Monday, February 15, 2010

PANCREAS, INSULIN, DIABETES....

Wow, not only is this a 3-day Presidents Day weekend, it's also Valentine's Day! The combination was too good to pass up, so Desperado and Helpful Buckeye decided to make a short trip down to Tucson for 3 days to enjoy some warmer temperatures and desert explorations.

The poll question from last week aroused several sentiments about a cat's nocturnal activities and many of you sent e-mails relating some interesting tidbits about the night-time behavior of your felines. About half of 21 respondents said they were concerned about what their cats do through the night and the other half said they weren't concerned. Be sure to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.

Hopefully, in addition to that special Valentine in your life, you will find some extra sentiment for your "pet" Valentine this weekend....



CURRENT NEWS OF INTEREST

The Humane Society of the United States offers the following position regarding breed-specific policies:

The HSUS opposes legislation aimed at eradicating or strictly regulating dogs based solely on their breed for a number of reasons. Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is a common first approach that many communities take. Thankfully, once research is conducted most community leaders correctly realize that BSL won't solve the problems they face with dangerous dogs.


There are more than 4.5 million dog bites each year. This is an estimate as there is no central reporting agency for dog bites, thus breed and other information is not captured. Out of the millions of bites, about 10-20 are fatal each year. While certainly tragic, it represents a very small number statistically and should not be considered as a basis for sweeping legislative action.It is imperative that the dog population in the community be understood. To simply pull numbers of attacks does not give an accurate representation of a breed necessarily. For example, by reviewing a study that states there have been five attacks by golden retrievers in a community and 10 attacks by pit bulls in that same community it would appear that pit bulls are more dangerous. However, if you look at the dog populations in that community and learn that there are 50 golden retrievers present and 500 pit bulls, then the pit bulls are actually the safer breed statistically.

For the rest of this position statement by the HSUS, go to: http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/dogs/facts/statement_dangerous_dogs_breed_specific_legislation.html

DISEASES, AILMENTS, AND MEDICAL CONDITIONS

The pancreas is a fairly large gland, located in the anterior abdomen near the stomach, liver, and the duodenum portion of the small intestine of the dog and cat.


Part of the pancreas produces and secretes digestive enzymes, such as amylase and lipase, which are released into the small intestine...thus making this part of the pancreas an exocrine gland. Another part of the pancreas, the Islets of Langerhans, produces the hormones insulin and glucagon which are secreted directly into the bloodstream...meaning that this part of the pancreas is an endocrine gland.

As mentioned in last week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, insulin is probably the most well-known hormone of all. Malfunctions in the ability of the body to either produce enough insulin or properly utilize available insulin usually result in the development of diabetes mellitus. When starches and carbohydrates are eaten, they are broken down into the sugar glucose. The glucose is absorbed through the wall of the digestive tract and passes into the bloodstream. Insulin allows glucose to leave the bloodstream and enter the body's tissues. Glucose can then be utilized as energy for the cells. Sometimes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to make this transport of glucose possible and, in other cases, the body's tissues become unable to use insulin effectively.

Most cases of diabetes mellitus occur in middle-aged dogs and cats. In dogs, females are twice as likely to develop the disease as are males. Any breed of dog can be affected, but the incidence appears to be higher in certain smaller breeds, such as Miniature Poodles, Dachshunds, Schnauzers, Cairn Terriers, and Beagles. No breed predisposition has been observed in cats.

The onset of diabetes mellitus can be very inconspicuous for a pet owner to notice. The most common signs associated with this onset are increased thirst, increased urinations, increased appetite (frequently accompanied by weight loss), generalized weakness, and cataracts in both eyes (dogs only). These all are related, in one way or another, to the excessive build-up of glucose in the the bloodstream.

The diagnosis of diabetes mellitus results from a combination of a good physical exam and history with the appropriate lab work. Your veterinarian will want to evaluate blood and urine levels of glucose, in addition to a few other specialized blood tests for a confirmation.

