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What's New In Pet Medicine?

The next time you take your pet to the doctor, you might be surprised at some of the recent advances in the care your doctor can offer your pet. As is true with human medicine, veterinary medicine continues to advance as well as newer technologies become available resulting in better care for our patients. In this article I'll highlight some new advances that can benefit your pet.

 

Laser Surgery

Over the last few years later surgery has become available to veterinarians. Various laser units are available which allow the veterinarian to do surgery without the use of a conventional scalpel blade. The idea behind using a laser unit is that it cuts down the time required to do the surgery, decreases bleeding, and may reduce pain. There are several major disadvantages to using laser surgery. There is a learning curve involved which requires practice before the doctor is adept at using the unit. Additionally, even though these units have come down in price, they are still expensive and may not be worth the cost for every practice to have one. Finally, because of the expense of these units, there is usually an extra cost to the owner when the unit is used during surgery. From what I’ve seen, the use of these units can add an extra $50-$100 or more to the cost of a surgery. Personally, while I am not opposed to their use, I have not found it practical to add this service to my own medical practice. I can easily control bleeding with my much less expensive electric surgical unit. Additionally, through the judicious use of both conventional and natural analgesic (pain-killing) medications, I have not had a problem with postoperative pain. Even when laser surgery units are used, medications must be given to prevent and control postoperative pain. However, if this seems like something you’d be interested in, it is likely there is at least one veterinarian your area is advertising the use of the of a laser unit for surgery.

 

Stem Cell Therapy

If you follow the news, you know that stem cell therapy is a hot topic. However, most of the news has centered on human embryonic stem cell therapy rather than adult stem cell therapy. While there have been no successful reports of the safe use of successful therapies using embryonic stem cells, there are hundreds of proven application for adult stem cells. Recently, this unique holistic therapy has become available to pet owners. Briefly, a small amount of a pet’s abdominal fat is removed for purification and stem cell isolation by an outside laboratory. These stem cells are then sent back to the pet’s veterinarian, who injects them as therapy for a pet’s arthritis. The results are very encouraging. The only downsides to this therapy are the cost (several thousand dollars) and the fact that surgery is needed to initially obtain the stem cells. However because this therapy is safe and effective, it offers pet owners another choice, and a better choice than the use of NSAID medication, for treating arthritic pets.

 

Anesthesia and Anesthetic Monitoring

Anesthesia is commonly employed in the care of pets. Whenever restraint is needed for a minor procedure or when a surgical procedure is necessary, anesthetics will be employed. Newer anesthetics such as isofluorane and sevofluorane are available to safely anesthetized your pet. The advantages of these anesthetic gases are that they quickly induced anesthesia, have minimal negative effects on your pet’s internal systems such as the cardiovascular system, and allow the pet to recover quickly when the procedure is terminated.

While your pet is under anesthesia, it's important that the pet is carefully monitored. While nothing takes the place of a live technician who can monitor the pet's vital signs and make sure the cardiorespiratory systems are functioning properly, new technologies have emerged in recent years to aid in the detection of any problems that might arise during anesthesia. One such advance is the use of a machine called a pulse oximeter. This machine measures the saturation of your pet’s hemoglobin with oxygen, which provides an indication of how well your pet’s tissues are receiving oxygen during surgery. This technology allows the doctor to make adjustments to your pet’s anesthetic levels to ensure that your pet receives adequate levels of oxygen during a surgical procedure. In addition to monitoring your pet’s ability to adequately oxygenate its tissues, most pulse oximetry machines also measure other vital signs, such as EKG, heart rate, respiratory rate, body temperature, and or blood pressure. Since the technology has been available for several years, machines are affordable for most practices. I suggest making sure your pet is monitored with one of these machines (as well as it least one live person!) during any surgery.

 

Natural Foods/Supplements

Since I’m an integrative veterinarian, I must close this article by mentioning some of the natural therapies for pets. As more veterinarians develop a holistic approach in their practices, as more pet owners demand a safer, simpler, more natural approach their pets care, companies are responding by introducing better natural products to the marketplace. The last few years has seen an uptick in the number of natural foods available for both dogs and cats. The good news is that it’s easy to find some type of natural food in most cities and towns. The bad news is that some of the better-known pet food companies are jumping on the “natural bandwagon” and introducing their own brand of “natural” pet food. My experience has shown that while some of these “natural foods” do contain a few better ingredients and then the national pet food companies other brands, in general they often still contain a lot of junk ( byproducts and chemicals) at holistic veterinarians recommend avoiding. Therefore, it is still important to work with your holistic veterinarian to obtain a list of natural pet foods that are healthy for your pet.

More companies are also introducing natural supplements for your pets. As is true with pet foods however, it’s still a case of buyer beware. Working with your veterinarian to determine the best supplement regimen for your pet is always ideal so that you don’t waste money on buying inferior quality products were administered the wrong or potentially dangerous supplements to your pet.

For guidance in choosing high quality pet supplements, check out the other articles on natural therapies and links to some of the higher quality supplement manufacturers on my website.

 

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