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Animal Drug Investigation Reveals Pet Medication Often Doesn't Work

Soulskill posted about 9 months ago | from the works-at-making-money-for-the-medication-providers dept.

Medicine 279

KentuckyFC writes: "Americans spent an estimated $14.2 billion on veterinary care for their pets in 2013 — and that doesn't even include proprietary health diets and food supplements. Put another way, pet owners pay about $850 annually in veterinary expenses per dog, and about $575 per cat. Factor in the emotional energy we invest in keeping our companion animals healthy, and you'd hope for high confidence in the end results. But when one journalist investigated the science behind the meds being used to treat his aging dog's osteoarthritis, he was in for a nasty surprise. Glucosamine and chondroitin food supplements? Next to useless. Tramadol to kill pain? It's probably just getting dogs high. The one treatment that's been proven to help, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug called carprofen, is often left on the shelf because of fears — likely overblown — that it might damage dogs' kidneys. In part, you can blame this sorry state of affairs on a lack of financial incentives for drug companies to run clinical trials on animals. But often, vets aren't paying attention to the studies that have been done. If we want our dogs and cats to receive the best possible medical care, we need to ask our vets some tougher questions about why they think the drugs will work."

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Fish antibiotics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123405)

I stock my bunker with several different types of fish antibiotics, which are in reality just like the ones people use that you need a prescription to get. Things like Keflex, Cipro, etc are all good to have around.

Re:Fish antibiotics (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123861)

When it comes time that you have to treat an infection how do you know which to use? Honest question. Are you skilled in making that judgement and/or have microbiological facilities?

Re:Fish antibiotics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123911)

Honestly I hadn't thought that far ahead, but I know you can go online and find information. I probably should try to find a one page cheat sheet and laminate it and keep it in the cabinet with the medicine. Good call.

Re:Fish antibiotics (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46124075)

Rather than a one-page cheat sheet, try keeping a copy of the Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy handy. It’s available online for free, but the printed form is inexpensive considering the extraordinarily extensive coverage. The Brandon/Hill list could get you a few more references in case you have to survive without any access to medical expertise.

In ordinary life you should still see actual medical professionals, but if you’re isolated from any sort of medical care then appropriate books and emergency drugs are the next best thing. Study up too, there are a lot of emergency conditions that need immediate treatment.

Re:Fish antibiotics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46124035)

How do you verify whether they are still effective? Shelf-life is a serious concern, and antibiotics are stored under specific conditions to maximize their effective lives. Dosing with an expired drug can have all sorts of unpleasant effects because the resulting chemicals may be worse than just nonfunctional.

In general it’s true that animal antibiotics are largely the same as those intended for human delivery, and many a veterinarian uses their office supplies on themselves. But even animal antibiotics are stored under specific conditions and are disposed of when they expire. That’s not just for commercial gain, it’s to ensure that the drugs do what they’re supposed to and not something unpredictable instead.

What else is new? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123425)

So? Often the HUMAN drugs don't work either, but we still pay billions out each year for them, and don't get me started on the "homeopathic" and "vitamin" crazes.

Re:What else is new? (2, Interesting)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 9 months ago | (#46123645)

What's worse is we push profitable drugs. I put myself on phenotropil (a high dose--people recognize the stimulant effect at 100mg, but reading ADHD research and doing molecular composition and mass analysis I've figured out it should be about 20-25mg twice per day), and that's had miraculous effects on the ADHD--and the dissociation (which I've tended to use as a tool--but holy shit being a part of the real world is overwhelming), and even the sociopathy (emotional centers of my brain are hooking back up). Of course, Dextroamphetamine and Methylphenedate are more profitable... oddly enough, since they're also insanely generic. Adderall is multiple Dex salts and a 12.5% load of Levoamphetamine salt, which have widely varied half-lives so not really a good idea.

The worst part? Phenotropil's side effects include a headache from my brain starting to cannibilize itself for required acetylcholine--this is the same headache you get from studying too hard--so I'm also intaking a crazy amount of choline supplements (about 1200-1500mg/day)--and insomnia. Methylphenedate? Psychosis. Dex? Also psychosis, but less severe than Methylphenedate. They're both systemic toxins, as well as neurotoxins; phenotropil is well-tolerated and is neuroprotective. The dosage window is pretty narrow--high enough for a clinical effect, but not so high as to induce nasty side effects or toxicity, is hard with MPH and Amphetamine; Phenotropil it's just avoiding tolerance to the stimulant effect, which is why I said the dosage should be lower (I'm taking 100mg every day, but 25mg twice per day would be better; the same low-dose tactic is used to avoid Dextroamphetamine tolerance, which follows the same mechanism).

In short: the drugs as prescribed are horribly bad for you; the drugs that aren't prescribed have fewer side effects and are probably (not proven, but believed with rather high confidence) actually good for you. Phenotropil is neuroprotective: it prevents brain damage.

I take a B vitamin ... out of habit now, I guess. I was previously using SAM-e to maintain a hypomanic state, which requires B9 and B12 to prevent headaches and other side effects. Megavitamins are useless, and vitamin supplementation is only useful if you're deficient. Choline supplementation is probably the only universal one for that--250mg CDP Choline/day supplementation would be good for most people--but even that's not strictly necessary.

Re:What else is new? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123701)

Good God, it sounds like you're a train wreck

Re:What else is new? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 9 months ago | (#46123747)

and the best thing is that he actually thinks he is doing OK now. It must really 'good stuff' he is on.

