Follow up on last week’s newsletter

*The following information has been provided by Dr. Phil Zeltzman, a board-certified veterinary surgeon from Whitehall, Pennsylvania as a courtesy to goodnewsforpets readers. The following article is only for the sharing of knowledge and information; it is not intended to replace consultation of a veterinarian or other qualified pet care professional. To subscribe to his newsletter, here.

After last week’s newsletter on cancer, some readers asked some great questions. Here are the answers.

AM asks: “Please clarify “offensive odor.” Is this a general odor of the pet or a bowel/gas related odor?”

What an interesting question AM!

I think the list referred to stinky masses or wounds. A wound with an “offensive odor” that doesn’t heal despite various treatments may (may) in fact be due to cancer.

BK wonders: “You have a list of the top pet cancer claims. Mammary cancer doesn’t appear at all on the list, thought I’ve (read) that it’s the third most common cancer in cats, and actually even more common in dogs.”

Good point BK, and here’s the difference I suppose: you mention a cancer that is common in non-spayed females, -insured or not. The list we discussed last week is about pets that:

<p?1. have pet insurance 2. with VPI.

These 2 populations may not be the same at all. In fact, it is possible that owners of insured pets are more likely to have their female pet spayed, thereby decreasing the risk of breast cancer… if it is done at the right time of course, i.e. before the first heat.

KB comments: “I enjoyed the newsletter. One thing I feel you overlooked though is one very important way of catching cancers early – yearly exams for pets. Twice yearly for geriatric pets. Along with doing senior blood work screenings in older pets.

With the new protocols for vaccines, many people are not coming for yearly exams because their pet isn’t due for any shots. It is important for owners to understand their exam is just as important, if not more, than the legally required vaccines.”

Well KB, I didn’t really overlook that point. I was merely quoting a list of “10 warning signs of cancer in pets” from the American Veterinary Medical Association. That said, we have discussed the importance of (bi)yearly exams and of blood work screenings multiple times in past newsletters.

So you are absolutely positively correct, both physical exams and blood work are tremendously important.

So you are absolutely positively correct, both physical exams and blood work are tremendously important.

Indeed, many people think that they go in yearly for their pet’s shots and they are home free for a year… or 3! In fact, although I strongly believe in the life-saving importance of vaccines, the physical exam is at least as important in my mind.

I regularly have colleagues who refer patients to me for surgery after they noticed a mass in the belly, or an anal sac, or the jaw, or the ear, or a toe, or the skin, after a thorough yearly physical exam.

As far as blood work is concerned, it may be a good screening tool, as long as we all remember that most cancers do NOT show up on blood work.

How to make a rice sock

A rice sock is a very simple device to soothe sore joints or body parts.

All you need is a thick cotton sock loosely filled with uncooked, regular rice. It can be white or brown rice. Do not use precooked or instant rice.

Tie the open end of the sock with a ribbon. No metal should be used.

You can then heat the rice sock in the microwave. How long to keep it in will depend on the power of your microwave, so you will need to experiment a little bit. One minute is probably a good start.

To avoid skin burns, it is critical to shake the rice sock to distribute the heat evenly. Just grab one end of the sock in each hand, and shake the rice around a few times.

Still, one important tip: to avoid skin burns, please always use a towel between the skin and the rice sock.

That’s it. The rice sock conforms very nicely to joints and other body parts.

By the way, if you use it on a joint after surgery, keep in mind me that we generally recommend using cold for 3 days, and then warmth for at least 3 days.

Incidentally, you can also use the rice sock to cool down a joint. Just place it in the freezer for at least an hour.

The Top 10 “Human” Conditions that Also Affect Pets

VPI, the pet insurance company, identified 10 conditions that are common to people and pets. The top 10 are, from the most common to the least common:

1. Allergies

2. Bladder infections

3. Arthritis

4. Diabetes

5. Skin cancer

6. Gum disease

7. Acne

8. Stomach ulcers

9. Cataracts

10. Laryngitis


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