Thomas Dock, CVJ, Vet. Technician  
Male, 53
Indianapolis, IN

Interests: animals, Reading (sci-fi and fantasy)
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No Help for Kitten Up Power Pole

Jan 28, 2010 - 11 comments

pet rescue

(WARNING - this story does not have a good outcome)

So I can't figure out what upsets me more about this story...maybe you can help me decide.

In Houston, a cat owner found that her kitten had scaled a power pole and wouldn't come down. Evidently the cat was stuck for about 47hours before she touched the high voltage wires and electrocuted herself.

The owner says that she called the police, fire, SPCA and electric companies and no one would help.

After seeing last week's daring rescue of an unknown dog by LA fire personnel, one would wonder why something similar couldn't have been done in less strenuous circumstances.

So...I am upset that the kitten died...that is just sad and unfortunate. But, what really gets to me is that there seems to be no where for a pet owner to turn in these types of situations. I can remember scaling the roof of a house to try and bring a cat down from a tree while I worked as a veterinary technician because of similar circumstances. (Actually...the receptionist who went with me saved the cat...I had on slick soled shoes and couldn't stand well on the roof).

What's worse, what if the owner, or one of her children attempted to climb the power pole to save the cat? When I first saw the story, that was my interpretation. I thought the owner had died trying to get the kitten down.

I am not sure what the answer is...we certainly can't have first responders tied up in situations that are not life-threatening to people, but if they won't help, what is a pet owner to do?

Seriously...what is the answer here?

Top Ten Human Meds That Harm Pets

Jan 07, 2010 - 16 comments

human meds poison pets

Everyday, veterinarians across the country and across the world field phone calls about pets who accidently (or sometimes with the owner's knowledge) ingest medications meant for their human owners. What are the worst offenders and what can you do to prevent a tragedy from happening?

This list was developed by our friends at Pet Poison Helpline and PetDocsOnCall staff DVM Justine Lee.

1) NSAIDs (e.g. Advil, Aleve and Motrin)
Topping our Top 10 list are common household medications called non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), which include common names such as ibuprofen (e.g., Advil and some types of Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve). While these medications are safe for people, even one or two pills can cause serious harm to a pet. Dogs, cats, birds and other small mammals (ferrets, gerbils and hamsters) may develop serious stomach and intestinal ulcers as well as kidney failure.

2) Acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol)
When it comes to pain medications, acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) is certainly popular. Even though this drug is very safe, even for children, this is not true for pets—especially cats. One regular strength tablet of acetaminophen may cause damage to a cat’s red blood cells, limiting their ability to carry oxygen. In dogs, acetaminophen leads to liver failure and, in large doses, red blood cell damage.

3) Antidepressants (e.g. Effexor, Cymbalta, Prozac, Lexapro)
While these antidepressant drugs are occasionally used in pets, overdoses can lead to serious neurological problems such as sedation, incoordination, tremors and seizures. Some antidepressants also have a stimulant effect leading to a dangerously elevated heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. Pets, especially cats, seem to enjoy the taste of Effexor and often eat the entire pill. Unfortunately, just one pill can cause serious poisoning.

4) ADD/ADHD medications (e.g. Concerta, Adderall, Ritalin)
Medications used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder contain potent stimulants such as amphetamines and methylphenidate. Even minimal ingestions of these medications by pets can cause life-threatening tremors, seizures, elevated body temperatures and heart problems.

5) Benzodiazepines and sleep aids (e.g. Xanax, Klonopin, Ambien, Lunesta)
These medications are designed to reduce anxiety and help people sleep better. However, in pets, they may have the opposite effect. About half of the dogs who ingest sleep aids become agitated instead of sedate. In addition, these drugs may cause severe lethargy, incoordination (including walking “drunk”), and slowed breathing in pets. In cats, some forms of benzodiazepines can cause liver failure when ingested.

6) Birth control (e.g. estrogen, estradiol, progesterone)
Birth control pills often come in packages that dogs find irresistible. Thankfully, small ingestions of these medications typically do not cause trouble. However, large ingestions of estrogen and estradiol can cause bone marrow suppression, particularly in birds. Additionally, female pets that are intact (not spayed), are at an increased risk of side effects from estrogen poisoning.

