Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Some Disturbing Food For Thought

Those of you who have known me a while probably know I have a keen interest in food security/food safety issues, and not just as they relate to veterinary medicine. Dr. Alice Villalobos, who has the veterinary cancer referral clinic down the street on Wednesdays has written an excellent article on the subject in this month's Veterinary Practice News.

While my views on the livestock industry lean more "animal welfare" than "animal rights", I agree that the film "Food, Inc." and the books "Fast Food Nation", "The Omnivore's Dilemma", and "In Defense of Food" are all well worth their acclaim.

Seasonal eating and limiting the amount of factory-farmed or unsustainably harvested animal protein in our diets are a good idea for all of us, and don't have to be terrible expensive. Heck, I know that I am not alone in needing to do a bit LESS eating, and can see an advantage to lower quantities of food and higher quality.

Feline Neuter Rate Drops With Family Income

According to an article from the JAVMA recently, about 80 percent of pet cats in the US. Not surprisingly, spay/neuter rates were higher among higher income homes and lower where income was lower. The rate approaches 97% in households with incomes over $75,000, but drops to little more than 50% in households with incomes below 35%.

Clearly there is much room for improvement in these numbers in low-income communities. Spaying and neutering doesn't have to be horribly expensive, especially since many veterinarians (myself included) offer it basically as a "loss leader" and lose money on the deal, just to encourage high rates of neutering in the community. Many communities have low-cost spay/neuter clinics, too. The City of Los Angeles provides vouchers when the budget allows, which help to subsidize the cost for city residents.

Spaying and neutering are not difficult or dangerous in most circumstances, and they help to ensure a much longer, healthier life for kitties. They also prevent undesirable behaviors and that nasty tomcat urine odor that will drive your friends away and your family to drink.

I have addressed spaying and neutering here in a previous post, but can't say enough about how critical it is that we do our pets this favor (and society, too).

Thursday, August 13, 2009

AVMA letter to the editor of Smart Money magazine regarding the article "10 Things Veterinarians Won't Tell You"

I suppose it's a good thing I missed the original article referenced in this letter. I might have blown a gasket.

I guess Rodney Dangerfield was right. Some people just can't get no respect. Unfortunately, promoting mistrust of veterinarians as a whole can only result in very real harm to pets in the long run, and in the process very real increased risk to human health.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Signs Your Cat Needs To See A Veterinarian

All right - one more handout from the ether.

I wish I could copy and paste this right into the blog post, but PDF files don't allow that. Just click on the hyperlink.

Managing Your Pet's Renal Disease

I have concluded that I am an inherently lazy writer, and really see no reason to reinvent the wheel, either. Here's another excellent handout, already nicely written for you, about renal disease management.

My treatment approach in many cases differs slightly from what is in the handout. Our phosphorus management might include administration of a Vitamin D analog, or as an alternative we might use a phosphate binder - every case is different in this regard. And we do not generally use potentially dangerous blood transfusions to manage incurable chronic diseases. Unfortunately, we have found the hormonal anemia treatments to be virtually useless.

What is remarkable is how very much kidney failure management has changed in the past ten years. We had very few options at that time - diet and fluids were pretty much IT. Times have definitely changed - it is not unusual to have patients on a renal management protocol for two or three years - our Dusty passed the three year mark a while back, and she has the additional issue of hyperthyroidism to contend with.

Chronic kidney disease has become more like diabetes, in that it is manageable. It still will eventually prove fatal in most cats, but over time clients come to accept what is happening, so it's not as traumatic for everybody as it used to be.

FAQs About Microchipping

Another handy handout from my favorite online veterinary resource, this time about those wonderful microchips for identification in case your cat gets lost. This past winter we were able to reunite two lost cats with their owners (one was slightly injured and needed medical attention). I have chipped my own kitties and feel a lot less afraid about the possibility of them escaping in case of an earthquake or other mishap (I do not allow my cats out at all).

We can place the chip most easily if your cat is already sedated/anesthetized for another procedure. When you make an appointment for a procedure, mention that you also would like a chip placed and we will be happy to do it. We currently charge $55 as an add-on, or $80 if we do it in the exam room where we must give a mild sedation/pain medication due to the large needle size. Fees are subject to change without notice.

5 Mouser Myths Debunked

This helpful handout from one of my veterinary journals helps to set the record straight on some common misconceptions about cats:

1 - Cats are aloof and antisocial
2 - Indoor cats don't need preventive health care
3 - Cats are independent and don't need medical care
4 - Cats eliminate outside of litter boxes out of spite
5 - Cats don't get heartworms

The only one of these which carries a grain of truth with it is the last - in Southern California, heartworm disease is uncommon enough that its incidence in local cats probably approaches zero, but given the big unknown of coyotes as a heartworm reservoir, that may be incorrect.

Anyway, click on the embedded link at the start to read the information sheet. And then call us to get that very overdue routine exam taken care of!