American Veterinary Medical Association
By Robin Tierney
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Animal Medicine from A(cupuncture) to Z(oonoses)
144th Annual Convention of the American Veterinary Medical Association
Washington Convention Center
10,000 stewards of animal
health and counselors of often-confused humans
range of sessions on breakthroughs and best practices, spanning companion
animal health and behavior, farm animal medicine, and holistic health
Issues: Many, including: New
vaccination protocols, the impact of physical conditions on behavior and vice
versa, behavior counseling, complementary and alternative medicine, epidemic
outbreaks, pet food poisoning.
Insight-Bites: Summaries of select sessions. ***Note: If you'd like to
read detailed articles on specific topics covered at the conference, contact
Robin Tierney at firstname.lastname@example.org ***
Rather than resort to drugs, Dr. Terry Curtis suggested products that
have helped many dogs, such as DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) and anxiety
wraps. Based on the theory that dogs sense storm build-up through electrical
charge, the Storm Defender Cape has a metallic lining that discharges the dog's
fur and shields him from static charge build-up. Is it the lining or the caping
that has the most effect? She's not certain, but amused the crowd with a photo
of one man's attempt at a homemade "Foil Suit." An easier way for cheapskates:
rub the animal with dryer sheets.
Step 1: Dispel owner notions that usually but needlessly guarantee
failure: "My dog is dumb" "...is trying to be dominant" ... "is being
spiteful" ... and, "my dog already gets plenty of exercise." (Then there's the
eye-roller, "Oh, I tried that and it didn't work.")
"First, find out 'what is the client's perception of the dog?'" said
Dr. Emily Levine. Note: To receive a link to an upcoming article about Dr.
Levine's practical solutions to 4 common complaints, email Tierneydog
Management Techniques to Gain Control Now
"We all do what works," said Jacqueline Neilson. "Unfortunately,
aggression typically works to make threatening things go away or back off."
When people back off at a growl or exposed teeth, this reinforces the
behavior. The solution is not to risk a bite, but to practice exercises with
the aggressive dog in controlled environments and to manage the situation -
preventing an incident. Avoid triggers of undesirable behavior to avoid
unintentionally reinforcing and the potentially damaging behaviors that result.
Why food aggression training techniques that annoy and aggravate often
fail, and sometimes trigger bites: Randomly taking the food bowl always
creates stress and is perceived as a threat. Instead, randomly slip special
higher-value goodies into the bowl.
Avoidance works: So for food-aggressive dogs, no long-lasting food
treats...and feed meals behind closed doors...keep kids and others away from
the dog's bowl and treats.
For dogs with urinary problems, have a schedule they can count on and
don't expect a dog with a medically based problem to "hold it." Take him
outside before an accident can occur.
Don't make your animal "hold it" too long. Realize that the feeling
of relief of emptying a full bladder makes this act a self-reinforcing
A guiding principle: "Tell the animal what to do instead of what not
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when it's published.
Maximizing Behavior Modification Success
Veterinary behaviorist Gerrard Flannigan imparted wise advice such as:
* Have all household members, including children, attend the behavior
* Document, not just describe: When needed, take a video to capture
the problem behaviors.
* Meeting in person allows the pro to observe the people's reaction
to their dogs' actions.
How to Help Puppies Become Better Dogs
Dr. Margaret Duxbury shared uncommon common sense:
* Have the dog do something before giving anything in return. Aim
for 40+ rewarded interactions a day to establish good habits.
* Look for learning situations - and observe what pups are learning
* Put breaks on toddlers and visitors. It's not fair to put the pup
in situations in which he feels the need to defend himself.
* Teach that hands never hurt - and that an approaching hand is a
* Control your visitors so they don't undo your lessons.
For more tips, email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the full article
when it's published.
Aggression Between Cats
Karen Overall's many excellent tips included becoming aware of cat
stressors: irregular and unpredictable feeding and cleaning times; absence of
stroking, over-petting, unpredictable and unfamiliar manipulation, and changes
in social environment.
