Daily Paws

Pet news, tips, entertainment and opinions from VetLocator.com

Archive for April, 2010

A glimpse into how the FDA evaluates a pet drug

Saturday, April 24th, 2010
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Did you ever wonder what the FDA’s approval and review process is for a pet drug?  I did.

Since the time of the Great Melamine Pet Food Recall of 2007, pet owners have been painfully alert to new recalls and warnings issued by the FDA, and there have been many (I just posted another one today on our Daily Paws blog, the second one in a week).

While I was researching a recent article on an FDA issued warning for flea and tick products, I came across this page on their website:

Transcript for the March 24, 2010 Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee from March 24th, 2010, and this transcript deals with the pet product ProHeart 6, a canine heartworm preventative.

It is a fascinating and revealing look at the process that the FDA takes after it has received complaints about a particular drug or pet food on the market.

The FDA develops a RiskMAP (Risk Minimization Plans, which is a  process of assessing a product’s benefit to risk balance, developing and implementing tools to minimize its risks while preserving its benefits, evaluating tool effectiveness and reassessing the benefit-risk balance, and making adjustments as appropriate to the risk minimization tools to further improve the benefit-risk balance), for a drug and this is one of the terms that you’ll see when you visit the link above so it is good to have a grasp of what they are talking about.

If you google ProHeart 6, you’ll see that it is a product that has been controversial, both with pet owners and with some veterinarians.  I visited www.proheart6.com today and – while the site isn’t working quite right – I saw what I think the is RiskMAP for this product there.

It is well worth your time to peruse these transcripts.  See what a typical product evaluation process is and just how the FDA treats all those reports of adverse results a drug has on our pets.

It’s good to know.

Linda Ferguson

Daily Paws

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Home hospice and euthanasia for our pets

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010


There is a growing trend in veterinary care – home hospice and home euthanasia for pets, and I, for one, am happy to see these services being offered on an increasing basis.  Today there was an article in our local paper about one such veterinarian in the Tampa Bay area that gives a glimpse into a ‘day in the life of a home hospice/euthanasia veterinarian’:

From the Saint Pete Times – April 19, 2010
By Alexandra Zayas, Times Staff Writer

An hour before, Dr. Dani McVety begins to prepare. “Come on, girls,” she calls to her two rat terriers, “in the crate. “You too, Foose.” A big, brown mutt settles into the third cage in McVety’s Lutz home as she shuts the door and heads out to the garage. She pulls a green scrub shirt over her head, opens her trunk and unlocks a black box to reveal liquid-filled bottles. She inserts a syringe in one and slowly extracts a pink fluid, the last she’ll use today. It’s part of a list of things she does before she gets to someone’s home, things she doesn’t want them to see. She also fills out their authorization form in advance, because she has seen how hard it is to write with shaking hands.

As a rule, she never arrives early. So she heads to Starbucks first and orders a dark cherry mocha — decaf, because she and her husband just found out she’s pregnant for the second time.

In many ways, the 28-year-old veterinarian is just starting her life. Yet on this Monday morning, the career path she has chosen takes her to a Land O’Lakes home.

To end one.

• • •

McVety is a hospice veterinarian, part of a growing movement to revolutionize the way animals die. It’s modeled after human hospice, focusing on pain and grief management and creating a comforting scenario for families and pets when the end comes.

Some veterinarians have been doing these things for the past few decades, but hospice care is only now becoming a recognized field in veterinary medicine. It’s no surprise. Pets have evolved into family members, and better medicine means they’re living longer with serious illnesses. Meanwhile, more and more people have had good experiences with human hospice.

The demand is high. McVety performs five in-home euthanasias a week. In one day this week, she had four. When she graduated from the University of Florida’s vet school last year, she never imagined this would become her job.

She grew up with horses in Odessa, wanting to become an equine veterinarian, but shifted to a different kind of pet care because she preferred the connection she felt with owners of dogs and cats. She knew losing animals came with saving them, but she dreaded her first death.

She was at the Tampa Bay Veterinary Emergency Service on Bearss Avenue when she realized she had a talent for dealing with people in pain. A woman came in at 8 p.m. with a cat that had only hours left. The woman insisted her cat could not die that day, the one-year anniversary of her last cat’s death. She said she didn’t know how she could drive home, but told McVety she wanted to leave the cat there, and asked the doctor to call when her pet was dead.