Re:What else is new? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123767)

This is a perfect example of knowing enough to be dangerous. You're making all these blanket statements decrying prescribed drugs that are well understood while promoting drugs that are not prescribed based upon some unproven beliefs, and creating and promoting a cocktail of vitamins and supplements that you believe might counteract negative effects of these drugs that no doctor prescribes for what you're doing... Danger, Will Robinson! I sense someone about to fall off the cliff into quack-land!

Re:What else is new? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46124041)

The thing that set me off was the second sentence: "molecular composition and mass analysis". I'm a chemist and I don't even know what is meant by "molecular composition". I assume he has access to a mass spec for the mass analysis part but I don't see how that would help determine the dosage. Then all the this countered by that talk. Quack indeed.

Re: What else is new? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46124059)

The IT equivalent of this is called Frankensteining. The origin of this kind of behavior no doubt started in some kitchen ("Taste this!"). Its really all about self-indulgence vs. self-control. Self-medicating is very popular, but only the truely out of control manic maniacs really get so emotionally intimate with their own customized chemical cocktails.

Story not complete BS, 1 important detail missing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123725)

Pet medication does indeed work. That part of the story is BS.

However pet medicine only works if you are human [youtube.com]

Re:What else is new? (3, Funny)

sjames (1099) | about 9 months ago | (#46124119)

Of course, arguably the homeopathic drugs are just as effective as the prescriptions with less harmful side effects at 1/100th the cost.

If you're going to buy placebos, buy the cheap ones :-)

Just bought a puppy (2, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 9 months ago | (#46123435)

I felt like our initial visit was almost like getting cased by a grifter; like they wanted to see how much I was willing to shell out. They started me out with a sample of a deworming med then asked for a stool sample from the pup which of course showed some parasite that had to be treated with another med. So, I've had her 2 weeks and besides vaccinations she's already been exposed to 2 medications. And, each visit has been a setup for another visit in the weeks to come. I just feel like i'm getting sucked into a merry-go-round of perpetual medication and unnecessary care. But, I'm not a professional so I don't have much ability to make judgements.

A human doesn't need that much attention if he's healthy.

Re:Just bought a puppy (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123525)

Um what are you talking about? A human absolutely DOES need that same kind of attention if they're healthy. You're talking about the equivalent of a child in the first year of life, not a 20-year-old college kid. Kids go in to see the pediatrician about 4 or 5 times in their first year for routine check-ups, vaccinations, boosters, and more. Then, after that, they pretty much see the doctor for a checkup each year indefinitely. How is that different from what you're seeing with your puppy? You also have to remember, for a dog seeing the vet once a year, that's equivalent to a human going every 4 or 5 years or so based on how rapidly their body ages in relation to a human's lifespan.

Also, most human children don't come from a puppy mill or spend time eating dirt, plants, and bugs outdoors- if they did they'd also be tested and treated for parasites as necessary.

If you're feeling like you're being grifted at this point when your vet is just offering you appropriate and practical medical care for your pet, you're setting yourself up to be a difficult, irresponsible pet owner. Please don't go that route and at least, as this poorly though-out original article mentions, at least ASK your vet why you need to do something and how/why it works if you're not sure rather than just assuming you're being scammed and doing a disservice to your pet.

Re:Just bought a puppy (5, Funny)

Antipater (2053064) | about 9 months ago | (#46123575)

most human children don't...spend time eating dirt, plants, and bugs outdoors

I'm not so sure about that one...

Re:Just bought a puppy (0)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 9 months ago | (#46123615)

1.) It's a dog. She sniffs shit. I raw feed and she can and has been fed spoiled meat that would kill a human being.
2.) My dog isn't from a puppy mill; she's from a reputable breeder
3.) Lots of other pets and livestock don't get the same levels of medical care and do quite fine

Re:Just bought a puppy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123879)

You'd be surprised by the level of spoiled meat - red meat that is - that you can get away with eating.

Re:Just bought a puppy (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 9 months ago | (#46124107)

You know I've suspected that but I'm not willing to try! This whole raw feeding movement has really changed a lot of my perceptions about eating. Another reason I'm wary of vets is how so many of them respond when they hear about raw feeding dogs.

Re:Just bought a puppy (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about 9 months ago | (#46123915)

The de-wormer is necessary. The stool sample, after the first clear one, provided you're not on a farm or next to wilderness, can be your last. What you lose is the ability to have the de-wormer company pay for your pet's care, should they get worms, as there's some kind of warranty. (Got that from my vet, I think we've only done stool samples when the dogs were sick, which we've only done once in the past 5 years, maybe more)

All that aside, my old dog does have arthritis, and takes Tramedol as needed. I see a definite improvement within a half hour or so after giving her a pill. I've also tried without giving her a pill to see if she would improve, and she has not. Since her arthritis varies with the weather and her daily health, she's not on a regularly scheduled regimen. It appears from observation, at least, that Tramedol does alleviate some arthritis pain. Probably much like some arthiritis / pain meds help humans, but not all are helped by the same drugs.

Re:Just bought a puppy (3, Interesting)

sh00z (206503) | about 9 months ago | (#46124049)

2.) My dog isn't from a puppy mill; she's from a reputable breeder

There's your problem. Get a shelter mutt. They are healthier, more easygoing, and you can feel like you're contributing to the solution, not the problem. Says the former owner of a cocker spaniel from a "reputable breeder" that developed cataracts at three years old.

Re:Just bought a puppy (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 9 months ago | (#46124127)

1.) It's a dog. She sniffs shit. I raw feed and she can and has been fed spoiled meat that would kill a human being.

