Dear Friend,
In this edition you will find:

Pharmacovigilance At Home
Seasonal Allergies


Pharmacovigilance At Home  

“Pharmacovigilance, also known as drug safety, is the pharmacological science relating to the collection, detection, assessment, monitoring, and prevention of adverse effects with pharmaceutical products.” This includes the misuse of a drug that can cause adverse reactions. 

So what does this mean for you at home? As a pet owner, it in part means making sure your pet cannot get into any of the medications in the house whether the medication is the pet’s or a human’s.  This can be a challenge.

My dogs can be troublemakers. Anything on the floor might be food and they consider fair game. Our golden retriever is a counter surfer and will happily swipe food and food-like objects. I am positive that, if left within her reach, medications will fall into this category. By medications I do not mean only prescription or over the counter drugs. I also include vitamins and nutritional supplements. Some of these, like Vitamin D, if taken in large quantities, can cause death.  Also, many sugar free medications contain xylitol which is very toxic to dogs.

Size is important. Cats and many dogs are quite small and most giant breed dogs are smaller than most humans. This means that even a normal human dose may be deadly to the pet. Take ibuprofen as an example.  The tablets are 200mg. We see moderate gastrointestinal symptoms at 50mg/kg, severe GI symptoms at 100mg/kg, and acute renal failure at 300mg/kg.

This means that if my 11 lb (5kg) dog eats just 1 tablet she is getting 40mg/kg. She needs to eat only 8 tablets to have a dose that can severely damage her kidneys permanently and cause death. You may say, “That’s a lot of tablets.” Advil has a sweet coating. Dogs often get into bottles and eat the entire contents. A new bottle of 200 tablets would dose our 55 lb Golden Retriever at 1600mg/kg. This is a common scenario.  (As a side note, the evening after I wrote this, I found a 200mg ibuprofen on the garage floor. I have no idea how it got there.)

Carprofen is another commonly overdosed drug owing to the very tasty flavor tabs. I have had dogs present after tearing into a sealed box to get to the sealed bottle and eat the entire contents. Again, using my dogs as an example, 1 tablet (a single daily dose for our Golden) would be a serious gastrointestinal dose for the small dog. Two tablets would cause severe kidney damage.

There are many medications out there that a single human dose can be deadly for a cat or a dog. 

The rule is that all medications must be secured in an area where a pet cannot get to them. This includes thinking about the cat that can knock stuff off to the dog. Pills should not be set on the counter for even a few minutes while preparing food or beverage. We commonly see dogs and cats that will steal these. 

If your pet gets into a medication inappropriately, always call to see if this is an emergency. Have the name and size of the medication, the weight of your pet, and the number of pills consumed available. When you go to the veterinary hospital, take the container with you. Be prepared to call a pet poison control. We often must do this at the veterinary hospital to seek guidance for medications we do not see very often.  Be prepared that 48 hours of hospitalization is often required and sometimes treatment takes much longer. 


Seasonal Allergies

Many people and pets suffer from seasonal allergies. Year after year some pets get extremely itchy at the same season. 

One of the big culprits seems to be ragweed pollen. This season has just arrived.

If your pet has seasonal allergies, please be proactive. We have medications that can be started shortly before their season gets bad. This can help your pet be much more comfortable and not have to suffer through symptoms that make them miserable.

Just give us a call and we will do our best to help your fur baby stay comfortable.


Feline Leukemia Virus

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is a spread from cat to cat by close contact. This can include bite wounds, mutual grooming, shared food/water dishes. The virus is rather fragile so does not survive long in the environment.

FeLV is very prevalent. It affects 2-3% of cats in the United States. In sick and at risk groups, the prevalence rate is about 30%. Most at risk are young, intact male cats due to their tendency to roam and fight. It is one of the most common causes of cancer in the cat with lymphoma the most common neoplasia seen. 

Once FeLV gets into the body, it replicates and moves into the bone marrow. Here it can destroy cells or cause a cancer that destroys cells. We see cats present severely anemic, with a severe immunosuppression, and with cancer. It can also cause other organ failure like kidney failure. I recently had a kitten present with no platelets. 

We encourage vaccination against FeLV for our patients at risk. Keeping cats inside so they are not exposed to other cats also helps.

When a cat presents to the veterinary clinic because it is sick, do not be surprised if the veterinarian requests a FeLV test, even with an indoor only cat. The virus can lay dormant in the body for years.

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