Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lessons learned...final thoughts for 2010.



- 2010 has been a challenging and thoughtful for our country. Dr. Welton discusses how the year's circumstances impacted the pet health care industry and provides final thoughts for 2010, as well as tips for the new year.

Transcript of this week's episode of The Web-DVM:

Hello everyone, this is Dr. Roger Welton, veterinarian, Veterinary News Network Reporter, and host of The Web-DVM.

It has been a crazy year for Americans to say the least. We have been told that our ailing economy is in recovery, yet so many remain out of work and foreclosures are still happening at an alarming rate. In the pet health care industry, we have seen even the most conscientious owners fail to keep up with even basic wellness care. In my entire career, I have not seen pet owner compliance with our health care recommendations be so low. Owners are resorting to second rate so called discount veterinary clinics for yearly visits, and spays and neuters more than I have ever seen. Of course, this means less revenue for high level veterinary hospitals like mine which translates to stifled practice growth. While this adversely effects my ability to provide raises and benefits for my employees, inhibits my ability to update medical equipment and renovate my aging hospital building, nothing is more frustrating than seeing pet owners who want the best health care for their pets, but just do not have the means to pay for it. The bottom line is that everybody suffers in this climate, with few in a position to be immune from its effects.

During these times it is of course imperative to focus more on being grateful for what we still have left, rather than focus on what we have lost or could not achieve. For any one of us that feels frustrated by what the Great Recession have wreaked upon our nation, we should always bear in mind that however much we have lost, however much we may find ourselves frustrated, there are many who have lost more.

In addition to using this notion to keep as positive an outlook as possible for ourselves and our families as we rebuild our futures, it is also important to learn from the tough lessons our circumstances have thrown us. With regard to quality pet care, I urge all pet owners to strive to keep pets that are within their means. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen people who have paid $3000 for a high maintenance health care breed like an English Bulldog, from a pet store, the reality of which increases the likelihood of having an already high maintenace dog with all kinds of health problems. Then when these problems arise, they do not have the money to manage them, yet they had no problem forking out the $3000 for the dog in the first place.

Lesson 1: do not purchase from pet stores. Not only do you support an appallingly inhumane industry, but you also have an exponentially higher likelihood of having a dog with all kinds of health problems.

Lesson 2: if money is tight, do not adopt a breed that has a known reputation to have a lot of health problems. If money is tight, the best thing to do is adopt a mutt from the pound. They are free, come with vaccines, are already fixed, and infectious disease tested, and with the genetic variety that a mixed breed brings, that dog will most likely be healthy for most of its life.

Another example of pet owners not keeping pets within their means is keeping too many. I cannot tell you how many pet owners I see that have 8 plus cats, while they can barely afford one. So rather than have one decently care for cat, they instead have 8 or more poorly cared for cats that are fed cheap, garbage food, never receive wellness veterinary care, vaccines, or even flea and tick preventive, then complain to me when one is so sick that their hand is forced to seek veterinary care and cannot afford it.

Lesson 3: keep only the number of pets that you can afford to care for properly.
The level of pet health care is much higher generally in Europe than in the U.S.. It is not because they have better veterinarians, nor is it because they are any more wealthy than we are, it is because 50% of European pet owners own pet insurance, while only 3% of U.S. pet owners carry pet insurance. Make no mistake, reputable pet insurance companies offer very helpful medical reimbursement policies for your pets for in most cases, quite reasonable monthly premiums.

Lesson 4: if treating a costly injury or illness to your pet may be something you either could not afford or would put your family in financial distress, seek out quality, reputable pet insurance.

An owner brought in a 7 year old hound dog for a consultation because he was severely coughing and losing weight. Examination, x-rays, and blood work revealed that was in right sided heart failure because he had heartworms. The dog had never been seen by a veterinarian since it was a puppy, so it never had any heartworm screening nor was it ever kept on heartworm preventive. With little financial capacity to have the heartworms treated, and management of the right sided heart failure was a guarded prospect at best even if she could afford treatment, the owner had no choice but to have the dog humanely put to sleep.

Lesson 5: keep up with general wellness care as mandated by your veterinarian. Spending a little today can prevent a tragic, expensive illness later
.
My hospital sponsors a rescue fund for the treatment of life threatening conditions in the pets of people who have found themselves in financial hard times and cannot afford the life-saving treatment. Funding comes from private donations clients put in a collection box, and from waiting room candy machines. Ironically, the donation box and candy sales have increased as a result of the recession, with those who are still doing well enough, being more inclined to give to help the less fortunate. To date, Tiffany Fund, named after my beloved deceased Labrador retriever, has saved the lives of 12 animals and counting. More than saving these precious lives, the fund has saved families and individuals from devastating personal loss.

Lesson 6: THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON OF ALL. If you are doing well, give to those who are not, help those who have less. One good deed not only can fix an immediate wrong, but can go so far as to restore the recipient’s faith in humanity, and in life in general. Faith, hope, and goodwill are infectious, and in tough times, we cannot spread enough.

I thank all of my loyal audience for taking the time to watch and lisen to little old me this entire year. I wish all of you and your pets peace, love, and happiness during these holidays, and abundance in the New Year to come. I will resume with all new episodes the first week of January 2011. Until then, fair well, my friends.

This is Dr. Roger Welton reporting, for The Web-DVM.

Don't forget to catch my live call-in radio show Wednesdays 9PM EST. Listen via podcast live or archived here:


Blog Talk Radio

Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website Web-DVM.net.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Your pet's new best friend - Cod liver oil!



- Cod liver oil omega-3-fatty acid isolates have many health benefits in pets and people

Transcript of this week's episode of The Web-DVM:


Hello everyone, this is Dr. Roger Welton, veterinarian, Veterinary News Network Reporter, and host of The Web-DVM.

You may have heard of Omega-3 fatty acids, or “fish oil” to promote human health and wellness. However did you know that such oils may be your pet’s best friend? – After you of course!

Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of beneficial oils that are critical to body function. They cannot be produced by the body and so we and our pets must get them in our diets. While most of the research on omega-3’s have been done in humans, dogs and cats are reaping the benefits.

Thousands of studies have proven the benefits of fish oil such as reducing triglycerides, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, helping diabetics, eye function and even recovery from neurological damage and reducing cancer risks. They are also a natural and potent anti-inflammatory and help with arthritis.

The evidence is so compelling that a pharmaceutical company has recently been promoting a prescription form of simple omega-3 fatty acids. Clearly omega-3’s are the “next big thing” in medicine and veterinary medicine.

Considering the help with arthritis alone our dogs and cats could benefit greatly and perhaps even reduce the amount of non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS needed. It is also known to help hundreds of thousands of dogs with allergies that cause so much misery in itching and scratching.

Dr. Robin Downing of Windsor Veterinary Clinic in Windsor Colorado warns; “There is one problem. Supplements are NOT well regulated and quality can vary dramatically”. In fact, the supplement industry is full of infomercial style sales pitches and even more questionable quality. Just think of all the weight reducing ‘gimmicks’ and products you see on television, and believe it or not they are not strictly governed by FDA.

Over the counter fish oil products can not only vary drastically in quality but can also contain harmful contaminants.

Dr. Downing recommends you look for a fish oil supplement that meets or exceeds pharmaceutical standards and one that engages in sustainable fishing practices. Also she looks for data from an independent laboratory examining the purity of the product.

Concentration of the product is important and other content and balance issues are crucial in product selection. Your veterinarian should advise you on the product and dose for your pets.

We contacted a representative of Nordic Naturals, a leading maker of cod liver oil for many years, to understand key issues in the manufacturing of such a delicate product.

Nordic Naturals uses arctic cod and use the livers for extraction of the oil and there are many important steps in the preparation and filtering process to remove contaminants. Even though fish oil standards do not exist in the United States, Nordic Naturals goes beyond the international pharmaceutical standards to produce an effective and safe product for humans and pets.

Dr. Downing says she cannot believe the positive results she and her staff see in pets put on omega-3 supplementation – both in her general practice and in her pain management specialty.

There is enough evidence to make this a worthwhile part of your pets nutrition and preventive health. However you should only use products known by your veterinarian to be pure and properly handled and produced.

This is Dr. Roger Welton reporting, for The Web-DVM.

