Archive for the ‘Veterinary Medicine’ Category

Aug 20, 2021

National Bring Your Cat to the Vet Day

Posted by Bob under Cats, Veterinary Medicine

Hello fellow cat lovers! Did you know August 22nd is National Bring Your Cat to the Vet Day? This is a day to remind cat owners of the importance of routine check-ups and the perfect opportunity to schedule your cat’s routine exam if needed! Of course, most of us know that taking some cats to the vet can be a stressful experience for both cat and owner alike. Thus, we would like to share some helpful information about ways to potentially reduce stress leading up to your cat’s exam and also ways in which to prepare.

Cat Ownership and Veterinary Visits in the U.S.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), in 2017-2018 over 25% of the households in the United States owned cats. With over 30 million households owning an average of 1.8 cats, that means there were nearly 60 million family cats in the United States at the time of the AVMA’s pet ownership survey. That is a lot of cats! That being said, additional statistics from the AVMA indicate that dogs in the United States visit veterinarians more frequently than cats. There are likely a number of reasons for this, one of which may be related to the stress on your cat when visiting the vet.

Ways to Reduce Stress When Taking Your Cat to the Vet

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) has provided some helpful information to help both cat owners and cats be more prepared and feel less anxious about vet visits. The AAFP lists five ways to reduce stress when taking your cat to the vet. The first is carrier acclimation. Rather than storing the carrier in the back of your closet, keep it out in an area where your cat spends a lot of time. Add familiar bedding and toys and cover it with a blanket or towel. This will let your cat know the carrier doesn’t have to be a scary place and can actually be comfortable!

Other methods to reduce stress on your cat involve food. The AAFP states that withholding food from your cat for several hours before traveling can help to avoid motion sickness. That being said, you should consider consulting with your vet before withholding food from elderly or sick cats. On the flip side, you can bring your cats favorite treats along and use these as a reward or distraction to help reduce any stress your cat may experience at the vet. Bringing along some of your cat’s favorite toys or familiar bedding can also help your cat feel more comfortable.

There is also the option of anti-anxiety medication. While this shouldn’t be a first resort for all cats, some cats may never feel comfortable at the vet, no matter how many treats and toys you provide. Speak to your veterinarian if you think your cat may benefit from anti-anxiety medication when going in for a check-up.

Ways to Prepare for Your Cat’s Vet Visit

One important way to prepare for your cat’s vet visit is actually stated above: leave the carrier out with familiar bedding and toys. While it may take some time for your cat to become comfortable with the carrier, it can make getting your cat into the carrier easier when the time comes to leave for the vet. Another way to prepare is to jot down any questions or concerns you have regarding your cat. This will help to expedite the visit and will also help you not forget anything when speaking to the vet. Additionally, it may be helpful to compile and bring any previous medical records for your cat.

For more helpful tips from AAFP, visit their website.

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Apr 23, 2021

April 24th is World Veterinary Day

Posted by Bob under COVID-19, Veterinary Medicine

World Veterinary Day is an annual holiday created by the World Veterinary Association (WVA) to “…promote the veterinary profession and work on improving animal and human welfare, the environment, food safety, animal transport, and quarantine.” It is celebrated on the last Saturday of every April and this year is the 20th anniversary of its first celebration. Each year there is a theme and this year’s theme is, “Veterinarian Response to the COVID-19 Crisis.”

The year 2020 brought some serious challenges, and many people stepped up in exceptional ways to meet those challenges. Veterinary professionals were among those people. Animals did not stop needing care, and in fact, so many dogs and cats were adopted from shelters in 2020 that some shelters were completely emptied out at times! In addition, pet owners brought their existing pets to the vet more often in 2020 than they had in the past. Pet owners reported that quarantine and social distancing from other humans changed their relationship with their pets by fostering the human-animal bond and thus, they were more attune to their pet’s health needs. This meant that veterinary visits increased during a time when staff were being furloughed and social distancing was mandated. Veterinarians responded as they always do, with grace and fortitude. They navigated these uncharted waters by developing curbside service, telemedicine platforms, and fought for the right to be considered essential workers so they could keep the doors open for animals in need. Veterinary professionals forged ahead with the difficult task of maintaining a high level of pet care while trying to keep themselves, their staff and pet owners safe and healthy during a time of ever-changing rules and regulations.

