Tag: diets

VetSource – What’s that?

cat_fluffy_box_66380_1920x1200-700x437We all know that life can be chaotic at times. How often do you find yourself looking online to order something simply because you do not have the time to go to the store in person? There’s almost an online store for everything you could ever need nowadays. The same goes for your pet’s food, treats, toys, & even their prescriptions.

There are numerous places that you can order your pet’s supplies online, 1800PetMeds, chewy.com, even Amazon! While this is great & more than convenient, things get a little murky when it comes to prescription drugs, preventatives, & diets.

Given the growing impact that online pharmacies have had, it is our duty as your pet’s veterinarians to offer a safe place for you to order your pet’s prescriptions through. That’s where VetSource comes in.

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What is VetSource?

VetSource is the only industry-approved home delivery provider for your pet’s medications, foods, & other products. Their items come directly from the manufacturers, so you know exactly where your products have come from. While this may not be important for something like clothes or shoes that you’ve ordered online, it is absolutely crucial when it comes to prescriptions.

“Out of almost 12,000 websites that NABP (National Association of Boards of Pharmacy) reviewed, more than 95% of them operate out of compliance with pharmacy laws and practice standards that protect the public health.”
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When ordering from other places, the manufacturer cannot guarantee the authenticity of the product, that it was stored or handled properly, etc. So if there ends up being an issue with the product, the manufacturer isn’t able to help unless it was purchased through an authorized retailer. You’re then at the mercy of that site’s customer service department. This goes for human medications as well, not just pet products.

More options = Better medicine

While the safety of your pets is the primary reason we’ve decided to have a VetSource pharmacy, the wide array of available products was a close second. In clinic, we’re limited to what we can physically carry. If we decided to carry every brand of heartworm prevention there was, there would be no room for anything else in the clinic! But with VetSource, we’re able to offer medications, diets, preventatives, & other products that we would not be able to offer to you otherwise. We are also able to offer a wider variety of sizes on some products. Overall, this allows us to practice the best medicine that we can for your beloved pets.

All orders that contain a prescription item comes to us to approve before VetSource will ship it. This is to ensure that all of the information is correct: The product, size, quantity,  dosing instructions, & so on. This allows for us to approve a set number of refills for the item as well. Once we’ve approved it on our end, VetSource gets the green light to charge your card & ship out your items! You’re not charged until your item ships.

7820ae20aa9718218479f4e71147f410But wait, there’s more!

VetSource is able to offer discounts directly from the manufacturers. You can still receive rebates on your purchases on flea & heartworm prevention. There are even some discounts available on auto-shipped orders.

That’s right! You’re able to set up your pet’s prescriptions on an auto-shipping schedule. You place the order, select how often you would like for it to be shipped to your house, & that’s it! The product will ship out automatically for the amount of refills that it’s been approved for.

VetSource also offers a “Remind Me” program with your pet’s monthly preventatives. They will ship out a single dose of the preventative the same day of every month. This will come to you the same time every month & help as an added reminder to give the preventative. These have free shipping as well! You’re more than welcome to purchase full boxes if you would like, but this is a wonderful tool for those that need just a little extra help with remembering to give the product.

Most orders ship for free as well! Free shipping is offered on all diets, auto-ship orders, & on orders over $49.

Oh no – We’ve changed my dog’s food & I just placed an order!

That’s ok! Contact the VetSource customer service & they’ll be more than happy to help you out. They can help you change the product & also credit you back for anything that may have already been shipped out. Same goes for if your pet refuses to eat the food that was ordered. All Purina, Royal Canin, & Hill’s Science Diet foods have a 100% palatability  guarantee. If your pet, for whatever reason, declines to eat the food, you can get your money back. You don’t even have to go through the hassle of shipping the food back. You can either donate it to a shelter or dispose of it.

unleashed-paws-get-carded miniature-dachshund-in-a-mail-boxWhat if I don’t want to make an account?

No problem! We can process the order for you in clinic or over the phone. We can do a one-time order or set up auto-shipping for you. VetSource is designed to be an convenient as possible for our clients. However you want to do it, we can do it.

Does this mean I can’t purchase my pet’s ___________ from you anymore?

