Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Dangers of Doctor Google

Having a pet can be stressful. Did that sneeze from Fluffy this morning mean something?  Why didn’t Rex want to eat his breakfast? Why is Muffin so itchy lately? We have all been there with a pet that does something to cause us to worry. In this day and age, we have the internet at our finger tips and many pet owners are apt to Google a pet’s symptoms to try to get to the bottom of things. While this can be a good start, veterinarians have seen this gone astray many times. Below are some examples of times the internet has failed our pets:

1) Your dog is running in the yard and all of a sudden becomes lame. A quick Google search may lead you to websites with suggested doses of Aspirin. What the internet can’t do is use logic to decide if this is truly a good idea for your dog. What if he has a clotting disorder? That dose of aspirin can be deadly. What if he has kidney disease? That aspirin can push him into kidney failure. What if he is actually limping because he has a cut on his paw and it becomes infected?    What if he develops a bleeding GI ulcer because the suggested dose is actually way too high?

2) Marley has been very itchy for the past couple of weeks, to the point that he’s starting to lose his hair. Several internet sites show doses of Benadryl for dogs so you decide to give that a try, but a week later he’s itchier than ever! The internet’s next suggestion is a grain free diet. Weeks later he now has bald patches and scabs, and he’s still itchy! Why? What the internet can’t do is a thorough exam of Marley. Maybe Marley has fleas or mites that are causing him to be itchy. Maybe he has developed allergies to his food, which led to a secondary skin infection that will require antibiotics to treat. Maybe he caught ringworm from the neighborhood cat he plays with and now he needs to be prescribed an anti-fungal medication to treat it.

3) Your dog Bailey has been straining in the yard all morning and can’t seem to go to the bathroom! Google searches suggest mineral oil, but despite giving her several rounds of mineral oil, she’s still straining! What the internet can’t do is a rectal exam and an abdominal palpation on your dog that shows she’s not straining because she’s constipated, but rather because she’s having diarrhea, and the mineral oil is making it worse! A quick fecal exam under the microscope at the vet may also reveal that it was a parasite that caused the diarrhea in the first place, but the parasite is so small you never even noticed it!

The truth is that while there’s tons of great information on the internet, there’s also lots of inaccurate information out there. We need to be very selective in what sources we’re using, and that we’re not using it to replace medical treatment.  It’s so important to remember that nothing makes up for a veterinarian that knows your pet and will advocate in their best interests. They will be your best guide to helping your pet feel better.  Find a veterinarian you trust and feel comfortable with so when the time comes that an issue arises with your cat or dog, they can help you work through it (and remember, that often includes a physical exam because it provides so much needed information to help pinpoint the problem). If your vet finds an issue affecting your pet, and you’d like more information on it, please ask them! They can point you in the right direction to accurate, science based sites. Some of this veterinarian’s favorites include:

1)  https://www.veterinarypartner.com/; this site has articles on all sorts of topics ranging from inappropriate urination in cats to different types of cancers, and everything in between! Use their search bar to see if they have an article on your topic of interest. (link on our homepage)
2) http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control; a great site with a phone number to contact a medical professional. They can instruct you on if your pet needs to be seen by a veterinarian depending on what they’ve ingested (please note there is a consultation fee).
3) http://www.merckvetmanual.com/; If you’re looking for detailed, scientific explanations for different disease processes, this is a great site!
4) https://www.aaha.org/pet_owner/pet_health_library/default.aspx; the Pet Health Library has interesting articles on day to day care of your dog or cat, including things like diets, litter habits, pet insurance, etc.

article written by:
Dr. Erin Walsh
Companion Animal Hospital Mount Prospect

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

What is laser therapy? and can it help my pet?

                Laser light therapy has been used in human medicine for several decades. This safe and
affordable modality has gained popularity in veterinary medicine over the last decade.  The laser light
has the ability to send energy deep into tissues and repair the injured or inflamed cells by a process
called photobiomodulation (say that 3 times fast!).  Basically, the laser light speeds up the healing
process by decreasing pain and inflammation as well as increasing circulation.

                Laser therapy can treat a myriad of inflammatory conditions, including arthritis, painful ear
infections, soft tissue injuries, hot spots, anal sac disorders and lick granulomas, just to name a few. 
Slow-healing wounds, surgical incisions and fractures can also benefit from this safe modality. 
One of the few contraindications is that the laser light may not be directed into the eye.  For this reason, everyone in the room must wear protective eye wear during treatment (including Fido!). 

There are no known side effects to laser light therapy.

article written by:
Kathy Anderson, DVM
Companion Animal Hospital of Norridge