May 13, 2016
Spring has sprung and so have all of the things that make our pets itch and rub and shake. Allergy season is upon us. Animals can be allergic to all of the same things that make us sneeze. But, while our organ of anaphylaxis (the organ system that is most commonly affected) is our respiratory system, dog's and cat's organ of anaphylaxis is their skin. So, when my eyes start burning and I can’t stop sneezing, I know I am going to see a lot of itchy animals.
The system affected is not the only difference. The chemicals responsible for causing the signs of allergies are also vastly different. In humans, histamines play a big part. Histamines are chemicals released when we encounter the allergen, which is the inciting agent of allergies. This why antihistamines are so effective in treating human allergies. They counter the affects of histamines.
For dogs and cats, histamines play only a minor role. It has been reported that antihistamines only work in about 10% of dogs/cats, but truly there has been no proof that they work at all on pet allergies. Benadryl has the benefit of causing the dog to be drowsy and thus causing the dog to itch less, which does have a value, but steroids have been our mainstay in treating allergies. They are inexpensive and stop the itch quickly, but they can cause the dog to drink and urinate more and are not to be used long-term.The signs of allergies in dogs and acats are due to a number of different chemicals - leukotrienes, cytokines, and kinases. Drugs can be made to block these chemicals. One such drug, Apoquel, works as quickly or quicker than steroids and without the side effect. It is changing the way we treat allergies. (The one downside is that the manufacturer wildly underestimated the demand and has been playing catch up since its rollout. It now looks to be more available, but if your vet says they don’t have any...believe him/her!)
May 10, 2016
I’ve recently joined a very unfortunate club, the group of pet parents whose pets have skin issues. I make it sound a little dramatic, but I could see a need for a support group for us folks. After all, in most cases, pet skin issues are recurring, if not chronic, and can be uncomfortable for the pet, and icky and costly for the household.
In our case, Kayden appears to be “sucking his flanks” (a creepy sounding vet term if I ever heard one) as a result of some sort of allergy or irritant. But he’s been treated twice for it so far this year and I’m not very optimistic we’ve beat it yet. And, let’s face it: what’s worse than the medication that costs about $50/month and the vet visits? The cone of shame. Kayden hates it and refuses to eat or even go outside when the neighbor dogs are out. My kids are terrified of it. My daughter cried when I told her he would have to start wearing it again. It’s rotten for everyone involved.
April 27, 2016
I am always reminded of this difference between animals and humans when I take dental radiographs. We can see only what is above the gum line, but most dental disease happens under the gums. I can’t believe how a tail-wagging dog will come in as if nothing is wrong, but then we take radiographs and we can see tooth root abscesses. Now, anyone who has had a root canal will remember that excruciating and unbearable pain prior to the procedure. That pain was due to a tooth root abscess, the same thing that seemingly had no effect on that dog. It does though, just as much as us, but they handle it better.
April 13, 2016
A few months back there was quite the scare about feeding dogs peanut butter. It wasn’t actually the peanut butter, but the artificial sweetener, Xylitol, found in some peanut butters that was making pets sick.
Occasionally there are new hazards like this introduced to our pets, so we wanted to take a few minutes to talk with Dr. Patrick Mahaney about some of the latest trends in pet poisoning and toxicity.
Dr. Patrick will talk a bit more about the Xylitol risks, as well as other common household items that may pose a threat for your pet. Some of them might surprise you.
April 05, 2016
Back in the day, old school Embracer philosophy was that insurance was for “unexpected things,” the big stuff. Broken legs, swallowed tennis balls, cancer, diabetes, and so on... But, after a few years, we started noticing a trend. Pet parents wanted to “use” their insurance, for little stuff - shots, flea and tick meds, even dental cleanings. More like their own human insurance, they wanted to go to the doctor for a yearly checkup and feel that their insurance was paying off. So, we started the Wellness Rewards program, just to cover routine wellness care at 100% up to your yearly limit.