Yes. Most dogs can do that. Kids can eat chocolate, grapes, macadamia nuts, and avocados. Dogs can't. People used to give chicken bones to infants when they were teething. Again, not a smart move for a dog. Different species, different digestive tracts.

2.) My dog isn't from a puppy mill; she's from a reputable breeder

You previously stated your dog had worms. If this is the case, then it's not a reputable breeder. Or perhaps you have found a crappy vet. It can't hurt to go to another for a second opinion. At least you'll know.

3.) Lots of other pets and livestock don't get the same levels of medical care and do quite fine

Yes, and lots die early and in misery from lack of medical care. Do you have a point?

Re:Just bought a puppy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123921)

This whole checkup business is idiotic and purely a money spinner. Maybe if the typical american diet was healthier...

Re:Just bought a puppy (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 9 months ago | (#46124011)

I had a friend who skipped a routine checkup because she was super busy - the manager of a plant she owned had quit, and she had to move up there and take care of things for months. She didn't go to the doctor again until she started to feel ill. Turns out she had fact growing pancreatic cancer - and she was dead within another six months. If she had gone to get her regular checkup done, they would have caught it before it hit stage IV and she would have had a much better prognosis. DO NOT SKIP YOUR ROUTINE CHECK UPS. $100 this year, or $100,000 next year if you're lucky enough to survive? It's not worth the gamble.

Re: Just bought a puppy (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46124129)

There is no routine screening for peek pancreatic cancer. No check up would have picked it up.

I'm a palliative care MD and see this cancer far too often. Almost always stage 4. Easy to blame someone for 'missing' this (either MD or patient themselves) but it's just crappy luck.

That being said, unexpected weight loss, sweats, pain = see a doctor!

Re:Just bought a puppy (2)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 9 months ago | (#46123535)

There's the option to seek another opinion too. If you are unsure consult another vet.

Re:Just bought a puppy (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 9 months ago | (#46123627)

I thought about that and I've been looking at other vet recommendations, but if this is just industry practice, how would I know who's good and who's not? I found the vet reviews to be pretty consistent in my area.

Re:Just bought a puppy (2)

cold fjord (826450) | about 9 months ago | (#46123555)

You could always get a second opinion. Know anyone that could recommend someone they trust? Maybe a farm vet?

Re:Just bought a puppy (3, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 9 months ago | (#46123561)

Humans that live like most dogs do in fact need that much attention.

The typical human living in an area that is poor enough to never use toilet paper has multiple parasites living in it. Often the human gets it by eating whatever food is in front of it.

Now, some dogs do in fact only eat gourmet meals. But quite a few eat anything they can - including things that used to be in their body but are no longer.

I am not saying the Vet you saw was not pulling a fast one on you.

But there is at least a chance he was being a good vet.

Re:Just bought a puppy (0)

Bert64 (520050) | about 9 months ago | (#46123771)

Animals build up a natural resistance to things they encounter all day, and nature kills off those who lack suitable resistance to the hazards of their environment... Wild animals often live in dirty environments and eat questionable foods, and yet they are usually just fine. It's when you keep an animal away from nature that its immune system is likely to be weaker.

Re:Just bought a puppy (2)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 9 months ago | (#46124015)

I used to think that until I watched Nat Geo Wild. Even predators get body parts bitten off, get infections, and die from diseases.

Re:Just bought a puppy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46124217)

I used to think that until I watched Nat Geo Wild. Even predators get body parts bitten off, get infections, and die from diseases.

To add to that, any long time hunter can tell you about a kill that they started to gut and realized the meat was "maggoty" (i.e. visibly full of parasites).

Wild animals can and do get very, very sick. We tend to treat animals based on either or emotional or financial investment in them, not because they are somehow weaker than their native relatives.

Re:Just bought a puppy (5, Informative)

FuegoFuerte (247200) | about 9 months ago | (#46123565)

The best thing I can suggest is to go to your local farm supply store instead of the vet, for anything but the most serious symptoms. They typically have the medications readily available for a reasonable price, and will often have people knowledgeable enough to point you in the right direction.

Case in point: My cat had a nasty eye infection, and I decided I didn't want to spend the time, effort or money to pack up the cat and go to the vet. So I went to the local farm supply store and said "hey, my cat has goopy eyes that aren't clearing up, and in fact seem to be getting worse. Do you have anything for that?"

They sold me a small tube of ophthalmic antibiotic ointment intended for cats/dogs, gave me brief instructions on how much to use and how to apply it without putting the cat's eye out, and about $10 later I was on my way home. It cleared up the cat's eyes in a couple days, and I had plenty left over and have used it on a couple occasions since then. In total, I probably saved at least $500 in vet bills, since I've used it to treat 2 cats on 2-3 occasions each over the past several years.

The same type of store will often have good wormers, earmite meds, etc., so as long as the animal has classic symptoms that are easily diagnosed (and again, if in doubt just describe the symptoms to someone working at the store), they ought to be able to help you.

Most of the small animal problems that only a vet can fix, can instead be fixed for about $0.06 at home. Large animals like horses, cows, etc. are different, and may warrant a call to an actual vet. Just about the only thing that's probably worth a visit to a vet for a cat/dog is to have them "fixed" (which really ought to be called "broken" in my opinion - not because it shouldn't be done, simply because it's removing functionality).

Re:Just bought a puppy (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 9 months ago | (#46123799)

That's one of the most informative posts for today. Thank you!

