Category Archives: Dr. Dym's Vet Blog

A Veterinarian’s View on Generic Pet Medications

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Generic pet medications can help save on pet care costs while maintaining the same effectiveness of brand names With the expanding world of expensive drugs and pharmaceuticals in both human and veterinary medicine, it’s always a welcome relief when a patent has expired because less expensive but chemically identical generic drugs come out. In human medicine, the standards for producing a generic drug are equal to that of a name brand, which is why when filling prescriptions a generic drug is usually filled if available.

While in veterinary medicine, the standards may not be the same, I have found that most of the generic drugs available in veterinary medicine perform equally as well as the name brands. For example, I have found Iverhart equal to Heartgard in reliability and performance for heartworm prevention. Carprofen is another example of a nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drug that in my experience also performs equally as well for pain relief as its brand name predecessor, Rimadyl. There are many other examples of generic medicines performing equally as well as name brand drugs in veterinary medicine. So, if they are available to you, I highly recommend their use as a more economic alternative.

Need help finding a generic for your pet’s medication? Refer to the following list of Generic Pet Medications & Affordable Alternatives.


Tail Docking and Ear Cropping

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Tail docking and ear cropping are painful procedures

In veterinary medicine there are many elective surgical procedures that are done that do not necessarily have documented health benefits or advantages. Some procedures are done because of breed standards and for cosmetic reasons, rather than directly benefiting the health of the individual animal. Two of the most common procedures still done for these reasons include ear cropping and tail docking of certain dog breeds. While many pets seem unaffected long-term by such procedures, I find that these surgical procedures are indeed very painful, as they involve removing parts of nerve-rich extremities.

While veterinarians try and perform these elective procedures in very young puppies, the long-term emotional traumatic effects are not well understood. Tail docking done in few day old puppies is typically done without anesthesia, and puppies will often cry when the procedure is done. While ear cropping is typically done under anesthesia in older puppies, there is still a potential painful recovery period, as well as the risk of occasional complications during a time of the maturing immune system.

If such procedures are done, analgesic pain medication is always recommended. I will also use natural homeopathic remedies such as arnica, hypericum, and staphysagria, as well as flower essences such as Be Serene to help reduce emotional and physical pain.

Signs Your Pet May Have Joint Pain

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There can be many causes of painful joints in pets

Joint pain and/or inflammation are some of the most common signs seen in pets with musculoskeletal disease. Discomfort in the joints can have many causes ranging from traumatic injuries, infections including tick born diseases such as Lyme disease or Ehrlichiosis, or fungal infections. In young pets, congenital joint disease, including hip dysplasia also may be involved. In middle-aged and older pets, autoimmune and degenerative diseases of the joints are common, especially diseases of the stifle joints, including luxating patellas and torn cruciate ligaments (known as a torn ACL).

Clinical signs of joint pain may include swelling and tenderness of the joints, as well as cracking of the joints on movement. Varying degrees of lameness and limping, stiffness and limb weakness also may be seen. Many pets with infectious or inflammatory conditions of the joints may develop fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Other pets with severe joint pain may be reluctant to jump, or go up and down stairs, as well as have a reluctance to play or move around. In pets with signs of severe and/or chronic joint pain, a full veterinary diagnostic workup is recommended so that proper treatment can be implemented.

Causes of Cloudy Eyes in Pets

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There are many possible causes of cloudy eyes in pets

A concerning symptom seen in both dogs and cats is the appearance of cloudy eyes.  Dogs and cats suffer from many of the same eye diseases that people do, including viral/bacterial infections, corneal scratches/ulcers, foreign bodies in the eyes, glaucoma, cataracts, and various diseases of the middle and inner eyes and retinas. Many of these conditions can cause the development of cloudy eyes as part of the clinical presentation.

Other symptoms that often accompany cloudy eyes include red, squinty eyes that are sensitive to light or held closed, as well the development of various eye discharges. The treatment of cloudy eyes will depend upon a specific diagnosis from a full veterinary ophthalmic exam.  Because many of these eye conditions can be acute emergencies, it is important for animal guardians to understand that any pet with acutely severe or chronically cloudy eyes needs to be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible for the best treatment outcome.

