Ticks biting in the big cities, narcolepsy in dogs and antibiotic resistance were among the topics discussed at the 19th Annual Medical Forum of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, in Denver May 23 through 26. This is where veterinary specialists reveal the latest in cutting edge diagnostics and treatments. Here are a few examples presented to the more than 3,000 veterinary professionals in attendance from around the country:

  • Diseases dogs get from ticks may be on the rise, in urban areas as well as in the countryside. Ticks are being found in increasing numbers in parks smack dab in the center of New York, Boston and Chicago. The disease ehrlichiosis may not be a household term – like Lyme Disease, which also comes from ticks. However, ehrlichiosis may indeed be more prevalent. Vets now have a new blood test for dogs which can identify heartworm disease, Lyme Disease and ehrlichiosis. 
  • The raw diet craze is one of the hottest topics on the Internet. It turns out that at least some cats fed this presumably natural diet in Europe have come down with Mad Cow Disease. 
  • Veterinary oncologist and internal medicine specialist Dr. Barbara Kitchell from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine – Urbana, is very excited about Gleevec (imatinib mesylate). She hopes this drug recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for a kind of Leukemia in people, may also apply to mast cell disease in dogs. She’s willing to design the trial to test Gleevec on dogs with mast cell cancer. Hopefully Novartis, the pharmaceutical company, will approve and she’ll be able to procure the funding – which is never easy to come by. Mast cell disease is quite common, and if it works, this drug can save many dog lives, as well as human lives. 
  • New sleeping disorders have been identified in dogs, including a sort of canine version of narcolepsy. When these dogs are eating, they spontaneously fall asleep. 
  • Just as some people have become resistant to antibiotics, so are dogs and cats. Simple infections can no longer be controlled with common antibiotics. In animal medicine, alternative antibiotics are limited and they’re expensive. Vets at the Forum were cautioned not to give clients antibiotics without good cause. However, it’s possible that the various antibiotics given to food animals have an even greater roll in creating this problem. 
  • Don’t be so quick to judge your middle-aged pooch if he’s having a grouchy day. New research indicates male middle-aged dogs can be menopausal. 
  • Diabetes is on the rise in cats, according to Dr. Deborah Greco, internal medicine specialist from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Colorado State University – Ft. Collins. She says, “According to recent research, it turns out we’ve been managing diabetes in many cats with totally inappropriate diets, it’s like treating a personwith diabetes with a Snicker Bar.” The idea is to lower the carbohydrate intake and increase protein. She recommends the Ralston Purina special high protein, low carb DM Diet. In some cases, this diet may be used in conjunction with a hypoglycemic agent. According to Greco’s new research, the prognosis for vast improvement of a diabetic cat can range from 60 to 90 percent. In many of these cats, insulin injections, which are expensive and difficult for owners – might become unnecessary.(For more on the ACVIM, check out

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