Don't forget to catch my live call-in radio show Wednesdays 9PM EST. Listen via podcast live or archived here:


Blog Talk Radio

Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website Web-DVM.net.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Avoiding winter holiday pet dangers



Transcript of this week's episode of The Web-DVM:

Hello everyone, this is Dr. Roger Welton, veterinarian, Veterinary News Network Reporter, and host of The Web-DVM.

Keeping your pet safe during the winter holidays may take a little planning and preparation.

During this time of year, many people will gather for holiday parties. With all of the delicious smells and exciting new people, our pets may take advantage of dropped goodies or even an unattended plate. It is natural to share with our pets, but some foods should be avoided, including:

Excessively salty or fatty foods
Foods with onion or onion powder
Grapes and raisins
Poultry bones

Chocolate and sweets deserve special mention due to their abundance during this time of year. Some candies and foods that are artificially sweetened with the ingredient, xylitol, can actually cause a rapid decrease in blood sugar of dogs and have even been implicated in some liver failure cases.

Chocolate is well-known to be toxic for dogs, but baking chocolate and the semi-sweet varieties are much more dangerous, causing heart problems, vomiting, and even death. And, it should go without saying that pets should never be given any alcoholic beverage.

Holiday plants are another source of potential problems. Almost any member of the lily family can be deadly to cats. Other holiday foliage, such as mistletoe and holly, can also cause severe stomach upset. Poinsettias can cause digestive irritation.

Artificial decorations aren't any safer. To a cat, ribbons or strands of tinsel are big temptations and, if swallowed, can cause major problems. Electric cords can cause burns or electrocution and many glass ornaments can be easily broken and cut your pet.

The outdoor world may be just as bad. A common poisoning of pets during the winter months is car anti-freeze. Its pleasant, sweet taste that many dogs and cats find appealing masks a deadly poison. If you even suspect that your pet has consumed anti-freeze, you need to contact your veterinarian or nearest emergency hospital immediately! Ice melting products and rodent poisons are also very dangerous!

Pets suffer the effects of frostbite and hypothermia just as easily as their human owners. If your pet must stay outdoors, be sure to provide them warm shelter from the wind and moisture. In this case, bigger is not better! Smaller homes actually trap body heat more efficiently. Use heated water bowls and replenish everyday.
Know your pet's limitations during this season. Older dogs may not be as sure-footed on the ice and young puppies may not have enough body fat to keep them warm in the snow.

Wintertime can be glorious and full of family fun. It does not have to involve a visit to the animal emergency room if a few simple precautions are taken. Talk to your family veterinarian about a winter "check-up" for your pet.

This is Dr. Roger Welton reporting for the The Web-DVM

Don't forget to catch my live call-in radio show Wednesdays 9PM EST. Listen via podcast live or archived here:


Blog Talk Radio

Links and contact for Italian Grehound Rescue, provided by 12/8/2010 radio guest and Italian Greyhound rescue representative Anne Marie Burgess:

Florida's site

http://floridaigrescue.com/

IGCA Rescue

http://www.italiangreyhound.org/pages/500rescue.html

Contact Anne Marie

igrescuefl@gmail.com

Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website Web-DVM.net.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cancer in Pets and People...Can the Similarities Provide a Cure?



- Cancer in Pets and People - Can the Similarities Provide a Cure?
- Have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving!

Transcript of this week's episode of The Web-DVM:


Welcome my pet loving friends, to The Web-DVM. I am your host, Dr. Roger Welton, practicing veterinarian and Veterinary News Network Reporter.

When it comes to the dreaded diagnosis of cancer - we all dream of an eventual cure. Believe it or not, thanks to our canine friends, that dream may not be too far away.

Finding a cure for cancer is one of science’s most challenging and elusive goals. Thanks to our pets, and the fascinating work of a new breed of scientist, the comparative oncologist, some of the pieces of this complex puzzle are coming together.

The statistics about cancer in our pets are surprising. Estimates from the Morris Animal Foundation state that fifty percent of dogs will develop a cancer at some point in their lifetimes and half of those will die from the disease.
As you can imagine, these alarming statistics have gained the attention of many scientists because our dogs and cats often make good models for cancer research. The field of comparative oncology brings together veterinary oncologists, human medical oncologists, academic cancer research centers and the pharmaceutical industry.

At the National Cancer Institute’s Center for Cancer Research, scientists say that because our pets share our environment and suffer from many naturally occurring cancers, they are probably good indicators of potential causes. In addition, there are many pet cancers that have similar or even identical biological characteristics as human cancers.

But beyond all of the objective data, the strong desire of pet owners to see their beloved dogs and cats live longer means that many new therapeutic options can be tried in order to save the pet. And, since more than 6 million dogs develop cancer each year, veterinarians and cancer researchers can evaluate these new therapies, refine them and potentially provide hope to both pet owners and to the families devastated by a cancer diagnosis.

Perhaps one of the most impressive advancements in comparative oncology is the development of a “canine cancer vaccine”. This novel treatment was recently granted full licensure and is now available for dogs suffering from one of the most common forms of cancer, canine malignant melanoma.

This cancer can be seen in any breed of dog and is highly aggressive. Cancer cells may start in the mouth, footpad or nail bed, but often spread out to affect other parts of the body. For most dogs, a diagnosis of canine malignant melanoma means the pet has just a few months to live, even with surgical treatment and chemotherapy doesn’t seem to help.

But, thanks to new research, the cancer vaccine (called ONCEPT®) is extending the lives of these dogs and giving hope to humans. Some studies for the vaccine showed that treated pets lived an additional three years after diagnosis.

ONCEPT® uses a human protein to stimulate the dog’s immune system into attacking the cancer cells. Since malignant melanomas have such a tendency to spread throughout the body, this type of treatment helps to find and destroy small cancer clusters even after the main tumor is surgically removed. After the initial set of four vaccines every two weeks, patients receive a “booster” vaccine every 6 months.
The implications of this type of therapy are, of course, amazing for our pets. But further, they could have far reaching positive consequences for human cancer patients as well. Research in comparative oncology is exciting and will no doubt uncover many new potential therapies.

That is my show for this evening. I will be taking next week off for the Thanksgiving holiday, but will be back with you in weeks. Remember to keep your pets away from turkey bones and out of the garbage. The holiday season from a veterinary standpoint is one of vomiting, diarrhea, and GI obstructions from cases of pet dietary indiscretion. May you and your pets have a peaceful and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday.

Don't forget to catch my live call-in radio show Wednesdays 9PM EST. Listen via podcast live or archived here:


Blog Talk Radio

Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website Web-DVM.net.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Holistic Veterinary Medicine...Helpful Treatment or Terrible Hoax?



- Update on Missouri Prop B (Puppy Mill Act) vote
- Holistic Veterinary Medicine...Helpful Treatment or Terrible Hoax?

Transcript of this week's episode of The Web-DVM:

Welcome everybody to The Web-DVM. I am your host, Dr. Roger Welton, practicing veterinarian and Veterinary News Network Reporter. Let’s start with a quick news update, Missouri’s Proposition B narrowly, but decidedly passed by 51% of the vote this past election. For those of you that did not catch my show headlining this ballot measure, this bill is known as the “Puppy Mill Act,” legislation drafted to combat the state of Missouri’s notoriously tolerated puppy mill abuses.

Specifically, the law limits breeding operations to no more than 50 breeding animals, requires that they be housed indoors and in a manner that gives them unfettered access to exercise. Breeding animals also must be fed daily (imagine that!), and receive yearly veterinary wellness check-ups by a licensed veterinarian. Breeders must submit to regular inspections to prove compliance, and violations of the law will result in a $300 fine or 15 days in jail per offense.

Now I have been vocal about this law falling short in really preventing puppy mill abuse both in its language and lax penalties, however, change for the better often takes time and it is a start. I therefore congratulate Missouri who chose humanity over cruelty and greed, taking the first step to quelling what has been a long standing tolerance of puppy mill cruelty in the USA.

On to our headline topic this evening, in our westernized society, alternative forms of therapy and medicine are often viewed with suspicion and occasionally, outright disbelief. Practices like acupuncture, acupressure or even homeopathy have many critics. Still, when it comes to resolving their pets’ ills, some pet owners are willing to take a chance on a non-traditional treatment.

Holistic medicine is generally defined as medical care of the whole pet, including environment, social and personal factors as opposed to the focus of treating just the disease. Integrative medicine, an approach that I embrace as offering the patient the best overall health care, embraces both conventional Western styles with holistic practices. Many people refer to non-traditional medicine as alternative or even complementary medicine.

