Oct 29, 2021

Cats Are Not Small Dogs: Understanding the Differences

Posted by Bob under Cat Ownership, Cats, Pets, Veterinary Medicine

Today is National Cat Day! And we never miss an opportunity to discuss felines! Check out our latest blog from VetStem veterinarian, Dr. Amber Vibert.

I think we are all pretty aware that cats and dogs are different in many ways. Dogs tend to be pleasers and cats often make their humans work for their trust and respect. Dogs don’t really care if they are dirty or have something stuck in their fur, but cats on the other hand, cannot stand to be soiled in any way and will work fastidiously to keep themselves clean. And if a dog is caught counter-surfing for the sandwich that someone left unattended, he will cower when he is admonished. Cats will look at you as if to say, “So?” and quickly scurry away with a piece of ham in their mouth. Of course, there are exceptions, but in my experience, these characteristics are more often the rule than the exception.

Beyond their unique personality differences, however, there are several physical and psychological differences that are important to understand when approaching each species from a caregiving standpoint. For example, dogs have a ligament in their neck that  helps to keep the head erect if the neck muscles are weak. Cats lack this ligament, so when they experience illnesses that cause profound muscle weakness such as hypokalemia (low potassium) or advanced stages of kidney disease, diabetes, or hyperthyroidism, they may become unable to lift their head.

Another example of how cats and dogs differ is with respect to their nutritional needs. We know that every species of animal on the planet consumes different kinds of foods to sustain their bodies. But many people don’t realize that cats and dogs have such significant differences that feeding a cat only dog food can cause heart disease and even death. One of the reasons for this is because cats have different essential amino acid needs. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. An amino acid is termed “essential” to a species when that species needs to consume the amino acid through their food in order to survive. Taurine is essential for cats and not as much for dogs, meaning that dogs produce enough of it in their bodies that they really don’t need as much in their food. So high-quality, well-established, commercial cat foods are specifically designed to provide the correct amount of taurine to keep cats healthy.

Furthermore, cats metabolize certain drugs very differently than dogs. For instance, did you know that although dogs can safely be prescribed low doses of Tylenol (acetaminophen), a single regular strength tablet can kill a cat? Both dogs and cats have a limited ability to metabolize this drug compared to humans, but cats have a really limited capacity and it will render their red blood cells unable to carry enough oxygen to live.

Cats also have unique needs when it comes to their surroundings. They have natural instincts to chase prey, climb and perch off the ground, control their own personal space, and use scent to establish their boundaries by rubbing their faces along people or items in their home. If these environmental needs are not met, not only will cats experience high levels of stress, but they can also develop stress-induced medical issues.

VetStem recognizes and embraces the fact that cats are not small dogs. We understand that cats not only have diseases unique to them such as Feline Chronic Gingivostomatitis (FCGS), but they also exhibit symptoms of illness very differently than dogs do. In particular, cats are particularly adept at hiding pain. This is why many cats go undiagnosed for common painful conditions such as degenerative joint disease (DJD). We encourage you to speak to your family veterinarian about establishing regular veterinary checkups for your beloved cat companions to keep them happy and healthy through all stages of life.

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Aug 27, 2021

VetStem Cell Therapy for Dogs on National Dog Day

Posted by Bob under Dog Stem Cells, VetStem Cell Therapy

August 26th is National Dog Day. This day was founded in 2004 and celebrates dogs of all breeds. The stated mission is to bring attention to all the dogs that need rescuing as well as honor both family dogs and working dogs. For our own celebration, we would like to discuss the various uses of VetStem Cell Therapy in dogs!

VetStem Cell Therapy for Dogs

Though the first patient to be treated with VetStem Cell Therapy was a horse, dogs followed closely behind. Initially, we worked with select veterinary clinics to evaluate the use of VetStem Cell Therapy for osteoarthritis (OA) and orthopedic soft tissue injures such as cruciate ligament tears. After several years of collecting and analyzing data, we published two peer-reviewed studies. The first, in 2007, evaluated the use of stem cells for chronic hip OA. The second was published in 2008 and looked at stem cells for chronic elbow OA. Both studies concluded that treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy led to reduced lameness and pain as well as increased range of motion in the affected dogs.

VetStem Cell Therapy for More than OA

Though dogs were initially treated primarily for orthopedic conditions, we eventually broadened our research interests. Veterinarians have now used VetStem Cell Therapy to treat a wide array of conditions in dogs including organ failure, inflammatory bowel disease, back pain, and keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS or “Dry Eye”). Though we do not have any completed peer-review studies for these conditions, some dogs have experienced good results!

VetStem Cell Therapy for Canine Back Pain and IVDD

Canine back pain is one of VetStem’s current clinical research programs. A clinical research program is designed to evaluate the safety and possible effectiveness of VetStem Cell Therapy for specific conditions. One condition that falls under our back pain clinical research program is intervertebral disc disease (IVDD). This is a condition in which one or several intervertebral discs in the spine bulge, resulting in pressure on the spinal cord and leading to pain and possibly the loss of limb function. While IVDD can potentially be a devastating disease, several owners have reported improvement in their dog after treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy including Bella and Bailee.

If you think your dog may benefit from VetStem Cell Therapy, even if he/she is not suffering form an orthopedic condition, we recommend speaking to your veterinarian or contacting us to find VetStem providers near you.

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Jun 14, 2012

Dogs May Rescue Dolphins-Part II

Posted by Bob under Stem Cell Therapy

My post in August last year  was about the first public presentation on stem cell therapy in dolphins as given by Dr. Shawn Johnson at the International Association of Aquatic Animal Medicine in Las Vegas. The project is a funded three-year collaboration between the Office of Naval Research and Vet-Stem, Inc. to assess the regenerative capacity in bottlenose dolphins.  The research project is based on over 8 years of clinical research at Vet-Stem and the practical treatment of over 4,000 dogs and 4,000 horses with adipose-derived stem cells.   The published data on stem cell therapy of arthritis in dogs (http://www.vet-stem.com/pdfs/Double_Blinded_Canine_Study.pdf ) was one of the key reasons the Navy contacted Vet-Stem.  Dr. Johnson and I both presented this year on the success in healing skin wounds.  Preliminary findings showed that stem cells improved healing in the treated wounds compared to those not treated. Now the Navy may be able to treat any wounds in Dolphins and reduce scars and improve the time it takes to heal.  Future studies may evaluate the technique in treating eye, kidney, and liver disease as well as in therapy for hearing loss in the dolphin.  And yes, it is incredibly cool to go work with these amazing creatures!  Many great articles have been written about this groundbreaking study, one of the best is at http://cen.acs.org/articles/90/i19/Marine-Mammal-Health.html

 

 

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