Friday, December 4, 2015

Heartworm Prevention in Arizona?

I have been a vet now for 20 years and have lived in the Valley for 13 years.  We moved here to be close to family and enjoy the Arizona desert lifestyle.  One of those desert perks was being able to be outside without the bugs.  No Mosquitoes, few flies, just pleasant.  One of the other things I noticed coming from Texas to Arizona was the fact that Heart worm disease was almost non-existent.  In Texas all pets needed Preventive Heartworm medications otherwise it was a matter of time before they got the debilitating Heartworm Disease.  Heartworms are a real worm about 6-12 inches long living inside your dogs heart.  Ewww....Sick!  Heartworms cause severe damage to your pet if untreated and the treatment for the disease can run thousands of dollars.  In Arizona, the lack of Mosquitoes meant the lack of Heartworm disease and lack of awareness about the disease.  Prevention is easy many pet owners have not been using prevention and veterinarians in Arizona have not been making a strong recommendation to put pets on Heartworm prevention.....including me.  My approach has changed.  The facts have changed.  The last few years we have learned and confirmed more Heartworm cases that originate in Arizona.  We are seeing and feeling the bites of mosquitoes more often.   Our practice has confirmed several cases in just 5 months.  Research on our indigenous population of coyotes reveal 15% are positive carriers for Heartworm.  Heartworm Prevention is simple and 20-30 times less expensive that treatment. Start protecting your pet for Heartworm disease.  Have fun.  Be Safe.  Until next time Brett the Vet and the friendly team at Arizona Animal Hospital

Friday, October 23, 2015

Valley Fever Treatment

Every year thousands of dogs are infected with Valley Fever in Arizona.  What we found over the years are few things that can help treat and cure several dogs even the most severe cases from this dangerous, debilitating  and deadly disease. We wanted to make sure that pet owners understand the disease, understand what to look for in their pet if you think they might have valley fever and know what best in practice treatment options are available.  We will talk about our approach to successfully managing and treating valley fever. Let's start by talking about the fungus itself. Valley Fever is a fungus that lives in the soil in this arid environment. It displays active behavior most often in the summer months during our monsoon season where high winds and rain can activate and release the fungus in the soil. The Valley Fever fungus or collectively referred to as Coccidioidomycosis is airborne and inhaled by pets and people. In Arizona where many of our residents are snowbirds or new to the area their immune system may be naive to this fungal infection which can make them more susceptible to getting the active disease. The same is true for pets new to our state.
     It's very difficult to prevent exposure to the disease because of the airborne nature of the fungus and most dogs constantly have their nose to the ground sniffing smelling and inadvertently inhaling the fungal spores into their lungs.  Dogs that dig will also expose themselves to the fungus and finally with all the recent and continued building in the area construction sites will raid us into the air creating a health risk to pets and people in terms of valley fever. There is no way to prevent the disease but you can minimize it by keeping indoors during monsoon season avoiding being outdoors during windy days and being mindful when you're outside digging or working with the native soil. When a dog get sick from valley fever the early signs of disease can be as simple as feeling tired and possibly a high temperature. Most often people bring their dog to the veterinarian because it has a cough and is not feeling well. When we evaluate dogs for Valley Fever the way we diagnose it is through a blood test and the clinical signs. Blood testing looks for exposure in your immune system to tell you whether or not there's an active infection.
     When a diagnosis of valley fever is made, our treatment of choice is Fluconazole.  We treat with this antifungal drug for two to six months depending on severity of disease. Fluconazole historically is a human drug that was very expensive and cost prohibitive to use when treating dogs, so many veterinarians reached for non FDA-approved compounded medications in effort to save money.  This is a trend that continues today but is not recommended as compounds again are not FDA approved and cannot be made to the same quality standards as the human FDA approved brand or generic drugs.   Generic and Brand Fluconazole result in better patient outcomes.  If you are currently using a compounded medication to treat your dog with Valley Fever and not seeing good results, switching will often times make a difference. In addition to fluconazole we have other drugs we will use if needed to help control or treat disease including injectable antifungals for more serious cases. It is important to note that there are no FDA-approved drugs for use in dogs with Valley Fever so the use of these Human-labeled FDA-approved drugs is considered "Off-label".
     Nutrition is another key element of recovery from Valley Fever.  Ultra-premium dog food (found most often in the high-end pet stores) has benefits. Most important is to keep your pets appetite strong.  Certain supplements designed to support the immune system also have shown to speed the recovery from Valley Fever.  Most of these are oral and some are injections.  Finally, the new advancements in veterinary medicine with immune-modulating drugs have shown positive results and should be considered for the toughest chronic cases not responding to traditional therapy.
     Implementing a multi-mode approach to treatment of valley fever along with a quick and speedy diagnosis generally results in a more rapid and successful recovery. If you have a dog with Valley Fever the key things to do are change from compound to brand or generic Fluconazole, improve the nutrition and try a couple of the key supplements designed to support the immune system.   At Arizona Animal Hospital in the North Scottsdale, Cave Creek/Carefree area we have focused and have found what we believe is the perfect mix nutritionally along with the proper medications to enhance good patient outcomes.  If you have a dog or cat with Valley Fever and are not seeing good results, please consider contacting us today.  For more information please go to our website.