These non-conventional approaches include therapies as diverse as acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic care, and traditional Chinese veterinary medicine, aka, TCVM. Some veterinarians, like Dr. Aleda Cheng, a TCVM practitioner and certified veterinary acupuncturist, go as far as including high-tech procedures such as stem cell therapy, and cold laser pain relief under the alternative umbrella. As Dr. Cheng says, “all of these treatments help the body heal itself”.
Other alternative practices include herbal medicine, homeopathy and other therapies that might sound a little more exotic but are less well known.

Considerable skepticism still remains for these alternative therapies. Although the site is geared towards human medicine, www.quackwatch.com has made its mission to disclose health related frauds. The major opposition centers on a lack of controlled scientific evidence and dubious diagnostic and therapeutic standards.
But, it’s hard to argue with individual success stories. Dr. Cheng relays how a German Shepherd, decorated for his work on 9/11, suffered from a painful degenerative spinal disease. The acupuncture treatments she performed allowed this dog to continue his search and rescue career, free from lameness and pain.
The International Veterinary Acupuncture Society or IVAS, is also trying to combat the “lack of evidence” argument. Through certification processes and collection of case studies, IVAS hopes to bring acupuncture into the mainstream of practice. For pet owners seeking acupuncture, the IVAS seal is an important credential.

Dr. Brian Voynick cautions that it is important for alternative practitioners to “be a veterinarian first and get a diagnosis”. He describes a limping dog whose owner went to a human chiropractor. After four chiropractic treatments, the dog was still lame and acupuncture was recommended. Dr. Voynick saw the dog on referral and found that his left rear leg was painful and swollen. After taking x-rays, it was determined that the dog had an aggressive bone cancer!

Pets, like their human caretakers, are individuals and it is possible that some animals may respond to these treatments. Certified veterinary acupuncturist and noted author on alternative therapies, Dr. Doug Knueven reminds owners that “integrative medicine is most beneficial for the pet”. He also believes many complementary treatments are more mainstream than people realize. “Glucosamine was once alternative medicine”, he says, “but now is widely accepted.”

When your pet is ill or suffering, make sure you and your veterinarian can reach a diagnosis for your pet before rushing off to try a novel treatment you heard about on the Internet. If you have a strong belief that a holistic approach would benefit your pet, discuss this option with your veterinarian, as integrative medicine is increasingly becoming the accepted means of our approach to veterinary health care.
That is my show for this evening ladies and gentlemen. Please remember to catch my live call-in internet radio show that airs live Wednesdays 9 PM EST from a player embedded at my blog at webdvm.blogspot.com, where this show is also embedded and there are bonus content and links.

Don't forget to catch my live call-in radio show Wednesdays 9PM EST. Listen via podcast live or archived here:


Blog Talk Radio

Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website Web-DVM.net.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Natural gas drilling poisons Appalachian wildlife and water supplies



- Natural gas poisons Appalachian wildlife and water supplies

Transcript of this week's episode of The Web-DVM:

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, pet lovers of all ages, and welcome to The Web-DVM. I am your host, Dr. Roger Welton, practicing veterinarian and Veterinary News Network Reporter.

My friends, as many of you are aware, in light of the BP oil tragedy and the company’s deplorable response to it, I began a Going Green segment as part of my weekly broadcasts to you in order to inform all of you that there clean renewable energy sources out there, means to power our homes and our vehicles, that do not require us to rely on foreign powers that hate us, nor pollute and warm our planet. All we have to do is actively pursue these innovations by taking the plunge ourselves, keeping them as an integral component of our conversations, and get excited to join the rest of the world in moving into a green energy future. Tonight will be my last Going Green talk with you, but is perhaps the most important, so important that I will be dedicating this entire broadcast to it.

You may have recently seen T. Boone Pickens’ TV onslaught on how he plans to bring our country into a state of energy independence by pushing for wind turbine energy, an energy source that we all agree is clean, renewable and plentiful, but also to pick up a large bulk of our energy needs, with natural gas. He argues that natural gas can power our cars and provide our electricity needs, as well as it has already proven to heat our homes. He says that it burns cleaner than oil and coal, and we have plenty of it right here on our own land in the United States, so plentiful in fact, that based on current and projected energy needs, there is enough to last us as long as 200 years. Sounds great, right? Not!

Now T. Boone Pickens is correct that natural gas is plentiful and cleaner burning, but what he is not telling you, is that drilling for this stuff is horrifically polluting. You see gas companies rely on a natural gas drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, which involves blasting water mixed with chemicals into rock at high pressure to extract the gas. These chemicals are toxic and have proven already to have a high potential to leak into the ground water, not only contaminating water supplies, but also poisoning aquatic wildlife and fishing sanctuaries. Like faulty oil wells, faulty natural gas wells also can leak the natural gas itself into water supplies and wildlife sanctuaries.

The scary part, is the geologists that work for gas companies, have identified the largest natural gas reserve in the country in the Marcellus Shale region, a layer of subterranean rock that runs beneath the Appalachian Mountains from the state of New York, all the way to Tennessee, leaving New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, and even western areas of the Carolinas and Georgia potential victims of the path of destruction that could be wrought should gas companies get their way.

In the state of Pennsylvania where gas companies have taken advantage of tough economic times to convince many land owners to sell away their mineral rights, the catastrophic effects of natural gas drilling have already taken their toll. Nearby residents of the Monongahela River, a primary source for fishing wildlife recreation, as well as drinking water for 350,000 residents, were finding that dishwater and washing machine systems were malfunctioning while at the same time, people began to get sick. Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) shortly thereafter discovered that the river had become contaminated with chemically laden drilling waste water, specifically with benzene, cadmium, aluminum, and methane. Aluminum is a potential neurotoxin, while benzene and cadmium are confirmed cancer causing chemicals known as carcinogens. DEP provided a quick fix by releasing dams upstream to dilute out the contamination, but this past August, contamination levels spiked again. Drilling waste water also was responsible for killing more than 10,000 fish along a 33 mile stretch of Dunkard Creek, while a spate of other drilling wastewater contamination cases have surfaced in 7 other counties.

DEP has levied fines against the offending natural gas companies for the contaminations, is in a legal fight for imposing a moratorium on further natural gas drilling until a commission can provide real solutions to the problem of drilling wastewater contamination and well leakage.

Pennsylvania currently is at the forefront of the natural gas boom brought courtesy of T Boone Pickens, and is serving as a harbinger for what is to come across a much larger region because, ladies and gentlemen, if T. Boone Pickens and the natural gas lobby get their way, natural gas drilling will spread from New York to Tennessee like cancer, literally! New York State, following Pennsylvania’s example, has already sold off mineral rights of large tracts of land in the Catskill Mountain region for natural gas drilling. The Catskill Mountain region has historically been the supplier of drinking water for the Greater New York City region, long the envy of other major cities for its incredibly clean and potable water piped in from a pristine wildlife treasure. In the current climate of make money and find energy no matter the cost, even this long standing tradition is in jeopardy.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, if T. Boone Pickens and the natural gas lobby succeed in advancing their agenda, many of our nation’s most pristine wildlife treasures will turned into examples of death and destruction and most appallingly, millions of people will get sick and die.

So what should we do about it? Speak up, petition politicians to fight this, and vote them out if they will not. Spread awareness, disseminate this video and let others know that they are being sold an energy source whose collection stands poised to destroy and poison wildlife and people alike. If you own land in the Appalachian region, do not let yourself be seduced with quick money offered to sell your mineral rights. Spread awareness among your neighbors of the peril your community faces should they be seduced into selling their mineral rights, for drilling on their land will contaminate your groundwater and water supply just the same. Refuse to throw away your health, the health of others, and poison wildlife for a quick buck and fleeting energy. Instead embrace all of the options I have given you in my Going Green Segment the past several weeks: geothermal, solar, biodiesel, electric cars, etc. Join me in choosing a future of green, renewable, non-polluting energy, not embracing a past of energy company slash, burn, kill and drill.

That is my show for this evening. Thank you as always for watching. Don’t forget to join me for my live radio call-in show Wednesdays 9PM EST at my blog at webdvm.blogspot.com where the radio player, as well as this show, is always embedded.

Don't forget to catch my live call-in radio show Wednesdays 9PM EST. Listen via podcast live or archived here:


Blog Talk Radio

Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website Web-DVM.net.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Do the right thing, Missouri!



