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The Confusing World of Pet Parasite Prevention

According to PetsAndParasites.com, a website devoted to tracking the occurrence of parasites in our pets, the prevalence of deadly heartworms continues to cause problems.  More than 1% of dogs tested will be positive for heartworms in the US every year.  That’s almost a million pets suffering from a preventable disease!  Rates are even higher for parasites like roundworms, whipworms and hookworms!

Thankfully, we have had safe and effective parasite treatment and preventive products available for many years.  So, why are we still seeing so many cases? There are many theories.

Despite the claims of Internet sites who say rising resistance among heartworms or massive failure of preventives is to blame, the reality is probably a little closer to home.   Dr. Sheldon Rubin, a past president of the American Heartworm Society is quoted as saying that human error or forgetfulness is probably the biggest reason for pets developing heartworm disease.  His comments are echoed by research in Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana that reviewed cases of presumed heartworm preventive failure and found that owner compliance was actually much lower than originally reported.

Graphic of various pillsBut, an uncertainty among pet owners about which product to use (market confusion), as well as economic factors, are fueling at least some of the issue.  Generic heartworm preventives can now be found in many human pharmacies and online pet pharmacies are offering six to ten different medications to the public.  It’s frankly hard for a pet owner to choose.

Experts from the American Heartworm Society recommend giving heartworm preventive year round.  Just be sure you are using a prescription product that contains one of these known compounds; ivermectin, milbemycin oxime, selamectin or moxidectin.  Then your pet needs to receive a dose once monthly, every month, all year long.

Some of these medications are also effective against intestinal parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms.  A few of these preventives are also now using compounds to treat tapeworms in addition to the other parasites.  It’s even possible to get heartworm preventive that also includes means to help control fleas!!

Part of consumer confusion is whether to buy the least expensive product or the one that covers every possible parasite.  Veterinarians do understand how this can be such a confounding problem.

In fact, certain parasites are less common in some areas of the country and your pet’s risk factors vary quite a bit.  These risk factors also include exposure to parasites through trips to dog parks, hiking or camping, interstate travel or even the presence of other animals in the household.

Veterinarian with petVeterinarians follow these trends every year.  They couple this information with their understanding of the different life cycles, knowledge of your pet’s specific medical conditions, the reputation of the drug manufacturers and your region of the country.  They are ideally equipped to help you more fully understand exactly which product provides the best parasite protection for your pet and your family.

Also it is so important for you not to fall for advice in online forums that recommend odd-ball alternative methods of protecting your pets against any parasite, but especially heartworm disease.  Many of these simply fuel speculation about diminishing effectiveness of heartworm preventives and they are not well researched.  These sites often misinterpret data or are actively promoting products that have not gone through proper testing and safety research.

This is an area of pet care where we have made great advances, but bad advice and a confusing market have created unnecessary risks and vulnerabilities. Trust your pet’s healthcare advice to your family veterinarian and team.  Trusted products from Deerfield Veterinary Hospital can be found at our hospital.  Our pharmacy is price competitive with most online and local big box retailers.  Call the hospital today to setup your account with Deerfield.

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Question and Answer on Generic Rimadyl

Our clients regularly ask us great questions regarding their pets.  This was question Dr. Denise answered via email in August of 2011 regarding the use of a generic carprofen (Rimadyl).

Dr. Denise,

Can you get me a prescription for the generic of Rimadyl? Spot currently takes Putney Carprofen Caplets, 75mg twice a day. Our current bottle has 180 caplets in it, non-chewable.

I can go on petmeds.com if you cannot order it but need the prescription from you, correct?

Thanks,

Jane

Hello Jane,

Yes we can certainly write you a prescription to order the Carprofen caplets.   My question is, are you using the caplets because they are less expensive or because Spot would not take the chewable Rimadyl tablets?

The reason I ask is that we competitively price our Rimadyl chewables in line with the generic carprofen tablets so that our clients have the ease of giving the chewable tablets rather than trying to hide the caplet in something every day.