Treatment of diabetes mellitus is considered to be a long-term proposition and its success will largely depend on the understanding and cooperation of the pet owner. The overall treatment plan involves a combination of weight reduction, diet, the administration of insulin, and possibly the use of oral medications that reduce blood glucose. Each of these factors will be discussed by your veterinarian and you really need to understand why they are important to the success of the treatment. After your veterinarian has made a complete evaluation of your dog or cat for any other potentially complicating factors, they will present you with a game plan for controlling and managing the disease. A good channel of communication between you and your veterinarian is a must when dealing with diabetes mellitus.

A short note about the use of the word, "mellitus," is in order at this point. Way back in medical history, when diabetes was first described, early physicians noticed that the urine of those patients was sweet-tasting (yes, they actually did taste it!) and thus the name mellitus was added to diabetes, signifying "sweet diabetes." This differentiates this disease from diabetes insipidus, "bland diabetes," which arises from a deficiency of anti-diuretic hormone, which is produced in a part of the pituitary gland. Diabetes insipidus also involves an increase in thirst and urinations, so you can see why there could be some confusion, thus the difference in their names.

The bottom line is that you should report any of these signs in your dog or cat as soon as you notice them. If the diagnosis turns out to be diabetes mellitus, the sooner treatment is started, the better the chances are for a good result.

NON-MEDICAL CONCERNS
The Humane Society of the United States has put together a very interesting and informative description of how to properly read a pet food label:

Reading Pet Food Labels
Getting to the meat of the matter

Pet food companies invest millions of dollars into designing labels to appeal to people. It's important to look beyond the appealing words and focus on the fine print—the ingredient list and guaranteed analysis.

Spend a few minutes reading this presentation at: http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/pet_food_labels.html



General Interest

1) The American Veterinary Medical Association has produced another podcast, titled "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" (with apologies to the Temptations)....
If your pet begs for food, take a few minutes and listen to this report at: http://www.avmamedia.org/detail.asp?sid=220&NAME=Ain and be sure to click the MP3 link.

2) Here's a fun video of a Sheltie puppy trying to figure out what to do with a toy ball: http://www.urlesque.com/2010/01/14/puppy-vs-ball/?icid=mainhtmlws-main-wdl5link5http%3A%2F%2Fwww.urlesque.com%2F2010%2F01%2F14%2Fpuppy-vs-ball%2F

3) For those dog owners who might want to immortalize their pooch, the folks who make Milk Bones are offering to put your dog's photo on the front of one of their boxes...but it does cost a few bucks. I guess this would be the canine equivalent of having your photo on a Wheaties box? For how to get this done, go to: http://onthepackage.com/Milk-Bone-Box/

4) The first ever recorded cat knee replacement has been accomplished in England. Read the interesting story of Missy and her new knee: http://www.peoplepets.com/news/amazing/missy-is-world-s-first-cat-to-have-artificial-knee-replacement/1

5) Now that large portions of the USA are covered by a lot of snow, enjoy Tillman, the athletic Bulldog, as he and a few other pets try some of the Olympic events: http://www.asylum.com/2010/02/10/tillman-the-snowboarding-dog-and-other-beasts-of-the-winter-o/?icid=mainhtmlws-main-wdl7link4http%3A%2F%2Fwww.asylum.com%2F2010%2F02%2F10%2Ftillman-the-snowboarding-dog-and-other-beasts-of-the-winter-o%2F Yes, for those of you who are wondering, you've seen Tillman before on his skateboard!

6) Are cat owners smarter than dog owners? The London Daily Mail asked that very question and you may or may not agree with the conclusion of their study. Read about it at: http://www.pawnation.com/2010/02/11/study-says-cat-owners-are-smarter-than-dog-owners/

7) According to one of the biggest pet insurance companies, the most common cause for a dog visit to the veterinarian is an ear infection, while for a cat is a lower urinary tract infection. See the top 10 list at: http://www.dogchannel.com/dog-news/2010/02/10/dog-ear-infections-top-cause-of-vet-visits.aspx?NewsLetterId=158336&Email=kfwash%40aol.com&City=Flagstaff&StateProvince=AZ&PostalCode=

This website was sent in by my former partner back in Richmond.

PERSONAL STUFF

"Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling." --Margaret Lee Runbeck (1905-1956)

Desperado and Helpful Buckeye are certain to be happy in our manner of travel the next several days...we sure can use the recharge after all the snow we've shoveled and endured!

"We build too many walls and not enough bridges." --Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) English mathematician and physicist

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~



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