Re:Just bought a puppy (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123827)

There are a lot of bad products alongside the good ones at the local stores. At many farm supply stores, they have none of the good products. The ratio of good products to bad products is not in your pet's favor if you haven't asked a vet which ones are actually safe. (A phone call to the vet to confirm doesn't cost anything, by the way.) For example, commercial off-the-shelf flea & tick medicines and collars that cause anything from minor skin infection to major problems like necrosis and skin sloughing off under the collar are very commonly sold for a few years and then disappear/get recalled under mysterious circumstances. You're gambling on whether you're going to cause huge damage to your pet if you just do what you feel like doing with medications!! Don't just go there and assume that the stock boy is going to know more than a vet!

Re:Just bought a puppy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123609)

De-worming/anti-parasitics and vaccines are not what this article is talking about (the article says as much). Those work fine and if you value what they offer, are worth the money, much like heart worm preventative medicine. If your puppy had worms, they needed to be treated. Nothing scammy about that at all.

Return visits to make sure the meds cleared the parasites are routine and not scammy (assuming you're just dropping off poop and getting the news).

A human with worms will need that much attention.

Re:Just bought a puppy (1)

CubicleZombie (2590497) | about 9 months ago | (#46123637)

You think that's bad? Wait a few years until there's some kind of real problem and they come at you with a $3000 proposal for treatment and an application for a consumer credit account. No joke. People get very emotional about their pets. I knew a woman who put her dog through chemotherapy on credit and couldn't pay her rent.

Re:Just bought a puppy (2)

pooh666 (624584) | about 9 months ago | (#46123639)

Hopefully you don't live an an area where you are short on options, otherwise RUN. We ran into a vet very much like you are talking about. I won't go into the details of the $2000 fart when we though our dog was dying and we took him in OVERNIGHT, they gave her pepcid ac.. Our new vet just told us the dog needed to lose weight, got us on a great food to help do that along with our own being careful to not supplement with treats/dinner scraps, no such issue for years now. What was worse, it is like you said, you could feel you were being taken, almost massaged, their bent was on herbal everything, they acted like every animal needs its concoction of suppliments. Right after our first visit we started getting emails from their list pushing all of that, including the standard scams of small dog teeth cleaning, basically everything they could think of to make a penny.

Re:Just bought a puppy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123735)

There are definitely unscrupulous vets out there. My wife is a vet tech and worked for one vet who would very routinely "prescribe" treatments that he knew were absolutely unnecessary. Disgusting, but hey, someone's gotta pay for that fancy house in the hills

Re:Just bought a puppy (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 9 months ago | (#46123781)

If your dog was healthy, it wouldn't need that much attention either. Worms in dogs and cats is a very common thing. If you did what dogs do, you'd have worms too.

Re:Just bought a puppy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123793)

A human doesn't need that much attention if he's healthy.

I'm going to call BS on that one. Take the age old method of "1 Dog year is 7 Human years" (which isn't all that precise, it varies given the age of the dog, but close enough for Slashdot) How many times to you think the average child needs to see a pediatrician in the first 3 years of their life? How about just vaccines and checkups, let alone problem exams? I hope you've been spayed or neutered...

Re:Just bought a puppy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46124143)

On a visit to the vet with an older female dog they prescribed some kind of hormone. Pills seemed kind of expensive so I searched online and found a much cheaper source, but needed the prescription from the vet. When I asked for the script without buying the drug from them they acted like I had just doused the dog with gasoline and set her on fire. They did offer to sell the meds at a somewhat lower price, but it didn't matter, I never went back to them. I'll pay for the professional service but don't try to rip me off selling at inflated prices.

And don't get me started on optometrists selling glasses and contact lenses

Animal Testing (3, Interesting)

WoodstockJeff (568111) | about 9 months ago | (#46123459)

Why would you want to risk getting attacked by PETA and other animal rights organizations by doing testing on animals? Heck, you can't even shampoo a dog without someone getting upset!

Re:Animal Testing (5, Funny)

mythosaz (572040) | about 9 months ago | (#46123529)

I only use pet meds that have been tested on human prisoners.

Re:Animal Testing (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 9 months ago | (#46123551)

Why would you want to risk getting attacked by PETA and other animal rights organizations by doing testing on animals? Heck, you can't even shampoo a dog without someone getting upset!

You should see how butthurt they get when you mention that you had your pets spayed or neutered.

Re:Animal Testing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123883)

Yeah so butthurt they have a page dedicated to doing it on their website saying it's the single most important thing we can do to help animals.
How about you stop talking out your ass because it sounds like crap.

http://www.peta.org/issues/companion-animal-issues/overpopulation/spay-neuter/

Re:Animal Testing (1)

Clueless Moron (548336) | about 9 months ago | (#46123619)

Animal medicine should be approved only after it has undergone extensive human testing. It seems only fair...

Re:Animal Testing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123833)

Funny story tangentially related to animal testing.

My dog has very little hair at the end of her snout and is susceptible to sunburn there. I ended up having to go to one of those lotion/skin care boutique places at the mall to get the right sunblock. I asked the girl there if this was safe to put on a dog. She said, "we don't test our products on animals." So I proceeded to lay a guilt trip on her that they should test on animals so that "my cute little puppy" wouldn't get sick.

some people also need to accept... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123465)

...that most pets only live around dozen years, so the vast majority of pet owners are going to see them die regardless of how well they're being taken care of.

Re:some people also need to accept... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123491)

We don't plan for them to somehow live forever, just to live comfortably while they do. Just because your pet is going to die eventually doesn't mean you should let it die (painfully) now.

