Everyday Adventures in Havachon Heaven

The Good, Crazy, & Adorable Life of One Havachon Puppy

Frightening Increase in Dog Diabetes – Don’t Let Your Dog Become a Victim!

It makes me sad to think of my poor fellow pups with diabetes! Help protect us with good diets and exercise!

Who’d have thought? Doggy Diabetes? Yikes! I was shocked when I heard that the same disease that’s been escalating in humans is also escalating in dogs.

Did you know that 1 in 10 dogs gets diabetes…and that number is increasing? That’s plenty of reason to find out more about this awful epidemic.

While heredity can be a factor, the good news is that we can take steps to lower the chances of our dogs contracting this nasty condition. What’s the number one controllable thing that puts dogs at risk for diabetes? BEING OVERWEIGHT. And with the holidays upon us, many dog owners like to treat their dogs to extra holiday goodies.

Most of the time, dogs are overweight from love. Sounds weird, but people like to treat their furry friends to all kinds of yummy things, and, sometimes, far too many of them. But sometimes dog foods are the culprits as well.  The Dog Diabetes Guide breaks down the carbohydrate threat lurking in dry dog food and gives alternative feeding solutions.

The site also says that spaying a female dog can lower its chances of getting diabetes; another article lists the top 10 breeds that develop the disease. The Dog Diabetes Guide also states that cortisone and hormone drugs can trigger diabetes, especially in dogs that already have risk factors. The site is chock full of great information and gives many other causes as well as treatments and much more.

It’s important that we dog owners watch our dogs for symptoms of diabetes – after all, it’s not like they can tell you they don’t feel well! The signs are similar to those in humans: frequent urination, excessive thirst, shivering, weight loss without eating less, lethargy, and sweet or fruity breath are among the most common.

Just like doctors warn humans, diabetes is a “silent killer” – take proper precautions diet-wise and be aware of any changes in your dog that may be warning signals. Diabetes can be managed if it’s caught early!

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Dangerous Dog Drugs: When the Cure is Worse Than The Problem

My tummy itches... 😦

Daisy is having an allergic reaction to something. At least we think it’s an allergic reaction, the vet’s not sure.

She developed some medium-sized red spots on her tummy and on the inside of her back legs, and they must have been itching a bit because from time to time, she’d lick them. We tried to stop her from licking when we caught her doing it, but then after several days, a bunch of tiny red spots appeared on her tummy.

We took her to the vet, and he said it could be an allergic reaction to anything she’d come in contact with – or it could be something else – so his plan of attack was to get rid of this rash and then start an elimination program to find out what the culprit was. He gave her a cortisone shot and then two prescriptions: Medrol and Simplicef.

I’m not a fan of medication if there’s an alternative route, but being that Daisy’s scheduled to be spayed tomorrow (and it needs to be done NOW, she’s 7 months old and officially in heat!), I went ahead with the meds.

Not my best decision.

From the first day, they affected her. Especially the Medrol. She gets both pills in the morning, one with food, then one mixed with cream cheese a little later. In the middle of that first night, she threw up a lot of her food. Same thing the next night, and then on Tuesday night she threw up 3 separate times during the wee hours of the morning. In addition,  she was peeing like a leaky water bottle – way more than she was drinking.

So I stopped both meds Wednesday morning, left a message for the vet, and went online to check out these drugs. Wow. Turns out that dogs taking Medrol should be watched carefully – it’s a “potent” cortisone and owners need to watch for signs of attitude change and a stoppage of eating and/or drinking, among other things. We didn’t witness any of that, but the fact that Daisy was losing all her nutrients was bad enough.

When the vet called back Wednesday evening, he said that if Daisy was exhibiting either of the two symptoms mentioned above, he needed to see her immediately. That’s startling enough. But in our case, he said to take her off the meds for 24 hours (which I’d already done), and then just continue with Simplicef, an antibiotic. He said that the combination of the two drugs was causing these adverse reactions.

Since the rash was already improving, I decided not to put her back on anything, since she’s going in for her spaying tomorrow and will most likely be on antibiotics afterwards anyway. Immediately the side effects went away – no vomiting in the night, and her water elimination went back to normal.