Not necessarily. However, this is the case with some products. Some products, such as Galliprant and Sileo Gel, are too expensive for us to carry in clinic. In some cases, VetSource is able to offer these products for less than we could.

We are working on downsizing the amount of food that we have on hand. So please be sure to call the clinic to check our stock before running out of food. The plan is to eventually only have the smaller bags of dry food & some cases of cans in clinic. Larger bags will eventually be discontinued in clinic & only available online for home delivery. This will allow for more room to have more options in clinic for your pet to try before ordering it online.

sBut not to worry! We make sure that any product that we decide to stop carrying in clinic is available through VetSource first! We also do our best to inform everyone about the decision ahead of time as well.

We’re very excited about this & we hope that you are, too! We want to offer the most for you & your pets. Check out our store & take a look around! You can also visit VetSource’s website for more information. If you have any questions or concerns, we’re happy to help!

By: Ashley Elliott

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The Lowdown on Food Allergies & Diets

1Is your pet having ongoing skin or gastro intestinal issues with unknown causes? Have you exhausted all the other causes such as infection, parasites, or anatomy issues? Is your pet’s Veterinarian now recommending a food trial? If so, below is the lowdown on food allergies, what exactly a food trial is, how to properly execute a food trial, and what food options there are.

 What is a food allergy?

A food allergy is an immune system reaction that occurs after eating a certain food. Ingredients in pet food may be combined or changed into substances recognized by the immune system as foreign invaders to be attacked. The target of this attack include the gastrointestinal (GI) tract or other organ systems, but in dogs and cats it is the skin that most often suffers the most. The classical signs of food allergies in pets can be itchy lesions on the face, limbs, anal area, and ears. Some other symptoms are ongoing diarrhea and/or vomiting. Symptoms start when the pet is less than 6 months old or starts when the pet is older then 5-6 years old. Food allergies can develop even if a pet has been eating the same food for years with no issues. It takes time for them to develop the allergy. Symptoms do not happen seasonally like with airborne allergens, they are always present.  It is also noted that corticosteroids do not help with most food allergy issues.

The pet food companies have done a great job of advertising “grain free” diets, but unfortunately the pet usually is having a reaction to both the protein and/or carbohydrate in the diet. Grains are not bad for our pets. There is no simple test to see exactly what is causing the reaction. To solve the problem the culprit must be removed from the pet’s world. This is why we do food trials.

What is a food trial?

Before beginning a food trial we want to make sure all other possible culprits have been ruled out (parasites, infections, anatomy issues). If there is any secondary skin infection from the lesions, they must be cleared before starting the trial.

A food trial is when a hypoallergenic diet is fed for a period of time deemed by your Veterinarian. If the symptoms resolve, you then switch the pet back to its original food for 2 weeks to see if the symptoms return. If we see relapse, it is recommended to return to the food trial diet and staying on the food indefinitely.

There are no other ways to diagnose a food allergy. Blood tests are not helpful. Blood tests can detect antibodies against certain food proteins but this does not mean that the pet has an allergy. It could just mean the pet has eaten that type of protein before.

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What is involved in a food trial?

Food trials are VERY strict in order to see accurate results and everyone in the household must be on board with the instructions. This means the pet shouldn’t have any other protein sources besides the test protein. This includes rawhides, flavored chew toys, flavored chewable medications including heartworm/flea preventions, flavored vitamins, and all treats. Chewable medications will need to be switched to non flavored tablets/capsules and chewable heartworm/flea preventions may need to be switched to a topical brand.

As stated above, the pet is put on a hypoallergenic diet for at least 3 months. No other food/treats can be fed. If symptoms resolve then the pet is put back on their original diet for 2 weeks. If symptoms resume then we can diagnose a food allergy. The pet can then return to the hypoallergenic diet indefinitely. Some owners opt to not go back to the original diet because they do not want their pet to go through the horrible symptoms again. They will just continue the food trial diet indefinitely.

A food trial is very easy in that all you have to do is feed the hypoallergenic diet, but owners tend to find it hard to not feed other treats. Owners will state that the food trial failed, but in reality they were not being as strict as needed.