- Do the right thing, Missouri!
- Going green segment: Solar power!

Transcript of this week's episode of The Web-DVM:

Welcome back my friends to The Web-DVM. I am your host, Dr. Roger Welton, practicing veterinarian and Veterinary News Network Reporter. Solar energy will be my going green topic later in the broadcast, but first, let us discuss a very important ballot measure up for vote in Missouri next month.

Before we get into the specifics of the legislation up for vote in November, let me first provide you with a little background about Missouri and the abysmal puppy mill industry. For as long as I can remember working in the veterinary industry, as far back as my days as an 18 year old kennel boy, Missouri has been a safe harbor state for some of the most cruel and detestable puppy mill operations, due to their self imposed lack of oversight and the willingness of their politicians and citizens to look the other way in the face of the cruel reality of puppy mills. Considering that they lead the US by far in the number of large scale dog breeding operations with over 3000, their stance on puppy mill abuse has long been abhorred by most in the veterinary industry. Specifically, many of these puppy mill operations subject the breeding females to repeated litters of puppies without rest for their entire lives, they deny breeding animals access to regular exercise and basic veterinary care, and provide them with the minimal nutrition necessary to keep pumping out litters to feed the pockets of the owners. As a result, many breeding animals have musculoskeletal deformities brought on by malnutrition and never stepping outside of a cage. Not caring to engage in responsible breeding, many puppy mills have no problem inbreeding, a practice that saves the puppy mill owner money since he/she does not have to seek out or purchase other non-related breeding animals, but one that leads to skittish and aggressive temperaments and a high incidence of congenital disease in the puppies.

The story is always the same. A na├»ve or ill-informed pet owner that made the mistake of purchasing a puppy from a pet store, the biggest patrons of puppy mills, brings the puppy in to be checked out. I warn the pet owner that pet store bought puppies support an abysmal industry, but also such puppy mill puppies also carry a high likelihood of developing any number of inherited diseases as the result of rampant inbreeding in the industry. The owner who either did not know about this or was talked out of their concern by a good salesmen informs me that I need not worry, that this pet store only buys from breeders. To this, my question is always the same, “Does that breeder happen to be based in Missouri?” The astonished owner then says, “How did you know that?”

Folks the reason I know that, is because almost ALL pet stores purchase from puppy mills in Missouri. It is a safe haven for puppy mills, so they remain the puppy mill capital of the country!

Finally, some measure of regulation has come forward as a ballot measure known as the Puppy Mill Act, or simply as Prop B. In this law, large scale canine or feline breeding operations will be limited to 50 breeding animals. All animals must be allowed access to daily exercise, be provided adequate nutrition and regular wellness veterinary care, and submit to regular inspections to ensure compliance. Folks, these premises to me are all no brainers! Providing exercise, health care and decent food for animals should be a given. In my estimation this law falls quite short in further defining what is considered reasonable health care, exercise, and nutrition, and does nothing to combat inbreeding. But, it is a start. In a state where puppy mill cruelty is the status quo, perhaps passing such a law will create better awareness among citizens of Missouri of the real problem of puppy mills in their state, create a culture of greater compassion, and lead down a road to more comprehensive puppy mill reform in the future.

Amazingly, the passage of this law is facing a strong opposition to its passing led of course by the party that can always be counted on to side with profits at all costs, and oppose any legislation that has compassion at its core, the Republican Party. Yes, the GOP of Missouri argues that regulating puppy mills is just another big government move on business, that this really is a secret agenda of animal rights activists to pave the way for livestock regulation that will hurt the bottom line of farmers. That is such a load of crap I can smell it all the way here in Florida. From the party of no that opposed healthcare reform of any kind, Wall Street Reform, and even opposed the BP escrow fund for timely payout to oil spill victims, I am not surprised.

But Missouri likes these clowns for some reason, a red state to the core, even went for Bush-Cheney the second time for crying out loud. And make no mistake no mistake, I am not asking you to change you mind – go ahead and vote GOP until you are red in the face. But on this one measure, find it in your hearts to vote against their rhetoric and instead for what it most humane. Take the first step in no longer being a safe haven for puppy mill pushers, and prove to the rest of the country that Missouri is not the cruelty capitol of the nation.

For my going green segment tonight, I am showcasing solar energy. Solar energy utilizes our powerful and consistent energy source, the sun. This technology harnesses energy in the form of light photons that are absorbed from the sun via through solar modules mounted on the roof of your home. An inverter converts this absorbed solar DC power into AC electrical current that is stored in an electrical utility grid that is parceled out as the home needs electricity for its various appliances. Perhaps the coolest aspect of modern solar systems is the electrical utility meter, which measures how much electricity is produced in excess of the needs of the home, for that excess electricity will flow back into the electric utility power grid and provide you financial credits on your power bill. So not only are you pretty much eliminating your electric bill, from giving the power company back electricity generated by your solar system, you will be reducing your bill on other utilities, such as natural gas. And the best part, it is clean, renewable, green energy.

Never again will you have to feel guilty about leaving your TV and ceiling fans all the time. Like to air condition your house to the point that you can see your own breath vapor, no problem, in doing so you will no longer be gouging your electric bill, nor compounding your carbon footprint.

Okay, so what is the downside? I mean, there has got to be a reason that only a minority of Americans are utilizing this wonderful source of clean renewable power. The major obstacle to date has been cost, but this is no an insurmountable problem. Costs of solar power installation are at an all time low, with the average system costing $7800 after factoring government rebates. Most companies offer reasonable financing that does not cost more in most cases, than the electric bill would have been, and financing programs can last between 3-5 years, after which time, you will no longer have an electric bill, while significantly lessening you carbon footprint.

Another solution to reduce cost is to form homeowner’s co-ops, where a significant participation of a homeowner’s association membership provides group discount which, depending on participation, can reduce the cost of solar power installation by 15%-30%.

Thank is my show for this evening. Thank you for watching, and be sure not to miss my live radio call-in show 9PM EST at blog at webdvm.blogspot.com, with this show, as well as its transcript is also posted along with bonus content.

Don't forget to catch my live call-in radio show Wednesdays 9PM EST. Listen via podcast live or archived here:

Special guest 10/27/2010: Ted Rheingold, creator/owner of Dogster.com, Catster.com, Dogatar.com, and Catatar.com.


Blog Talk Radio

Bonus content:

Link to video reporting dog with 31 nails in its stomach:


CNN Reports: Dog Eats 31 Nails and survives.


Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website Web-DVM.net.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Has Michael Vick redeemed himself?



Has Michael Vick redeemed himself?
- Going green segment: Energy smart lightbulbs.

Transcript of this week's episode of The Web-DVM:

Hello again pet lovers, and welcome back to The Web-DVM. I am your host, veterinarian Dr. Roger Welton. Ladies and gentlemen, I am still in a cloud with the birth of my baby girl, Scarlett Isabella Welton, on September 30 2010. She is our second child, and I can tell you from experience, a new baby never gets less exciting. I am thrilled to be back with all of you, however, and I have some more good news. Just the other day, I had the good fortune of being named an official veterinary reporter for the Veterinary News Network, also known as VNN. Aside from giving me a fancy new title, my new affiliation enables me access to a huge stream of relevant news stories and production tools that all of my subscribers will benefit from. By all means make sure you stay tuned, as this new opportunity stands to make my broadcasts increasingly more informative and media savvy.

As for my topic today, having been the recipient of a lot of media attention given his stellar quarterback play for the Philadelphia Eagles as of late, perhaps playing the best football of his career, I return to our old friend Michael Vick. For those of you that did not see my previous pieces on Michael Vick, I was pretty hard on him last season, as well as critical of those who were so quick to cheer for him so soon after he completed a slap on the wrist sentence for the gravity and heinousness of the crimes of animal cruelty he committed. I had concluded that although the time he served did not fit the crime, he had served the time as deemed appropriate by our criminal justice system, and that the man should at least be allowed to work in the only profession he knows: professional football. And while I still despised the man for the cruelty he was responsible for, a second chance is what our justice system mandated, and we might as well have him working and paying taxes. But cheering and revering him as a hero because of a few fancy plays on a football field? That to me was too far, way too soon!

So now we have Michael Vick one year later saying all the right things and exhibiting extraordinary humility as he performs his craft not only to the best of his ability, but to a level never before seen even in his previously brilliant football career. Has the time come that we should feel okay about cheering him, putting him into hero status again? Has he redeemed himself to a point that he deserves such adulation for what he can do on the football field?