There’s a wonderful article I found (http://www.k9web.com/dog-faqs/medical/canine-allergies.html) about canine allergic reactions, and the author discusses both traditional and the less caustic, alternative therapies. It’s hard to apply any topical treatments to a rash like this, because dogs will just lick it off and it could be dangerous to them. But apparently there’s a topical spray with witch hazel that may be a good alternative treatment – it’s not hazardous to dogs if they lick it and it doesn’t have the dangerous side effects of these more powerful medications.

If this rash continues, I think we’ll go to a local alternative vet for a second opinion; if we can get rid of this thing without polluting (or poisoning) Daisy’s system, I’ll go that way in a heartbeat. And if it doesn’t work, at least she’s no worse off.

Before giving your dog or cat any prescription drugs, check the medications out so you’ll be aware of what’s considered a “normal” reaction and what side effects should raise a red flag and indicate an immediate call to your vet. You may also decide that the risk is greater than the potential cure and request a different approach to the problem after understanding the medication more thoroughly.

One word of caution, though – be aware of what type of website you’re looking at. Sites driven by unsupervised contributor content (like eHow and other free content sites) are not necessarily trustworthy because anyone can post anything they want, including drug companies who are simply pushing their drugs. As a freelance writer and researcher, I can’t even begin to tell you how much misinformation is on these types of sites – even Wikipedia, which many people use, has a lot of misinformation because anyone can post changes to one of their topics without authority. (I’m not saying that these sites have nothing to offer, but I wouldn’t take medical advice from them. If you use them, consider them as a starting point of basic information, then check reputable sites to confirm or eliminate what they said.) On the other hand, sites like About.com put applicants through some rigorous testing and training and, when it comes to medical writers, they have actual medical professionals overseeing content, so they’re more trustworthy.

Similarly, a website selling medications will tout only the positive aspects of a drug in order to make sales. So stick with a site with content from more educated, reputable sources, and then double and triple check that information against other similar sites.

Here are a couple of good websites to start with; there are plenty more on Google:

Drugs.comhttp://www.drugs.com – an excellent site with human and veterinary drug information. Everything from side effects and counter-indications to dosages and the latest news on drug recalls and newly approved drugs.

Vet 4 Petzhttp://www.vet4petz.com – covers traditional as well as alternative therapies for pets, as well as preventive information, articles, and more. There’s even an “Ask the Vet” link and links to other sites too.

I’ll throw in one more thing – there’s a website called Ask A Patient (www.askapatient.com) where people rate the different drugs they take and talk about their pros, cons, side effects, etc. It’s laid out in a table format, so you don’t have to read through long forum discussions. Some drugs, like Medrol, are prescribed for both humans and animals, so even though the human and canine systems are different, you can still check people’s reactions to and comments on different drugs, which may give you some insights. I looked up Medrol – it seems many people feel it should be BANNED. Apparently they had very bad reactions…and some scary ones, too. It’s worth a look.

I like our vet, but if this rash continues after the spaying is over and done with, I’m going to get a second opinion from a local vet who combines traditional and alternative veterinary practices.

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To Vaccinate or Not To Vaccinate…That is the Question

Do I REALLY need more shots????

The same controversy exists in the veterinary world as we see in the world of human medicine – whether or not to vaccinate puppies, how many diseases to vaccinate them against, and how much is enough. This controversy is explored (and can help you make your own determination) in this study:

Integrative Therapy in Dogs with Nervous System & Other Disorders (http://neuro.vetmed.ufl.edu/neuro/AltMed/Alt_Med_Neuro.htm).

It’s also an interesting study in the success of combining Western and Eastern practices to maintain optimal canine health and cure illnesses. Herbal supplements, vitamins, human-animal bonding, and diet are all discussed as well.

Just as there are some parents who don’t believe in vaccinating their children, there are some pet owners who don’t believe in vaccinating their pets. While over-vaccination is never good for any living creature, there are certain diseases that do need to be prevented. I say this because my first childhood dog died of distemper, a truly nasty disease, and watching that poor dog deteriorate was an awful thing. Apparently it already had the disease when my parents got it from the pet shop, and when the situation was reported to the pet shop owner, he had to have all the dogs tested (and some destroyed), remove the animals from the shop, and have the whole place disinfected. It was devastating to me and I’ll never take a chance with any dog’s life like that.

However, just like with children, over-vaccination can be just as deadly. Annual blood tests can determine whether the last vaccine is still active in a dog’s system; the study mentioned above showed that some annual vaccinations only need to be given every 3 or so years.

Something to consider for all of us animal lovers.

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