Watch: are you sure the aggression occurs in absence of any
provocation and without the cat signaling he is being annoyed?
Note that long-term caging has proven to be counterproductive. It's
important to avoid not only the development of problem behaviors but aggressive
incidents. Why? Because, she said, animals learn behaviors at a molecular
level and this changes their neurochemistry - making change all the harder. Another
tip: Take a video of the animal at home. When reviewing the video,
fast-forward and the problems will jump out. THE
INTERPLAY OF BEHAVIOR AND MEDICAL DISORDERS Many
neurological conditions, endocrine disorders, skin disorders, chronic disease
and other medical conditions are at the root of behavioral issues. Behavior
can change brain chemistry and structure. Prolonged stress sets off a cascade
of reactions that can leave us with overstimulated or suppressed immune
systems. Expert vets shed light in a track of
sessions so content-rich that they defy summary, but here's a snapshot of
practical ideas: * Help! Excessive grooming or
indoor urination may be a cry for help. Dr. Ellen Lindell observed that many
conditions that owners perceive as sudden onset turn out to have developed
gradually. Roots can involve a change in owner's schedule, a new addition (person
or pet) to the household, a house remodel with attendant noise (or shuttling
the dog in a crate), cutbacks in exercise, a medication change, diet change, or
impacted anal glands. * I itch, therefore I ache.
Dr. Vinl Virga focused on attention-seeking and owner-reinforced behaviors,
noting how discomfort and pain can change personality as well as habits. So
will insufficient physical and mental stimulation. Can cats and dogs
* Stress and disease change behavior. Explained Dr. Gary
Landsberg, anxiety and stress set off brain activity. Common outward signs
include piloerection - raised fur - in cats and dogs. Chronic stress can alter
the brain, in turn changing behavior and sparking aberrant behaviors such as
head shaking, hallucinations, escape attempts, excessive grooming, and also
Any disease that affects the central nervous system can alter
behavior, as can pain (arthritis, dental disease, injury), decreased sensory
function (vision and hearing loss add to fear), and altered motor ability.
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ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE AVMA
members noted interest in complementary and alternative medicine has quadrupled
in the last decade. Many attended sessions on acupuncture, chiropractic,
medicinal herbs, and holistic principles - and a hot emerging modality. For a
detailed article about animal chiropractic and acupuncture, email
firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send you the link when it's published.
* Electromedicine: The Wave of the Future? Dr.
Ava Frick is an expert in this alternative to "chemical medicine," which uses
micro-currents to treat behavioral problems, relieve chronic pain, mediate
storm phobias, alleviate phantom limb pain, restore function to paralyzed
animals, sterilize wounds, speed up tissue growth, and heal wounds. All
at levels too low enough to sense. Electromedicine
is based on the proposition that biological processes are electromagnetic.
Publicized by Robert Becker in his book "The Body Electric: Electromagnetism
and the Foundation of Life," the modality was used to treat surface wounds over
300 years ago when charged gold leaf was found to prevent smallpox scars. Work
in 1960s demonstrated its use for accelerated skin healing; Becker maintained
electrical activity is what enables salamanders to regenerate the cells of lost
limbs. Dr. Frick explained that all of the senses
are based on pulse transmissions. Mircocurrent application helps the body's
hard and soft tissue "regain its capacitance so healing can begin." She cited
success with golden retrievers, horses and cats suffering from gaping wounds,
fears and pain. * Chiropractic: Chiropractic
care offers another treatment avenue; the practitioner mechanically corrects a
structural problem without drug therapy and surgery. Derived from the Greek
words for "hand" and "practice," chiropractic employs the hands to diagnose and
treat disease. Dr. Gene Giggleman explained how correcting vertebral subluxations
that create imbalance helps the body heal itself. When nervous interference
disturbs biomechanical and neurological function, the chiropractor releases
nervous energy to flow to the tissues. A
chiropractic adjustment is a specific force applied in a specific direction to
a specific vertebra. On a neurological level, it affects both mechanoreceptors
(movement impulses) and nociceptors (pain receptors). The goals: reduce pain,
restore normal joint motion, stimulate neurological reflexes and relax muscles,
improve range of motion, and " affect extracellular and extravascular fluid
flow." * Acupuncture Dr.