Re:some people also need to accept... (5, Interesting)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 9 months ago | (#46123581)

Which is why I had my dog put to sleep when she had a seizure, probably treatable, but she also had cancer and was 14 and had lost hear hearing about a month prior to the seizure. At that point all I could picture was leaving for work in the morning the dog having a seizure upstairs and taking a tumble down the stairs in the dazed and confused moments afterward and then lying there in pain broken for 8 hours until I got home to find her.

She went to the emergency vet that night and was put to sleep.

She is loved and missed, this was 4 years ago.

Re:some people also need to accept... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123755)

+1 SadButTrue

Re:some people also need to accept... (1)

Aighearach (97333) | about 9 months ago | (#46124043)

Yep, same as for grandma.

Re:some people also need to accept... (1)

Aighearach (97333) | about 9 months ago | (#46123825)

Same as with a human, when they get older you can focus on hospice care to reduce pain and make sure they feel loved, or you can just kill them as soon as they have some aging pains.

There is generally not a need to give a lot of veterinary care to a pet outside of that analysis. The article suggests why; there is a lack of real and helpful medical care available for pets, even if you go to a vet.

What surprises me is how many people come up with a totally different answer to that for their pets than they do for their human relatives. So much for being part of the "family."

Owners spend that much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123481)

"$850 annually in veterinary expenses per dog"

That can't be right, can it?

Re:Owners spend that much? (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 9 months ago | (#46123513)

It's not clear if that $850 is figured out by dividing dogs owned by dollars spent, or if that's gleaned from veterinarians and pet med providers divided by their customers.

I suspect it's the later.

I know numerous pet owners who haven't ever spent a dime on their pet outside of bags of kibble and a flea collar or two. $850 might be the average, but it sure isn't realistic of what one might actually spend. Double or triple that, I'd hazard. More if you're in a "nice" neighborhood.

Re: Owners spend that much? (1)

colinnwn (677715) | about 9 months ago | (#46123533)

That is way low for 2 of our dogs and way high for the other 2.

Re:Owners spend that much? (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 9 months ago | (#46123577)

It could well be. While the average may be $850, the amount spent does not follow a normal bell curve distribution. IIRC, it takes the local human society about $200 to $300 to get a puppy ready for adoption (shots, spay/neuter). The average is dragged higher by spay/neuter, foreign object surgeries (dog ate something it shouldn’t.), oncology, knee surgery, etc. I know that a few cats get kidney transplants each year – owner of the sick cat has to adopt the donating animal.

Re:Owners spend that much? (3, Interesting)

Ethan Bernard (2954293) | about 9 months ago | (#46123603)

I'm a cat owner. This average sounds about right to me. But keep in mind that this is an average, not a median, and the average is skewed upward by a small number of people* who spend thousands a year to fix problems that inevitably arise in their older pets. Cat chemotherapy, for example, costs about $100 a week.

*Who are these people? The wealth distribution of the united states is also highly skewed, with a long tail at the high end.

Re:Owners spend that much? (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 9 months ago | (#46123831)

$850 a year - the heck? For our cat, we pay about $110 for yearly checkup/vaccination, and that's it. An occasional infection/irritation with steroids+antiobiotic was another $80 or so. That's in a US city of more than a million, BTW.

Re:Owners spend that much? (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 9 months ago | (#46123643)

Its much cheaper if you go to 1-800-PETMEDS..com

and you save a trip to the vet too..

(but seriously, how do you know whats wrong with your dog if you don't take him to the vet first?)

Yikes. (2, Insightful)

mythosaz (572040) | about 9 months ago | (#46123485)

I'm not sure I spend $850/year on my own medical care.... ....although I'm sure that'll go up as I get older -- before ending abruptly.

"A woman in England paid over $17,000 for her cat to spend six days in an oxygen tent to cure its paralyzed larynx. The cat showed its gratitude by briefly holding eye contact."

Re:Yikes. (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 9 months ago | (#46123517)

You hope it ends abruptly. All too often it's a slow death from cancer or Alzheimer's that bankrupts your family.

Re:Yikes. (3, Interesting)

mythosaz (572040) | about 9 months ago | (#46123611)

The adults in my immediate family (parents, siblings) all have medical power of attorney documents and clear instructions to never leave us in a situation where we're left to suffer or "burden" the family. We're all slated for cremation, with the ashes to go to anyone who might want them. None of us have a special desire to be remembered by a pile of cremains.

There are situations like Alzheimer's which could quite likely suck for everyone, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

We've dealt with a few cancers now, and we've (as a family) made the decisions to take treatments based on expected quality of life around it.

Pet related, I've had a few animals put down. Sad, but death is (mostly) a fact of life.

[With only 100 billion humans ever having lived, 7% of us are still alive today, making "being human" only 93% lethal to date...]

Re:Yikes. (1)

x0ra (1249540) | about 9 months ago | (#46124099)

I am stupid enough to like dangerous stuff, so if Alzheimer pops off, there is a high probability of chances I will end my own life... abruptly.

Re:Yikes. (2)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 9 months ago | (#46123631)

We had a cat go anemic and the vet said transfusion or the animal would die, we took him home and after 4 days of not eating and 2 of not moving and us force feeding him iron supplement and chicken soup we thought he was done for. I made one last call to the vet cause I knew if the animal didn't eat and drink it would die, the nice assistant I talked to said the cats that won't eat sometimes responded to baby food you know the gerber first stage chick or turkey, so I hit the grocery store on the way home and picked up a jar, got home popped the jar open in front of him and placed the lid that had a bit on it in front of him, that tongue came out like nothing I've ever seen before, over the next two days we fed him a bit every hour from the jar, he made a full recovery, this was 8 years ago, he still lives with us.

Total cost, $40 vet visit, $0.60 for the baby food.