What are current food trial options?

There are three different types of diets that can be used in a food trial: a novel protein, hydrolyzed protein, or a home cooked diet.

Novel proteins are most commonly used in food trials. They are diets that contain a single protein source and single carbohydrate source. The most important part of choosing a novel protein, is that it has to be one that the pet has never come in contact with before. For example if you choose a venison and sweet potato diet, the pet must not have eaten either one of these protein/carbohydrates in any other food (treats, dry food, canned, etc). It takes years for a pet to become allergic to a food source, so the pet should not be allergic to something new. Pet food companies are starting to make a huge variety of flavors of food/treats, so it can be very hard to find a diet for the pet if the owner tends to feed a variety of different flavored food/treats.

Examples of novel protein diets include venison and potato, fish and potato, egg and rice, duck and pea, and even kangaroo. Several of these diets have been released to the public markets, so it is very important to choose ingredients for the trial that is not found in the pet’s regular diet. Public markets tend to sell these novel protein food for a lot less then Veterinary prescription diets, but they cannot guarantee that there are no additional proteins mixed in. Contamination easily happens because the machines are not thoroughly cleaned with each new batch of food made. Veterinary prescription diets can guarantee that the product does not contain any contaminants. The the machines are thoroughly cleaned/disinfected between batches of food. Most Veterinary prescribed diets have a 100 percent guarantee. This means that if the pet does not like the food, it can be returned for a refund.

Hydrolyzed proteins are diets that contain the smallest amount of molecules of a protein so that the body cannot detect them.  Basically, the immune system is tricked into no longer recognizing the protein so it does not trigger a reaction. The downside of hydrolyzed protein diets is that it is not as palatable as it would be with the protein in its original form. Examples of hydrolyzed protein diets include Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d, Purina HA HypoAllergenic Canine Formula, Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Canine Hypoallergenic. These diets also have a 100 percent guarantee. If the pet does not like the food, then it can be returned for a refund.

Home cooked diets are rarely used in food trial diets. It can be very inconvenient for the owner to have to cook the pets every meal and important vitamins/minerals are easily left out of the diet. If an owner wants to pursue a home cooked diet a nutritionist should be involved so that they can make a balanced diet for the pet. Recipes for appropriate diets can be purchased through BalanceIt, rpetdiets.com, or by any nutritionist listed at the American College of Veterinary Nutrition web site.

So how do you find out exactly what protein/carbohydrate the pet is allergic to?

2The process to find out what exact protein/carbohydrate a pet is allergic to is not a simple task but it can be done. It can be a very lengthy process. To do this, you add a single/pure protein source (such as cooked chicken, tofu, wheat flour or any other single food) to the test diet with each meal. If the pet begins to show allergic symptoms within two weeks, then that protein source causes an allergic reaction. You must return to the test diet until the allergic symptoms stops and then you can try another pure protein source. If no symptoms show after two weeks of feeding a test protein, then the pet is not allergic to that protein.

What if a diet is unsuccessful?

To determine if a diet was truly unsuccessful we need to make sure the owner was 100 percent compliant (meaning they only fed the test food), parasites are under control, infections are under control, and that the food trial was done for long enough time. If all those boxes are checked, then it is strongly suggestive that an inhalant allergy is the culprit. If this is the case, biopsies by dermatologist is recommended.

By: Jamie McAfee

Sources:
Brooks, Wendy C. “Food Allergies.” Veterinary Partner, 2001,      http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=652

H, Heidi. “Royal Canin Veterinary Diet® Canine Selected Protein Adult PR Dry Dog Food.” Canine Selected Protein Adult PR Dry Dog Food | Royal Canin Veterinary Diet, 10 Aug. 2015,  http://www.royalcanin.com/products/royal-canin-veterinary-diet-canine-selected-protein-adult-pr-dry-dog-food/1396

“Allergy – Food Allergy in Dogs.” vca_corporate, vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/allergy-food-allergy-in-dogs

Clinical Nutrition Team. “What Every Pet Owner Should Know about Food Allergies.” Clinical Nutrition Service at Cummings School, 30 Jan. 2017, vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2017/01/food-allergies

https://www.hillspet.com

Welcome to The (Bladder) Stone Age

Bladder stones are no joking matter!
While kidney stones are fairly common, another type of stone that can develop are called bladder stones. These stones are made of the build-up of minerals in the urine that collect in the bladder, producing a single or multiple crystallized, rock-like structure(s). They can range in size, making them very difficult to pass on their own. These can be very painful and even damage parts of the urinary system.