Joseph Kincaid discussed acupuncture techniques that could be used with or
without needles. The ancient practice stimulates points on the body to release
and disperse blocked energy within the body. "This is real science, not
hocus-pocus," he said. Every vet and owner can help
animals by conducting the 4 Examinations, based on the principles that
history-taking is not enough; you must ask the animal how he feels. He
gave examples of food nutrition translating to energy and through energy,
supporting immune function and healing the body. Disrputions of
electromagnetic patterns throw off bird navigation and are largely responsible,
he explained, for colony collapse disorder (CCD) imperiling bee survival. Pathogens,
parasites and predators can sense disruptions in a body's healthy
electromagnetic fields. This may sound like junk science - until realizing the
reliance of even Western medicine on energy fields, such as in diagnosis.
Example: the EEG, a picture of composite radiation of the energy put out by
brain cells. Notable quote: "Literature shows
that when you put a needle in a dog's butt to open up a flow, the dog feels
great." Caveat: Good nutrition is a prerequisite for
these therapies. The same surely goes for traditional therapies. *
Holistic Principles: Dr. Robert Silver explained
how concerns over overvaccination, processed pet food, increased incidence of
cancers, and dead-ends with allopathic (Western) medicine are spurring more
veterinarians nationwide to make referrals to alternative health specialists
and integrate holistic treatments into their own practices. Areas
of increased interest include Ayruveda, which is Hindu Indian traditional
holistic medicine based on body balance, integrating diet, herbal treatment,
and yoga exercise. Herbal therapies were covered in detail by Dr. Stephanie
Schwartz. REHABILITATION Laurie
McCauley gave a lively presentation about canine rehabilitation tools and
techniques. The most important tool? Hands Her
novel, smart practices included targeted use of knuckles to motivate recovering
animals to walk. Tailwork often yields rapid results. Smearing peanut butter
along wall to persuade an animal to walk? Priceless. Dr.
Jacqueline Davidson discussed passive manipulations such as PROM - passive
range of motion exercises. Good points: Withhold
medications during periods of increase to avoid masking signs of pain - since
pain signals harm to the joint. Watch weight - excess will stress joints. And
don't subject the recovering animal to slippery flooring.
Details will appear in a Dog Tipsheet on Rehab; contact
* Home-Made Diet Do's and Don'ts
Given today's increasing interest in home-cooked diets for pets , Dr.
Korinn Saker warned that a fresh diet can be risky if not nutritionally
customized to the individual. Her case in point: a very young Sheltie who
suffered from skeletal changes and fractures due to an inadequate homemade
Ingredient balance, quality and preparation are key. An expert review
should be done before feeding a homemade diet. Evaluate factors such as
sources and ratios of protein, carbs, fat, calcium and other minerals and
vitamins. Online experts and computer programs are available to develop
nutritious custom diets.
Tips: a human adult daily vitamin can be used, but not the
Dr. Robert Silver weighed in with the holistic perspective. He noted
evidence that processing of foods, both human and pet, creates byproducts that
have inflammatory and insulin dysregulating side effects linked to degenerative
health conditions. Some kibble and canned foods contain potentially toxic
byproducts. Reactive oxidative species can be created by food processing,
leading to tissue damage down the road. Then there are chemical preservatives,
aflatoxins and other mycotoxins occasionally contaminating commercial kibble,
and basic lack of whole foods.
Interesting side-benefit of milled flax seed, a highly recommended
addition to dog and cat diets: the fiber will help manage hairballs.
He agrees that the client tendency to substitute ingredients - "Recipe
Drift" - can unbalance the diet.
Not ready to commit to daily homecooking for your pet? Dr. Silver
suggests preparing at least one good homemade unprocessed meal a week. Also,
people who eat healthy whole foods can make extra and share with their pets.