Brett the Vet

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

North Scottsdale Coyote Attacks


  I wanted to write about a topic that has hit close to home.  There has been a string of coyote attacks in our neighborhood.  We have lost 3 dogs and 2 others have been severely injured. Even more concerning is how and why these attacks have occurred.  In all cases, a pack of 3-5 coyotes have jumped the fence of the homeowners property to get to the pet.  In 2 of these instances the pet owner was in the back yard.  The coyotes were unafraid of the people when attempts to ward them off were made and in one instance they stood down an owners attempt to scare them off.  This owner and her young daughter were placed at risk.
     Our pets and our children are generally considered safe in our fenced in back yards.  This new coyote behavior changes how a community thinks and lives.  Discussions with our Arizona Gish and Game experts who visited our neighborhood have seen this behavior in coyotes in other neighborhoods and know it is a result of people feeding the wildlife.  When fed, the coyotes in the area see all other dogs as competition and territorial aggression behavior sets in.  They kill pets because we feed them.  The coyotes are subsequently killed by people/officials as a means to protect the public.  
    I want to make a plea to people living out here on the edge where community meets nature.  Please don't feed the wildlife.  Please don't leave food out for them.  They have plenty to eat.  Our pets and our children and our wildlife are all at risk.  Respectfully to all who live in our community.

Brett the Vet

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Pet Insurance vs. Wellness Plans

With the rising costs of Pet care, Pet owners are asking more about
wellness pans and Pet insurance.  There also seems to be a lot of confusion
as to what a pet owner needs or may need when signing up for a Pet
Insurance or Pet Wellness plan.  In a nutshell, wellness plans cover the
annual maintenance, things like vaccines where Pet Insurance is for the
major medical conditions that threaten your pets life and often times your
wallet.  The business of selling Wellness Plans occurs at the veterinary
office and is designed to promote customer compliance in preventive care
and client loyalty to the hospital.  They do not work outside of the
hospital from where they are sold.   Pet Insurance is universal, designed
to protect you and your pt if a major illness/injury happens.  With pet
insurance, the pet owner is responsible for paying the vet bills up front
and all claims are paid to the pet owner by the insurance company after the
care is given.  It is important to know that not all claims are covered, so
select your plan wisely.  My thoughts are that in general, we can all
afford the basic annual care for our pets and those should be considered
normal "out of pocket" expense we budget for.  I don't recommend wellness
plans because many pet owners may not need the services covered under them,
so all the "Breakage" is kept by the seller.  Instead, I recommend
investing in a Pet Insurance policy at a young age, when your pet has had
no pre-existing conditions for the insurance, meaning no claim rejections.
We all can budget for general problems, but its the big issues, the
life-threatening ones that where we don't ever want to have to make a
decision about care because of our budget.  I don't mind the "Breakage"
with pet insurance because like my auto insurance policy, I have it but I
hope I never have to use it.
Have Fun and Be Safe
Brett the Vet

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Brett the Vet QNA - Rattlesnake Vaccine. Is it necessary?

It's a fact, we have a lot of venomous snakes in our community and a dog is
bitten everyday around here.  Snakebites are emergencies and your pet needs
to come in immediately for care.  Antivenom is given to counteract the
poison and results are generally positive.  Smaller dogs are at greater
risk.  The Rattlesnake vaccine is not a substitute for emergency care.
What it does seem to do is reduce the need for antivenom.  The vaccine is
$32-$40 dollars around here and a vial of antivenom is $500 dollars.  Some
dogs require 3-5 vials of antivenom without the rattlesnake vaccine verses
1-2 vials on average in my experience with the vaccine.  In my opinion, if
your pet is at high risk for snakebite, the Rattlesnake Vaccine in this
case is recommended to protect both your pet and your wallet.

Brett Cordes DVM

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Exceptional X-ray Technology

Wow,  a month has passed since my last post. Time has been flying by.  We
have been so fortunate to be busy here at Arizona Animal Hospital.  The
response to our practice has been excellent during the slow summer season.
Pet owners seem to be happy with our hospital and the way we are conducting
our business.  Our key objective of providing quality service at a valuable
price are playing out well.  One noteworthy example is our X-rays.
Building a new veterinary Hospital means having a choice to purchase new
equipment.  Our X-ray machine is the first HD (High Definition) X-ray unit
available in veterinary medicine and is the new standard in human
healthcare.  It takes clearly better images than other machines which I
believe is improving our ability to find problems in Pets.  We have priced
this superior HD X-ray service below the market price in the area.  We
wanted this technology to be accessible to everyone.  Stop by this summer
and take our Hospital tour and see the difference for yourself.  We are
open to all residents of Carefree, Cave Creek, North Scottsdale, Desert
Mountain and surrounding Communities.  A big thanks to everyone for your
support.  Its been a joy re-connecting with you all.

Have Fun Be Safe
Brett the Vet

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Alert!  Another Desert Dog Danger Update!
Monsoon season is here and so is another desert danger we see.  The Desert
(Bufo) Toad.  They come out in this more humid weather, generally in the
evening and their numbers wax and wane every year and it seems we have a
bunch in 2015.  I remember 12 years ago it was raining toads here, or so it
seemed like.  I was enjoying dinner outside at a local Cave Creek
restaurant and noticed these large creatures encompassing the patio dining
area.  they are chubby, squatty and unseemly large, measuring up to 7
inches in diameter!  They have a deadly neurotoxin on their skin.  Curious
Canines who get a taste of this toad (Usually at night) will start to
salivate excessively and in no time can be having life-threatening
seizures.  Here is what you need to do.  First - If you suspect toad
poisoning, immediately begin to rinse your dogs mouth with water for
several minutes, diluting the toxin in their mouth.  Then head straight to
your Veterinarian for pro-active care.  The Emergency Animal Clinic on
Scottsdale Road and Williams has expert critical care specialists who know
how to handle these cases if severe.

Brett the Vet's desert danger ranking for the Desert Toad is 4.5/5 on the
desert danger scale because these creatures seem innocuous, are a less
frequent visitor and we don't think about them as being a threat like we do

Have Fun.  Be Safe!
Brett the Vet