A while back, an advertisement from a competing veterinary hospital crossed my desk. The glossy postcard was printed with the hospital’s logo on one side, and on the reverse, a statement indicating the surgeons were now offering “lifetime guarantees” on a particular commonly performed veterinary orthopedic procedure.
I don’t remember the exact details of what was promised, but I do recall the sour taste in my mouth I developed when I read the card. When I considered the implications of the above-mentioned “warranty,” I couldn’t help feeling a widening in the notch of disappointment regarding some aspects of my chosen profession.
As consumers, we’re constantly inundated with the concept of “Money Back Guarantees” for products or services. Nearly everything we purchase can be returned if we’re unsatisfied with the outcome, fit, taste, or performance. Though we are ingrained to be wary buyers, overly accommodating businesses and an overwhelming sense of entitlement pave the way for us to be lax in maintaining our end of the bargain.
In August of last year I posted about the growing threat of antibiotic resistant bacteria to worldwide health. This topic is so important that it is increasingly seen as the biggest problem for human and veterinary doctors in the not too distant future.
One of the contributors to bacterial resistance has been that there has not been a new class of antibiotics introduced in over 30 years. Research, government regulations, and economic forces have all played a role in this lack of scientific investigation. That may all have changed now that a new class of bacteria was discovered in the back yard of a microbiologist.
Bacteria, Fungus, and Antibiotics
Most of us are unaware that the miracle we call antibiotics are produced by bacteria and fungus. These microbes have been producing antibiotics for billions of years to protect themselves from other bacteria and fungi. But we were not aware of these life-saving properties of microscopic bugs until Alexander Fleming showed that a common mold inhibited the growth of Staphylococcus in a petri dish in 1928. Fleming had discovered penicillin. It would not be until the late 1940s that penicillin could be mass produced and used to treat wounded American soldiers during World War II and the Korean War.
Live with cats for long enough and you’re bound to find a hairball on the floor (or in your bed, if you’re really unlucky), but hairballs don’t have to be a regular part of cat ownership.
Cats bring up hairballs frequently enough that it’s easy to think of them as being normal, but they really are a symptom of gastrointestinal dysfunction or a skin disease that is causing excessive hair loss. I regard hairballs in the same way that I do diarrhea. Are the conditions normal? No, but they are something that everyone has to deal with from time to time.
That said, once you’re finding hairballs more frequently than once a month or so, it’s time to go on a search for what’s wrong. A complete work-up from chronic or severe hairballs could include some combination of patient history, physical exam, skin scrapings for mites, tests for ringworm, skin cytology looking for bacterial/yeast infections, abdominal imaging, blood work, a urinalysis, fecal examinations, and sometimes biopsies of the gastrointestinal tract or skin.
This week, let's take a break from medicine and look at pet caretaking from a lighter point of view. I present to you this farcical take on a college course catalog: If cats went to college.
Kitty Course Calendar: Spring 2015
We are excited to present our course offerings for the Spring 2015 semester at Kitty Kollege. We are delighted you have elected to enroll at our institution and welcome you with open arms (though we understand completely that you won’t stand being held for more than 0.7 seconds.)
We recommend you select your courses carefully and speak with your career advisors before registering. However, as we are well aware, you are cats; we know you will do what ever it is you feel like doing, with or without human input.
Layla A. Jones
Philadelphia just got the biggest snow of the season and of course the African lion cubs over at the Philadelphia Zoo had to enjoy the powdery precipitation. Check out this adorable video of the nearly 8-month-old cubs Kataba, Mali, Msinga and Sabi playing in the snow.
Last February I shared some research that suggested American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standards in dogs could predict individuals at risk for obesity.
The AKC descriptions of ideal show qualities for “bolder” breeds encourages breeding for dogs that pack on more fat. These dogs were bred to work in colder climates, so having a “thrifty gene” that promoted the maintenance of body fat made sense. These dogs no longer work, but the show language perpetuates the same genetic stock that is prone to obesity now that lifestyles have changed.
Cats were not bred for work, but for show. Yet, it turns out that breed standards defined by the American Cat Fanciers Association (ACFA) also encourages breeding cats that are prone to obesity. The findings were just released in the current issue of the Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition.
I’m going to get this out of the way. I don’t particularly like Shar-Peis. Sure, I’ve met a few who had winning personalities (and more who didn’t), but my dislike is primarily based on the fact that much of what makes them “unique” is caused by genetic abnormalities.
Shar-Peis are hardly the only breed in which this is true (don’t get me started on English Bulldogs), but when I see all those wrinkles, the veterinarian in me can’t help but worry about what else is going wrong inside.
First… the wrinkles. They develop because of a condition called mucinosis. A genetic abnormality causes Shar-Peis to produce excessive amounts of hyaluronic acid, which accumulates under the skin, causing it to become thick and wrinkly. Shar-Peis are at higher than average risk for skin problems because their skin is weaker than normal. Also, all of those damp and dark crevices under the wrinkles are the perfect breeding ground for yeast and bacterial infections.
Layla A. Jones
PetSmart wants to be your Valentine this year — or at least help you find one. On Saturday, Feb. 14 and Sunday, Feb. 15, PetSmarts around the country will be hosting the PetSmart Charities Be My Valentine Adoption Weekend, featuring more than 3,000 animal welfare organizations. The Animal Care and Control Team of Philadelphia (ACCT Philly) is partnering with PetSmart for the local events.
During the adoption weekend, PetSmart wants to help customers find the unconditional love pets give through the gift of adoption. Cat or dog, purebred or mixed breed, Philadelphia-area PetSmarts will have what you’re looking for.
A representative for the company said that while all area PetSmart stores will be participating the Valentine’s Day adoption event, the Plymouth Meeting location (2100 Chemical Road) “has a larger adoption center and would likely have more pets up for adoption.”