Re:Yikes. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123981)

Should have just put him down and saved the trouble.

Re:Yikes. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46124109)

It can't have suffered more than anyone reading his atrocious run-on sentence.

Re:Yikes. (1)

Carnivore (103106) | about 9 months ago | (#46123897)

You joke, but keep in mind that eye contact is a threatening gesture to most animals, cats especially. They show you that they trust you when they blink and look away. "I trust you enough that I feel comfortable not watching you". This is probably the source of the truism that the allergic person gets all of the attention: The cat lover stares and yells, "KITTY" while the allergic person avoids eye contact and is perceived to be the lowest threat.

You can squeeze your eyes shut a couple of times and watch cats do the same. It's fun!

The Placebo Effect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123493)

...placating the hell out of pet-owners. Pets, not so much.

Re:The Placebo Effect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123629)

Sometimes it's a placebo effect, and sometimes it's not. My dog had Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (a bone growth dissorder) as a puppy (most of his litter died from it) and the treatment for it was heavy doses of prednasone - horrible stuff long term, especially for a growing animal since it completely halts their growth, but the side effect in this case was the treatment - if the bones are going to grow wrong, stop them from growing at all. That worked, but then the dog had a prednasone addiction - taking him off of it (in the proper medically prescribed way) resulted in his hair falling out, and itchy sores all over his body. End result: dog was on prednasone (minimal dose that didn't cause withdrawl symptoms) for the rest of his life. Sadly, the first trick my dog learned wasn't "shake a paw" or "play dead", it was "say aaaaaahhh"...

Dental health is (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | about 9 months ago | (#46123503)

Dental health is probably the only real thing you do can stay on top of that really helps.

Bad teeth == much shorter life

And humans are no different.

I have no doubt this is true in the whole (2)

colinnwn (677715) | about 9 months ago | (#46123505)

But or dog has had hip trouble for 6 years. The first 5 we did nothing but keep him on glucosamine. The few times we took him off due to laziness or questioning it worked due to the Vet mentioning conflicting research, our dog noticeably declined. And within 2 weeks of him going back on it, he got better.

Re:I have no doubt this is true in the whole (2)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 9 months ago | (#46123553)

Also, glucosamine tablets seem pretty tasty to the dog, so we use them as once-a-day treats after the morning walk.

Re:I have no doubt this is true in the whole (1)

LNO (180595) | about 9 months ago | (#46123677)

I have the same anecdotal experience. We had a toller with hip dysplasia. When his food was supplemented with glucosamine/chondritin/MSM, he was able to walk up and down stairs and jump up on the bed. When we stopped for a period of weeks, he was unable to do that without vocalizing in pain. Restoring the supplements caused the symptoms to go away.

I recognize that they're clinically unproven - and if we saw no benefit on it we'd go right to Rimadyl as needed. I've tried it for my creaking arthritis and seen no benefit whatsoever, so it's ibuprofen for me.

Re:I have no doubt this is true in the whole (1)

glavenoid (636808) | about 9 months ago | (#46123703)

There was a very noticeable improvement in my friend's cat's gait when she (the cat) began taking a Cosequin supplement, so unless the placebo effect works for animals there was almost certainly something in the capsule that was beneficial to the cat.

Re:I have no doubt this is true in the whole (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123901)

Absolutely, we too have had great success with Cosequin. Kitty started getting stiff, had to help it up and down things, put it on Cosequin, and she was much, much improved.

We've had good success with all of the meds and regimens for our pets (well there was an antibiotic that just made the cat puke it back up, so we stopped that and got another). We can't recommend our Vet highly enough.

Re:I have no doubt this is true in the whole (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46124001)

Placebo effects are seen in both patient and researcher.
There's a good reason for double-blind trials.

Re:I have no doubt this is true in the whole (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46124067)

I have to agree, the glucosamine supplements made a noticeable difference in my cat. He was having persistent mobility issues, and they largely resolved after a few weeks on the tablets. He also happens to go fucking bonkers for them, which is fun because I never gave him treats nor did he want them before.

Painkillers are effective _because_ of the euphori (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123511)

The primary reason why opioids work as painkillers is specifically because they get you high. They dont really kill pain so much as they make you not care that you're in pain. So tramadol getting the dogs high means its working. Except the biggest problem with tramadol is that it works as an SSRI/SNRI first, and then its primary metabolite, O-desmethyl-tramadol, is what works as a pain killer (affecting the kappa and mu receptors). Tramadol is more of an antidepressant than a painkiller, which makes its addiction significantly worse (ask anyone who has withdrawn from antidepressants).

Re:Painkillers are effective _because_ of the euph (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 9 months ago | (#46123709)

Yeah, but that comes with all kinds of shit... morphine is awesome, then you come off morphine and go "oh man this sucks". If I'm already in pain, I think I'll just live with it. Or kill myself. Nobody has ever given me a good story about having had morphine in the hospital. Ditto Xanax... had a coworker who said when he left his Xanax prescription behind it was ... a bad couple weeks.

The only real reason they give you opiate drugs for pain is because of the whole killing yourself thing. Yeah, pain can be that bad.

Re:Painkillers are effective _because_ of the euph (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about 9 months ago | (#46124009)

They're careful enough in hospitals to only give you enough morphine to take the immediate edge off the pain. They also won't give it to you for very long unless you're an ICU patient. Then you get "lesser" pain meds, which they seem a whole lot more likely to give you lots of. Everyone I know always has leftovers, we even took a bunch of bottles to a pharmaceutical dump to prevent them from getting into the general environment.