McVety told her she needed to stay. Her cat needed her. At 12:01 a.m., they put the cat to sleep. And the woman, who had the time she needed to say goodbye, was able to drive home. All she needed was for it to happen on her terms.

The doctor saw herself in the grieving pet owners who walked into the clinic night after night. She was a year or two into college when her childhood dog, Dusty, developed such severe arthritis she couldn’t stand. The family had to pick up the 80-pound Doberman, put her in the car and unload her at the clinic. McVety already had enough medical knowledge to know how much pain that caused Dusty.

She remembers walking into the waiting room and having to pass a bouncing puppy. Seeing the doctor for two or three minutes. Wishing she could hold her dog, but not being able to because of where the IV was placed.

Wanting to rip the tube out of her dog’s leg once it was over.

In August, she started a hospice practice. She settled on a name after watching a chihuahua die curled up in a woman’s lap.

She called it Lap of Love.

• • •

McVety runs her hand through the thick white fur of a German shepherd sprawled by the sliding glass door of a lakefront Pasco County home.

“He’s gorgeous,” McVety says.

His name is Rudy. He is 14 years old. He has arthritis, bad hips and tumors throughout his body. His hearing and sight have faded and he can’t stand up or hold his bladder. His family — Judy Turner, her husband and their 14-year-old son, Jacob — scheduled this visit weeks ago to fall on spring break.

They feel like they’ve waited too long.

They tell McVety about Rudy, the way he used to dip his paws in the swimming pool, as if he were soaking his nails. The way he used to squeeze out of the yard when they were gone, but return just before they got home. The way he wouldn’t go into the house before each one of them was inside, safe.

“He’s as old as I am in human years,” Jacob says. When they first met, he was a baby, and Rudy was a puppy.

McVety asks what they’d like inscribed on the box that will hold his cremains. Judy Turner begins to cry.

“My big old polar bear,” she says.

Turner finds her place on the floor, just over Rudy’s head. She leans over and rubs his belly.

“Yeah,” she tells him, “give us a grunt. Yeah, yeah, you’re a big old polar bear … “

McVety explains that the first injection will be a sedative. It startles Rudy, who gets restless. Turner holds him tight.

“That’s your back yard out there,” Turner says. “Look at that, chasing all those balls out there, bringing them back. You’re a good boy.”

Rudy slows down, his gaze fixed outside. The sky is a bright blue. Leaves swirl in the swimming pool. He begins to fall asleep.

McVety shaves a patch in one of his hind legs. It reminds Jacob of the time his dad cut Rudy a lion’s mane, and the time they sculpted his fur to look like a poodle.

“You sleepy, Rudy?” Turner asks. “You fallin’ asleep on me?”

It’s time.

“Please stop me if you don’t want to hear this,” McVety says. “The drug we use is sodium pentobarbital. It’s a drug overdose of pain medication. It’s very painless. It affects the brain before it affects the heart …

“I think he’s ready,” McVety says.

The last time the Turners put a dog to sleep, Jacob was a baby and Judy had to step out of the room to tend to him. By the time she returned, the dog was gone. The doctor hadn’t told them what was going to happen before it already had.

Turner answers, “I think he’s ready, too.”

Jacob stares at the pink fluid flowing into his dog as Turner keeps talking.

“You’re okay, buddy boy. You’re just fine. You always do things well … “

Rudy breathes deep.

“You’re such a dignified creature. Look at how dignified you are.”

He’s still.

“So well done, Rudy. So well done … “

McVety whispers, “He’s gone.”

• • •

(To read the rest of the article, click HERE.)

To find out more about home euthanasia and to locate a veterinarian in your area that provides this service, visit VetLocator.com and enter your zip into our Quick Search directory and click Search.  On the left of the page click on Advanced and select Home Euthanasia, then scroll to the bottom and enter your zip again.

Daily Paws

Recall Alert: Purina horse feed and poultry feed recall

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010


Purina Mills is voluntarily recalling two types of feed because of metal fragments found in the mixes.  There have been some complaints but no reports of injury or damage to animals has been reported yet.

