When Pet Owners See the Light

*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.

Today we share a few little stories. Pet owners had a true “aha” moment when we discussed these topics.

Can cancer be benign?

Benign and cancerous are mutually exclusive.

A mass can be benign, i.e. non cancerous, i.e. good, i.e. it will not spread.

Or it can be malignant, or cancerous, ie bad, ie it MAY spread.

Some cancerous masses are known to spread slowly or rarely. For example, a nerve sheath tumor or hemangiopericytoma or fibrosarcoma are typically “locally invasive,” i.e. they invade the area where they started, sometimes in an evil way. But they spread maybe in 15-20% of the cases.

Other cancerous masses are known to spread quickly or frequently to distant places. Case in point: osteosarcoma, or bone cancer, probably spreads in 100% of the cases, most often to the lungs.

That’s why vets routinely take chest and belly X-rays, or recommend ultrasound, whenever they suspect that a mass is cancerous. Doing surgery on a pet with lung metastasis (spreading of cancer to the lungs) is hard to justify!

A pain patch for pets?

Vets can use a pain patch that contains fentanyl, a morphine-like drug. We use them all the time at our clinic. They are somewhat similar to the nicotine patches to quit smoking.

A few technical points:

•There are several sizes, i.e. they contain several different amounts of fentanyl.

•The patch sticks to (shaved) skin… fairly well.

•It contains a small dose of fentanyl, again, a morphine-like drug.

•It takes 12-24 hours to kick in, so another drug has to be used for at least that long.

•The patch can however be combined with another pain killer. That other drug has to be chosen wisely, as some medications counteract the patch!

•It slowly delivers the pain killer into the skin, and from there into the blood stream.

•It takes about 3 days to become empty, so it can be removed (or replaced) after approximately 3 days depending on the needs of the pet.

By the way, if your vet seems ever so slightly paranoid when dispensing a patch, or if they seem a little particular about getting it back when it’s empty, well, it’s because it is a tightly regulated drug. There is a potential for abuse.

However, it would be really silly to steal one from a pet to use it on a human. I believe that one of the risks of abusing them is difficulty breathing to the point of suffocation.

IV fluids are not nourishment

Clients often believe that IV fluids provide nourishment. This is however a misconception.

IV fluids provide exactly 2 things: water and minerals. So they are great to fight dehydration or shock, but that’s about it. They provide virtually zero calories.

The 2 most common types of IV fluids we use are “saline” and “LRS.”

Saline is also called sodium chloride. All it is, is water with salt, aka sodium chloride – NaCl for the chemistry fans out there.

LRS stands for Lactated Ringer’s solution. Ever wondered where this Ringer word comes from? LRS was invented by Sydney Ringer (1836-1910), a British physician. LRS contains water, salt, as well as potassium, calcium, and a pH buffer called lactate.

Now, it is actually possible to provide calories by IV, but this is rarely done. It is probably most often performed at progressive and specialty hospitals.

There is PPN, or Partial Parenteral Nutrition, which provides only part of the energy requirements.

Then there is TPN, or Total Parenteral Nutrition, which supplies all of the nutritional needs.


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