What you should know about corticosteroids and your pet

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Corticosteroids can cause a number of side-effects in your pet

My Lab mix Duke is 11 years old and he has Addison’s disease, which is a condition that requires him to be regularly medicated with corticosteroids such as prednisone, dexamethasone, or Percorten. When he was diagnosed about a year ago we thought we were going to lose him, but as soon as he started on this regimen of steroids he seemed to immediately get better: his energy increased, his coat was shinier, and I thought to myself that he has never looked or acted better even when he was younger. As a pharmacist I know that corticosteroids used long-term could potentially have some very troubling side effects and since it’s been a year since Duke started his first dose of prednisone, I decided to write this blog to describe how he’s doing on the medication. Read More »

Steroid Responsive Meningitis in beagles

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Beagles are prone to a condition called steroid responsive meningitis

The ’80s were truly an interesting decade full of great music and strange hair. Musicians of the ’80s had their own particular sound, and that decade is probably responsible for more “one hit wonders” than any other time period in history. Not only were the 1980s great for music but some of my favorite books were also written during that time: The Color Purple introduced us to the struggles of “Celie” and the book Watchmen describes superheroes who suffer with what they consider human weaknesses. Another one of my favorite books from that time period is called Ender’s Game which is about a highly intelligent boy (Andrew “Ender” Wiggins) growing up at a time when children are recruited to fight off an alien race. What actually made me think about the 1980s and beagles this week was being told that the beautiful Vanessa P., our Content and Inbound Marketing Director, not only has two beagles but one of them she actually named “Ender.”

To people who  love beagles, the ’80s were extremely important for veterinary medicine because research identified a syndrome called Steroid Responsive Meningitis (SRM) also known as Beagle Pain Syndrome (BPS). This condition, although first discovered while researching beagles, can also occur in several other breeds. Most of the cases occur in dogs under a year old but it can occur in later years, and both sexes seem equally susceptible. Inflammation of the vessels in the central nervous system causes what appears to be neck pain, weakness, a hunched over back, cervical pain, fever, and changes in appetite. Read More »

Cats suffer in silence–hyperthyroidism

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Increased thirst is one symptom of feline hyperthyroidism

Last week I started to sing the praises of cats because they “don’t constantly complain” like some of us humans do. As previously stated however, this “suffering in silence” sometimes allows a small matter to become much more serious before getting the proper treatment. Hyperthyroidism  is one of the most common of all the cat diseases and one of the most commonly missed conditions. Many times until the cat becomes seriously ill,  cat owners keep making “excuses” for why the cat is acting or doing certain things. If a middle-aged cat  has decreased appetite or shows a little weight loss it’s easy to say to ourselves that it could be due to old age. Vomiting – “Oh that’s from hairballs,”  poor looking coat – “He’s not getting enough vitamins.”  Many of the conditions that could be clear signs of hyperthyroidism could be easily missed.

One of the veterinarians that I was recently having this discussion with actually  told me how often it is not until the cat begins having extreme muscle weakness, severe vomiting or diarrhea, or very profound weight loss, will the owner even suspect anything could be seriously wrong.  Hyperthyroidism is easily treatable and there is no reason that a cat should suffer for years before getting the proper treatment. Read More »

Is my dog’s vision blurry? Difficulties in detecting pet diabetes

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It can be difficult to recognize the signs of diabetes in pets

Most of us have heard that increases in the frequency of urination could be a possible symptom of diabetes. Blurry vision is also among those symptoms along with fatigue, extreme thirst, hunger, and tingling in the extremities. Even with all those seemingly easy to identify symptoms, many people go undiagnosed with type 2 diabetes. These symptoms however may not be as clearly recognizable in pets making the proper diagnosis even harder. It is quite difficult or even impossible to discover that your dog’s paws are tingling or that his vision has suddenly become a little blurry. I have heard of people actually disciplining their dog or cat for misbehaving when in fact the pet was displaying signs and symptoms of diabetes. If one is not looking for something, it is quite possible to keep missing it even though the evidence is clear. Read More »

Getting To the Bottom of Congestive Heart Failure

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Heart failure occurs when the heart loses its ability to pump blood efficiently or effectively.

Heart failure is more times than not the result of some other heart disease that progresses along and makes the heart lose its ability to pump blood efficiently or effectively. The definition of heart failure is “any cardiac abnormality that results in failure of the heart to pump blood at a rate that is in accordance with the requirements of metabolizing tissue.”