Below is the FDA’s recall:

Purina Mills Undertakes Limited Recall of Strategy® Horse Feed and Layena® Poultry Feed

Jeanne Forbis: 651-481-2071 or 612-308-5441
David Karpinski: 651-481-2360

Products Distributed in Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky,Tennessee, Alabama, Indiana, Missouri and Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — St. Louis, Mo., April 16, 2010 — Purina Mills, LLC, is voluntarily recalling two specific lots of 50-pound bags of Strategy® Professional Formula GX horse feed and one lot of Layena® SunFresh® Recipe Pellet poultry feed. The recall is being implemented due to the discovery of metal fragments in a limited number of bags from one of the Strategy® product lots. At the time the recall was issued, five customer complaints had been received. No animal health issues had been reported.

The products being recalled were manufactured in Nashville, Tennessee, on March 24-25, 2010. They were shipped to retailers and dealers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri and Virginia.

Only the following specific products and lot numbers are involved in the recall:

Formula No. Item No. Description Lot Number
35SS 0066547 Strategy® Professional Formula GX 0MAR24NST1A1
35SS 0066547 Strategy® Professional Formula GX 0MAR24NST2A1
61R3 0056922 Layena® SunFresh® Recipe Pellet 0MAR25NST2A1

The lot number is found on the sewing strip of each bag and is interpreted as follows:
0=Year / MAR=Month / 24=Day of Month / NST1A1=Plant Code.

Customers with products that do not have the specified lot numbers are not affected by the recall.

Customers who have purchased the recalled products should not store or feed the products and are asked to return unused product to their dealer for replacement.

Customer questions or concerns may be directed to the company’s Nashville Customer Service Office at 800-424-5234.

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Cocoa mulch and your dog – not a good combination

Saturday, April 17th, 2010


Spring, gardens, mulch, fresh air, outside with our pets……YUM!   As Julie Andrews sang, “These are a few of my favorite things!”

As the urge to be outside in nature gets stronger, and you revel in the sights and sounds of the new life springing forth, be aware of some potential hazards that can harm your dog if you are not careful.  One of them is cocoa mulch – a product that has grown in popularity over the past several years because it looks great and smells delicious, just like cocoa.

Many dogs think so too, and there have been several occurrences of dogs getting ill and even dying after ingesting cocoa mulch.

Here is an excerpt on cocoa mulch from About.com:

Analysis: No question about it, chocolate and other products made from cacao beans — e.g., cocoa mulch — contain substances toxic to certain animals, including both dogs and cats. And the main culprit is indeed theobromine, a caffeine-like chemical which acts as a mild diuretic and stimulant in human beings but is poisonous to animals less well equipped to metabolize it.

Cocoa mulch, which consists mainly of cacao bean shells, contains a higher concentration of theobromine than chocolate processed for human consumption. Dogs are attracted to the scent and in documented cases have eaten the stuff, leading to vomiting, diarrhea, trembling, seizures and, in rare instances, death. While it’s equally toxic to cats, veterinarians say they are less likely to ingest cocoa products and therefore less at risk.

If you suspect your dog may have eaten cocoa mulch, the ASPCA recommends contacting your veterinarian immediately or calling the Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435 for expert advice.

Symptoms of Theobromine toxicity may include:

  • vomiting & diarrhea
  • trembling, acting nervous
  • seizures, muscle spasms
  • excessive thirst
  • unconsciousness
  • death – although this is rare

Most dog owners know not to give their dog or cat chocolate because they can die from it.  Now you know about cocoa mulch and to keep an eye on your dog when you are out and about with him or her.

Keeping our pets safe is something we take seriously 🙂

Daily Paws

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Recall Alert! Response Products recalls Cetyl M Joint Action Formula for Dogs

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

Cetyl M Dog

The FDA issued a recall alert for Response Products Cetyl M Joint Action Formula for Dogs because of possible Salmonella contamination. This is a voluntary recall by the company as a precaution only. No adverse effects have been reported thus far.

Below is the FDA’s official recall.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – April 12, 2010 – Response Products, Broken Bow, NE is voluntarily recalling Cetyl M for Dogs, lot numbers 1210903 and 0128010, due to a possible Salmonella contamination from the hydrolyzed vegetable protein component provided by Basic Foods of Las Vegas, NV. Tests conducted by Basic Foods to detect Salmonella produced negative results; however, Response Products has determined to recall the above-referenced lots.

People who handle dry pet food and/or treats can become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the chews or any surfaces exposed to these products. Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

Cetyl M for Dogs was distributed nation-wide through direct sales, retail stores, veterinarians and online retailers.