My answer is, not yet. Now Philadelphia fans I am sure will disagree with me, but they have proven to turn on their heroes on a dime the moment they may not perform well, while jumping on the bandwagon of any player that offers them the hope of winning, felony convictions notwithstanding. I am convinced that they would cheer Charles Manson if he could win them a Superbowl victory!

For those of us not blinded by the tunnel vision of Philadelphia sports fanaticism, while I can commend Michael Vick for displaying humility and conducting himself well since his return from banishment, he needs to do a heck of a lot more than play good football and behave well for the cameras for me to even consider having any respect for him again. I need to be convinced that he truly is sorry for what he did, that the consequences of his actions have triggered remorse beyond being sorry that he got caught, and that he has earned the second chance at stardom that he is living right now.

To convince me, Michael Vick should be a voice speaking out against cruelty to animals particularly against the blood sport of dog fighting, and use his reinstated stardom to be a voice in support of the animals he once used his fame and money to systemically torture for the jollies of his sadistic cronies. He should be a leader in the fight to end dog fighting and an advocate for animal welfare, and convince me that he means it. The Philadelphia Eagles quickly made a commitment to helping local animal rescue centers to deflect criticism for signing Vick last year, yet Vick himself has yet to make any such overtures. Until he does, he will not have my respect, and he certainly will not have earned the right to have little kids wearing his jersey.

For my going green segment today, I will be showcasing green Energy Smart light bulbs. These spiral shaped light bulbs produce the same amount of light as standard light bulbs while using 75% less electricity. For example, the GE Energy Smart Bulb pictured here is a 20 watt bulb that produces the same amount of light as a 75 watt standard bulb. Even better than a standard light bulb, based on average daily use, these bulbs will last for 5 years, 10 times longer than a standard light bulb.

As you know, most of our electricity is provided by coal fired power plants and the burning of coal is one of the biggest manmade producers of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Fitting your household with these bulbs will not only markedly reduce your carbon footprint, but will also save you money on your electric bill, on average, $44throughout the life of each bulb. With the average American home having 45 light bulbs, that is an average savings of just under $2000!

That is our show for this evening. Remember to catch my live call-in radio show Wednesday nights, 9PM EST at webdvm.blogspot.com where I also embed this video, this show’s transcript, and post bonus links and content. Thank you as always for taking the time to watch.

Don't forget to catch my live call-in radio show Wednesdays 9PM EST. Listen via podcast live or archived here:


Blog Talk Radio

Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website Web-DVM.net.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Flea and tick prevention decoded


In this episode:

- Flea and tick preventives decoded: Sorting through all the product options to prevent these pests!
- Going green segment: Biodiesel!

Transcript of this week's episode of The Web-DVM:

Welcome back everyone to The Web-DVM. I am your host, veterinarian Dr. Roger Welton. We are going green with biodiesel today, but first, let’s get right into a very important topic for pet owners, choosing the right flea and tick preventive for your dog or cat. With many flea and tick preventive products out there and more added all the time, it is important that pet owners have this mess of products broken down and sorted out. For fleas and ticks cause discomfort and itchiness through their bites, transmit parasites and infection, and just simply decrease our pet’s quality of lives when they are infested. Fleas and ticks can also infest our homes and become a nuisance for even us personally, so it is in everyone’s best interests to keep them in check. However, in controlling fleas and ticks, we also do not want to put our pets nor ourselves in danger, so safety is also an important aspect of choosing the right flea and tick preventive.

In presenting flea preventives, I will be keeping the discussion to veterinary grade products, as pet store grade products, such as flea and tick collars, Adams, Hartz, Biospot, Zodiac, etc, just do not work. While flea collars may keep fleas and ticks away from the neck or the aforementioned topical products may keep fleas and ticks away from the site of application, the rest of the pet remains prime feeding ground for fleas and ticks. My advice is to not waste your money on these products, since no treatment works almost as well.

I want to also state unequivocally that I am not a fan of dips, as they tend to have uncomfortably high rates of toxicity and, while they are effective in killing pests that are on the pet, they do little to keep environmental pests from getting back on the pet and quickly re-infesting the patient. Lastly, as I have stated before, I am not a cheerleader for any flea and tick preventive manufacturer, and nobody is giving me a check for my sentiments. My views come plain and simply from my own experience.

So let us start by quickly naming the prevalent products out there for flea and tick prevention: Frontline, Advantage/Advantix, Capstar, Program, Revolution, and the new kid in town, Comfortis. From the point of view of what stage of the flea lifecycle each product kills, Frontline leads the way killing 3 out of 4 stages of the flea lifecycle, including adult fleas, eggs, and larvae; Advantage/Advantix kills 2 stages, adults and larvae; Comfortis kills adults only; Capstar kills adults only; Program kills eggs only; and Revolution kills adults and eggs only. Only Frontline and Advantix are effective in killing ticks. Revolution claims activity against ticks, but my experience with the product has been completely contrary. Frontline, Advantage/Advantix, and Revolution are administered topically, while Capstar, Comfortis, and Program are administered as an oral pill.

All of these products with the exception of Capstar are labeled for monthly protection. Capstar kills adult fleas only for 24 hours. That is why Capstar really is used as the modern alternative to a flea dip for a quick, safe kill-off, but one of the aforementioned monthly products really is needed properly prevent fleas long term.

Regarding effectiveness with monthly flea prevention, I find that Program and Revolution are only effective in cases where environmental flea prevalence is low. In more wooded, rural, or tropical settings, certainly here in Florida, these products are easily overwhelmed and often seemingly ineffective. Frontline, Advantage/Advantix are highly effective flea preventive products, adequate to prevent fleas in the majority of settings. However, in cases where there is a heavy environmental population, such as a yard frequently trafficked by strays, rural or wooded settings, or living among irresponsible neighbors that do not use flea prevention for their pets, Frontline and Advantage are known to sometimes fail to keep up with the flea burden. In these cases, where Frontline and Advantage/Advantix may not protect the pet adequately, Comfortis has proven to be the go to product, making it at this time, clinically the most effective flea preventive.

Regarding ticks, as previously mentioned, only Frontline and Advantix are effective against ticks, with their effectiveness overall good and each product comparable with one another.

So, which product should you go with? I already mentioned, for a quick kill off fleas, rather than dip your pet, I would just give Capstar, as it is highly safe and effective in killing all adult fleas on the pet within 90 minutes of administration. But, for monthly flea protection, you will still need to choose another product.

If flea loads are low and/or your pet resides in a cool or temperate environment, then you can likely get away with Program either by itself or Sentinel that has heartworm prevention with Program in it to provide an all in one heartworm and flea preventive product for dogs, and Revolution that is also and all in one heartworm and flea product for both dogs and cats. These products have a proven excellent track record for safety.

For more problematic flea areas, most of the time Frontline or one of the lines of Advantage topical products are quite effective. These products both have well established histories of safety and effectiveness and for me still comprise the staple of good flea prevention. Most pets that I see do just fine with these preventives, making them our top sellers.

I reserve Comfortis for the most stubborn of flea infestations, since it is a taken as a monthly pill. While the safety of this preventive to date seems quite good, it is known to cause occasional GI disturbance in certain patients. It is also not for use in patients with seizure disorders and is not currently labeled for use in cats.

Once again, if ticks are an issue, your only options are Frontline or Advantix, both of which also have excellent activity against fleas. However, if either of these products fail to keep up with a given flea problem, Comfortis can safely be used concurrently with either product in dogs.

Now, this is a lot of product information crammed into a short explanation, so feel free to start over and watch again, or refer to the written transcript of this show at my blog at webdvm.blogspot.com.

My going green segment today is about biodiesel. Biodiesel is a vegetable oil based fuel that is both clean burning, renewable, and actually more efficient and performs better that petroleum based diesel fuel. Oil to be processed into a diesel fuel comes primarily from the canola plant, a plant which grows readily in a variety of different soil types and in both tropical and cooler temperate climates, making it continually and perpetually renewable.

When I first learned of biodiesel, my first thought was that, if this fuel works to power standard diesel engines, then it must leave some level carbon footprint making it not truly a clean burning fuel. However, further research into biodiesel informed me that, while the burning of biodiesel does indeed provide the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide is essentially removed from the atmosphere by the canola plants that are the raw material for a given amount of biodiesel, making it a carbon neutral fuel. The processing of biodiesel is also far less polluting than the processing of petroleum into diesel fuel.

