Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Another Word on Pain, Dangerous Peanut Butter, Compounding and more ...

Dear Pet Owners: Stop saying your pet doesn’t hurt!

I see this all the time. Many people under-estimate pain in their dogs. "But he's still eating," or "He's not in pain because he doesn't cry." Short of acute, intense pain or severe pain in the spine, dogs are not likely to cry. Jasmine went through all kinds of pain. She only cried right when she busted her knee ligament and when she had her neck issues.

Chronic pain, regardless of how intense, is quiet. Quiet but not invisible. Any change in behavior or routine can have pain behind it. Did your dog become cranky? Passing on doing things they'd normally enjoy? Appears more tired than usual? Not getting up on their favorite spot on the bed? Seeking solitude? Not getting up as fast as they used to? Avoiding play or certain activities? Limping? Not eating as well? Then they're likely in pain and you need to do something about it.

Chronic pain is at least as harmful as any pain medication. There are also ways to manage pain that don't involve drugs, such as cold laser therapy, acupuncture, hydrotherapy ... There are herbs and there is a new pain medication out there which is very safe, CanineActiv.

What you may or may not need to do to manage your dog's pain depends on how much pain there is. Sometimes NSAIDs are needed. Sometimes even narcotics are needed.

Whatever you're going to do about your dog's pain, don't not do something.

Would You Trust Your Pet’s Care to a Veterinary Physician Assistant?

That is a loaded question, isn't it? I don't even trust my dogs' care to any random veterinarian. Our dogs' vet is always carefully hand-picked and even then I always do my research, get second opinions and ask around about any serious issue.

What does the term veterinary physician assistant mean? The idea stems from the shift to corporate model of veterinary practice. Veterinary PAs would be graduates of a college Master's Degree program, who would diagnose and recommend treatment for simple ailments or refer to veterinary consultation for more extensive diagnosis and treatment.

This should expedite care, save time and money. It would help areas that are presently without adequate veterinary care.

Good idea or not? I think it depends.

Clearly, in areas where there isn't a veterinary hospital it would be a great improvement.

Having taken care of your dog's pimple, tick (yes, many people go to see a vet to have a tick removed), broken nail and other straightforward problems quickly and easily is a good thing too.

That said, the word corporate alone when it comes to my dogs' care doesn't go over well with me. I have enough experience with corporate approach to worry about it. I strongly prefer having a vet who is the equivalent of family doctor. One vet who knows my dogs and their medical history. Even as it is now, there are times that issues are dealt with individually, without taking the big picture into consideration. But with many things, the big picture is all important. Yeah, anybody can prescribe drops for an ear infection. But who is going to look at why ear infections keep being a problem? Who is going to look for the root of the problem? Would I be able to insist to see a veterinarian or would I depend on whether or not the veterinary PA deems it necessary?

I'd be cool with having veterinary PAs as long as the decision about the type of care I want for my dog remains my decision.

Embrace Compounding – Stop Shoving Pills Down The Throat!

I couldn't even count how many pills we shoved down Jasmine's throat. She wouldn't buy any of the ways of hiding them in treats. She was one of the dogs who actually chewed all her food. The first time we hid a pill in it, she found it and we stood no chance. She couldn't be fooled. Showing pills down her throat was the only way of getting them into her. At one time she was getting 13 pills in the morning and 15 in the evening. She didn't like having them shoved down either but put up with it quite well, actually, though she liked to cheek them sometimes. It took a real skill do get them to go where they should.

I never heard of compounding until I started listening to the Radio Pet Lady Network.

Compounding pharmacies. The magical place where they can take any medication and turn it into a a yummy treat your dog will gladly accept. A dream come true.

Would likely have been a problem with Jasmine anyway, because she had multiple food allergies and we had to be extremely careful even about her supplements. Because of her IBD was also quite a picky eater and not many things could pass her approval. But that was Jasmine. For most dogs, I think this is an awesome solution. I

Compounding can also help with accurate dosing. I remember taking apart capsules with Jasmine's pain medication and trying to measure out a half or a quarter of the powder inside. I remember trying to cut tiny little pills into even tinier little pieces. It wasn't pretty and it most definitely wasn't all that accurate.

If your dog is on medication and you have a hard time giving it to them, ask your vet about compounding.

Companion Animal Parasite Council Releases its Annual Parasites Forecasts

Parasites, who doesn't hate them?

The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) has released its annual parasite forecasts. These forecasts indicate the probability of four major parasite-transmitted diseases - Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis and heartworm.
  • Lyme disease is a high threat in the New England and mid-Atlantic states and continues to spread westward with a higher than average risk forecast for the Upper Ohio Valley area and the Pacific Northwest.

  • The risk of ehrlichiosis, most common in the South, also appears to be a threat as far north as New England, as well as California and the Southern Plains states.

  • Anaplasmosis is predicted to be highly active in the Great Lakes states and New England.

  • Heartworm disease consistent threat in the warmer Sunbelt states. The forecast also predicts a higher than normal threat of heartworm infection in the Upper Midwest states of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Visit CAPS for parasite prevalence maps.

Peanut Butter Safe For Dogs? Please Beware – Some Could Be Deadly!

Do you give your dog peanut butter? I do. Yummy, popular and nutritious dog treat. Except when it isn't.

As many as five peanut and nut butters on the market now contain xylitol. This sugar substitute is highly toxic to dogs and it's making its way into more and more products all the time.

As little as 0.1 gram of xylitol per kilogram of body weight (0.1 g/kg) can cause a rapid and dangerous drop in a dog’s blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Hypoglycemia can show as staggering, appearing disoriented, collapse, weakness, and seizures.

Be safe, read the labels. Read the labels on everything before giving it to your dog. Including OTC medications, including peanut butter.


  1. Not to underplay the prevalence of heartworm here in Michigan but I though we'd be higher up on the map. Every rescue I know has multiple dogs at any given time being treated for it; so frustrating because it's preventable.

    And that Pawcurious article was great - thanks for the awesome roundup.

    I was so annoyed when I found out about the new peanut butter containing xylitol - all the other brands are doing fine without that sweetener..

    1. Something always changes ... and usually it's not for better. We have sugar in about everything; one day we might have xylitol in everything instead.


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