Veterinarians also demonstrated the breadth of their caregiving spirit during this past year. They donated supplies to the human medical community, including PPE and respiratory ventilators early in the pandemic when resources were scarce, critical illness rates were high, and the disease was spreading rapidly. Then in April 2020, Great Britain called for assistance from their veterinarians to act as respiratory assistants. New York City asked veterinarians to care for the bodies of those who passed, ensuring they were treated with dignity and respect. And more recently, veterinarians in the United States have been authorized to administer COVID vaccines to their fellow humans in need, prompting the USDA to swiftly deploy their vets to aid in this monumentally important endeavor.

Equally as important as all the brave souls in the typical clinical practice setting, were the veterinarians that the public might not think of when they think of a “vet.” Agricultural veterinarians continued to make sure our food sources were safe and remained in steady supply. Veterinary pathologists, virologists, and epidemiologists diagnosed, studied, and reported on COVID-19 infections in animals, helping to assure the public that pets were considered a low risk for spreading the disease to humans. Veterinary medical school professors, like other teachers, found new ways to train their students when they could not be together in the classroom or the hospital. Government and private sector-employed laboratory veterinarians were among those in the medical and pharmaceutical fields working tirelessly to create COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. Veterinarians in the biotechnology field, such as veterinarian led VetStem, promoted the “One Health” sometimes termed, “One Medicine” concept by collaborating with the human medical community and sharing their wealth of knowledge about coronaviruses across different animal species. You can learn more about One Health here. To that end, VetStem Biopharma and sister company, Personalized Stem Cells, jumped into action in 2020, gaining FDA approval to begin a clinical trial treating human COVID-19 patients with stem cells. By March 2021 we celebrated the successful treatment of nine people who had been significantly afflicted with the disease. These patients had all been in a hospital ICU, and after receiving intravenous (IV) treatments with stem cells, they all made it back home to their families. This is a relatively small number of patients, but the results are certainly promising.

Despite the chaos, uncertainty, and heartbreak that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to this world, veterinarians have been steadfast in their dedication to promote the health and safety of all beings on this Earth, and I can honestly say that I have never been more proud to be a member of this special group of people.

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Feb 12, 2021

Platelet Therapy in Veterinary Medicine

This week, we have a special guest blog about platelet therapy use in veterinary medicine from Dr. Amber Vibert. Dr. Vibert is VetStem’s Safety and Technical Services Veterinarian and has extensive experience in both general and emergency veterinary medicine.

Platelet Therapy in Veterinary Medicine

I’m very excited to have the opportunity to contribute to our blog today! As VetStem’s new clinical veterinarian, I’m here to give you an added layer of information from a medical perspective. Today I’d like to share with you the capabilities of wonderous cells called platelets. You may have heard the term “Platelet Rich Plasma” (PRP) or “Platelet Enhancement Therapy” (PET) and wondered, “What are platelets and how does this treatment work, exactly?” We have showcased several success stories of pets who have received platelet therapy and now it’s time to look at the science behind the medicine and applications for which they can be used.

Activated platelets releasing their healing molecules

Good Things Come in Small Packages

Platelets are very small cells found in the blood stream of mammals and are best known for their ability to clot the blood. However, there is SO MUCH MORE these tiny but powerful cells can do! A complex signaling system sent out from damaged cells attracts platelets to an injury and tells them to release several healing molecules that they have stored inside of them. In turn, these healing molecules attract a multitude of additional healing cells (including stem cells) to the site of injury or inflammation. Together, these cells have been shown to reduce pain, remove the damaged cells, build new blood vessels, prevent further tissue damage, and generate new healthy cells in place of the injured ones. Amazing!

