Guest Post: what do generic drugs, ticks, and bats have in common?

They are all on Dr Rex Riggs' mind as he ponders what's going on in his veterinary world this summer.

Name Brand medications vs. Generics-Sometimes there is a difference…

To be certified a "generic" by the Food and Drug Administration, a drug has to have the same "active ingredient" as its brand name equivalent. The generic has to have an efficiency rate plus or minus 20% of the effectiveness of the name brand. This is very important point. If you get one batch of generics that is 20% below the name brand’s effectiveness and you refill it with a batch that is 20% more effective than the brand name, that is a 40% difference.  

For antibiotics, the variance does not make a big difference.  For NSAIDS (like Rimadyl and Metacam), thyroid medications (Soloxine), antidepressants, or any other drug that has a narrow therapeutic or safety range, it can make a huge difference.  

In addition, generics are not required to use the same binders as the name brand. It is the binders that are responsible for how the body absorbs the active ingredient; therefore, generics might be absorbed differently in the body (gel caps compared to pills, for instance), which affects efficacy. 

For these reasons, we do not like using generics in place of Rimadyl, Metacam or Soloxine at our hospital. Something to ask about at your next vet visit if you are seeing varying results in your pet's response to these generic medications.  

Ticks, Ticks….they are everywhere!

How did they live through this winter? Who knows but they did. We are seeing more ticks this year than ever. I was in Montana in April fly fishing. Montana, like most parts of the nation, had the worst winter in memory. It was 20 below for 3 weeks and the ticks survived very nicely. In fact, they are now are everywhere. It's definitely time to be diligent against tick-borne diseases. 

For our animals it is easy to prevent ticks with products like Frontline and a new oral treat like medication like Nexgard. They are very efficient.  We are now recommending them year round on our patients.

I wish it was that easy for us human beings. The Lyme disease tick is now in Ohio, where I live. You cannot see this tick; it's called “the moving freckle” because of its minuscule size.  If you take a dime and look at the word “Dime”, the Lyme disease tick is ½ the size of the “D”.  In people, the most common sign of a bite from a Lyme disease tick is a red target lesion on your skin.  If you see this this, go get antibiotics.  It is easy to treat it at this point, but if you wait it is much harder to treat. 

The mosquitoes are going to be bad this year….

bats with White-Nose SyndromeWhite-Nose Syndrome has killed over 6 million bats since 2006. The cause is a fungus called Pseudogymnoascus destructans, which kills nearly 100 percent of the bats it infects. The fungus grows on the noses, wings and ears of bats during winter hibernation, giving them a white, fuzzy appearance. It invades the deep skin tissues and causes extensive damage.

Bats have such a bad Hollywood image, but they are great creatures and an important part of our ecosystem in their ability to eat bugs, especially mosquitoes. A single bat eats up to 1000 mosquitoes in a single hour and it is not uncommon for some of the bats to live 40 years.

So let’s think about that. One thousand mosquitoes per hour times 8 hours a day, times, say, 5 months a year times 40 years. That would be 48 million mosquitoes that one bat would eat in a lifetime! That is a lot of bad bugs.

So what does that mean to us? Beside all the hassle of dealing with mosquitoes while sitting outside at dusk, it means a lot more disease transmission for both humans and animal. Mosquito-borne diseases have killed more people through history than any other disease. In fact the mosquito-transmitted diseases outnumber all the other fatal diseases combined. For all the dog and cat owners, the biggest threat is heartworm disease. So keep them on those heartworm meds. The alternative is not pretty.

Related Posts
June is Summer Dangers Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
Guest Post: what do generic drugs, ticks, and bats have in common?
Podcast: summer dangers and your pets

Other posts by Dr Riggs

Dr_RiggsDr. Rex Riggs grew up in Wadsworth, Ohio, near Akron. Dr Riggs is co-owner of Best Friends Veterinary Hospital in Powell, Ohio. He is also on the board of the North Central Region of Canine Companions of Independence, a board member of The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Society and Small Animal Practitioner Advancement Board at The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Riggs lives in Lewis Center, OH with his wife Nancy, their dogs Maggie and Ossa, and cat Franklin. Outside of work, Dr. Riggs is an avid golfer and cyclist, and enjoys travel and photography.



June is Summer Dangers Month at Embrace Pet Insurance

While I was thinking about this article while out running the other day, a fox ran crossed my path towards a nearby homestead farm, and I thought, yup, that's definitely a summer danger that doesn't come up much in the standard internet articles (those poor chickens!) 

Another summer danger that might not come to mind is a pack of marauding urban stray dogs. I've faced that awful experience one hot August night in Cleveland suburb, something I'll never forget.

There are, of course, dangers that are top of mind:
  • sunburn (those pink ears and noses get burnt just like our skin does) 
  • pets in cars/heat stroke/dehydration (can happen in just a few minutes) 
  • snake bites
  • yard treatments (insecticide/fertilizers/herbicide),
  • heartworm/ticks
  • boating/pools/water (including dry drowning),
  • bee and other insect stings (while painful, at worst can cause an extreme allergic reaction)

This month, we'll be talking about these issues that can affect the health of your dogs and cats in unexpected ways.

Have you experienced any of these conditions? Any others to share?

We also have some excellent articles on our pet community and health center, The Water Bowl:

  • Summer Brings Increased Risk of Fleas
  • Summer Heat Stroke Danger for Dogs
  • Summer Shave-Down Myth
  • Ten Swimming Safety Tips for Dogs
  • Top Three Summer Lawn Hazards for Dogs

  • Related Posts
    June is Summer Dangers Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
    Guest Post: what do generic drugs, ticks, and bats have in common?
    Podcast: summer dangers and your pets


    Podcast: keeping your pet fit and healthy

    Dr Patrick Mahaney and I discuss the whys and wherefors of pet fitness, which goes to show, just when you know it all, there's more.

