of flea prevention is missed, the battle will continue.
Knowing how to combat fleas is really more than half the battle. And although they are hardy little critters, we do have safe effective products to fight these bugs. Ask your veterinarian for product recommendations and advice.
Retro is a word usually bringing warm and fuzzy feelings of nostalgia. But for the more than 80 million cats living in North America, the word retro is anything but warm and fuzzy. Retroviruses like Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) can be devastating to your cat. More frightening, many cat owners are unaware of these two significant and very deadly feline diseases. Hidden from the body’s defenses, retroviruses can remain dormant for months or even years. These viruses have RNA as their genetic material but share an ability to switch RNA into DNA, inserting DNA into the host’s genome. Other retroviruses include HIV, the cause of human AIDS.
Like the AIDS virus, FeLV and FIV hinder the host’s immune system, making the cat more susceptible to common infections. Feline Leukemia is associated with more illnesses and deaths of cats than any other infectious agent. Although not actually a cancer, it can cause several types of cancer in your cat. FeLV is considered a “social contact” disease generally spread through intimate contact between cats, such as grooming or sharing water bowls. Pregnant or nursing cats can pass the virus on to their kittens as well. Studies estimate the prevalence of FeLV in the United States at two to three percent of the cat population, meaning that 1.5 to 2.5 million cats carry and spread the virus.
The FIV virus is less prevalent but still may infect almost one million cats in North America. Typically spread by fighting, FIV virus is caused by bite wounds between unfriendly cats. However, It should be noted that neither disease is spread from cats to people.
Cats carrying either of these viruses may not show any signs of illness. In fact, due to the ability of these viruses to hide in the cat’s cells, many cats can go years without any apparent symptoms. This can be a problem when new cats are introduced into the household, or if your cat ventures from home for a few days. The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) recommends testing cats routinely. Testing is considered the mainstay of preventing transmission of both diseases. Any sick cat should be tested, regardless of any negative results from previous testing.
Fortunately, there is good news. First, both of these viruses can’t survive outside the body for long periods of time, making transmission from the environment unlikely. Second, it is possible for cats with either disease to live for many years. Finally, in some cases, vaccinations can help to prevent the spread of these diseases. Previous vaccine recommendations have reduced the incidence of FeLV and current guidelines promote testing and wellness protocols over indiscriminate vaccination. Although the AAFP highly recommends testing cats for both diseases prior to vaccination, the retrovirus vaccines should only be used in cats that are at risk for FeLV or FIV. Your veterinarian will help you make the right decision about the need to vaccinate your feline friend. You can see all the guidelines at www.catvets.com.
Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline AIDS (FIV)
Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline AIDS (FIV) are two very serious diseases for cats.
Both diseases disrupt the immune system, allowing other infections and even cancers to harm your cat.
These viruses can hide in your cat’s cells and avoid detection for months or years. Your cat may not ever show symptoms or signs.
About 3-4 million cats, or 2-3% of the cat population in North America are infected with one or both of these diseases.
FeLV is spread through mutual grooming and shared food/water bowls. It is most often seen in multi-cat households.
FIV is most often spread through fighting and therefore is more likely to occur among outdoor cats.
Neither disease can be transmitted to people. These viruses are related to the human AIDS virus, but they won’t infect you.
All cats should be tested for both diseases.
Talk with your veterinariary staff about how to keep your cat safe and how to avoid risk factors.
For almost two decades, safe, effective flea medications from your veterinarian have helped pet owners battle these blood-sucking parasites. Now, several “generic” flea medications are flooding the market, showing up in big box stores and grocery stores across the country. Will these cheaper medications help more pets or do they have the potential for failure?
For a long time, flea control consisted of harsh products that were related to nerve gases of World War I. Many of these carbamates and organophosphates worked well at killing fleas, but unfortunately, they weren’t very safe for pets and had the potential for severe toxicity. Then, about fifteen years ago, modern chemistry helped give us safer topical flea treatments. Because fleas, ticks and other parasites are medical problems that need educated medical recommendations, the companies producing the new products chose to sell these flea medications only through veterinarians.
Fast forward to present day and you can find many flea products both over the counter (OTC) and through veterinary or “ethical” channels. Annual sales of flea and tick medications exceed $1 billion and there are many companies eager to get their share of the pie.
Recently, the compound, fipronil became available for generic use. The original patent holder, Merial, produces an excellent flea product (Frontline®) that was the main choice of veterinarians for many years. Now, no less than 15 “generic” fipronil flea products will be offered in the OTC markets.
What does this mean for you and your pets? Can you feel comfortable with generic flea medications?
First, let’s look at what a generic medication is. When a specific pharmaceutical company develops and patents a new drug, they are allowed the exclusive rights to sell that drug for a period of time. When the patent expires, other companies can then market their own products that use that drug. Since the generic companies don’t have any research and development costs and very little advertising is needed, their costs are much lower and, therefore, their selling price is also lower.
Although generics utilize the same active ingredients as the original, they are not exactly the same product – and that is very important to know. Different inert ingredients that are generally recognized as safe may be included. In the case of flea medications, these inert ingredients are usually the carrier molecules, or what helps spread the medication across the pet’s body. The FDA requires that generic manufacturers prove their product exhibits bioequivalence to the original product.
In the case of topical parasiticides, many of these products are actually regulated by the EPA instead of the FDA. This means that a veterinarian’s prescription is not necessary to purchase the product, although, as mentioned above, most of the original pharmaceutical companies chose to sell their product “under veterinary supervision”. The generic manufacturers do not have that same belief and the new copycat flea products will be found on shelves of Wal-Mart, Target and other big box stores across the country.
So, if the product is essentially the same and at a lower cost, is it ok to buy these over the counter flea preventives?
Fleas, as well as other parasites, can cause a host of medical problems that go beyond simple itching. Serious diseases can worsen if the issues are not handled properly. In a general merchandise store, you will not find anyone with the expertise or training you’ll find at your veterinarian’s office. Not to mention someone to call should your pet have an adverse reaction to any topical treatment.
Believe it or not, it might be more economical and more convenient to purchase the preventives through your veterinarian. Not only can you get all the products (flea preventive, heartworm preventive, etc) at one location, some of the ethical products sold through your veterinarian can actually help with all parasite problems. So, a single product could be the answer for your pet instead of several that end up costing more.
Veterinarians will also often provide a single dose of the flea product instead of the six pack you find at the store. It’s another way he or she can help you save money!
It’s also important to note that the federal government has actually ordered multiple manufacturers of these generic flea products to remove some products from store shelves.
Your veterinarian knows that your pet is unique and may not tolerate certain products as well as others. Your veterinarian’s medical advice has real value…especially since the wrong product used improperly actually has the potential to be fatal! Your veterinarian will understand if there are other possible interactions between flea preventives and other medications your pet is taking.
Finally, the healthcare team at your veterinarian’s office can not only show you how to properly use the products in question, but they will keep a complete record of what you have used in the past, taking the guesswork out and possible preventing future complications. And you already know they will keep track of your pet’s overall health and find medical problems early while they are still inexpensive to treat. Your family veterinarian is a part of your pet’s health care team.