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Minnesota Veterinary Hospital Blog

FDA Warns of Danger of Unregulated Online Pet Pharmacies



In response to the many fraudulent online stores selling pet medication, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning to pet owners in early 2015. Anyone dispensing veterinary medication must abide by FDA regulations to ensure the safety of animals nationwide. A common practice of unregulated online pet pharmacies is to entice pet owners by promising cheap medications without the need for a prescription. Another practice that led to multiple complaints to the FDA is online veterinary pharmacies that sell counterfeit or expired drugs. Sometimes the product received was not even for the right species of animal.
Pets Must Be Personally Evaluated to Receive a New Prescription
Federal regulations require a veterinarian to examine a patient personally before writing a prescription to treat an illness or injury. However, disreputable online pharmacies find a way around this law as well. The owners of these websites, who often have no veterinary training at all, state that they will evaluate a pet based on a health form the owner completes. Not only does that not usually happen, but the person placing the order may receive drugs in the wrong strength and size for the pet’s condition. The medication may not even be appropriate for the health condition or injury.
One common complaint to the FDA is online pharmacies dispensing heartworm medications and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs to pet owners without a valid prescription. Dogs, cats, and other companion animals that take these medications need to be closely monitored by a licensed veterinarian. These drugs also require a blood test prior to getting started with them. Obviously, an unregulated online pharmacy can’t analyze the results of a blood test to prescribe the correct medication.
Obtain Your Pet’s Medication from Minnesota Veterinary Hospital
When your pet’s veterinarian writes a new prescription for your pet, he or she will give it to you directly. If your pet needs refills or maintenance medication, we offer the option of ordering from My Vet Store Online. If you click on Medications, you will notice that you can order from one of nearly two dozen categories. Some of these include antibiotics, pain management, gastrointestinal, and insulin. You can order a single dose of medication for home delivery though the Easy Dose It program as well as set up repeat monthly shipments. 
When you receive veterinary medicine from Minnesota Veterinary Hospital, you have the assurance of knowing that it has FDA approval. In addition, individual manufacturers guarantee the quality and reliability of their products. With something as important as your pet’s health on the line, it just isn’t worth taking the risk to save a few dollars. 

Photo Credit: naumoid / Getty Image


October is National Pet Wellness Month



Pet Wellness Month was started by the American Veterinary Medical Association in 2004 to bring awareness to pet owners on what they could do to increase longevity and quality of life for their pets. One misconception that people have is that a pet is fine as long as he isn’t sick. Just as with people, true wellness for domestic pets involves several different factors. We encourage you to consider the following: 

Learn which vaccines your pet needs and then make sure she gets them on schedule. Vaccines prevent serious illnesses and protect other pets who may be more vulnerable to picking up viruses. Our staff will let you know which vaccines are essential and which are optional depending on your pet’s species, age, lifestyle, and other individual factors. 
Make sure that you schedule an annual preventive care exam for your pet. Dogs and cats over age seven, along with puppies and kittens, need more frequent veterinary visits to ensure their good health. Annual check-ups make it possible to spot and monitor health issues as early as possible. They also give you the chance to bring up any concerns, such as behavioral issues, diet, and sleep habits. 
Your pet needs a regular oral hygiene routine just as you do. You might be surprised at how cooperative your dog or cat will be with tooth brushing if you introduce it early and make it a consistent habit. Good oral hygiene also reduces the risk of diabetes as well as problems with the heart, joints, and kidneys. 

Spaying or neutering your pet prevents unwanted litters of puppies and kittens that may never find a loving home. Additionally, altering your pet eliminates aggressive behavior related to the mating ritual. It can even reduce the risk of your pet developing health issues such as tumors of the mammary glands. 

Minnesota is the land of tornadoes, floods, blizzards, and other weather emergencies. A fire can break out in your home as well. You’re naturally stressed and not thinking clearly when an emergency arises, so make sure that you prepare for one in advance. Gathering your pet’s supplies in a bag that you can grab quickly and knowing how to evacuate with your pet increases the likelihood of him surviving a disaster. 

Your pet needs nutritious food specific to his species in order to thrive. It’s up to you to read food labels carefully and avoid buying anything with artificial fillers that don’t add any nutritional value. While the occasional treat is fine, your pet should have to earn it. Daily exercise is just as essential as nutritious food for your pet’s overall well-being. 
It is important to protect your pet from parasites all year long. We are happy to recommend a specific product for heartworm, fleas, ticks, and other common internal and external parasites. 
The staff at Minnesota Veterinary Hospital appreciates the opportunity to work with you to ensure a happy and healthy life for your pet. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with additional questions about your pet’s wellness. 

Photo Credit:  Hybrid Images / Getty Images


The Feline Leukemia Virus Doesn't Have to Be Fatal


One of the biggest misconceptions about the feline leukemia virus, also called FeLV, is that it only causes the type of cancer known as leukemia. Unfortunately, FeLV can cause a host of other health conditions as well. Some of the most common include eye diseases, gastrointestinal distress, immune deficiency, blood platelet issues, reproductive problems, and low body weight. The virus spreads from cat-to-cat contact and is more common in kittens than adult cats. Humans and other species of animals cannot acquire FeLV. 

Transmission, Symptoms, and Diagnosis of FeLV 
Kittens are more susceptible to this virus because they can easily contract it in utero or when nursing from their mother after birth. Adult cats typically pick up FeLV from sharing litter boxes, food dishes, or bedding with a cat who already has the virus. Other common methods of transmission include mutual grooming, contact with feces or urine, and being bitten by an infected cat. Those with the highest risk of acquiring FeLV are cats who live in communal living situations, a multi-cat household, or who spend unsupervised time outdoors. 

FeLV can be difficult to diagnose because it presents with vague symptoms that could indicate a different health condition. Unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, fever, and general weakness are often the first indications of the virus. If you suspect that your cat has picked up the feline leukemia virus, contact Minnesota Veterinary Hospital to request a blood test. 
One of three things will happen when a cat or kitten is exposed to the FeLV virus. Cats with a strong immune system and limited exposure will not go on to develop any complications of the condition. A second category of infected cats will fight off some effects of the virus but not others. This is called latent infection. Persistent infection is another possible outcome. In this case, the infected cat has progressive symptoms that usually cause serious illness within a few years of infection. Adult cats who have had other immunizations are better able to fight off FeLV than kittens with untested immune systems. 

Preventing and Treating FeLV 
We highly recommend getting the FeLV vaccine if your cat meets any of the risk factors mentioned above. It is also important to test for FeLV anytime your cat is ill, before adding a new cat to the household, when another cat in the home already has FeLV, or when your cat has faced specific risks such as being bitten by another cat. 
If your cat is diagnosed as FeLV-positive, he or she needs to be kept strictly indoors. This protects your own cat as well as any others he or she comes into contact with in the neighborhood. Try to keep life as stress-free as possible for your cat with FeLV and be certain to keep all regularly scheduled preventive care exams. Should you move out of our service area, your new vet needs to know about your cat’s FeLV status.

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