Causes of bladder stones:
There are several causes attributed to bladder stones.

  1. Mineral Crystals: Urine that contains an abnormal amount of specific minerals can potentially form bladder stones. There minerals are magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and ammonia. These are all minerals that derive from our diet.
  2. Urine pH: pH is an indicator of how acidic a liquid is. The urine of cats and dogs are typically acidic, meaning that they have a lower urine pH. An abnormal pH reading is a good indicator of an infection.
  3. Bacteria: Some stones are caused by bacteria in the urine. Bacteria in the urine can be discovered by running a culture & sensitivity plate. The urine is spread across a culture plate and placed in an incubator. If there are any bacteria present, it will grow on the plate and the doctor will determine what the best antibiotic would be for the patient. Bacterial infections can alter the pH of the urine, which can lead to crystal formation.
  4. Abnormal Metabolism of Minerals: A pet’s system can inappropriately be metabolizing the minerals leading to the formation of crystals in the urine. Some breeds are more prone to this than others.

The stones can develop anywhere between weeks or over a period of months. The rate of growth can be anywhere between a couple weeks or a few months depending on the crystals present or the degree of infection.

Symptoms:
The typical symptoms of bladder stones can be straining to urinate or only producing small amounts of urine frequently. Blood may even be visible in a pet’s urine as well. Sometimes, a pet will be noticeably uncomfortable during urination, appearing lethargic or unwilling to eat or drink.

Diagnosis:
To diagnose bladder stones, a veterinarian will typically perform a urinalysis. The urinalysis will give information regarding the pH, increased white blood cells, protein and bacteria which will aid in diagnosis. The presence of crystals will alert the veterinarian to do further testing.

The presence of crystals can indicate that a bladder stone is growing or is already present. Some bladder stones can be felt during a physical exam by your veterinarian but typically, your veterinarian will request radiographs or an ultrasound to be performed to confirm a potential diagnosis of bladder stones.

stonesTreatment:
After a confirmed diagnosis of bladder stones, your veterinarian will decide how to proceed. Some stones are able to be broken down with medication or specific kidney diets but more often than not, surgery to remove the stones will be performed so as to prevent further pain to the pet. Surgery can be performed either with a laser to break down the stones or through surgical removal of the stones.

Specifically in male dogs, the stones can get lodged in their urethra, causing immense pain. These stones cannot pass on their own and will need to be removed through flushing and subsequent surgical removal.

After the stones are removed, your veterinarian will recommend sending the stones out to a laboratory for further testing so as to ascertain what type of minerals are present

Case at TLC Animal Hospital:
We had a patient this past year who was diagnosed with bladder stones. Dr. Richardson was the attending surgeon and removed the bladder stones during a cystotomy surgery. The pictures are shown below. We are pleased to say that the patient has made a full recovery and is being monitored for prevention of re-occurrence.

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Prevention of re-occurrence:
After surgery, your veterinarian will recommend prevention of further stones. While some pets can achieve this through a diet formulated to promote kidney health, others may require long-term medication. This will depend on the type of dog and also what type(s) of crystals are removed. Some breeds can be predisposed to formation of stones no matter what prevention is taken and should be placed on a medication regimen. The veterinarian will advise on what they think is best. Pets may need to come in periodically to recheck or culture their urine and bladder x-rays to monitor the kidney function.

Always make sure that your pet has access to fresh water and the ability to go to the bathroom. This can go a long way to preventing recurrence. Pet food that has more moisture will increase the amount of water that your pet receives and minimize crystal formation.

Sources:
https://www.lbah.com/word/canine/bladder-stones/
https://www.vetwest.com.au/pet-library/bladder-stones-in-dogs
https://www.acvs.org/small-animal/urinary-stones

By: Madison Cole