Archive for the ‘Veterinary/Medical’ Category

Help for Low-Income Pets

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008


Last week I was half-watching TV while surfing the net, and saw a commercial promoting a charitable venture in Rhode Island that helps lower-income people pay vet’s bills. I was a little surprised because let’s face it, that’s not the sort of thing you see on TV very often. I jotted down the name of the organization and looked them up on the net. Sure enough, there it was: The RIVMA Companion Animal Foundation. Launched in 2004, the Foundation’s mission is to provide funds to the state’s participating veterinary practitioners for compassionate care of pets whose owners are unable to pay. I looked around the web site for awhile, thinking about what a great idea this is, and wondering what other resources are available to folks who love their pets but can’t afford to care for them when they are injured or sick.

Now, I’ve heard all the arguments about why the poor should not own pets, but whether you think this is so or not, the reality is that poor people do own pets. Saying that they shouldn’t doesn’t help those pets one little bit. This article is about finding the means to service animals in crisis, and not about whether their owners deserve to be helped. For me, it isn’t even a debatable question. I decided to do some research to find out just how extensive a safety net is available to low-income pets.


Runaway Claw: Regrowth Occurs After Declawing

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008


The story of a claw resurfacing in the top of a declawed cat’s paw sounds like a myth. When we adopted Laverne – a previously declawed cat – this summer, we had no idea she would show us just how real this painful experience can be.

As I write this entry, Vernie is in surgery. I accidentally discovered a problem when I was petting a paw gently with one finger and felt something odd, then saw the claw and realized this was a front foot and the top of the foot at that. She hissed at me for the first time and ran off. By the time I was able to get a really good look, she had pulled the claw out, leaving only an inflamed area barely visible between and above her front toes, under her fur.

I’d been concerned from the time we adopted her after noticing her paw pads did not look as even and balanced as the other declawed cats I had seen. She had probably pulled the claw off many times before; the vet and I both checked her paws on previous occasions and did not find any visible issues.

If my original cat, Kisses, had not arrived declawed 10 years ago, I probably would have declawed her based on the misconception I still hear often: “That’s just what you do with indoor cats.” Since then, I have learned not just about the surgery, which severs toes at the first joint, but also how unnecessary it is. It’s easy to give Kitty a chance at keeping her claws while you keep your furniture intact, and I have additional tips for anyone with an already-clawless kitty.


Cat Owners May Be Less Likely to Suffer Cardiovascular Disease

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

CatIn a Minnesota study, cat owners had a decreased risk of death from heart attack or other cardiovascular diseases, including stroke. Researchers found no such correlation in those with a pet dog.

Researchers analyzed 4,435 participants, 30–75 years of age, from the second National Health and Nutrition Examination Study. All participants were free of cardiovascular disease at the start of the study. Researchers used the Cox proportional hazards analysis during 20 years of follow-up to determine relative risk of death from all causes, heart attack and cardiovascular diseases, including stroke.

Previous or current cat owners represented 55 percent (2,435) of the study participants. Researchers adjusted results for differences in age, gender, ethnicity/race, systolic blood pressure, cigarette smoking, diabetes, cholesterol levels and body mass index. They observed a 40 percent higher relative risk of death due to heart attack in participants who had never owned a cat as a pet compared to those who had previously or currently owned a cat.


Cats And Dogs Do Suffer From Frost Bite and Hypothermia

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

KittenTrudy, an Itchmo reader, wrote this piece about pets and frost bite:

Pets are very vulnerable during this cold snap. They suffer in the bitter cold temperatures just like people can.

Pets will often get frost bite on their ears, paws, toes, or tails.

Ice crystals can form in the tissue of the pet’s body and damage the body tissue. This tissue damage may not be apparent for several days.

Frost bite occurs when the body gets very cold and the pet’s body system pulls all the blood from the extremities of the body to the center of the body to stay warm. This is a natural defense, as it draws the warm blood away from the organs and limbs that are not vital for survival.

I have personally seen this in kittens. Two years ago, I rescued a mother cat and her six kittens (one of the kittens is pictured here) that were born outside. The mother cat had tried to dig a hole in the frozen ground as close to the house as she could. The woman who owned the house had put a box out with towels in it, but the mother cat wanted them next to the house. Apparently she had the kittens in the tiny scooped out frozen ground.


OSU Laboratory Discovers New Canine Parvovirus

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

Here is a press release from the Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences:

A team of Oklahoma State University (OSU) veterinarians, virologists and pathologists at the Oklahoma Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (OADDL) recently published a paper in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology on their findings from a Canine parvovirus (CPV) study. Led by Dr. Sanjay Kapil, the group is the first to describe the CPV type 2c variant in the United States.

“We were quite fortunate to discover this variant,” explains Kapil. “It has been known for six years in Italy but nobody paid attention to it here until we found it last year.”