    In our podcast, we answer these questions:
    1. What tips do you have for running with your dog? Frequency, distance, and what to take with you. How doyou know if you are going too far for your dog (apart from the obvious refusal to go any further)
    2. In addition, how do you get an overweight cat or dog on a fitness regime without hurting and optimize success
    3. How do you exercise indoor cats? If you keep them lean, do you really need to exercise them?
    4. While you might run or walk vigorously with your larger dogs, what about exercising smaller dogs. I don’t often see Yorkies or Chihuahuas walking on a leash.
    5. What do you think of services like Whistle (an on-collar device that measures your dog’s activities, giving you a new perspective on day-to-day behavior and long-term health trends)
    6. Are there fitness supplements you can get for more active dogs such as agility or dock dogs?

    Click on the link below to hear the audio:
     
    Podcast: Laura Bennett & Dr Patrick Mahaney Pet Fitness 2014

    Related Posts 
    May is Pet Fitness Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
    Guest Post: the benefits of exercising your pet
    Podcast: keeping your pet fit and healthy

    Other posts by Dr Patrick Mahaney


    Dr Patrick MahaneyDr. Mahaney is a veterinarian from the University of Pennsylvania and a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist, having been inspired by his own chronic pain from Intervertebral Disc Disease to provide accupuncture to his veterinary clients. In addition to Dr Mahaney's house call integrative veterinary medicine business, California Pet Acupuncture and Wellness, he sees patients on an in-clinic basis at Veterinary Cancer Group in Culver City, CA. Dr Mahaney writes a veterinary column (Patrick's Blog) forwww.PatrickMahaney.com and contributes to a variety of media, including Perez Hilton's TeddyHilton.com, Fido Friendly, Veterinary Practice News, Healthy Pets and People with Dr Patrick on OutImpactRadio.com, and MSNBC Sunday with Alex Witt and Career Day. His first book, The Uncomfortable Vet, will be available in 2014 through Havenhurst Books



    Guest Post: the benefits of exercising your pets

    Exercise is so important, not only in our lives, but also our pets. We have an obligation to make our pets' lives as happy as they can be and exercise is a big part of that. It is fun for you and your pets and allows time for you to enjoy each other’s company. Did you know exercise can actually increase your pet’s life by up to 30% and can decrease the incidence of orthopedic problems by a third!

    Exercise keeps your dog trim, and helps to maintain muscle tone and actually helps build strong bones (sounds like Wonder Bread!) If our life consisted of a continuous nap, interrupted twice daily to chow down, we also would be a blob. Everyone needs to burn off at least as many calories as we take in or we will gain weight. It ain’t rocket science folks! Get up and make your pets move.

    Here's a question for you: how would you like to have your dog or cat around for 4 more years? One of the fastest growing conditions in our pets, is diabetes. Exercise can greatly reduce the incidence of diabetes, in people and dogs. The typical pet with diabetes is an overweight, middle aged female. Much the same is true in humans. Diabetes in animals is almost always type 2, meaning it is not a genetic disease; it is an acquired condition, a lifestyle disease. In the USA we have more diabetic pets then the rest of the world combined. Not much of a surprise there.

    Another great benefit of exercise, is that it actually increases new brain cell growth. What do you think about that? The cells that grow the most are in the part of the brain involving memory. So…exercise will make you and your pet smarter. Pretty cool huh?

    There are other effects on the brain. Exercise has been shown to be as effective as antidepressants in people, when they exercise for 30 minutes three times a week. That is not very much time. It does this in part by increasing endorphins, the happy hormones. Those happy hormones also relives stress, And yes, your pets do have stress. Maybe not stress that we can appreciate, but it is there.

    For me, cycling is my therapy. Now let’s make something clear here, I am not advocating your cat take up cycling, but I am addicted to cycling. I am at peace when I am on my bike. It helps me clear my mind. Exercise just calms our brain down and lets us focus on the good things in life.

    Finally, for all you Lab, Golden, Weimeraners, Visula and puppy owners out there, exercise will improve sleep. Yours and you dog. It gives them an outlet for all that seemingly never ending energy. Get up and enjoy the outdoors, it was a brutal winter and we all need the fresh air.

    To end here is a quote to remember:

    “Never complain about getting old, some people don’t get the chance.”

    Related Posts
    May is Pet Fitness Month at Embrace Pet Insurance

    Other posts by Dr Riggs


    Dr_RiggsDr. Rex Riggs grew up in Wadsworth, Ohio, near Akron. Dr Riggs is co-owner of Best Friends Veterinary Hospital in Powell, Ohio. He is also on the board of the North Central Region of Canine Companions of Independence, a board member of The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Society and Small Animal Practitioner Advancement Board at The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine.

    Dr. Riggs lives in Lewis Center, OH with his wife Nancy, their dogs Maggie and Ossa, and cat Franklin. Outside of work, Dr. Riggs is an avid golfer and cyclist, and enjoys travel and photography.



    May is Pet Fitness Month at Embrace Pet Insurance

    Hazel doing dogaSee this picture? It is my favorite pet exercise picture from Embrace - Hazel doing her doga with us Embracers struggling to keep up.

    All fun aside, it is important to keep your dog or cat fit as part of their overall health regime - just like us humans. Now that doesn't mean you have to take your dog out running  or start walking your cat on a leash, although those are fun activities. Regular active playing, making your pet work for his/her food, and fun toys also count.

    This month, we are focusing pet fitness at Embrace.

    We also have some great articles on the Water Bowl on exercise and pet fitness:

    How do you keep your pet fit?