One criticism of biodiesel of course coming mostly from republican poiliticians bent on protecting big oil, is that farmers choosing to grow canola instead of corn, wheat and other consumable food crops, will drive up food prices. This is actually quite wrong. Food prices will actually go down, with farmers having an in demand crop to sell to help their bottom line, while having another crop to aid in crop rotation, which optimizes the fertility of their soil.

I am surprised that more people who run vehicles with diesel engines are not flocking to this stuff. Even if the environment does not concern you, nor does global warming or our dependence on foreign oil, use it because your vehicle will run better, more efficiently and more cheaply than on petroleum based diesel. If you do not believe me, then believe the Secretary of the Navy, who approved the building of a prototype F/A 18 fighter jet that’s powered by biodiesel. The pilot on its inaugural flight reported excellent performance and no less responsiveness than with a traditional petreoleum based jet fuelled aircraft. The largest consumer of oil in the world, this is prompting the US Navy to take a serious look at powering its vehicles with biodeisel.

To find a biodiesel station near you for your own diesel vehicle, go to drivealternatives.com. A quick search and I found a station just 6 miles from my home.

That is our show for this evening. Please do not forget to join me for my live call-in radio show every Wednesday night, 9PM EST, available at my blog at webdvm.blogspot.com, where this show is also embedded, along with bonus content and links. While there will be no lapse in the presentation of my live radio show, I will be taking next week off from The Web-DVM, as I will be in the hospital with my wife welcoming our new baby girl. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers!

Don't forget to catch my live call-in radio show Wednesdays 9PM EST. Listen via podcast live or archived here:


Blog Talk Radio

Bonus Content

Find a biodiesel station near you at:

Drive Alternatives

Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website Web-DVM.net.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Affording veterinary care in a struggling economy





In this episode:

- Affording veterinary care in a struggling economy.
- Going green segment: Clean coal!


Transcript of this week's episode of The Web-DVM:

Hello pet lovers, and welcome back to another edition of The Web-DVM. My going green segment to come later in the broadcast but first, we need to discuss an ever growing problem in my industry, and that is, affording quality health care for your pets in a struggling economy. With a new round of foreclosures underway and great uncertainty on how that will affect our economic recovery, things do not seem poised to get better any time soon, so rather than whine about it, we all need to tighten our belts and prepare.

So let us begin with how I have had to make tough choices and brace my clinic for weathering this most unexpected monkey wrench in my plans for growing my business. I must bring this up, because along the way in my industry, people struggling financially have gotten the impression that I should be discounting services and medications, even outright giving them away for free, or allow them to run up tabs that they can make payments on. Somehow some people feel that because I am in a health care related industry that I am mandated to work for them at a discount or for free, because unlike other businesses, I do not have to cover costs like taxes, insurance, licensure costs, payroll, payroll tax, employee health benefits, inventory, business and real estate mortgages, etc. Well guess what folks, my business may be a clinic in with the mission of healing, but in the end, it is still a business, with all the aforementioned costs right long with it, but worse, because I also happen to have another mortgage in its own right to pay, my student loan debt I accrued in order to pay for the schooling necessary to achieve my veterinary degree, a monthly payment which is higher than many peoples’ home mortgages.

Okay, so it is clear why veterinary clinics cannot give away or discount services, but why can’t we allow clients to make payments on a tab? Well, when I first took over my clinic in 2004, we had a billing policy where people could pay down on a tab. Interestingly, the doctor who I purchased the clinic from, had $12,000 in money owed to her at the time she sold me the clinic, the likes of which, I gave my blessing for her to pay the office manager at the time after hours to call and collect on that debt. Seeing that astronomical accounts receivable outright frightened me as a new business owner, which prompted me to end that policy immediately. And boy was I justified, as my predecessor to this day has not even collected half of that, proving the bottom line that people who run up tabs tend not to pay, end of story. And it is for that reason that the vast majority of veterinary clinics have a strict no billing policy.

However, still wanting to give people a payment option if they did not have the cash to afford pet medical services, I signed my clinic up for Care Credit, which is a third party medical lending program popular in elective medicine such as fertility clinics, chiropractors, dentistry, and now, veterinary clinics. Care Credit does run a credit check, but they are very lenient, and even allow co-signors when prospective borrowers get denied. The debt is typically no interest over the course of 6-12 months depending on credit worthiness, as I pay the participating merchant pays the interest as compensation for them carrying all the risk. Despite Care Credit’s leniency, prospective borrowers still get denied frequently. Just last week, a couple got denied for Care Credit, at which point they became irate that I would not make an exception and allow them to make payments. To this I asked, “Let me get this straight, you are upset with me that I do not trust that you will pay on your bill, when your credit score proves quite clearly that you do not have the ability or inclination to pay your debts?” To this they replied that I should be more willing to allow billing because I provide health care and am supposed to have greater compassion than other types of businesses. Well, folks, the grocery store across the street from my clinic is in the business of selling food, something we all need to survive. I would like anyone who says I should allow billing to go in there and ask to run up a grocery tab that they can pay down over time and see what they would have to say about that.

Alright, so it is clear that veterinary clinics cannot give away services, discount services, nor allow billing, which means that pet owners must provide payment when medical services are rendered one way or another. How are pet owners financially struggling in this never ending recession supposed to do that? One answer that pet owners should really start giving serious consideration to is pet insurance. Why more pet owners do not carry insurance for their pets is not really clear, but we do know that only less than 3% of pet owners carry insurance. Contrast that with the more than 50% of pet owners that carry pet insurance in Europe, it is clear why European pets have a statistically much higher likelihood of receiving quality health care, while European veterinarians report much less frustration than their American counterparts at being medically stifled by pet owner’s inability to pay for a high standard of medicine. We really should learn from this European pet health care model that works very well.

The way that most pet insurance programs work is that the pet owner pays for pet medical services as they normally would, then submit a claim to get reimbursed, in most cases 80% of the cost of the veterinary care. Depending on the age of your pet and/or medical history, monthly cost of premiums can range from $35 - $55, a much easier sum to keep up with than to fork out a substantial lump sum payment should extensive diagnostics and treatments be necessary. It is important to keep in mind, however, that reimbursement is not instantaneous and can take as long as 30-60 days depending on the pet insurance company. That is why it is still important to keep the credit worthiness to take out Care Credit or leave a few thousand dollars available on a credit card to make pay for services while you await reimbursement. If your credit is shot and credit card or Care Credit are not an option, then a good policy to keep is to have a separate savings account where on a monthly basis, you deposit money in an amount equivalent to amount of your monthly pet insurance premium.

Let me be clear that I am not in the business of advocating for the pet insurance industry in general, because like any other industry, not all pet insurance companies are created equal. That is why it is important to do your due diligence before selecting a pet insurance company, and utilize consumer research options like the Better Business Bureau or even just ask your veterinary clinic on which companies they find to have higher satisfaction ratings.

Today’s going green energy segment is about clean coal technology. Most of us a re well aware that coal is an abundant energy resource, with currently known stores of coal, even with our current and projected significant increase in energy demand, still is poised to last for 200 years or longer. The problem with coal is that it is a fossil fuel, the burning of which is not only polluting, but perhaps the biggest producer of the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, known chemically as CO2. For scientists all over the world and for most American scientists, there is compelling evidence that CO2 accumulation and the subsequent heating of the planet is increasingly becoming one of humanities greatest threats. Of course, we have a good number of politicians, namely those from that good old republican party that can always be counted on to try to keep us on the energy policy of the previous century, that deny irrefutable scientific proof of global warming as the result of the burning of fossil fuels. Rather than have us believe overwhelming mainstream scientific thought, along with Fox News, they instead put their faith in the vast minority of scientists that do not think that global warming is real, and showcase these three or so scientists as if they actually represent mainstream scientific thought. This is a denial of epic proportions.

You see, global warming deniers are so because they do not want to give up their SUVs, and in the case of coal, they do not want to give up what is an abundant and cheap energy source that also supports the economies of many states, particularly those of the Appalachian Mountains. President Obama understands this, but rather than deny what science has overwhelmingly proven, while at the same time being reluctant to eliminate what is an abundant and economically necessary energy source, he seeks to make it cleaner, aka., clean coal. Of course, his opponents during the 2008 presidential campaign and his opponents now laugh off the legitimacy of his advocacy of pursuing clean coal technology as folly, an impossible endeavor that is a waste of time and money. Really?