Tip; Remove a half cup of kibble per each cup of fresh food supplements.
* Nutritional Myths: Fat is unhealthy and causes diarrhea?
Panelists said not so. Balance is necessary for digestion and health. Dietary
allergies are common? Dietary intolerance is more common.
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article when it's published.
MORE TOPICS & ISSUES
* Pet Food Crisis - Lessons Learned: Panelists analyzed their own
organizations' responses to the melamine-tainted pet food additives from China
that poisoned pets across the U.S. Lessons included: Convey facts as soon as
they're confirmed. Set up multiple channels for consumers and health
professionals to get answers and to report cases. Establish linkages between
industry associations and government agencies. Investigate immediately. The
first consumer complaints were filed with Menu Foods Feb. 20. On April 2, the
Chinese government was still denying its exports were contaminated, though its
mislabeled rice protein and wheat gluten concentrates entered the U.S. in 2006. And:
take pet poisoning seriously, which the major media failed to do, preferring to
chase wayward celebrities and rehash political hijinks - leaving bloggers to do
the initial investigative reporting. Wal-mart
demonstrated a proactive response, programming check-out scanners to block the
sale of recalled foods, noted Pet Central host Steve Dale. *
Mating Isn't Just About Multiplying: In her talk on "Sexual Diversity in the
Animal Kingdom," Joan Roughgarden presented evidence to disprove Darwin's
theory of sexual selection, which assigned behaviors by gender and labeled
same-sex sexual play as maldaptive social behavior. The Stanford University
researcher said homosexuality has been documented in more than 450 unique
vertebrate species, from bighorn sheep to bonobos, fruit flies to sunfish. In
the animal kingdom and other human cultures, straight and gay are not mutually
exclusive. Those friendly copulations between female macaques? They foster
social stability, akin to cooperative game theory, said Roughgarden. She
regards the hetero/homo distinction is purely a cultural creation. Then there
are co-fathering communities of birds. Viva la difference. *
Radiofrequency Surgery: Gaining fans due to its pinpoint precision, tactile feel
while making incisions, cutting at lower heat than lasers thus enabling faster
healing, scalpel-speed with less bleeding. * One
Health Initiative: Promotes collaboration between nonhuman animal and human
physicians, researchers, and epidemiologists to improve public health. In the
past 25 years, 75% of the emerging diseases have been zoonotic, such as avian
flu and SARS. "Zoonotic disease a growth industry," said keynote speaker Julie
Gerberding, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC). The melamine-poisoned pet food crisis was a sentinel that triggered
action before the poison-laced China exports spread too far in farm animal and
human food products. In addition to pathogenic infections and deadly food
additives, the effort will limit the destruction of potential bioterrorism.
SARS, which sprung from the animal slaughter and marketing practices in some
Asian provinces, reached an epidemic tipping point in 48 hours as it spread
between guests in a hotel in which a research doctor was staying; it led to
8,000 ill and 800 dead. On the domestic health
front, Americans spend excessively but not wisely. "We need to get our voice
heard over the cacophony of junk science," said Dr. Gerberding. "We need to
reach Dr. Mom" - with common sense messages such as "wash your hands!"