If Spot would eat the chewable, you could use the Rimadyl 100 mg chewables and give 1 tablet in the morning and 1/2 tablet in the evening (which is equivalent to 75mg twice daily)  The Rimadyl chewable tablet is scored so it is easy to split.  The Rimadyl can be given only once a day (Rimadyl was tested with once daily dosing). However with a pet the age of Spot, I usually divide the dose up to get really good 24 hour coverage. If you went to the bigger size and gave 1 1/2 tablets total for the day rather than two of the 75 mg tablets a day you would end up saving money since you would be using less tablets each day. I’ve included cost comparisons below for you to look at – our hospital versus Pet Meds.

Pet Meds  Carprofen caplet  75mg  #180count  $178.44  ($1.00/tablet)    2 tablets a day = $2.00 a day  $60/month

Pet Meds  Rimadyl chewable  75mg  #180count  $215.19 Deerfield Rimadyl chewable  75mg  #180count  $194.00

Pet Meds  Carprofen caplet  100mg  #180count $188.94   ($1.05/tablet)

Pet Meds  Rimadyl chewable  100mg  #180count $236.19

Deerfield Rimadyl chewable  100mg  #180count $199.99 ($1.11/tablet)  1 1/2 tablets a day = $1.67 a day   $50.10/month

So you could go to the Rimadyl chewables, give 1 1/2 tablets a day and spend $10 less a month than the generics you are using twice daily. Now obviously if Spot won’t take the chewables then all bets are off and we will stick with the caplets. One last note, if we do go with the chewables be sure to keep them out of reach- some dogs have been known to “counter surf” to get to the bottle of chewables because they taste so good.  Unfortunately, that becomes a medical emergency.

Dr. Denise

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Deerfield Veterinary Hospital First To Offer Stem Cell Therapy to Pets in Springfield

Early in my professional career, I was advised to avoid publicly discussing three controversial subject matters; politics, religion and money.  Of late, the term “stem cells” could certainly be added to this short list of contentious topics.  Weekly, we see news reports and read editorials on the uses of human embryonic stem cells and the moral-ethical questions surrounding the collection of these powerful cells. There are, however, new breakthroughs in the science of regenerative medicine that draw on the use of adult stem cells, harvested not from embryos but from an adult’s own body.

Research now teaches us that stem cells are an important part of a healthy body’s defense and regeneration process.  Simply put, we could not thrive without these primitive repair cells.  Just as embryonic stem cells have the ability to grow into a completely new human or animal, adult stem cells have the ability to change and differentiate into bone, cartilage, muscle or any tissue in the body.  Recently, a detailed study on the use of fat-derived stem cells in dogs showed that animals receiving stem cells demonstrated a significant improvement in lameness when compared to dogs in the control group.  In clinical trials, over 80% of pet owners report improvement after therapy.  This news has excited veterinarians and pet owners alike and has many asking about the potential for a real world application.

More than 15 million (20%) dogs in North America suffer some form of degenerative joint disease, better known as osteoarthritis (OA).  Unfortunately, many dog owners are completely unaware of the pain their pet is experiencing, chalking up the slow movement to the effects of “old age”.  Some dogs may receive daily doses of pain relievers and oral joint care supplements.  Still others might find their way to physical therapy or rehabilitation.  But for some, any or all of these options are not enough to relieve the pain.  Sadly, many owners decide to euthanize their faithful companion because of the severity of the pain or the continued high cost of on-going treatment.

Adult stem cell regenerative therapy is now an accepted treatment for OA and is available for both dogs and cats.  Deerfield Veterinary Hospital is pleased to be the first veterinary hospital in the Ozarks to offer stem cell therapy.  All of this seems pretty miraculous and for some pets, the results are truly nothing short of a life-saving miracle.