What Can These Heroes of Healing Be Used For?

In veterinary medicine, platelet therapy is most often used for treatment of joint-related problems such as cruciate ligament tears, osteoarthritis and tendon injuries in dogs, cats, and horses. However, recent research has shown that PRP/PET can also aid in the healing of skin wounds, corneal (eye) ulcers, surgical incision sites, tooth sockets following extraction, and even muscle tears. And the use of platelet therapy is not just limited to our animal companions. You may have heard of NFL players who have received PRP/PET for tendon/ligament injuries and muscle tears. Platelet therapy can also be used in conjunction with stem cell therapy to maximize the effect of both treatments.

A dog receives an injection of platelet therapy into her injured knee
A canine patient receives an injection of platelet therapy into her injured knee

Harnessing the Power of Platelets

The functions of platelets may be complex, but their collection and administration is quite simple. A calculated amount of blood is drawn based on the patient’s size/weight. The blood sample is then either spun in a machine called a centrifuge or injected through a special filter such as VetStem’s V-PET™ gravitational filter system in order to separate the platelets from other blood cells. The final product is a highly concentrated number of platelets suspended in the protein-rich fluid component of the blood called plasma. This solution is then injected (or topically applied as with skin wounds or surgical incisions) to the injury site. And voila! There you have platelet therapy- another way to enhance the body’s own power to heal.

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Jun 18, 2020

June 18th is Veterinary Appreciation Day™

Posted by Bob under Veterinary Medicine

June 18th is a special day for those of us in the veterinary field. In 2015, Trupanion created Veterinary Appreciation Day™ to recognize and honor veterinary professionals. From the veterinary receptionists and front desk teams to the animal care team, technicians and doctors, veterinary professionals are a dedicated and hardworking bunch of individuals.

While human doctors and nurses often specialize in one field of medicine, veterinary doctors and technicians practice several areas of medicine. Veterinarians, with support from their team, examine and diagnose patients with many different conditions, perform radiography, provide hematologic (blood) analysis, prescribe medication, and perform an array of surgeries and dental prophylaxis. Also, veterinarians are trained to treat more than just one species and none of their patients can tell them what is wrong! Your veterinary hospital is likely a one-stop-shop for all of your pet’s basic needs.

However, some veterinarians pursue advanced training to specialize in fields such as surgery, neurology, ophthalmology, or internal medicine. Veterinary specialists tend to have a wider breadth of knowledge and experience in their specific field of expertise and can often provide diagnoses and services that general practitioners may not be able to. For instance, your regular veterinarian may not have an MRI machine, or they may not be experienced in some of the more advanced orthopedic surgeries.

One thing remains consistent however: veterinarians and their teams are compassionate and dedicated to the health and wellbeing of their patients. For this reason, compassion fatigue is a real and serious concern that may affect veterinary professionals. Working in a veterinary hospital is not all puppy kisses and kitten cuddles. Often, veterinary staff are faced with tough situations which can be emotionally exhausting. Long hours and strenuous physical work can add to the stress that veterinary professionals face.

With the current COVID-19 pandemic, veterinary professionals are under more stress than ever. As essential workers, many veterinary teams have continued to care for our pets amid various shelter-in-place orders. Many veterinary hospitals modified their services, providing only medically necessary procedures. Veterinary team members have donned masks, protective gowns, and/or gloves, and likely visited with their clients and their furry family members in the parking lot, as opposed to the clinic lobby.

Though veterinary work comes with challenges, most veterinarians and their staff continue to love what they do. Helping animals and their owners is very gratifying and can give one the sense of making a difference, something many of us strive to do. Thus, if you have a moment today, take the time to thank your veterinarian and their team. A simple note of thanks can make a huge difference in one’s day!

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