* End of Life Overtreatment: Per a Best Friends Animal Sanctuary vet,
waiting too long before euthanasia is common. Technology exists to lengthen
life, but quality of life is something vet should help their clients evaluate. *
Reconcile - a new separation anxiety drug: The first drug approved by the FDA
for treating canine separation anxiety, the once daily, chewable tablets
harness serontonin, "the civilizing neurotransmitter," to reduce anxiety. Other
anti-anxiety drugs such as amitriptylene and chomicalm affect multiple
neurotransmitters resulting in wider-ranging side effects. Dr. Barbara Sherman
emphasized it does not alone alone; it's part of the medication, modification,
management trinity. * New Test Kit Detect Breed
Ancestry in Mixed Breed Dogs: "Doctor, what is my dog?" Now vets can answer
the question they've been hearing for 400 years. Many
characteristic breed traits and diseases are hereditary. Genetic screening can
identify animals at risk of certain breed-linked diseases, drug sensitivities,
and behavioral traits before onset of clinical signs. Based on blood testing
of 13,000 purebred dogs, Mars Inc. developed the DNA-based Wisdom Panel MX kit
that ID's the breed heritage of mixed-breed dogs within 3 weeks. *
Farm Animal Aid: Downer cows were briefly in the news with the recent federal
government decision to permanently prohibit slaughter of nonambulatory cattle
for use as food. But they were also on the AVMA conference program as vets
discussed treatment issues. For example, when lying down, a cow's body weight
can apply enough pressure to cause nerve and muscle damage. Physical therapy
can help the animal stand on hind limbs; devices include hip clamps, slings and
flotation tanks. Injury, calving trauma and poor nutrition can result in the
syndrome. Nutritional therapy will help.
In his presentation on Herd Lameness Dynamics, Dr. Nigel Cook noted
that cows kept standing on concrete walkways in intensively managed dairy herds
leads to claw horn lesion development, and poor lying times are a significant
risk factor for lameness.
Worth noting: There are economical methods for large-scale livestock
operations that do not require the extreme confinement, deprivation and privation
that dominate the industry today, wrote Nedim C. Buyukmihci, president,
Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights and professor at University of
California's School of Veterinary Medicine. Labor cost savings from factory
farming is offset by the cost of equipment, water, fuel and other factors, as
well as compromised human health, soil health, depletion of resources that will
be needed by future generations. He cited a pasture system developed by
University of Tennessee proved more efficient and less costly than a
traditional confinement system. There were less post-weaning losses and
disease and better consistency in sow and pig performance.
* Other notable sessions: New vaccination guidelines
summarized by Dr. Richard Ford (who predicts a 4-way lepto vaccine to arrive by
year-end and explained the downsides of a vaccine adverse reaction database).
NIH's Dr. Anthony Fauci zipped through a survey of emerging and reemerging
infectious diseases. Among arresting points: The problem with HIV/AIDS vac
development: with all other diseases, the best path has been to study those
healthy immune responses to the pathogen and mimic in vax. HIV not one
spontaneous recovery from it, so can't mimic body's attempts to fight the
* Holistic animal health www.ahvma.org DrDoMore.com
* Animal Protection
Animal Welfare Institute
Wealth of literature on Animals' Legal Rights, Childhood Cruelty,
Threatened Wildlife, Farm and Laboratory Animals (even those professionals who
do not oppose animal research or use of animals for food and fiber still stress
the need for compassionate treatment, environmental enrichment and prevention
of physical and mental suffering among these animals who give their lives
involuntarily to satisfy human demands); Alternatives to Animal Testing, Animal
* AVAR Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights Nonprofit
committed to humane treatment; recommends modifying the Veterinary Oath to base
it upon the interests and needs of the individual nonhuman animal. Information
on animal lab standards, improving factory farm conditions, non-animal research
alternatives, and healthy life-supporting diets for all. www.avar.org *
Veterinary Services and Locators www.avma.org *
Organic-related health news and food/farming www.acresusa.com *
Vaccination AAHA Canine Vaccine Guidelines www.aahanet.org AAFP
Feline Vaccine Guidelines www.aafponline.org A
few of the many products in the exhibition hall:
* Health Supporting Supplements
Geri-Form intracellular nutrition for geriatric and
convalescing animals. www.lloyd.inc.com
Standard Process unique formulas
* New book
Blackwell's Five-Minute Consult Clinical Companion: Canine And Feline
vets Debra Horwitz and Jacqueline Neilson (who spoke at the
* Sorbay Pet Oral Care
* New Greenies animal dental products and Pill Pockets
For more Dog Tips about pet
care, adoption and the work PAW does, visit our
Partnership for Animal Welfare, Inc.
P.O. Box 1074, Greenbelt, MD 20768