Re:Painkillers are effective _because_ of the euph (1, Interesting)

blindseer (891256) | about 9 months ago | (#46123943)

Having taken tramadol myself I can say that it is quite effective at relieving pain. It also tends to keep me from sleeping. The withdrawal from it was unpleasant, just taking it once can give dizziness and nausea for hours after it wears off.

I hate tramadol but it seems some people really like it because of the intense high it can give. After the bad experience with tramadol I was able to convince my physician to give me codeine and hydrocodone (not at the same time) which works much better for me. Because of the crazy laws we have I could get truly high inducing levels of tramadol without much issue but getting opiates without liver killing levels of NSAIDs to go with it requires an act of Congress.

I believe that codeine should be over the counter medications. The NSAIDs I was given before were ineffective and were likely poisoning me. I got a clue on how bad that stuff was when my physician scheduled me for a liver and kidney function test. The number of people that are hospitalized or die from Tylenol overdose every year is staggering. The people that die from opiate overdose do so largely because the quality control of street drugs is questionable.

I also have to wonder how many opiate overdoses were not actually an overdose of the opiate, but instead an overdose of the Tylenol or NSAID that is usually mixed with it. I'm sure the big money in medicines want to keep any overdoses quiet when they can. When they can't they'll blame it on the "evil" opiates. It not only makes the drug makers look good, it makes the DEA look good.

Got off on a rant there. Anyway, tramadol isn't so great. NSAIDs and Tylenol work for mild pain. The best stuff is the natural stuff, codeine. People, and their pets, have been taking it for thousands of years. It's safe and effective. Overdose is only a real issue when concentrated to insane levels to get high. If you're getting high off codeine then you're doing it wrong.

This is statist alarmism, plain and simple. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123539)

No proof is being presented that the drugs "dont work", only the claims of some journalist with what appears to be an agenda of attacking a strong market for no reason. Although he doesn't honestly come out and say so, all the usual signs are there of this being a liberal statist attempt to undermine the free market in favor of big goverment intervention.

Doggedly (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 9 months ago | (#46123567)

"Glucosamine and chondroitin food supplements? Next to useless."

Gee. Just like in humans. Imagine that.

Don't forget to buy your dog and cat food with lots of grains and carrots in it, for their health! [nods furiously with shit-eating grin].

Rimadyl = carprofen (2)

LNO (180595) | about 9 months ago | (#46123617)

When I read this, I was surprised that there was no mention of Rimadyl, as that's been the go-to NSAID for our dogs after surgeries. One google later let me know that Rimadyl was, indeed, carprofen, and I read the article again with that in mind.

Three times does "carprofen" appear in the article:
"Its examples include one relevant to Kaleb, considering the effectiveness of glucosamine and chrondroitin versus an NSAID called carprofen in treating dogs with osteoarthritis. The bottom line: “Carprofen is superior to glucosamine/chrondroitin supplements in reducing the clinical signs.”"
and
"We plan to get some fresh tests to see how stable his kidney function is, and talk to our current vet in San Francisco about whether it’s time to try carprofen. "

If you're using non-proven supplements to treat your pet's pain instead of veterinary-recommended NSAIDs, then, yeah, perhaps it's time to talk to your current vet about whether it's time to try the painkiller that is clinically superior.

Glucosamine (1)

DaveAtFraud (460127) | about 9 months ago | (#46123655)

Not a clinical trial or a valid sample size but our elderly cat was making a noise that seemed to indicate she was having some discomfort whenever she jumped down from wherever she'd gotten to. Our vet suggested glucoamine so we gave it a try. Seemed to help. Cat no longer makes what sounds like a pain noise as she does her normal cat things. We've had her on glucosamine for a couple of years now. Ditto for the neighbors and their rottweiller with hip problems. Seemed to help her, too.

Cheers,
Dave

Evidence based medicine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123665)

"But often, vets aren't paying attention to the studies that have been done."

Newsflash, if you go a (human) doctor that isn't practicing in the university setting and is over the age of 40-50, a significant proportion of them aren't going to know the majority of the studies that have been done since they finished med school/residency either. That's what happens when you aren't diligent about reading journal articles and going to training courses (real ones, not glorified drug company golf vacation "courses") after you finish your postgraduate training. I'm sure the same happens in veterinary medicine, although possibly at a slower speed given the rapidity at which human medicine advances due to the vast amount of resources devoted to human R&D.

***** ************, M.D., PGY-4 resident

Re:Evidence based medicine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46124213)

Some jurisdictions require a certain amount of Continuing Medical Education courses per year or so. Some of the CME offerings are indeed “drug company golf vacation ‘courses’”, but of course your mileage may vary. In Canada it’s a bit more strict, so RCPSC and CFPC are less lenient than various State requirements in the USA.

Also it depends on the specialty but people have to get recertified every seven to ten years or so. I guess Old Fart doctors might have some stuff grandfathered in, though.

Par for the course... (1)

lancelet (898272) | about 9 months ago | (#46123685)

I have a PhD from a veterinary school in Australia, but I've also worked extensively on research in humans, including work funded by a branch of the US military. My undergraduate degree was Mechanical Engineering; I work in biomechanics. My wife is a vet.

My response to this article is that this guy ought to do more digging in human medicine. He clearly cares about his dog, and that has prompted his discovery of just how little actual science is being done. Good start! However, the situation is not dramatically different in human medicine, especially in areas without major financial drivers. Sure, more papers are being published for humans, but the actual rate of progress and clinical evidence for many practices is roughly comparable. His observation that human medicine leads the veterinary world is entirely correct, but that's simply because more people are able to get funding for research in humans, which is reflective of the vastly larger human medical industry in comparison with the veterinary one. Welcome to the world of research!

Instead of complaining about vets, who are under-paid by the standards of other medical professionals (just Google the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, for example), the author should be advocating MORE money be spent on animal care, which would then increase the industrial incentives for research. As someone in the business of getting grants in the veterinary world, I can attest to the fact that there simply isn't money available to pay for most of what we would like to do. So sure, this is something to complain about, but complaining about the veterinary profession itself for the shortcoming, while simultaneously accusing them of disinterest or financial motives, is just plain stupid.

Kitty Thyroid medicine (1)

KatchooNJ (173554) | about 9 months ago | (#46123819)

Thankfully, I am 100% confident that my kitty's thyroid medicine does work; she has hyperthyroidism from a benign tumor on her thyroid. It was VERY obvious that it was having a positive effect when the vet put her on it and I saw her plump up and feel tons better. Vomiting was another symptom... and that ceased. Another symptom was that she was dropping weight, which was scary because she was always hungry despite getting skinnier and skinnier. In fact, once she was on the medicine, she got a bit chubby and we ended up having to lower her dosage. She then trimmed down to normal weight and we keep her on a managed dose; she needs to be on it forever. No doubt at all that this particular med works. Forget the name offhand, though.

How Many Pets Are Forced To Use SLASHDOT BETA? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123889)

has your beloved pet been forced into the SLASHDOT BETA program?

Counterpoint (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46123919)

Maybe I just got an awesome vet, but we've spent loads on our pets and we consider is money well spent. One was for a back surgery that gave my dog the ability to walk for 8 more years(was not cheap) and a $5 every 3 months drug to stop seizures. Aside from that our vet has worked with us to keep our costs down and not overprescribe. Sometimes if we get the alternate we have to push to not have useless tests, but generally we don't even have to do that.

Depends on the vet (0)

future assassin (639396) | about 9 months ago | (#46123995)

there's quite high percentage of them knowing since we think of our pets as children they can rip us off, For example one of my cats got hit by a car or neighhbour that didn't like my cats kicked him (hes still has all of his fingers since I couldn't prove it was him) my vet didn't answer the phone that night (2am) so had to take home to an "emergency hospital" 5 hours later I was $1600 poorer. I got a hold of my vet and he was like WTF? Why didn't you keep phoning till I woke up? Anyways with his own tests/x rays/meds/3days in the hospital I paid $285 and most of it was for the test

Sooooo a year so goes by and my cat is paralyzed on the front lag/paw and he starts to chew on it. It as getting quite bad and always has to bandaged up. Well I figure Im going taking him to a "feline" only vet, to see about the front leg getting amputated after he took off his bandaging and chewed the crap out of his paw. Well he was treated good for a measly $500 but my other vet was on holidays and i needed to be done. Well I got a quote for the leg amputation LOL $4000!!!!! Oh oh and I get a special anesthesiologist from the US to come in on the amputation. All me and my wife could do was sit there awkwardly and just blink for 5 min LOL. Soo I said yah ok we'll be contact you don't contact us. Well my vet quoted me $800 all in with out me saying anything about the price fom the other vet.

You want a good way to see how much the vet is getting from pushing commercial cat/dog food talk to them about your pet going on a RAW diet. The open minded one will give you a break down on benefits of each one the one that's in it for themselves and money will make you feel like you will couldn't possibly understand animal nutrition and only they know (which is usually only a few weeks of training) what is the best food.

Vets run a nice racket (0)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about 9 months ago | (#46124045)

Always with the pushing of expensive boutique-brand pet food. I told my vet my cat likes Friskies and she was shocked, she told me it's like feeding them McDonald's. I asked her why the Canadian Veterinary Association puts their seal of approval on the can then? No easy reply there. But I have heard the same "McDonald's" quip from several different vets and boutique owners that I wonder if the companies send their reps with the same story to sell their food?

Re:Vets run a nice racket (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46124179)

If you care for your cat, giver her fresh meat. The gunk that's been sitting in a can or little plastic bag on a shelf for X months, commonly called "cat food", is completely void of micro-nutrients. Raising her on that sort of junk is a sure way of having her pass at 10 years of age, rather than 20.

My Dog Loves Me!!! (1)

onkelonkel (560274) | about 9 months ago | (#46124113)

Belief - "My dog is my best friend. My dog loves me!"

Reality - "You live alone with your dog. Your dog will be eating your remains 8 hours after you drop dead."

"supplements" don't work (2)

umafuckit (2980809) | about 9 months ago | (#46124159)

This is a bullshit article. The basis for it is that food supplements didn't (and don't) work but an NSAID would probably have worked. No shit. It's well known that the supplements industry for people is mostly snake oil. Of course it will be more so for pets. There are plenty of references on the net if you search, but in case you're lazy I just found this one [aljazeera.com] . If a drugs works, there may be side effects (as with the NSAIDs in the TFA). This doesn't mean that "pet medications don't work." It means you need to do your research and not believe the crap it says on the packet. If people stopped buying this shit, the companies would stop selling it.

700+$ per year ? (1)

aepervius (535155) | about 9 months ago | (#46124161)

Look my older cat is 8 year old, and I paid 60 euro per year for it. About 36 euro in 3 vets visits 12 euro per visits, the rest was the price for , 2 vaccination, and 1 de-worming. My younger cat is 5 year old same price. Even counting the castration which was maybe 60 euro , how the heck do they cam eto such horrendus price ? I have to count all food, cat toilet stuff and playtoy to come to 700+ euro top.
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