As mindful animal owners, we try to do the best we can to prevent injuries and illness, and to treat them when they occur.
But how are we to know when a given treatment actually causes unseen harm? The vet recommends it. She uses it often. It goes in, the animal gets better, or he doesn’t. If he does, the treatment worked. If he doesn’t, some other factor is probably responsible.
Recently, this conundrum was illustrated in technicolor at my home.
The evening before I was to leave for Hawaii, my daughter’s pug, Wibble tottered up to me looking a bit panicked, lifted each front leg, and then toppled over on his back, eyes unseeing.
I immediately righted him. Looking in his mouth (for her suffers from indiscriminate dietary syndrome–he will eat anything), I found his lips, tongue and gums to be blue. He was still breathing, but just barely. His heart rate was below fifty. For a small dog (less than 30 pounds) this is dangerously low.
Luckily, TTouch® held an answer for me while I called the vet and transported Wibble to the emergency room.
I TTouched his gums, tongue and lips vigorously. They slowly gained some color. I did earwork as I drove (I know, I know, both hands on the wheel!), activating the acupressure points there which govern the cardiovascular system.
By the time we reached the vet, his heart rate was up above 50.
After some questioning, I remembered that I had dosed him with PROMERIS, a topical anti-flea and -tick medication manufactured by Fort Dodge Animal Health, a division of Wyeth, only the night before.
I was told that there a a seriously large number of anecdotal accounts of dogs and cats who demonstrate depressed cardiovascular function after using PROMERIS. I’m not sure why the vet prescribes this medication knowing this fact, but there you have it. I am not sure whether the medication caused a general slowing of the parasympathetic nervous system or whether it causes some sort of heart block. After doing a little research, I find only anecdotal accounts, the best of which is here on snopes.com: Fort Dodge has nothing to say.
After a couple bags of Ringers, a good bath, and 72 hours of observation, Wibble’s heart rate was up to par and he could go home.
Moral of the story: even when the vet tells us a given preparation is suitable, we cannot know for sure. Had I researched PROMERIS at the time it was prescribed, those anecdotal accounts may not have been published. Even if they had, would I have taken the word of a few strangers over the word of my trusted vet? I would now, but I don’t know about then. How do we know what to do?
Another example is Joint Injections and Cartilage Health: More Fuel for the Fire from The Horse.com. It seems that two common infusions/injections owners and veterinarians have long thought to benefit horses with articular issues may hurt more than they help.
“Microscopic analysis revealed that LPS, amikacin, and mepivicaine each had a deleterious impact on the structure of articular cartilage,” explained Bertone. “Specifically, LPS, amikacin, and mepivicaine each resulted in a significant increase in empty lacunae–regions of articular cartilage that normally house the cartilage cells (chondrocytes)–and abnormal chondrocyte nuclei.”
Before we get our knickers in a twist, The Horse.com reminds us that more research is needed (but then, perhaps that’s what they said about PROMERIS):
Additional studies in live horses are required to confirm these findings as the current studies were performed on cultured cells in conditions that were relatively harsh (i.e., the cartilage was exposed to the amikacin, mepivicaine, and LPS for prolonged time).
In real life, these drugs might be resorbed quickly from the joint environment which means that the chondrocytes would not be exposed to these drugs for very long.
With all the new “better living through chemistry” developments in animal care, caveat emptor has never had greater resonance. But how do we know when to trust the vet and when not to? When to dig deeper?
© 2009 enlightened horsemanship through touch
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