Compounding (the problem?)

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Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,

You probably know that most veterinary drugs tend to also be human drugs and that veterinarians (DVM’s) have the authority to prescribe any human drug the veterinarian feels is appropriate for any animal that is his/her patient.

In some cases, needed drugs are not available from a regular pharmacy or the concentration or form of the drug makes it unusable on animals. In such cases, a compounding pharmacy (a pharmacy which has the skills and equipment to create different forms or concentrations of drugs) can be useful to the patient.

For example, if a needed drug for a cat came only in a tablet that the cat would not take, the compounding pharmacist could make it into, say, a liquid. Pharmacies such as this are valuable for both veterinary medicine and for human medicine.

Of course, it is necesary that the compounding pharmacist be very skilled and meticulous. In a case several years ago, numerous horses died after being given a compounded injectable product. This tragedy resulted in tightening of the regulations concerning compounding. These tighter rules caused several compounding pharmacies to elect to not compound injectables rather than comply with the newer, stricter, rules.

Compounding pharmacies are another weapon that DVMs may use in the war against pet disease. And, like any weapon, it must be used skillfully and cautiously.

See? Something can be done about keeping pets healthy!

That is all.

Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic

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Human Drugs

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Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,

Though I take this up every so often, I would like to again remind you to be very careful giving “safe” human drugs to your pet for whatever reason.

Recently, I treated a dog who was  hit by a car, and the owners had already given him a certain amount of Tylenol. The owner just sort of gave an amount that seemed reasonable to him, without really knowing a dose or even whether the drug was ok. Luckliy, the dose used was not toxic and I was still able to use effective drugs on this dog despite the Tyleonol in its system.

I have on many occasions had possibly toxic doses of various drugs given by sincere owners just trying to help their pet. In most of these cases, I can deal with the toxic drug, but I am then limited on what effective drug I can use due to the toxic drug being present.

So, best bet is to avoid giving your pet any med not ordered by a DVM for this particular incident.

Remember that, even if the drug used is an OK drug in the correct dose, it may not be the one that best suits your pet’s condition, and it may then prevent use of a better drug due to drug interactions.

Remember too that many drugs used safely in people are toxic or have wildly different dosing in pets.

So, as regards drug use in your pet, avoid the do-it-yourself spirit. Since the stakes are so high, this is a time when a DVM should prescribe the correct med at the correct dose to best help your pet.

See? Something can be done about keeping pets healthy!

That is all.

Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic

Compounding (the problem?)

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Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,

You probably know that most veterinary drugs tend to also be human drugs and that veterinarians (DVM’s) have the authority to prescribe any human drug the veterinarian feels is appropriate for any animal that is his/her patient.

In some cases, needed drugs are not available from a regular pharmacy or the concentration or form of the drug makes it unusable on animals. In such cases, a compounding pharmacy (a pharmacy which has the skills and equipment to create different forms or concentrations of drugs) can be useful to the patient.

For example, if a needed drug for a cat came only in a tablet that the cat would not take, the compounding pharmacist could make it into, say, a liquid. Pharmacies, such as this, are valuable for both veterinary medicine and for human medicine.

Of course, it is necesary that the compounding pharmacist be very skilled and meticulous. In a case several years ago, numerous horses died after being given a compounded injectable product. This tragedy resulted in tightening of the regulations concerning compounding. These tighter rules caused several compounding pharmacies to elect to not compound injectables rather than comply with the newer, stricter, rules.

Compounding pharmacies are another weapon that DVMs may use in the war against pet disease. And, like any weapon, it must be used skillfully and cautiously.

See? Something can be done about keeping pets healthy!

That is all.

Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic

Saved By a Chip on His Shoulder

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Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,

Recently, I was reminded of the value of the microchip used to identify pets.

A pet was found by a good samaritan after being hit by a car. The good samaritan, taking responsibility for the pet, took it to Pet Emergency Clinic for treatment. During the course of treatment, staff scanned the pet for a microchip, found one, and were able to locate the pet’s owner. The dog, seriously injured, was able to be helped and had surgery at his own day clinic. He has a good chance to recover.

What is the point to all of this?
To remind you of the benefits of using a microchip in your pet.

What exactly is a microchip?
A microchip is a small, non-irritating, plastic-encased chip about the size of a grain of rice. The chip is passive, meaning that it does not transmit. Rather, it reflects an interrogation signal from a scanner, which can read the chip’s code. The code is registered to the owner, who can be located via the registered owner.

Why doesn’t everybody use chips?
I am not totally sure. The cost is low and it is easy to install. Maybe it is the idea that somebody is “spying” on the pet (untrue) or maybe it is just lack of awareness.

What is the biggest fail on chips?
The biggest fail is the failure to register the chip. So many times, we do find a chip and we also find that the chip was NEVER registered.

What to do?
-If your pet does not have a chip installed, considering getting one. It is easy and low cost.
-If your pet does have a chip, be sure that it is registered. It may be good to review your contact data with the chip company to ensure that it is current.

So microchips can be a very useful tool in our quest for better pet health.

See? Something can be done about keeping pets healthy!

That is all.

Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic

Doc. It’s OK. He Doesn’t Bite

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Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,

Whenever people find out that I am a veterinarian, many of them ask whether I have ever been bitten. I always answer in the affirmative, as almost any veterinarian would. Though that particular question can become monotonous to me, it is a good topic for today.