7) ACE Inhibitors (e.g. Zestril, Altace)
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (or “ACE”) inhibitors are commonly used to treat high blood pressure in people and, occasionally, pets. Though overdoses can cause low blood pressure, dizziness and weakness, this category of medication is typically quite safe. Pets ingesting small amounts of this medication can potentially be monitored at home, unless they have kidney failure or heart disease. All heart medications should be kept out of reach of pets.

8) Beta-blockers (e.g. Tenormin, Toprol, Coreg)
Beta-blockers are also used to treat high blood pressure but, unlike the ACE inhibitor, small ingestions of these drugs may cause serious poisoning in pets. Overdoses can cause life-threatening decreases in blood pressure and a very slow heart rate.

9) Thyroid hormones (e.g. Armour desiccated thyroid, Synthroid)
Pets — especially dogs — get underactive thyroids too. Interestingly, the dose of thyroid hormone needed to treat dogs is much higher than a person’s dose. Therefore, if dogs accidentally get into thyroid hormones at home, it rarely results in problems. However, large acute overdoses in cats and dogs can cause muscle tremors, nervousness, panting, a rapid heart rate and aggression.

10) Cholesterol lowering agents (e.g. Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor)
These popular medications, often called “statins,” are commonly used in the United States. While pets do not typically get high cholesterol, they may still get into the pill bottle. Thankfully, most “statin” ingestions only cause mild vomiting or diarrhea. Serious side effects from these drugs come with long-term use, not one-time ingestions.

11) Always keep medications safely out of reach and never administer a medication to a pet without first consulting your veterinarian.

12) Never leave loose pills in a plastic Ziploc® bag – the bags are too easy to chew into. Make sure visiting house guests do the same, keeping their medications high up or out of reach.

13) If you place your medication in a weekly pill container, make sure to store the container in a cabinet out of reach of your pets. Unfortunately, if they get a hold of it, some pets might consider the pill container a plastic chew toy.

14) Never store your medications near your pet’s medications – veterinarians frequently receive calls from concerned pet owners who inadvertently give their own medication to their pet.

15) Hang your purse up. Inquisitive pets will explore the contents of your bag and simply placing your purse up and out of reach can help to avoid exposure to any potentially dangerous medication(s).

16) It is also important to note that while a medication may be safe for children, it may not be safe for animals. Pets metabolize medications very differently from people. Even seemingly benign over-the-counter or herbal medications may cause serious poisoning in pets.

17) If your pet has ingested a human over-the-counter or prescription medication, please call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline’s 24-hour animal poison control center at (800) 213-6680 immediately.

The key point of this entire blog is that pet owners should ALWAYS discuss the use of medications with their veterinarians. Using human medications, adjusting your pet's medications or even stopping medications should only be done after you have communicated with your pet's doctor!

Where is the money REALLY going?

Dec 31, 2009 - 7 comments


One of our Veterinary News Network reporters sent this blog to me yesterday and I thought some of you might appreciate the content.  consumerfreedom.com/news_detail.cfm/h/4062-unpacking-the-hsus-gravy-train.  This blog includes a link to the actual tax form of the Humane Society of the United States.

In a nutshell, the authors of the blog are basically stating that the Humane Society of the US (HSUS) brought in almost $100 million dollars in donations for 2008.  Of that, they spent about $28 million on fundraising efforts.  So, when you donate to HSUS, 28 cents of every dollar goes to raise more money.  In addition, HSUS pays one company more than $4 million to count it's money.

Also, there are more than 40 HSUS employees who make more than $100,000 per year.   Total Salaries were almost $31 million.   So, that's another 31 cents from your donated dollar.  In total, so far, we can count on less than 40 cents of every dollar going to help animals.   Interestingly, another blog I read recently (I don't remember the link right now) stated that in 5 years, Wayne Pacelle (CEO of HSUS) has increased their legal staff from 4 attorneys to more than 30!!