Well, I just happen to be aware of a number of examples of real, legitimate clean coal technologies that are surfacing all over the world, everywhere else of course, but here. The most successful, cost effective, and well known example of clean coal technology is that of the energy corporation, Vattenfall in Germany, currently used to power several large cities in Germany. Vattenfall has developed a carbon capture and sequestration process by which coal is burnt for energy production, but rather than release all that polluting and global warming CO2 back into the atmosphere, they capture it in what is known as flue gas, which is then compressed into a liquid that is stored deep underground. We effectively get the benefit of coal energy without the polluting consequence. You see what can happen when we stop denying what science has proven to be true, and then endeavor to do something about it?

Now, I know what many are thinking right now. What was the purpose of telling you about this technology? It is not like any one of us has the political pull or money to start one of these plants. This may be true, but most of us can write, and we all can vote. What we do with this information is to start letter writing campaigns and petitions to pressure current leadership to look into these technologies. We can reject would be leaders that reject science and progress in favor of denying and providing excuses why we need to remain on energy technology of the past, and vote instead for leaders that embrace green energy and the prosperity and safety it can provide for our children.

That is our show for this Saturday, September 11, 2010. Remember to catch me this Wednesday 9PM EST for my live radio show at webdvm.blogspot.com, where you can call me with questions or comments toll free, live on the air.

Don't forget to catch my live call-in radio show Wednesdays 9PM EST. Listen via podcast live or archived here:


Blog Talk Radio

Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website Web-DVM.net.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Why Pamela Anderson is one of my favorite people.



In this episode:

- Why Pamela Anderson is one of my favorite people.
- Going green segment: Green automobile showcase: the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf.

Transcript of this week's episode of The Web-DVM:

Hello ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to another edition of The Web-DVM. I am your host, veterinarian, Dr. Roger Welton. My going green segment later in the show but first, I want to tell all of you why Pamela Anderson is one of my favorite people and no, it has nothing to do with Baywatch. While I certainly was not complaining about my nightly dose of Pamela’s Baywatch character CJ Parker as a pubescent teen, it is her dedication to animal welfare that impresses me most about Ms. Anderson, and she has made headlines recently once again in the name of animal welfare. But before we get to that, I want to first highlight Ms. Anderson’s past work with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals aka, PETA.

Many people have strong feelings about PETA one way or another and I have publicly made statements about my own mixed feelings about the organization, processing for me what is a contrast between excellent work and expose that leads to positive change, with extreme elements within the organization that do animal welfare cause far more harm than good. In the case of their campaign against Kentucky Fried Chicken, one spearheaded by none other than Pamela Anderson, PETA was not only just in their case against the chicken fast food giant, they were also effective in creating change for the better, in large part, due to the efforts of the leader in this charge, Pamela Anderson.

Specifically, PETA obtained undercover video evidence of cruel practices of poultry suppliers of KFC, namely beak cutting, slaughter by electric stunning and scalding during the rearing process because chickens were not fully dead. Their graphic video footage also found evidence of poultry supplier workers sadistically abusing the chickens, engaging in despicable acts, such as throwing the chickens against walls, and punting them like footballs. Ms. Anderson created awareness of these acts of cruelty through the dissemination of a DVD the cover of which had a photo of her scantily clad, a means to get attention for her cause that drew criticism from some, but for which she made no apologies for. Specifically, Ms. Anderson and PETA called on a boycott of KFC until they made a pledge to use suppliers whose policies were consistent with more humane methods, while more closely scrutinizing poultry suppliers to minimize cruel acts by their workers. At the time of this campaign, 2006, I gladly participated in this boycott and still do (I'll explain why in a moment).

You see, Ms. Anderson and PETA were highly successful in KFC Canada and the UK, as those KFC divisions took action to remedy their besmirched reputations by working with PETA to see to it that they avoided poultry suppliers that did not adhere to acceptable humane guidelines, while purchasing exclusively from suppliers that did. Specifically, acceptable poultry suppliers did not engage in beak cutting, used the more humane controlled atmosphere killing by inert gas, took measures to prevent death by scalding, and had a strict zero tolerance policy against workers who were caught abusing the animals. Not surprising given our relatively piss poor animal cruelty stance in comparison with other developed nations, Ms. Anderson and PETA were not as successful here in the United States. Not only was the boycott not quite as effective here with Americans more interested in feeding their fat asses with fried chicken than having any concern for the animals, but the Human Methods of Slaughter act that protects farm animals against inhumane treatment, for some reason does not extend its protection to chickens. Therefore, in honor of Ms. Anderson and her tireless efforts to stop cruelty to chickens perpetrated by poultry suppliers that KFC turns a blind eye to, I call on all my viewers to join in the KFC boycott. Even if we are not successful in forcing KFC US to enact real reform, your bodies will thank you.

In her latest high profile act of animal kindness, Pamela Anderson has brought awareness to the plight of gulf coast dogs and cats, many of which have been given up to shelters as the BP Gulf Oil Spill has taken its economic toll on the region. No longer able to afford food and health care for the animals, people have turned in dogs and cats, leading to more overcrowding in already overcrowded shelters. Many of these animals enjoyed loving homes and human companionship, whose reality suddenly became a cage in an overcrowded shelter with imminent euthanasia within 30 days should they not get adopted.

Pamela Anderson held a press conference to create awareness about the plight of these animals, as she herself adopted two dogs that she was planning to take back to LA to share the home of her and her family. In this cause, ladies and gentlemen, I call on all of my viewers to find a place in your hearts and your homes for one of these animals in need. In that spirit, I will be posting links on my blog to Gulf area shelters where you can do your part by rescuing an abandoned dog or cat. The web address of my blog is webdvm.blogspot.com.

On to our going green segment, today’s green energy showcase includes two green automobiles that are very exciting. First, since it is an American car, made on American soil, by American workers, I will start with the 2011 Chevy Volt. The volt runs on electricity primarily and plugs into a regular household AC outlet. Each full charge provides 40 miles of driving. With the average American driving less than 32 miles per day, electric power alone will fulfill the driving needs of most drivers on a daily basis. However, should the need arise to drive beyond the mileage provided by the volt’s battery, the car will seamlessly kick into a gas mode where a gas powered generator sends power to the motor that increases its range by several hundred miles, at a fuel efficiency of 55 miles per gallon. The car is priced around $33,000, but with up to $7500 in federal tax rebates for having a green vehicle, the net cost is far less. Factor in the gas savings over the life of the car and one can go so far as to say that the car nearly pays for itself. The Chevy Volt will be available for sale as early as October 2010.



Our second green vehicle is the Nissan Leaf, unique from the Volt in that it has no tailpipe, since it never burns any gasoline at any time. This car runs on 100% electric power, plugs into a standard household AC outlet, and offers 100 miles per charge. This car will sell for $32,000, but like the volt, with $7500 federal tax rebates and no fuel expenses for the life of the car, this car also seems that it will pay for itself.




Now of course there will be skeptics watching that will maintain that these cars do run on electricity, and energy source which costs money on our electric bill, as well as provides carbon footprint of its own. This is true. However, the money you spend on electricity to power one of these cars is on average 1/6 of the money spent on gas to power comparably sized gas powered cars, causing ¼ of the carbon footprint. Of course, there is the added benefit of sticking it to the oil companies and their republican lapdog politicians, thumbing our noses at Middle East countries that hate us yet profit hugely on our insatiable appetite for their oil. And for those of you that are as disappointed as I am in our nation’s current unemployment rate, the batteries to power the Chevy Volt are manufactured in 16 plants that were just built in Michigan which will provide 68,000 American jobs. If I had not just purchased my Ford Fusion hybrid, I would be on the waiting list as we speak for one of these cars. And once my Fusion is paid off, mark my words, I will be in one of these cars immediately! I hope to see a lot of these on the road in the coming year.

That is our show for this September 4, 2010. You can also catch me live later this week on my call-in radio show at webdvm.blogspot.com where the players, as well as this broadcast are always embedded. Please join me next week when I will be discussing pet insurance: has the time come that pet owners should start taking a serious look at it?