Shortly after Kapil joined the OSU Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, he received a case at the OADDL. The adult dog had been vaccinated multiple times and still became sick with Parvovirus.

“This was very unusual and we were totally surprised that it was CPV type 2c, which had not been found in the U.S. until then,” says Kapil. “What was so interesting was that after we described this disease, we ended up with samples from other locations here in the U.S.”


National Pet Dental Health Month

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008


February is National Pet Dental Health Month, so for many pet owners, it’s time to think about the health of our pet’s teeth, if we haven’t done so already.

Here is information about pet dental health care that the California Veterinary Medical Association put out:

The California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) reports gingivitis and periodontal disease in dogs and cats have become widespread, and pet owners should take some simple actions to be sure their pet has good oral health.

“We hope ‘National Pet Dental Health Month’ in February will draw attention to this serious health issue for pets. All pet owners should start a regular dental care routine for their animals in consultation with their veterinarians,” said Dr. Jeff Smith, president of the CVMA. “Oral disease can lead to serious consequences for pets, including infection, severe pain and even organ damage. With regular oral health maintenance and check-ups, most of these problems can be avoided.”

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 85 percent of dogs and cats show signs of oral disease by age four. The trouble begins when food particles and bacteria build up in the mouth to form plaque and tartar, which leads to reversible gingivitis. Gingivitis, if ignored, will progress to periodontal disease. Irreversible periodontal disease leads to tooth decay, bad breath, bleeding gums and, in severe cases, tooth loss. When bacteria from periodontal disease travels into a pet’s bloodstream, the lungs, heart, kidneys, liver and nervous system can be affected. These infections usually are treatable when caught at an early stage. However, if they are not caught in time, they can cause serious organ damage and even death.


Human Medicine For Pets

Friday, February 1st, 2008

Rochester Says Farewell To His Itchmo Friends

Thursday, January 10th, 2008


Hello everyone, Rochester here. First, I want to apologize for taking so long to write. It’s been a tumultuous time here lately. Today I had my first look at Itchmo in quite a while, and I read a wonderful tribute written by Jennifer Moore about her feline friend, Grimalkyn. Jennifer’s willingness to share her loss encouraged me to let you folks know why I’ve been so quiet lately.

To put it as simply and succinctly as possible, I’m terminally ill.

Of course, I knew something was wrong long before the staff did. They didn’t pick up on it until I started to have trouble chewing, especially large pieces of food and stringy things. Because I’d been given a clean bill of health at my “annual” during the summer, the staff believed it was a straightforward dental problem, and they made an appointment for me to have my teeth checked. The examination revealed something far more serious, and a biopsy confirmed that I have a squamous cell carcinoma. I won’t go into the gory details… suffice it to say that the outlook is grim.


Similarities In Dog And Human Breast Cancer Pre-malignant Lesions Found

Monday, November 19th, 2007

DogPre-malignant mammary lesions in dogs and humans display many of the same characteristics, a discovery that could lead to better understanding of breast cancer progression and prevention for people and pets, said a Purdue University scientist from the School of Veterinary Medicine.

A group of scientists including Sulma Mohammed have found similarities between benign lesions that are considered to carry risk for developing breast cancer in both canines and humans.

“Dogs develop these lesions spontaneously in contrast to other available models and are exposed to the same environmental risk factors as humans,” said Mohammed, an associate professor in comparative pathobiology. “These shared features make the dog an ideal model to compare the breast lesions that will progress to cancer and those that will regress. Such a model will facilitate customized treatment and prevention strategies.”

The scientists studied 212 tissue biopsies from 200 female dogs with tumors that were retrieved from the archives of the Purdue Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and the Veterinary Teaching Hospital as well as from the Institute of General Pathology and Anatomical Pathology at Sassari University.


Cat Scratch Disease

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

Cat Scratch Disease

Here is an article about “Cat Scratch Disease” from Dr. Edward Wu, a contributing writer for Itchmo:

Cat Scratch Disease
Edward C. Wu, MD

No, you shouldn’t get rid of your cat. But, do be on the lookout for swollen lymph nodes and a rash if you’ve been bitten or scratched by a cat.

Believe it or not, “Cat Scratch Disease” (CSD) is the actual name of the disease. Caused by a group of bacteria (usually Bartonella henselae), CSD can occur in healthy individuals. It affects fewer than 1 in 10000 individuals. Most cases occur in individuals under 21 years of age.

CSD usually starts within two weeks of a cat bite or scratch. Common symptoms are a rash and swollen lymph nodes that develop near the actual scratch or bite. Individuals can also experience fever, visual changes, or joint pains.

Thankfully, most CSD infections in healthy individuals go away on their own. However, some individuals develop complications, requiring antibiotics to treat the infection. If untreated, serious cases can affect the nervous system, heart, and liver. We don’t know why some individuals have a worse case of CSD than others.


