According to veterinary experts, each year hundreds of thousands of our canine and feline friends are exposed to dangerous poisons in the very place where they should be safe. From corrosive cleaning agents to supposedly healthy snacks, our homes can harbor a wide variety of potentially hazardous materials.
The Animal Poison Control Center of the ASPCA handles almost 200,000 calls every year from worried pet owners. Additionally, the Pet Poison Helpline reports their call center handles another 100,000 reports of animal poisonings annually. So, what are the problematic substances in our homes?
Both of these organizations show the number one reason for calls is human medications. From Tylenol, Advil and other over-the-counter products to prescription antidepressants, pain medications and heart pills, drugs meant for people find their way into our pets far too often. In some cases, sneaky pets will gobble up tablets dropped by their owners, but in many instances, these drugs are purposefully given to dogs or cats in a well meaning but wrong attempt to treat some illness or pain.
Human medications can and do cause serious problems for our pets. Their different metabolism and small sizes often means that a common drug like acetaminophen can be deadly. A single 500 mg Tylenol can actually kill a cat!
Next up on the list are products designed to help our pets, like popular flea medications and other insecticides. In general, the topical drops are very safe, but when used incorrectly, the consequences can be severe. Our feline friends are especially susceptible to the mis-use of these products and more than half of the calls to poison hotlines involve cats exposed to insecticides. Organophosphate products designed to protect plants from marauding insects are often involved in poisonings of both dogs and cats.
We have all heard that feeding “people food” to our pets can be problematic and the number of calls to both poison centers confirms it. Chocolate can cause serious heart arrhythmias, garlic and onion ingestion can lead to red blood cell abnormalities and the artificial sweetener, Xylitol®, has been implicated in liver failure and death in dogs. Even supposedly healthy foods aren’t necessarily safe. Macadamia nuts cause dogs to become weak and unable to walk and grapes and raisins will create kidney failure in some dogs. Unfortunately, the exact reason why this happens is not known.
Beyond these very common items, household cleansers, automotive products, rodenticides, dietary supplements and even veterinary drugs also have a strong potential for problems.
Pet owners can protect their four legged friends by following a few common sense rules.
First, we are accustomed to “baby-proofing” our homes, why not consider “pet-proofing” it as well? Make sure that any potentially dangerous chemical is safely secured behind closed or even locked doors. Antifreeze, kitchen and bath cleansers and drain products need to be kept out of a pet’s reach and spills should be cleaned up immediately.
Next, any medication, human or veterinary, should be kept in a medicine cabinet or area where a pet will not have access. If you are worried about dropping pills, take your medicine in the bathroom with your pets locked on the outside!
Never give your pets any medication unless ordered by your pet’s veterinarian. As mentioned above, the wrong dosage or even a seemingly safe human drug can be deadly to your pet. Always check with your veterinarian, not the Internet, whenever you have questions about medications your pet is receiving.
Finally, take action if you suspect your dog or cat has ingested something harmful. Calling your veterinarian or an accredited veterinary organization should be the first step. Both the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center and Pet Poison Helpline have call centers open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These specialists can help you decide if your pet needs immediate veterinary attention or if it’s okay to wait. Each group charges a small fee, but isn’t that a tiny price to pay for peace of mind and your pet’s well-being? More
Pet owners don’t want to see their beloved animals in any sort of discomfort, especially if the pain is something the owner can relate to. Degenerative joint disease, better known as arthritis, affects more than 50 million people in the United States and veterinarians estimate that about 15 million dogs also suffer from this disease.
In an attempt to provide relief for their four legged friends, owners will turn to a variety of treatment options. Non-steroidal drugs, acupuncture, stem cell therapy or even different types of lasers are all current alternatives in a veterinarian’s arsenal to help these pets.
In recent years, a new type of treatment that has been borrowed from human sports medicine has increased in popularity. Several high profile athletes, like Tiger Woods and Troy Polamalu, have received remedies consisting of blood concentrates with high levels of platelets. Also seen in equine athletes, the use of platelet rich plasma could show promise for treating injuries and arthritis in dogs. Proponents quickly point out that this type of therapy is completely natural, since the only “treatment” comes from the animal’s own body (also known as autologous). Critics of this type of treatment say that the theory is certainly sound, but good scientific evidence is not here yet.
So, how can “Platelet Therapy” possibly help an arthritic pet?
Most people understand platelets are cells that help blood clot after injury. However, platelets are also important in injury repair, providing a wide variety of growth factors that attract specialized cells to help fix the problem. The theory behind platelet rich plasma is that the increased concentration of these essential growth factors helps speed the healing process.
For both dogs and horses, a small sample of blood is taken from the animal and then placed into a specialized filter that helps concentrate the number of platelets. Once the filtration is complete, this new platelet enriched plasma can be injected back into the affected joint of the pet. It’s really that simple!
New, “point of care” devices are now available, meaning veterinarians do not need any specialized equipment for this therapy. In fact, the whole procedure can be completed in about 15 minutes in the veterinary hospital, in the pet’s home or even at the horse’s barn.
Testimonials from pet owners seem to substantiate the success of these treatments. Many people describe how their pets have demonstrable beneficial changes in range of motion and overall movement and even an improved quality of life. Other owners express happiness with the “natural” quality of the treatment and the lack of known side effects.
Veterinarians are providing positive feedback as well. Using highly sophisticated scales to rate lameness, veterinarians report better mobility and even less pain in their patients receiving platelet rich plasma.
But not everyone is convinced that this treatment will be the answer to arthritis or other musculo-skeletal injuries. Reviews of the literature detailing studies in human medicine have all stated that the evidence for the success of these therapies is not conclusive and large scale studies are needed for more substantial proof.
Additionally, the effective dosage of the concentrated platelets, the appropriate timing and number of applications for effective therapy is not known. There is even a question as to which types of tissue responds best to platelet rich plasma.
Thankfully, your veterinarian does have a wide range of treatment modalities that can help provide relief for your pet. Owners can help evaluate the effectiveness of any therapy by keeping a log of the pet’s activity and communicating movement changes, pain or even different attitudes from their pet. Working together, you and your veterinarian could find the best ways to keep your pets and horses as pain free as possible! More
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).
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?
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 More