Causes And Treatments For Your Pet’s Dry Itchy Skin

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One of the most common dermatological complaints seen in the veterinary clinic is the presentation of itchy pets with dry, flaky skin. There can be many causes of this common scenario, including inhalant/contact allergies to molds, grasses, trees, pollens, dust mites, etc.  Flea bite allergies and food allergies may also play a role in other itchy pets. Parasites, including ringworm and mange mites are also occasionally seen in the veterinary clinic. Hormonal problems including thyroid and adrenal gland problems may also result in coat changes and sometimes itchy skin. Pets with chronic metabolic diseases may present with dry itchy skin as well. Read More »

Start Your New Puppy or Kitten on the Path to Good Health

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Learn how to start your new puppy or kitten on the right foot

The most critical period in determining future health are the initial steps animal guardians take when adopting new puppies and/or kittens. The first important step is to have a full veterinary exam and evaluation, preferably by a progressive integrative veterinarian who is familiar with both traditional conventional veterinary medicine and complimentary holistic veterinary medicine.  It is critical at this first visit to have a microscopic stool check for intestinal parasites, which are very common, especially in young puppies and kittens. Read More »

Diarrhea and Vomiting in Pets

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Diarrhea and vomiting in pets can have many causes.

Diarrhea and vomiting in pets can have many causes. Especially in young pets, dietary indiscretion/food allergies and intestinal parasites, including roundworms, hookworms and whipworms may cause digestive upset. Particularly in young, stressed animals at pet stores or kennels, coccidia are also common intestinal parasites diagnosed. Foreign body ingestion is always a concern, especially in young and inquisitive pets. Metabolic diseases of the liver, pancreas, kidneys and intestines may also cause diarrhea and/or vomiting. Inflammatory bowel disease is probably the most common cause of chronic vomiting and/or diarrhea in adult pets.  Finally especially in older pets, and those suffering from weight loss and/or loss of appetite, cancer must also be ruled out in many cases.

For pets with acute diarrhea and vomiting, over the counter remedies including Pepcid AC or Immodium may be helpful. Slippery elm and probiotics and enzymes such as Fast Balance G.I. and NatureVet Digestive Enzymes are often useful in many cases. Many pets with acute digestive upset will benefit from brief 12 to 24 hour periods of fasting, after which a bland hamburger and rice or turkey and sweet potato home-cooked diet can be introduced for a few days until symptoms pass. Any pet with chronic or severe diarrhea or vomiting should have a complete veterinary exam and medical workup to assess for underlying causes and for the best treatment plan.

Does My Dog Need Heartworm Prevention in the Winter?

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Wondering if your dog needs heartworm prevention in the winter?

One of the more common questions we receive in the veterinary clinic is whether dogs should be on year-round heartworm prevention, even in the winter and colder months. Over 20 years ago I was taught in veterinary school that the average ambient temperature had to be 65 degrees or higher for 30 days in a row for mosquitoes to become infectious and transmit heartworms to dogs. In most areas of the country this transmission season was believed to be 3 to 5 months.

However, in recent years with concerns of global warming and milder winters, veterinary parasitologists have found that it is possible for mosquitoes to carry heartworms even in milder winter months. Because of this and the fact that many people travel with pets back and forth to warmer areas of the country, most veterinarians and the American Veterinary Heartworm Society now recommend year-round heartworm prevention for dogs in most areas of the country. An added benefit of most monthly heartworm preventatives including Heartgard and Iverhart Max is that most of these preventatives also treat and control many intestinal parasites, which can also be a problem any time of year. Read More »

Can My Pet Catch a Cold?

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It is possible for pets to catch a cold

A common question asked in the veterinary clinic is whether it is possible for dogs to catch colds and/or also give and transmit colds between humans and their animal companions. As with people, it is possible for pets to catch colds at various times of year. Especially during colder months and/or under periods of emotional or physical stress, dogs are susceptible to acute infectious diseases just like their guardians. Bacteria including bordatella, mycoplasma, E. coli and Pseudomonas all may be involved in some cases. Respiratory viruses such as parainfluenza, adenovirus, and even canine influenza may also play roles in certain dogs. Read More »

Mange in Pets: Demodectic vs. Sarcoptic

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With demodectic mange, lesions may or may not be itchy.

There are two common types of mange seen in companion animals. The most frequent type of mange diagnosed is demodectic mange. These mites are found normally in hair follicles on a pet’s skin in low numbers. However, because of genetic deficiencies in younger pets or immunosuppressive diseases in older pets, these mites may multiply on the skin leading to clinical disease.

Symptoms of demodex include patchy areas of hair loss, crusting or scaliness commonly found on the head, neck and legs. In localized demodex, lesions are usually confined to only a few areas; however, in generalized demodex the entire body may become affected. With demodectic mange, lesions may or may not be itchy. It is important to note that demodex is not contagious to other animals or people. Read More »