All Posts tagged Feline Diabetes

Pharmacy Mistakes Can Harm Our Pets!

When national surveys are done, pharmacists continually rank high when it comes to trust, honesty and ethics.  Whether it’s your pharmacy professional at the locally owned corner store or the one at the corporate big box store, this profession consistently out ranks doctors, engineers and even the clergy!  Like veterinarians, pharmacists are viewed as compassionate and caring by the general public.

However, increasing numbers of news reports detailing mistakes made by human pharmacies dispensing pet medications has both professions concerned.  In some cases, there was no noticeable effect and the pets were fine, but serious illnesses, severe complications and even deaths have occurred.  How widespread is this issue?

Thankfully, in the vast majority of prescriptions sent to pharmacists from veterinarians, the dosage and medication is delivered as expected and the pet gets exactly what is needed.  It’s only when drugs are changed, generics substituted or dosing altered that problems occur.

In a recent survey completed by the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA), more than 1/3 of the veterinarians surveyed reported incidents of pharmacists from either retail or online pharmacies changing the prescription.  In a highly publicized case from Los Angeles, an 8 year old Labrador was euthanized after the drug store altered the dose of a veterinarian’s prescription, changing the “cubic centimeters” (or “cc”) to teaspoons.  This pet ended up receiving almost 4 times the amount of medication needed which compounded his other, already serious health issues.

In the Oregon survey, veterinarians also reported that insulin brands were changed, dosages for anti-seizure medications were altered and antibiotics substituted for chemotherapy drugs.  Other news reports have shown that pet owners were told to give human pain relievers, such as Tylenol® or Ibuprofen®, to their pets.  This seemingly harmless advice can lead to serious liver damage in dogs or even death in cats.

Executive Director of the OVMA, Mr. Glenn Kolb said that ““Together, veterinarians and pharmacists work hand in hand to meet the needs of the client and the best interests of the patient.  The bad news is the rare occurrence when a pharmacy steps out of its scope of practice by making determinations and adjustments.”

Even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken notice.  In a 2012 Consumer Update, the FDA mentions how veterinarians and pharmacists are taught different systems of medication dosing abbreviations, leading to confusion.  In addition, transcription errors and product selection mistakes can lead to the wrong drug or the incorrect amount being given to your pet.

Both professions and the FDA are taking these reports very seriously.   Carmen Catizone of the National Association Boards of Pharmacy says that pet owners “”primary concern should always be whether or not the pharmacist is knowledgeable in the area of veterinary medications” and cautions that price should be a secondary consideration when looking for pet or human drugs.

In the FDA alert, consumers are urged to ask questions of both the pharmacist and the veterinarian if your pet’s prescription is filled at an online or retail pharmacy.  Glenn Kolb takes it one step further and flatly states that “veterinarians need to raise awareness among pet owners by telling them, “If a pharmacist suggests changing to a different drug or different dosage, please contact me right away.’”

Be familiar with your pet’s regular medications and take time to review any written prescription.  If what you receive doesn’t match your expectations, do not give the drug and contact your veterinarian.

Veterinary experts also recommend that pet owners shopping for the best price on pet medications have an open conversation with their primary veterinarian.  In many cases, the veterinary hospital will have the right medication available at a price that matches or is close to the online costs once you figure shipping and convenience.  Plus, you get the added peace of mind that your veterinary team understands your pet’s unique needs.

Just like in human medicine, prescription errors happen with our pets too.  The important thing to remember is that both your veterinarian and your local pharmacist are interested in what’s best for your four legged friend.

More

How Sweet Is Your Cat? Feline Diabetes

Almost everyone knows a friend or acquaintance who is diabetic.  What most people may not realize is that diabetes may be present in their own home, possibly in a feline friend.

Diabetes is a group of diseases that result from either inadequate insulin production or the inability of cells to respond to this hormone.  Insulin is necessary to help move glucose from the blood stream into tissue cells for use as energy.  The predominant characteristic of diabetes is the presence of high levels of glucose in the blood…this is known as hyperglycemia.

In humans, one type of this disease is known as Type I or insulin-dependent diabetes.  This illness results from the body’s immune system destroying the cells that make insulin.   This is the predominant form of diabetes in our canine companions and there is no known way to prevent it.

Type II, or non-insulin dependent diabetes, accounts for 90-95% of diabetes in people and 85-90% of cases in cats.  In this instance, the beta cells of the pancreas that produce insulin either become exhausted or they fail to respond to signals to produce the hormone.  The important aspect of this to remember is that it is possible for treatment to lead to a remission of the disease.

While the number of cases of diabetes in dogs has remained static for many years, some veterinarians feel that they are seeing an increasing number of diabetic cats.  Although the true incidence of feline diabetes is not precisely known, estimates for North America show that about 1 in every 200-400 cats develop this disease.  What is important to remember is that as our cats have developed a tendency towards obesity, diabetes cases have risen rapidly.

Being obese or overweight is a risk factor for Type II diabetes because of the chronic inflammatory state obesity produces.  This leads to a reduction in insulin sensitivity.  In addition, fat cells in overweight animals stop producing a certain hormone essential for proper insulin receptor function.

Cats with diabetes often go extended periods of time with no real sign that anything is wrong.   When signs do appear, the first indications are a cat who needs to use the litter box more frequently and who is drinking greater amounts of water.  Unfortunately, cat owners are not always aware of these signs, especially if their kitty often goes outdoors.  This means that many cats aren’t diagnosed for months after the onset of diabetes.


Without diagnosis and treatment, diabetes will eventually cause a metabolic condition known as ketoacidosis. This leads to dangerous changes in the blood chemistry, dehydration and eventually, death.

When cats are seen by a veterinarian, this disease is often diagnosed with a simple blood test.  Hyperglycemia or any glucose in the urine (glucosuria) is often indicative of diabetes.  Veterinarians can also use a blood test known as serum fructosamine to determine the average blood glucose values over the course of the last three weeks.

In some cases, cats don’t get into the veterinarian until the disease has progressed even further.  In these cases, the presence of ketones (a by-product of using fatty acids for energy) in the urine is a definitive indicator of complicated diabetes.

Unlike diabetic dogs who will be on insulin replacement for the rest of their lives, it is possible to treat cats and allow for remission.  The goal of treatment in cats is to restore the functionality of the beta cells and their ability to produce insulin.   In fact, new evidence is now showing that high protein, low carbohydrate diets are instrumental in helping cats defeat diabetes.  In short, although your feline friend may need insulin initially, you might be able to reduce or even eliminate this medication as you help the cat lose weight.

Owners of diabetic cats can also learn to monitor blood glucose levels at home, sparing the cat from frequent visits to the veterinarian.

As with any medical condition, the very best source of information will be your veterinarian.  He or she can steer you through the diagnosis and treatment process and then help you with monitoring your pet’s progress and potential recovery.

More