Prevalence Of Worms Transmitted By Pets To Humans Is Higher Than Previously Shown

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

About 14 percent of the U.S. population is infected with Toxocara, or internal roundworms, contracted from dogs and cats. That’s according to the results of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study announced at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Philadelphia.

The CDC study shows the transmission of Toxocara from dogs and cats to people is most common in young children and youth under age 20, and more common in non-Hispanic blacks than in Mexican Americans and non-Hispanic whites of all age groups. It is highest in lower socioeconomic and less-educated populations. All children, however, are more susceptible to infection given their propensity to play in and sometimes eat contaminated soil.

Infections are acquired by accidental ingestion of Toxocara eggs found in environments contaminated with feces of infected dogs and cats. This includes play areas and sandboxes.

“The results of this study demonstrate that Toxocara infection in the United States is more widespread and common than previously understood,” said Peter Schantz, VMD, PhD, an epidemiologist in the Division of Parasitic Diseases at the CDC and a founding board member of the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC). “Although most persons infected with Toxocara have no apparent symptoms, this infectious agent is capable of causing blindness and other serious systemic illness, which makes it a public health issue.”


Drive-Thru Rabies Shots For Cats And Dogs

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

Dog RabiesNowadays, you can get anything from the drive-thru window including coffee, your prescription, dry-cleaning, and now your pet’s rabies shots.

The Humane Society of Saline County in Arkansas sponsored a drive-thru rabies event this past weekend. Instead of waiting at a vet’s office, dozens of dogs and cats got their rabies shots while waiting in the car. Not only was the rabies shot convenient for many pet owners, it only cost $10.

Veterinarian Kim Miller said many of the animals that received rabies shots would probably never have gotten the shot if this drive-thru service was not provided.

Source: Today’s THV

MRSA For Pet Owners

Monday, November 5th, 2007


Here is a medical article about MRSA from Dr. Edward Wu, a contributing writer for Itchmo:

MRSA for Pet-Owners
Edward C. Wu, MD

With all the recent headlines regarding methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), it is hard *not* to talk about this ubiquitous bacteria.

Physicians have known about MRSA for ages. When I went to medical school, people who were found to have MRSA were put in hospital isolation rooms, and you were careful to glove-and-gown up before going to check in on them. Health care providers were put on high alert regarding these patients.

Nowadays, this infection is more commonplace — accounting for 30-40% of Staph infections. As a result, MRSA does not have that special aura around it. It is now an omnipresent bacteria. Hospitals still put these patients on “contact precautions,” but these patients do not necessarily need an isolation room.

What’s so bad about MRSA? Staph infections used to be easily treatable with penicillin-based drugs. This is still the case, unless you have MRSA. MRSA cannot be treated by penicillin-based antibiotics. It requires powerful antibiotics, and you may need to stay in the hospital. Unfortunately, the research and development of antibiotics is slow, and pharmaceutical companies do not make that much money from them. As a result, we have limited treatment options for MRSA.


Vermont Faces Large Animal Vet Shortage

Sunday, October 7th, 2007


A recent report from Vermont Public Radio warns that if you own sheep, horses or cattle, it takes longer to get medical help for your animals, if you can even get emergency veterinary service at all. In Vermont and other rural parts of the country, there is a growing shortage of large animal doctors. Public health experts say it’s a problem that could impact all of us. About 2,500 students graduate from U.S. veterinary schools each year, but fewer than 10% of them go into large animal medicine.

According to Dr. Stephen Major, who owns the Green Mountain Bovine and Equine Clinic in West Chesterfield, NH, the shortage is partly because small farms are disappearing, making it harder for vets to earn a living. But, there are still many backyard animals and nobody is willing to come that far into the hills or across the mountains from the other side to service them. Major said the problem is exacerbated because many large animal providers are nearing retirement. He said he hears over and over again how difficult it is to find young vets willing to join or take over a practice.


Spay-Neuter Clinic Helps Control Maricopa County’s Pet Population

Thursday, October 4th, 2007

alteredlogo.jpgAltered Tails of Phoenix, Arizona operates a low cost spay-neuter clinic with an ambitious goal: to provide sterilizations to 22,000 cats and dogs a year. According to Pat Carpenter, the organization’s founder and president, accomplishing this goal is the best way to reduce the number of animals being euthanized in Maricopa County — estimated at nearly 60,000 annually.

Carpenter founded Altered Tails in October 2003 after working for many years as a volunteer with various animal rescue organizations. She was a legal secretary in Scottsdale before her retirement, and now makes her home in Phoenix with her family of rescued cats and dogs. She is a recipient of the 2007 Frances Young Community Heroes award.

Altered Tails has a 40-foot truck with everything necessary to spay and neuter pets. The mobile operating room drives to various locations in the community, where nearby residents can bring their pets to be sterilized.


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