Bottom line for this blogger was that HSUS spent less than $3 million dollars on grants to help local shelters.

Now, to be fair, the authors of the blog and the website (Center for Consumer Freedom) are accused of being backed by the restaurant and agricultural industries.  But, this is not the only time I have seen similar numbers being thrown around and I know that many animal welfare enthusiasts question the true motives of the HSUS.

For me, I would prefer to focus on helping rescues and shelters in my local community.  I think that the HSUS has certainly opened our eyes to some terrible problems that our animal friends have undergone, but I am very reluctant to support a group whose leader has publically said that we should not own pets.  And remember, the HSUS has absolutely nothing to do with your local shelter or humane society.  This blog and the associated tax forms make that absolutely clear.

So, in this coming New Year, I might ask you to think about your planned donations to animal charities.  Consider monetary gifts to your local groups or volunteer your time by helping at the shelter or fostering a pet for a rescue group.  Look at items around your home that you don't use anymore...are there old blankets that can be given to a cold shelter dog?  How about some old play toys that your senior pet has outgrown?  Still keeping that litter box in the garage even though your cat is gone?  All of these things and so many more can help animals in need this coming year.

For your own pets, the best thing you can give them for 2010 is the gift of your time.  Make it your 2010 Resolution to spend more quality time with your pets!  Happy New Year everyone!

Pets worse than cars for global warming??

Dec 22, 2009 - 15 comments



global warming

So, needless to say I am in utter shock this morning as I sort through the news that has filtered in overnight. In Yahoo News a headline caught my eye:  "Polluting Pets:  The Devastating Impact of Man's Best Friend".  I am not sure if this link will work, but the article can be read at: news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20091220/sc_afp/lifestyleclimatewarminganimalsfood

In the article, two New Zealanders who are specialists in sustainable living analyzed pet food and by their calculations they say a medium size dog eats about 360 lbs of meat and 200 lbs of cereal each year.  They then calculated the cost in land required to generate the food and they determined that a dog has a carbon footprint of about 2 acres, which is twice the land needed for driving an SUV 6,000 miles a year.  And, a magazine asked the Stockhom Environment Institute in Britain to also calculate the "pawprint" of our pets and supposedly they came up with similar numbers.  One of the original articles that this "news" story was based on came out of the New Scientist Magazine.  In fact, it reads almost word for word as this article.  By the way, these folks, Robert and Brenda Vale have also written a book titled "Time to Eat the Dog?  The Real Guide To Sustainable Living"  In essence, they state that "owning a dog is really quite an extravagance".

So...do you all see the numbers game that is being played here too?   By assuming that the land and food and energy output to create the food for one dog has no other purpose, they can artificially inflate the impact.  But, we all know that the meat in your pet's food is not just raised for dog food alone...the meat in our pet's food is generally supplied from meat that is raised for other purposes (feeding us).  And, I am quite certain that the grains in pet foods are not grown solely to go in our dog's bowl, but are also used to feed other animals, feed us, and even for other uses like bio fuels.

The article goes on to talk about the impact of pets on wildlife and how they are spreading disease and polluting waterways.

I can't argue that our pets AREN'T impacting the environment, especially with the quantity of feces that they are producing...but I do know that responsible pet owners clean up after their pets and try to minimize the impact locally.  And, I want to know why they are singling out pets...why not complain about the millions of people who bathe in rivers in Third World countries?  Aren't they spreading bacteria and disease too?

Sadly, this article also says things like, "feed the cat on fish heads and other leftovers from the fish monger...the impact will be lower".  Seriously??  So, its ok to use the fact that the fish are caught for other purposes, but not the fact that cattle/sheep/chickens, etc are too?  Plus, a cat fed fish as its only source of protein could develop some severe medical issues long term.

You will love the end of the article as well..."if you are going to get a pet, make sure it is dual purpose.  Get a hen who will lay eggs for you or a rabbit that you can eat later in its life".  

Yep...that's what I want from my pets...I want them to love me unconditionally so that I can eat them later!!!   Give me a break!!