This week I will discuss different types of heart failure, the causes, symptoms, medications used for treatment, and everything else you wanted to know about this disease but were either too afraid to ask or you preferred watching a comedy on the television. Given a choice between some good laughter and discussing heart disease, I always choose …. Anyway let me get back to writing this informative blog. Read More »

Diseases of the Heart – Chapter 1: The Cardiac “Rhythm Section”

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The term "heart disease" refers to any abnormality of the heart

On my way home from high school one afternoon, one of my classmates asked me if I would like to adopt a kitten. Right away I called my mom and got her permission. “Sphinx” was adorable and I was so happy to be able to give him a home and take care of him.

During Sphinx’s first veterinary visit I was immediately told by the veterinarian that he had “something wrong with his heart.” While the veterinarian was still listening with his stethoscope, I started thinking about Sphinx and how he’s probably going to suffer and die very young. Even before the veterinarian finished his exam, I had already imagined about a dozen scenarios, all of which were sad and some tragic. At the end of the exam I was informed that Sphinx only had a mild murmur which would most likely not cause any complications. Although that was welcome news, I was still very concerned since “heart disease” sounds serious no matter what kind it is. I was glad to find out year after year during his annual exams that although he still had a mild murmur, it still was nothing to be worried about. Sphinx lived to become 15 and he remained active and happy for most of those years. Read More »

Hyperthyroidism – One of the Most Common Cat Diseases

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Hyperthyroidism is one of the most common diseases in cats

Last week I wrote about Hypothyroidism in Dogs; this week I will discuss another important topic that also seems to cause much confusion. Hyperthyroidism is a condition mostly seen in cats and it is treated with a completely different set of medications. It is extremely important to know the difference between these two conditions and which medication treats which condition. I will again start with a few basic definitions and also attempt to keep things as visual and clear as possible:

Hypo

a prefix used when describing something as being less than or lower

Hyper

a prefix used when describing something as being greater than or more

Hyperthyroidism

overactive thyroid

Hypothyroidism

underactive thyroid

Thyroid Gland

generally found in the neck and its function is to produce T3 and T4

T3

Triiodothyronine, produced by the thyroid gland

T4

Thyroxine, produced by the thyroid gland and along with T3 regulates many important body functions such as metabolism

Read More »

Hypothyroidism – One of the Most Common Diseases in Dogs

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Certain breeds are predisposed to hypothyroidism

This week I will discuss an important topic that seems to cause much confusion with pet parents; hopefully, understanding the letters and names associated with this condition will help this information make sense. This is one of those topics where becoming familiar with the disease itself as well as some of the words that the doctors use could actually keep your pet safe. I find that keeping things visual and simple is the best way for me to understand and retain a particular subject. I will start with a few basic definitions and unlike other topics which can be tackled directly in paragraph form, I will attempt to keep things as visual and clear as possible.

 Hypo

 a prefix used when describing something as being less than or lower

 Hyper

 a prefix used when describing something as being greater than or more

 Hyperthyroidism

 overactive thyroid

 Hypothyroidism

 underactive thyroid

 Thyroid Gland

 generally found in the neck and its function is to produce T3 and T4

 T3

 Triiodothyronine, produced by the thyroid gland

 T4

 Thyroxine, produced by the thyroid gland and along with T3 regulates many important body functions such as metabolism

Read More »

FIV and FeLV – A Tale of Two Retroviruses

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Vaccines are available for both FIV and FeLV infections

In the halls of UC Davis walked several brilliant minds such as my close friend and Daisy’s “Mommie” Abby Rosenberg. Abby brought to life a very entertaining and funny Devon Rex cat in a blog appropriately named “Daisy the Curly Cat.” In those same halls at UC Davis, researchers back in the mid 80’s identified a virus which was named “The Feline Immunodeficiency Virus” (FIV). FIV is a cat virus that closely resembled the human immunodeficiency virus. Cats with this virus have a weakened immune system and become susceptible to oral infections, eye disease, respiratory disease, skin infections, certain cancers, and many other opportunistic infections. Read More »

Cancer in Cats

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Filed under Pharmacy Blog

Cancer is more common in older cats

As cats continue getting older because of better nutrition and veterinary care, the cases of cancer have also been on the rise. The bottom line is that cancer becomes more common in older cats and a lot more cats have been getting older. The good news is that treatment options are much better today than even a few years ago. Back in the 80’s when I thought my cat “Lynx” had a tumor, I can remember my mom telling us that she didn’t want the cat to be in pain, to get dehydrated, or to starve. Those were the rules that had to be adhered to whenever a decision was to be made regarding cancer treatment in a cat. Read More »