Human medication can threaten pets
• Medication meant for people, both prescribed and over-the-counter, had the dubious honor of being the top-ranked pet poison for 2009, according to calls to the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (www.ASPCA.org/APCC). Last year nearly 46,000 calls involved medications meant for people. At No. 2 on the list was insecticides, with 29,000 calls. The most common poisoning problem with these particular products was the misuse of flea and tick medications, typically a cat made ill by the use of a product meant for dogs. Food items ranked third, with 17,000 calls about common food toxins, including chocolate, grapes, raisins, avocado and products with the sweetener Xylitol, a common ingredient in gum. Rounding out the list were plants, including lilies, which are extremely poisonous to cats, and the improper use of veterinary prescriptions.
• North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine requires all veterinary students to complete training in disaster response. According to DVM360.com, the students are taught to work with both people and animals in disasters and learn skills such as setting up mobile animal shelters located near emergency shelters for displaced people. They also learn how to respond to an epidemic in animals and stop the spread of disease that may jump to people.
• Rabbits rejoice! The first eight veterinarians to earn a new specialty certification in rabbits and other small mammals have completed their training. The new “exotic” specialists have extra training in treating the maladies of common small pets, not only rabbits but also hamsters, rats and other “pocket pets.”
• A gene in dogs has been linked to compulsive disorder. A 10-year study at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine found that Dobermans with compulsive tendencies had a higher frequency of a risk-associated genetic marker compared with normal members of the breed. The research may allow for earlier intervention for obsessive compulsive behavior, as well as treatment or prevention of compulsive disorders in both dogs and humans.
— Dr. Marty Becker and
Mikkel Becker Shannon