The above-referenced lots of Cetyl M for Dogs were distributed in either a 120-count bottle (shipped between January 8, 2010 and April 2, 2010) or a 360-count bottle (shipped between February 11, 2010 and April 2, 2010). The affected lot numbers are as follows: #1210903 and 0128010. The lot number can be found directly above the bar code on the label. These lots were sent out in the time periods as set out above. This product is in tablet-form, is approximately the size of a dime and is light brown in coloring.

To date, Response Products has received no reports of illness associated with the use of this product. Response Products recently learned that the FDA and Basic Foods of Las Vegas, NV, the producer of one of the components of the affected product’s vegetable beef flavoring, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, had detected Salmonella in Basic Food’s facility and had issued a recall on said component. The manufacturer of the vegetable beef flavoring used in Cetyl M for Dogs, tested the hydrolyzed vegetable beef protein for Salmonella and the results were negative. However, due to the concern regarding Salmonella in Basic Foods’ facility, it decided to recall two lots (only one lot affected our product) of said vegetable beef flavoring. The finished product manufacturer of Cetyl M for Dogs had tests performed on both the raw materials used to make our product and also the finished product, and all tested negative for Salmonella, however, it has issued a voluntary recall on two lots (see lot numbers listed above) of Cetyl M for Dogs.

Response Products requires that testing for Salmonella and other harmful pathogens is completed during the manufacturing process. Even though the testing performed at each level of the process showed negative results for Salmonella, in an effort to produce the highest quality product for our customers, Response Products ceased distributing the dog product in the above-referenced lots and is issuing a voluntary recall on its Cetyl M for Dogs in the affected lot numbers. In addition to the testing listed above, Response Products sent samples from said lots, as well as from lot produced after those lots, to an independent laboratory, and all samples received a negative result for Salmonella.

Response Products continues to investigate the cause of the problem and continues to be committed to producing a high-quality, effective product for dogs.

Consumers who have purchased the listed lots of Cetyl M for Dogs are urged to contact Response Products or the place of purchase for further direction. Consumers may contact Response Products at 1-877-266-9757, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm CST.

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Scratch-Scratch-Scratch…Uh Oh…. FLEAS!

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

My dog has fleas

My dog has fleas

Scratch scratch scratch….you see your pet scratching and immediately think “Uh oh…FLEAS!”

And chances are you’re right.

Recently there has been a lot of news and focus on fleas and ticks,  and there’s a lot in the news about the EPA getting involved in issuing guidelines and pulling products off the markets, leaving pet owners more confused than ever.

This article from the Veterinary Information Network titled “Lawsuits proliferate against makers of topical flea and tick products” is a must read for better understanding of what is happening and also looks at one of the victims who later filed a lawsuit against one of the flea and tick treatment manufacturers.

Lawsuits proliferate against makers of topical flea and tick products” (article opens in a new window)

So here’s some common sense advice and your options.

Flea and tick treatments basically break down into two major types:

#1 – Natural repellents which include oils, sprays, wipes, shampoos and collars.   While these normally won’t cause an adverse effect in your pets, they must be reapplied frequently – usually at a minimum of once a day if your pet goes outside, and they aren’t always effective in all cases.

#2 – Chemical repellents which includes prescription medication from your vet and online pharmacies and over-the-counter (i.e. those you can buy from the local grocery or pet store) treatments.  These are chemicals that are applied via one-spot treatments or sprays, shampoos, collars, powder, etc.

The one spots are the subject of the new EPA guidelines.  They are popular because they can effectively prevent a bad flea infestation on your pet through 1x a month application.  However, they can cause severe reactions and even death in some animals – as the VIN article mentions.

If you’ve elected to go with a natural repellent be prepared to do more to keep the fleas and ticks at bay.  One good suggestion is to treat your yard for fleas and ticks once or twice a season to keep the fleas out of your yard using something non-toxic like nematodes or other natural repellents. That way your pets aren’t picking up fleas when they go out into the yard.

We’ve had good success using a natural product using Cedar Oil.  The yard treatment keeps not only the fleas and ticks away but also cuts down on mosquitoes and other biters.  Then we spray our dogs in the morning before they go out and things work out well for everyone.

So, no matter which way you choose to go, getting the upper hand against fleas quickly, before they get out of hand, is a good policy to keep you and your pets happy and comfortable in this worse than normal flea season.