Don't forget to catch my live call-in radio show Wednesdays 9PM EST. Listen via podcast live or archived here:


Blog Talk Radio

Bonus Content

Gulf Coast animal shelter links: rescue a pet in need today!

St. Bernard Parish Animal Services
Louisiana SPCA

Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website Web-DVM.net.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

An unbiased look at online discount pet medication retailers.



In this episode:

- An unbiased look and online discount pet medication retailers.
- Green energy technology show case: Geothermal energy.


Transcript of this week's episode of The Web-DVM:

Greetings pet lovers, and welcome back to another edition of The Web-DVM. As promised, I will be showcasing a cutting edge green energy technology today, but first, let us delve right into the main topic of our show this evening. Folks, it is no secret that economic times are tough. I know for me, it feels like this recession has no end in sight, a recession that is the worst I have seen in my lifetime, and according to most experts, the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. During these difficult financial times, many families have been forced to make tough choices, cut costs where ever possible, and may have turned to discount online pet medication pharmacies to save what they can on pet medication expenses.

We see commercials, countless web ads, and of course word of mouth knowledge of the multibillion dollar a year online discount pet med industry. 1-800-PetMeds may be the most familiar corporation, but believe me when I tell you, there are MANY, MANY more. Pet Med Express, EntirelyPets.com, and DrsFosterandSmith.com, are just a few large retailers getting their share of discount pet med business. Attracted by the generally lower prices, discount pet med retailers enjoy a big chunk of the pet owning public's business.

The question remains, however, is it safe to use these online discount pet med retailers? Does a lower cost for pet medications mean less quality? Do you really get the medication as advertised? Having so many middle stops from manufacturer to storage warehouse, then finally to customer, does this compromise the integrity of the medications? These are all questions that I will address in this article.

Let me start by explaining that the majority of pet medication pharmaceuticals do not condone the sale of their products online. They do not sell to discount pet med retailers, as they do not want their products handled and sold by them. Pharmaceuticals feel so strongly about this, that they actually submitted a class action law suit against these discount online pet medication retailers in early 2000s trying to legally bar them from carrying and selling their products, one that they lost. In response, pharmaceuticals armed veterinarians with literature and information for us to educate the public as to why it is a bad idea to purchase pet medications from discount retailers, or from anyone that is not a veterinarian or veterinary clinic, period. One recent exception to this general pharmaceutical policy is Bayer. No longer willing to keep out of the multibillion dollar a year discount pet med industry, they recently rescinded their stance against the condoning of the sale of their products by any venue outside of a veterinary clinic. The rest, however, remain steadfast in their stance against pet meds sold outside of vet clinics.

So what is the reason for the big corporate stance against allowing products to be sold outside of veterinary clinics? Pharmaceuticals are after all in the business of making money, and what better way to sell their products than through increasingly popular discount retailers? The reason comes down to a simple two words, “quality control.”

You see, when a pharmaceutical sells their products to veterinary clinics, it is done so in a very controlled fashion. The products are stored with distributors that store the products as dictated by the pharmaceuticals. Specifically, they are kept at a certain temperature and humidity, handled with a certain amount of care, all geared at maintaining the integrity of the product through handling parameters clearly specified by the pharmaceutical and based on the chemical make up of the given medication. The veterinarian actually in most cases orders products directly from distributors and once received, products are stored in a fashion as dictated by the pharmaceutical and/or distributor.

In the case of discount retailers, the products still go to a distributor, but after that, the pharmaceutical no longer has any knowledge of what happens to the product, how it is shipped, how it is stored, and for how long. With many medications, especially liquid flea and tick preventive topical medications having sensitive environmental and handling parameters, pharmaceuticals do not wish to carry the liability nor have their reputations damaged, should one of these medications fail to work or even cause adverse reaction if compromised by poor handling and/or storage. As such, the majority of pharmaceuticals that still choose to not condone selling of their products outside of veterinary clinics, do not guarantee the safety or effectiveness of their products when purchase anywhere outside of a veterinary clinics.

I am sure at this point, you are wondering if most pharmaceuticals do not condone the sale of their products by discount retailers, how in the world are getting them? The answer is that they get the products through “black market” sources. Now let me be clear that black market is an industry term not to be confused with the illegal connotation the term generally carries. In our context, black market simply means, “unauthorized attainment,” but as I previously alluded to, the courts have determined that this actually is not illegal. The most common black market source of pet medications is an unethical veterinarian purchasing mass quantities of product on behalf of a large discount retailer for a generous fee. I have, for example, been recruited to be such an unethical go between for large pet med retailers on several occasions, which I have repeatedly declined. Obviously some veterinarians cannot resist the temptation to make that easy cash. The other common black market source for pet medications is overseas products. Overseas distributors in certain countries have lax regulation that allows this.

So what does this all mean for you and your pet? Well, let us break down the purchase of pet medications through discount retailers into pros and cons:

Pros:

- The medications are generally cheaper than purchasing the same brand from your veterinarian. Veterinarians simply cannot compete with the quantities that large retailers purchase, and the discounts that said large quantities afford them.

- Convenience – products are often shipped right to the home.

Cons:

- Quality control – the handling and storage of pet medications may be outside of the guidelines set by the pharmaceutical for a given product, thereby compromising its effectiveness and safety. Pharmaceuticals have no control over quality control when sold outside of veterinary clinics.

- No Guarantee – with the exception of products made by Bayer, pharmaceuticals do not guarantee the safety and effectiveness of their products when purchased outside of a veterinary clinic. Therefore, if a given medication purchased anywhere but a veterinary clinic is ineffective or causes a dangerous reaction to your pet, pharmaceuticals do not want to hear it – all you would get from them is a big, “I told you so.”

So the bottom line for you as a pet owner to decide is this: if the money you save on discount online pet medications or purchasing from other sources outside of veterinary clinics is worth the role of the dice of whether or not that medication will be effective and/or safe for your pet is worth it to you, then by all means proceed. If, on the other hand, having an unknown safety and effectiveness for given pet medications is not the way you choose to save a buck, then get your pet medications the old fashion way: from your veterinarian.

On to our green energy segment, today’s showcased green energy technology is geothermal energy. This technology cools and heats homes utilizing the fact that 6 feet below ground, temperature stays nearly constant, despite temperature extremes that may occur on the surface, and regardless of the season. In northern latitudes, this temperature is approximately 65 degrees, and southern and subtropical latitudes about 72 degrees. During the hot summer, these temperature are effective for cooling the home, while in winter, they are effective for heating the home.

The way it works is a network of pipes are placed deep underground through which water is pumped and assimilates the temperature of the ground. As the water is transported back to the home, a geothermal unit transmits the temperature of the water to air that is vented into to the home. In the summer, this will provide air for the home that is significantly cooler than the ambient temperature, while in winter, this will provide air that is significantly warmer than the ambient temperature. The cost, energy consumption, and environmental impact required to power the electric motors necessary to pump the water and air through the geothermal unit is nominal when compared to the cost, energy consumption, and environmental impact necessary to heat and cool with electricity, oil, or natural gas.

The biggest drawback of this technology is the installation cost, which right now runs around $10,000, making it so that it would take about 5 years of energy savings to recoup the cost of installation. One way we can lessen the cost of installation is to make a concerted effort to lobby our elected officials to offer tax break incentives to have this type of green energy to power our homes. For now, communities that have a collective desire to go geothermal, have had success in significantly cutting the cost of installation by forming co-ops, where geothermal installation companies offer large discounts for numbers of households in a given community opting in for their product; the greater the numbers participating, the greater the discounts.

That is our show for this evening. I thank you as always for watching. Please join me next week, when I will be discussing Pamela Anderson, and why she is one of my favorite people. The reason is probably not what you think.

Don't forget to catch my live call-in radio show Wednesdays 9PM EST. Listen via podcast live or archived here:


Blog Talk Radio

Bonus Content

As described on my radio show, here is the footage of the Mary Bale of Conventry, England, callously throwing an innocent cat into a trash bin for no apparent reason. It would be hard to believe if it were not caught on video!



Pet Food Recall

Procter & Gamble (P&G), the makers Iams is recalling a limited number of bags of Iams Proactive Health Indoor Weight & Hairball Care dry cat food as they have the potential to contain Salmonella. The bags in question may have been sold in one or two stores in Loveland, Colorado. The food was sold in blue 6.8 pound bags. These bags feature a code date of 02304173 (B1-B6) and the UPC number 1901403921.

Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website Web-DVM.net.