Aggressive dogs can be difficult and, I believe, unhappy. Recently, I had a dog that the person was “home schooling” as a police dog come in to the ER. This dog was so vicious that it was almost impossible to even inject him to sedate him. [FYI- Actual Police dogs are rarely truly vicious and are always under control]

Of course, few dogs are ever that aggressive. Usually, the bites we receive are the result of the poor dog panicing and biting in what he considers “self-defense.”

My colleague Dr. Joe Soileau used to say that the number one cause of death in dogs is euthanasia due to behavior problems. I believe that is true. So, what to do?

1- Start with a breed that is generally docile. There are very few actual advantages to an aggressive breed. (And no. It is NOT just in how you raise them. Some breeds, raised among the most loving people and situation in the world, are still just aggressive.)

2- Socialize the puppy. This does not mean you must call him “comrade.” Rather, it means to expose the pet to other pets and lots of situations early in life. This will probably result in a confident, non-biting pet. The puppy should stay with its litter at least 6 weeks and up to 12 is even better.

3- Avoid hand-raised orphans. These pets often become very squirrelly due to their lack of other members of their species to emulate. And yes, there ARE exceptions.

3- Puppy classes. Some of the big box pet stores offer these, and they are good. Some private individuals offer “private lessons.” These can be very good if you get the right trainer.

4- Train yourself in how to interact with a puppy. Slap fights with a puppy? No. Tug-a-wars with your puppy? Probably no. How you interact with your puppy is key in his later confidence as an adult. Usually confident adults do not feel they must bite.

5- Have all vaccinations and licenses in place as early as possible in case something does happen, it is a huge hassle if your pet is not legal.

Pet owners are very compassionate and kind as a group. The above tips may help you avoid being one of those owners who has to make a difficult decision about a pet due to bad pet behavior.

See? Something can be done about keeping pets healthy!

That is all.

Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic

We Need Veterinarians!!

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Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,

Every time a natural disaster occurs, usually a hurricane in this area, there will be displaced and injured pets who need help at the very time it’s the hardest to provide it. Of course, the same could be said for people.

When Hurricane Katrina so devastated the New Orleans area in 2005, this problem really showed itself in a big way. There were literally thousands of pet, dogs, cats, horses, and even livestock, that were alive but stranded and maybe injured.

There were also hundreds of veterinarians from all over and thousands of other animal-related volunteers willing to help. Some were local and many were licensed in other states. In order to practice a profession in a state, it is always necessary to have approval from that state’s licensing agency. This is to protect the public from unqualified people and possibly even charlatains.

The requirement to verify to the people offering assistance were actually qualified and legitimately and slowed the flow of help. As you can imagine, scammers love chaos and some use the chance to rip off hurricane victims, in such times. People wanting to help were in some cases delayed or even stopped.

At the time of Katrina/Rita, Louisiana had no workable system to handle such a situation, and red tape interfered with honest efforts to help. Additionally, many Louisiana veterinarians from unaffected areas, available to assist, were not even asked. So you can see how the needed help flow was not as smooth as it could have been.

After Katrina/Rita, agencies, such as: the Louisiana Board of Veterinary Medicine, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture, and others, created an emergency plan that activates upon a governor’s declaration of emergency. So now, when hurricanes or flooding occur or an emergency is declared, the plan activates and help needed for all animals can smoothly and quickly flow to the areas that need it.

I have been privileged to be a part of  this workable system, during a few recent events. It is good to know that our animals are now being considered along with the humans during disasters. When people are not as worried about their animals, they can care for other very important things, and at least SOME of their stress may be alleviated.

It is good to see effective people getting results in helping our animals.

See? Something can be done about keeping pets healthy!

That is all.

Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic

TOXIC PETS

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Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,

What is a toxin? One definition is a “poisonous substance capable of causing disease when present at low concentration in the body.” This seems like a pretty good definition. I also always try to remember that ANYTHING in large enough amounts can be toxic.

If you think about a usually non-toxic human drug taken by a 200 pound man that is now ingested by a 20 pound Beagle, you can see that the dose of drug per pound body weight is 10X higher in the dog. And there is the problem. At that dose, it may kill.

I have seen cases in which a 10 pound Poodle was given an ounce of alcohol at a party just “for fun.” What the alcohol provider did not realize was that this 20X higher dose of alcohol may be enough to cause severe illness or even death in the dog.

Recently, I treated 2 cases on the same day in which a dog ingested an illegal stimulent drug. In the first case, nobody knew about any single thing that the dog could have received. As a result, I needed a good bit of blood testing that I may not have needed had I known, and I also had lots of stress as this dog that had “gotten nothing” tried to seizure itself to death.  I spent far more money and effort just because the owner would not help me.

In the second case, the innocent owner had figured it out and advised us at admit. As a result, I was able to specifically treat the problem more aggressively and without lots of extra possibly unneeded testing. Both dogs, eventually did well.

So it comes down to this. If you are aware of what may be “ailing” your pet, even if it may be illegal and you may not want to admit it, ADMIT IT. We at Pet ER are not police. We need the data to help your pet. And then, once all is well again, DON’T DO IT AGAIN!!!!

Also remember to never give your pet ANY meds unless a DVM has ordered it and you KNOW FOR A FACT that the drug is OK  and and the dose. I have had pharmacists innocently give pet owners potentially deadly “advice” to use a pet-harmful drug just due to lack of knowledge.

As they say on “Hill Street Blues,” let’s be careful out there.

See? Something can be done about keeping pets healthy!

That is all.

Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic