Monday, February 17, 2014

CATS and Onions and Garlic--big NO NO! Cats are curious All members of the onion family (shallots, onions, garlic, scallions, etc.) contain compounds that can damage cats’ red blood cells if eaten in sufficient quantities. Garlic tends to be more toxic than onions on an ounce-for-ounce basis, and cooking does not destroy the toxin. While it’s uncommon for cats to eat enough raw onions and garlic to cause serious problems, exposure to concentrated forms of onion or garlic, such as dehydrated onions, onion soup mix or garlic powder, can put cats at risk of toxicosis (poisoning). For example, some sick cats who are fed baby food containing onion powder develop anemia. The damage to red blood cells caused by onions and garlic generally doesn’t become apparent until three to five days after ingestion. Affected cats might seem weak or reluctant to move, or they might have pale gums. Their urine can be orange-tinged to dark red. Cats with any of these symptoms should be examined by a veterinarian immediately. In severe cases, blood transfusions may be necessary. Often when cats get sick owners try “anything’ to get their cats to eat. The cat may not be eating due to kidney disease or fever or neoplasia or liver disease. But now the owner has introduced a new problem but knowingly adding the onions to the list. Owners just look at the front of the label “chicken, yes she loves chicken” but human foods are rarely just one ingredient. Always read the back label. Calling your DVM is the best choice of course. There are many appetizing safe foods offered by clinics. But, generally a cat that is not eating should have an exam.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Why Do You Have a Dog

What compels people get a dog only to keep it isolated outside, away from the family? I have often wondered this as I walk my dogs down streets lined with fences behind which lonely outdoor dogs bark as we go by. I don't know what they look like and can only guess their size by the deepness of their voices. But I know what the lives of these dogs are too often like. They are animals born to be part of a social structure, a pack or a family, yet this is denied them. They spend their lives on the outside, looking in. The experts say many of these dogs will never really bond with owners who interact with them so little.When the puppy is no longer cute and the children grow tired of the care they promised to provide, when the destructiveness escalates or the neighbors complain about the noise, it's often just easier to dump the dog than solve the problem. I have always had difficulty understanding why people want to keep dogs outside. If keeping a beautiful house and yard are of the utmost importance to you, then don't get a dog. If you know someone in your family can't abide a dog in the house, for whatever reason, then don't get a dog. If you can't let a dog be part of your family, then don't get a dog. You don't get the benefits of companionship from a dog you see so little. You don't even get much in the way of protection from the pet who has no access to the house. And don't count on outdoor dogs as an early warning system. These animals often become such indiscriminate barkers that you couldn't tell from their sound whether the dogs are barking at a prowler or at a toddler riding a tricycle down the street. Besides, people who keep outdoor dogs seem to become quite good at ignoring the noise they make, as any angry neighbor can vouch. f you have a dog who has been banished because of behavior problems, find someone to help you turn the situation around. Ask your veterinarian for a referral to a behaviorist or trainer who can show you how to overcome the things that are driving you crazy, whether it's house-soiling, uncontrolled chewing or just the ill-mannered exuberance of a dog who doesn't know any better.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pet Talk: Oregon veterinarians concerned about prescription errors at retail, online pharmacies

Recently I was interviewed by Monique Balas from the Oregonian. My interview layed out cocerns that over 1/3 of Oregon DVM s have which is error in pharmacies filling prescriptions. With in the Veterinary clinic many safeguards are taken. I type the prescription, print a label which I read, then reach for the medication and read that label, write in a log the information which I sign and date, then look at the bottle again, count the pills ( or whatever it may be) and finish the processing. When the medication is presented to the client the label is read outloud to the client and if there are any errors there have been 6 steps to double check human error. Please read this link . There are many facets to the topic. On-line pharmacies are so removed from the process that errors are statisically bound to happen. What is your opinion?

Dr. Becky Marks

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

New World of Animal Care

As we all know (too well) the income for the majority of people has either flattened or decreased. Where does the money come from to pay for the increase in your regular bills (food, gas, insurance)? And where does the money come from to take of your pet? Here are some ideas.

Plan ahead. While this seems to be a very basic idea it works if your are committed and consistent. Consider setting a "pet care" jar on the kitchen counter for all spare coins and a regular contribution such as $30.00  a month. Or open a savings account on-line that automatically deducts from your checking every month. You may have a goal of $500 or $1000 --then you can stop. Or use this for the annual care of your pet and you won't feel the pinch.

Pet Insurance is a better "product" than it used to be. You can expect better coverage and more thorough categories than in the past. Trupanion is one company we have really come to like. You can start with a 30 day free trial. Go to this link and sign up--now!!   call us for an activation number. No obligation. If your puppy breaks his leg--you are covered (not 100%) but very good coverage. You will need to follow through at the end of the 30 days if you want to purchase a policy.

Credit Card for medical care are very popular. The criteria are different for qualifying. The idea is that a "better customer" would be applying for this type of card which can be used for medical care such as Lasik, Dental, Cosmetic and Pet Care. On this premise the interest rates are MUCH better because the company has lower risk.

As veterinarians we know how difficult it can be when illness or tragedy strikes. As a business , our bills go up daily just your personal bills. We strive to keep the costs low. This may mean using an off-site pharmacy, having fewer staff than in the past and sometimes fewer choices in treats or shampoos, etc. However, the quality and type of care are always  preserved for your pet. We are working with you.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Diagnosing Ear Problems  
 Ear problems are complicated
The appointment arrives. This is a Labrador that has a big problem. The right ear is blown up like a little balloon. It happened overnight. "Is it a tumor" the owner queries? I have the patient in the room . This is a dog that has had no history of ear problems before. She is 3 years old and has had some big changes since her exam a year ago. The ear indeed looks like a little pillow but in fact it is a pocket with the ear flap of blood, a hematoma. The ear canals are both dry, odorous and have excessive gray waxy debris. The ears look "old" so to speak . The diagnosis begins by performing the exam. Since the ears are an extension of the skin , often there are other dermatologic (skin) issues. Facial rubbing, red lips, feet licking, scooting the itchy anus, chronic infections are all examples of allergies or food reactions. A sample of the ear debris is examined under the microscope for evaluation of possible bacteria, yeast, mites , blood, and other cells.This dog had a mixture of 3 types of bacteria and some yeast. Skin samples may need to be exampled. In this case the lab had signs of feet licking but actual lesions. The ear treatment in this case is 3 fold. 1. First the ear "pillow" will require a surgery to correct the blood pocket. Through the years many quick fixes have been tried but there is still only one treatment. Surgically open the ear, remove the clot and sew multiple sutures (stitches) in a series of somewhat random locations which appear like an old fashioned ticked mattress. The animal has to be anesthetized for this procedure. 2.The ear canal is thoroughly examined and lavaged. Aural antibiotics, oral antibiotics and some choice of medication for the underlying allergy component ( cortisone, antihistamines, cyclosporine) and 3. the hopeful identification of the allergan. Most often it is food which can be identified by the doctor's experience. The owner mentioned the dog has been on the same food for 2 years. That doesn't make a difference. Allergies generally don't reveal themselves until the dog is 3 years or older. I believe this is in-line with the end of their full growth and time for the immune system to start deciding "what it likes and doesn't like" on a repeated basis. The surgery heals in about 3 weeks. The infection is resolved in about 3 weeks. The response to a new food can take up to 4 months. This dog has a great chance for managing the allergy as long as the owner is willing to stay with the appropriate diet.

Saturday, March 31, 2012


I frequently get asked what a pet owner can do about arthritis to help their dogs and cats (yes they get arthritic,too) . My first answer is ,"there is nothing in your house or medicine cabinet safe for you pet". The second answer is,"lots" you can do. I hope you like the library article. Have a great day!

Arthritis in dogs and cats

Aging of the body occurs  in all areas. Sometimes there is organ failure, sometimes there is mental failure and sometimes it is mobility failure. The most common mobility failure is arthritis in dogs and cats.
Mobility is defined as "the quality or state of being mobile".  In our companion pets the joints are the most common areas to become limited.  The joints can become damaged over time and lost there conformation.  The lining of the joints should include cartilage to produce joint fluid and a smooth surface for movement, inter joint space free of infection or boney changes and good blood flow to provide nutrition to the joints. In big dogs and certain breeds of cats the aging of the hips is the anticipated site of damage. Once aging and degradation occur it is referred to osteoarthritis(OA).
There are factors that contribute to osteoarthritis for example obesity, lack of good exercise, poor diet, environment and genetics. Genetics can't be readily controlled. Often when purchasing a large breed dog (labrador, shepherd, danes) owners will inquire if the dog has come from "good hips". There are certifications from OFA and PennHIP to identify the parent dog with excellent hips decrease the likelihood of problems in their offspring. Throughout the dogs lifetime  regular exercise on soft surfaces is a healthy choice. Cats have osteoarthritis of the hips related to obesity, lack of exercise, poor diet, environment  and genetics just like dogs. Siamese cats and the Maine Coon are highest on the list.
Radiographs (x-rays) are the most common way to diagnose OA. An exam can be very helpful but not pinpoint for a diagnosis. What if your pet has OA? Well, weight reduction can be an easy and inexpensive step. There are joint diets that have high levels of fatty acids to reduce inflammation, higher protein for weight loss--I am referring to J/d by Hill's. It works well. For dogs there are several nutriceutical products that have no side effects and are a great choice for early stages of OA. For example Dasaquin which is a combination glucoseamine/chondroitin sulfate/MSM/saponin product. This stimulates the cartilage cells to produce more joint fluid and reduce some scar tissue.  If there is no cartilage left then it won't work on that particular joint but does help the other joints.
The next drug category is non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. (NSAIDS). There are DOG ( I emphasized that word) prescriptions medications to reduce pain and inflammation.  They have more side effects so the liver and kidney function should be monitored. The more immediate side effects are vomiting/diarrhea.However, they work well and can be tolerated for long periods of time. The addition of other products for pain control can be multimodal. These prescription medications help more directly with pain and not inflammation.There are limitations in this group for the feline patients.
Last hope for dogs and cats that can barely walk is the cortisone. While it does have numerous negative side effects it can be the very last hope for many patients.  If there are pre-existing problems such as heart disease, kidney disease or severe dental infection it may not be used .
Seeking veterinary help early is key to the problems of OA.  And remember trhoughout your pets lifetime keep the weight off so you can keep OA pushed away.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Heartworm Disease

Heartworm disease in the NW United States just isn't very common. We are fortunate. The statistics in 1991 estimated that dogs were at a 3 % risk of the mosquito transmitted disease. The jump in the last few years has the estimates as high as 15%. Why? Well, the most likely influence was the event of Hurricane Katrina. People and their pets were displaced. Some of the temporary transplants came to the NW and were lent a helping hand. The animals that went through the veterinary clinics and the Humane Societies were tested. Not everyone got to take there pets through these avenues. They had a high probability of being positive and provided the simple nidus of infection to kickstart the disease. The disease is simple (very simple) to prevent. If the dog (rarely cats are treated or infected) is under 6 months old then a once monthly treatment can be started. If they are over 6 months they need to tested first and if negative the preventative is started. If the dog is positive ( has the infection) then injections of Arsenic must be injected into the back. The treatment carries some risk. In our practice we have treated 2 pets that were positive. When I lived in the midwest we treated pets all the time. Trust me prevention is the way to go. More on the symptoms next time.