Thursday, January 27, 2011

Your dog (cat) ate what??

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

Your dog (cat) ate what??

Greetings, pet lovers, this is Dr. Roger Welton, veterinarian and Veterinary News Network Reporter.

Every year, a leading veterinary trade magazine has a contest reviewing the weird things pets across the country have eaten. And, every year, thousands of veterinarians submit their x-rays to Veterinary Practice News wondering if their patient will win the grand prize honor of having swallowed the most unusual object!
Entries to this contest range from mundane objects like rocks to dangerous items including knives, needles or fish hooks. And, it’s not unusual to see more bizarre things, including diamond rings, phones and phone cords or even lightbulbs!

Thankfully, alert owners and skilled veterinarians are often able to retrieve these objects before any lasting harm is done. But, the bigger question is this: Why do our pets eat these weird things in the first place?

Some items can be obvious, for example, trash items or utensils associated with food. Other objects, such as sticks and rocks are less obvious as to why they were eaten.

Veterinary behaviorist, Dr. Valarie Tynes says that there is no easy answer to these questions. “Certainly, young dogs have a strong exploratory drive and putting things in their mouth is how they learn about the world,” says Tynes, “but dogs who repeatedly eat items like rocks or other unusual things are a different and difficult case.”

Keeping the voracious dog from eating all manner of things can be a challenge in itself as well. To keep your pet from making an emergency trip to the animal hospital, veterinarians recommend the following:

• Keep all garbage behind a secure door or cabinet.
• Use baby gates or closed doors to create “off-limits” areas for your dog.
• Monitor your dog while walking. Many pets will find irresistible treats, such as corn cobs and walnuts, while enjoying the day in the park.

Being proactive and picking up leftover food, utensils, and other items after eating can help to curb the dog’s desire as well.

What about our cats? As it turns out, they may be just as guilty as our canine friends for having an appetite for unusual objects. String-like items, such as a needle and thread, are almost irresistible to cats. Rubber bands, Christmas tinsel, bread ties or any object that can be batted around is at risk for being swallowed. And such “string foreign bodies” can be very dangerous in cats.

Remember, all of these pets underwent difficult surgeries and were likely separated from their families for a few days. In addition, the owners worried about their pets and likely suffered an unexpected financial burden. Exploratory surgeries or endoscopic procedures to remove foreign objects often cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. Sadly, some pets may not survive the surgery.

The important thing to remember is that you can help prevent many of these situations by following the advice outlined above. Seek veterinary care immediately if you note your pet vomiting constantly, retching or if he has diarrhea. Waiting to see if the situation resolves itself often leads to higher veterinary bills and more distress for your pet.

This is 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

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New laser may beam away your pet's pain!

New for 2011

- Live BlogTalkRadio podcast, Veterinary advice, animal news and views, will be one hour long, during which Dr. Welton and his guest will be answering questions live either called in toll free, or through the show page chatroom.
- Listeners that tune in by archive may also participate by e-mailing questions to Dr. Welton and his guest prior to each show and have them addressed on the air. Address for e-mail questions is, and e-mails will be accepted up until 6 PM EST on the day of the broadcast.

(for more on the live podcast, scroll down to the bottom of this post)

- New laser may beam away your pet's pain!

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

Happy New Year everybody, this is Dr. Roger Welton, veterinarian and Veterinary News Network Reporter, all set to kick off the 2011 season of The Web-DVM.
Pet owners are passionate about finding ways to help relieve pain in their older, arthritic dogs or lessen the discomfort of a pet with cancer. Veterinarians are now using a high tech solution that just might surprise you.

Whether used to blow up the Death Star or vaporize Romulans, most people view lasers as something destructive. Even in surgery, lasers can be used like scalpels to remove unwanted tissue or seal blood vessels with their intense heat. So, it may come as a surprise to learn that lasers are now being used to help heal wounds or provide pain relief for arthritic pets!

Photobiomodulation is the fancy word that describes how a laser is used to stimulate cells in an animal’s body. Unlike a surgical laser that uses a high energy output, lasers used to heal and relieve pain use a lower wattage. Although the actual mechanism is not fully known, advocates of the so called “cold laser” theorize that the laser light stimulates the cells to increase production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the molecule that helps provide energy for cellular function. The added energy seems to encourage the healing process.

Even though using lasers in this way is relatively new, the first notation of its potential was seen more than 40 years ago. A Hungarian scientist testing laser effects on skin cancers saw that hair grew back more rapidly on the backs of shaved mice when a laser was applied. Fast forward four decades and low level lasers have been used for everything from combating hair loss to tattoo removal. Even the FDA has approved the use of therapy lasers, although it is still considered experimental. And, most insurance companies won’t cover any kind of laser therapy.

By applying a low level laser light to areas such as painful hips, veterinarians are reporting dramatic improvements and better quality of life for their patients. Some pets have even fallen asleep during their treatments!! Veterinarians using lasers say that the feeling is probably similar to one you would get from a professional massage or accupuncture…deep relaxation!

Dr. Melanie Marsden, a strong advocate of laser therapy, reports that her hospital in the Pikes Peak area routinely uses their laser for everything from spay incision sites to anal gland infections! Her practice uses lasers on rabbits, exotic lizards and even a giraffe at the local zoo!

Beyond alleviating pain, the laser therapy sessions offer hope to owners who previously might have considered euthanasia in order to relieve their pet’s distress.
The devices appear to have potential for pet injuries as well. At Companion Therapy Laser, a laser treatment was used on a case involving a two year old pit bull who suffered burns over 60% of his body. By using the laser on the burns, the veterinary hospital saw a quicker recovery and much less discomfort from the two year old pup. Skin conditions, such as lick granulomas and even contaminated wounds like those received from car accidents are being healed in much less time than conventional treatment methods.

Other veterinarians are using the low level lasers for everything from severe gingivitis and ear infections to intervertebral disc disease. But, the treatment and successes aren’t without critics. Websites such as Quackwatch and Skeptvet aren’t convinced that the lasers are all that beneficial. They point to numerous studies and conclude that there is no evidence low energy laser light affects an animal’s health or any disease process. Thankfully, they also conclude that there is little evidence of harm from these treatments. So we have believers and skeptics… pretty normal with any new treatment or technology.

If clients have their way, more veterinarians will invest in these lasers. Dr. Marsden reports that more than 80% of her clients opt for this type of treatment and her chronic arthritic patients often respond better than with conventional medications. And, in her mind, these pets ARE better because there is no placebo effect with animals!
It’s obvious that more research is needed to both understand if lasers are indeed beneficial in helping our pets and, if they do help, how do they work. Like many “alternative” treatments, you should discuss this option with your veterinarian to see if it is right for you and your pet.

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