If you are trying to decide if stem cell therapy is right for your pet, please consider the following. Not all pets are considered good candidates for this therapy.  Since anesthesia is involved in both the cell collection step and the reintroduction of the cells, this may not be ideal for all patients.  Additionally, any dog with serious systemic disease, such as cancer, might not benefit from these treatments.  Even though there has been great feedback from owners, this is not a one shot therapy.  Some pets need to return regularly for follow-up treatments.  Scientist report that over-exertion after treatment seems to lessen the benefits of the treatment, often leading to another trip to the veterinarian.  Finally, cost will certainly come into play as owners and veterinarians discuss this option.  Prices will vary among veterinarians, but in general, plan on spending at least $3000 to $3500 for initial treatments.

Arthritis can be painful and even debilitating in any dog or cat.  If you suspect your pet suffers from this disease, talk with us about testing to confirm arthritis and then discuss the many treatment options.   We will recommend a multi-modal approach to pain relief, combining appropriate medications, controlled exercise, weight loss, and environmental changes to make your pet’s life easier.  In some cases, new technology, like stem cell therapy, can be beneficial!

This video segment from ABC’s Nightline in 2008 reviews the process of harvesting and transplanting stem cells in pets.

[youtube mVCnhrwIKBA 420 350]

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Online Pet Pharmacies – Saving Money or Risk to Your Pets?

With record numbers of families enjoying the benefits of pet ownership and online shopping, it should come as no surprise that the amount of money spent on our pets is huge.  Experts are forecasting that pet owners will spend more than $50 billion dollars annually.  A significant percentage of those expenses include veterinary care and prescription medications.  So, is it any wonder that buying your prescription medications online may also look like a good deal?

At first glance, online pet pharmacies would seem to be a great option.  The promise of lower prices and having the medication shipped to your door is a big selling point for busy, budget conscious people.  But, there are some pitfalls when relying on Internet based sources for your pet’s medication needs.

First, they all say you can “save a trip to the vet”.  Unfortunately, this is only partially true.  In order to prescribe and dispense medication to your pet, most states require that there is a valid veterinarian-client-pet relationship or VCPR.  This is usually defined as a veterinarian having examined your pet within the last 12 months.  If the VCPR does not exist, medication cannot be dispensed.

Some websites will offer to sell the drugs without a prescription. This is not only illegal but not in the best interest of your pet!  Websites that sell without needing prescriptions are most often based outside of North America, where pharmacy and drug laws may not be as strict.

The requirement for this professional relationship insures that you and your veterinarian have good, up to date facts about your pet’s health. Plus the medical records and history for your pet are all in one place.  The veterinary staff also knows your whole pet family and can help prevent problems when there are multiple pets present in the household.

Since pets are unique individuals, some may have unexpected reactions to certain drugs and some medications can even be deadly if given incorrectly.  Others may need a special formulation for ease of administration.  The online pharmacies will not know this information and this could be a problem if your pet is on several medications or has secondary conditions.

If a life-threatening emergency happens with a medication, your veterinarian is only a phone call away.  Some online pharmacies only allow contact through email and this will not help you if your pet needs assistance immediately!

Finally, despite many good businesses online, there will always be a few who are looking for a quick buck at your expense.  Avoid sites that offer dramatically lower prices than competing sites or your veterinarian.  Likewise, if you have ordered medication online, check the drug to make sure it looks similar to what you have given before.  If it looks different in any way, do not give it to your pet.

Illegal "Bootleg" product manufactured for Australia was purchased by a client from major online retailer.

The FDA is so concerned about this, it is now warning pet owners to be aware of shady online companies.  The National Board of Pharmacies has instituted the  e-Advertiser Approval Program to help you find properly licensed and compliant online pet pharmacies.  Only Eighteen companies nationwide have earned the right to display the e-Advertiser seal of approval, including Deerfield Veterinary Hospital.

Check with your veterinarian about online pharmacies.  Many veterinary hospitals now offer their very own store on their websites.   Often prices are competitive, and they are the same medications you purchase at the hospital.  Orders can ship directly from the hospital to your door, or you can choose to pick them up at the hospital without the hassle of waiting in line.

In addition, you will know who you are talking to in case of any problems or concerns.  Honest and open communication with your veterinarian about cost concerns will prevent misunderstandings about money and help you do what’s best for your pet.

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