Newest Innovations in Veterinary Medicine
The world of medicine, including veterinary medicine, is a constantly changing one. The adage “adapt or die”, has never been more relevant that in current times, when technology is constantly advancing. In this article, we would like to discuss some of the more recent changes in the world of veterinary medicine.
Some of these you may have experienced already. Others may be new. Let’s explore a few of them.
We will be primarily be focusing on general practice. Obviously, many breakthroughs have occurred in the fields of surgery and imaging through specialty medicine, but I don’t feel qualified to disperse information on those areas.
Convenia(cefovecin) is an antibiotic injection that has been shown to provide therapeutic levels of antibiotic for 7-10 days following administration. While it is currently labeled primarily for skin infections, it has shown clinical success in treating dental infections and urinary infections as well. It can be significantly helpful in getting antibiotic compliance in patients after tooth extractions that could be difficult to give oral antibiotics to.
Sustained release ear meds (Osurnia,Claro, etc.)
There are new lines of medications for ear infections that significantly help improve compliance in treating ear infections. These meds are heat activated in the ear canal and allow slow continuous release of drug over 7 days. Getting meds in painful ears daily can be one of the most difficult things we ask pet parents to do. This takes that problem away. However, these meds MUST be put in a debris-free ear, so a thorough ear cleaning is imperative prior to administration, sometimes under sedation.
Cerenia(maropitant) is an amazing medication that is used for a nausea, abdominal pain, and motion sickness. It is extremely well-tolerated by even severely ill patients, and new uses are being found for this medication all the time. Research indicates that the survival rate of parvo puppies may be increased by up to 40% with the use of this drug, and pain scores improved almost the same as morphine, though this medication is not a narcotic. It can be used to improve appetite post-op in dogs and cats as well. It comes as an injection and quick dissolve pills. It can be used to alleviate nausea from chemotherapy, abdominal surgery, pancreatitis, and many more diseases causing vomiting, nausea, and abdominal pain.
Most people agree that chronic use of steroids for allergies of the skin are not ideal. While inexpensive, these meds can carry significant side effects both short and long term. Cytopoint is an injection that blocks a chemical at the skin nerves that causes itching. It is incredibly safe, and can even be used in terminally ill patients. Apoquel is similar, but comes as a short acting pill. These medications are typically very effective at controlling itching, without the side effects of steroids.
There are now suture materials that have antibiotic properties, minimizing risks of infection at the suture. Since suture is a foreign material, it can harbor bacteria, especially if the surgery is contaminated(intestinal surgery, bite wounds, etc.) These types of suture can help with the risk of infection at the suture site.
The newer lines of microchips are made of acrylic, not glass. This allows the chips to be 30% thinner than older chips. There are also virtually indestructible. Furthermore, small holes are drilled with a laser to allow tissue to “grow” into them, allowing them to anchor into tissue and avoid migration from the implant site. In the future, these chips may have active GPS location in them, allowing a phone or tablet to actively track the location of the chip in real time.
I really like pet insurance, for several reasons, which could be a whole different discussion(don’t get me started). It allows us to practice better medicine, and provides less stress to owners (and us) about the cost of larger procedures, or preventing the use of better but more expensive medications.
In terms of recent advances, one of the cool changes is the app technology for smartphones. Now, many companies have an app that allows you to take a picture of your invoice and submit it, instantly starting the reimbursement process. Most of the time, pet owners can have a reimbursement check in hand by the time their credit card bill is due, making the financial part of medicine easier to cover. Plus, so many plans have flexible co-pays, deductibles, and max limits to tailor each policy to the individual.
Digital X-rays/Dental X-rays
While not brand new, digital x-ray technology has allowed films to be taken quickly and with less radiation exposure to the staff. Plus, having films reviewed by surgeons and radiologists can be done very quickly, as films can now be sent with a few clicks of a button. The detail is superb to old “chemical” based films, and can be adjusted, zoomed, etc.
Cloud based software/EMR
I had never used electronic medical record systems, much less cloud-based, until we opened Blue Lake. What a difference. Cloud-based means no on-site servers to crash or maintain, and the records automatically save and back up instantly. Records can be emailed, photos added to record, and notes dictated, meaning they are legible to anyone who reads them. That means better medicine with less mistakes. This also means you can access your vaccine history, prior medications, etc., through a portal into your pet’s records, which is great if travelling or an emergency occurs.
Furthermore, appointment/treatment reminders via text and/or email are available through most software systems now.
This is the current buzz in Tahoe. While the hemp-based products claim many potential benefits, I have notice some improvements in conditions such as chronic pain, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and improved appetite/nausea. More time is needed to gain information on these products, but since they are plant derived, well-tolerated, and thus “more natural”, they provide another pathway for supplemental therapy for dogs.
I have no experience with these yet. It is relatively new technology, but these trackers, like our watches, help pet owners to maintain appropriate activity levels in overweight pets to achieve weight loss, as well as rehabilitation in injured pets.
Most people have heard about the current flu outbreaks in the Bay and Reno. I can tell you it’s not a matter of if, but when in Tahoe. Fortunately, unlike the human influenza virus, there are only 2 strains of flu in dogs. There is now a bivalent vaccine that covers both strains that is very well-tolerated. And unlike human(at least for now), we know what the strains are, and they are covered in the vaccine, so it’s not a “guess” each year for the flu vaccine like with humans.
Ok, full disclosure. I have not used this product…yet. It is new to the market and there are availability issues right now in certain sizes. That said, there is a ton of buzz with this new medication. Why? Most of you probably know about the use of NSAID’s like carprofen(Rimadyl), Deramaxx, Metacam, or Previcox for arthritis or post-op pain, right? Well, it is uncommon, but these meds can all cause potential kidney or liver issues that can be serious if not diagnosed with routine bloodwork. Galliprant is different. It is stil and anti-inflammatory, but is not a COX-2 inhibitor like the others. Instead, it blocks a different pathway that is very specific to inflammation sites, and spares others. As such, there have been no reported liver or kidney reactions.
Perfect! Why don’t we put all dogs on it? The #1 answer is…price.(see above re: pet insurance). It’s expensive. It’s also not listed(yet) for use in dogs under 9 months, limited some ability to use for post-op pain in younger patients. I hope to gain experience soon with this medication.
There are plenty more exciting changes, and maybe we’ll address more in the future. Hope this article helps. Feel free to post on the Blue Lake FB page if you have any topics you want covered in the future. (not too specific, please)
As always, if you have any concerns, please call us to schedule an appointment. Can’t wait to see you soon!