Early Disease Detection

August is National Immunization Awareness Month

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An annual observance held every August promotes the National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). The said program covers widespread information on the importance of vaccines for both the young and the old in order for them to be aware about how they can prevent deadly diseases.

The National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC) serves as the sponsor of NIAM.

The Center for Disease Control’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases works hand in hand with NPHIC to come up with communication toolkits that will further discuss vaccines to the public.

Each week of #NIAM16 will focus on topics intended for specific age groups:

  • Adults (August 1-7)
  • Pregnant women (August 8-14)
  • Babies and young children (August 15-21)
  • Preteens and teens (August 22-28)

An abbreviated toolkit is available to help parents be reminded of the vaccines needed by their school-aged children. Please visit the NIAM website to download the toolkits.

CDC has also provided several online resources to raise awareness on the importance of immunization, some of which include the following:

  • Further information to parents on the importance of vaccine in protecting their children’s health.
  • Motivate college students to see a healthcare professional to know what vaccines they may need before the school starts.
  • Inform adults (elderly and those with chronic medical conditions) which vaccines are necessary that could help with their present state.
  • Provide enough information to expectant mothers about being vaccinated to protect their unborn children from diseases like pertussis (whooping cough).
  • Let everyone know that the flu season is just months away.
Substance Abuse

Things You Need To Know About Mephedrone Abuse

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These days, drugs of abuse are no longer plant-based but rather synthetically produced. According to Gary Henderson of the 1988 Journal of Forensic Science, these drugs will be very strong and can easily be distributed “in the future”. Fast forward to a few decades when the future is already “now”, and true enough, synthetic drugs have become the drug of choice for the new generation of users.

One of the rising trends in synthetic drug abuse is something called mephedrone. In this article, we will discuss the truths and facts about mephedrone and the abuse of this substance.

What is Mephedrone?

Mephedrone – also known as  4-methyl methcathinone (4-MMC) or 4-methyl ephedrine – is an illicit synthetic stimulant drug belonging to the amphetamine and cathinone classes, which are mood-altering drugs. It is also often incorporated with MDPV and butylone in the preparation of designer drugs, otherwise known as bath salts. Likewise, mephedrone is also used on its own as an intravenous drug.

mephedrone abuse

Other names for mephedrone are Drone, White Magic, M-CAT and Meow Meow. It comes in different forms such as capsules, tablets, cracks and powder, which can be swallowed, snorted, injected, smoked and used rectally.

When taken orally the effect can be felt within 15-45 minutes for 2-3 hours. If the user snorts mephedrone he can feel the effect immediately and still the effect will last for 2-3 hours. On the other hand, if injected, the effect can only last for half an hour.

This drug can be considered as a recreational drug based on reports from users that mephedrone produces pleasant experiences. It can cause stimulation and euphoria – a feeling of ecstasy and excitement – increased sexual desires, better mood management (which makes the person less hostile), improved mental aptitude, and better inclination to music.

The abovementioned effects are just part of the picture. Unfortunately, overdose and abuse of mephedrone has many ugly and dangerous side effects that can render permanent damage to the brain.

History of Mephedrone

Mephedrone is a man-made drug first synthesized by French pharmaceutical researchers in 1929 to safely substitute MDMA (i.e. Ecstasy or Molly) in psychotherapy to treat patients suffering from mental health concerns, psychiatric illness and emotional problems like depression, addiction, bipolar disorder, low self-esteem and schizophrenia.

It remained unnoticed until 2003 where its recreational aspects were rediscovered by a bored underground chemist named “Kinetic”. Around 2004, a drug similar to mephedrone called ‘hagigat’ was legally sold in Israel.

Through the years, street chemists have tried to modify the composition of cathinone either by making their own formula or by following Kinetic’s rediscovered formula.  The Israeli websites were the first to sell this substance online in capsule form, but in the end, the government banned it in 2008.

It was sometime between the summer of 2009 and March 2010 that the use of mephedrone as a recreational drug came full blast in the U.K. It was being marketed in powder form and given different labels like “fertilizers”, “bath salts”, “plant food” and “not for human consumption” all in the game of avoiding getting caught by the law.

About the same time, the secret chemical formula was exposed on an underground online forum leading to the widespread distribution of the drug. Other countries followed suit and got involved in distributing mephedrone together with Chinese entrepreneurs who imitated the manufacturing process of the drug, thereby dramatically lowering the price while increasing the availability of the supply in the dance clubs, head shops, and music festivals. Some surveys even showed that mephedrone is the fourth most popular drug in the U.K. In April 2010, mephedrone was eventually controlled by the region, and was classified as a Class B drug.The restriction on the use of mephedrone gave birth to underground dealers and entrepreneurs significantly doubling the price.

Around 2012, records indicated the evident side effects of mephedrone use especially on teenagers and young adults who manifested a lot of behavioral problems. There was also an increasing number of first time users who engaged in neurotic injecting of drugs in group sessions.

In 2013, the United Nations declared U.K. as Europe’s largest market for mephedrone, even increasing the percentage of usage to 300% after it was deemed illegal. Nonetheless, based on the latest survey of Mixmag and the Global Drug Survey in 2014, the popularity of mephedrone went to the bottom of the Top Twenty drug list due to adverse effects that it exhibited in users.

Despite the madness accompanying the emergence of new alternatives to mephedrone, they can never compare to the popularity mephedrone has achieved. As of 2015, this drug continues to hit the streets and no amount of banning by the government seems to be able to stop its use.

Mephedrone Abuse

mephedrone powder

Mephedrone has been considered a legal high in the past, until it started killing people and it was re-classified as Class B drug in the U.K. and Schedule I in the U.S.

Mephedrone shares the same effect with cocaine and ecstasy. It gives the user a sense of excitement and extreme euphoria. Still, little is known about this drug and its long-term effects since the use and abuse as a recreational substance is relatively new.

Like all stimulant drugs, taking mephedrone can make the person act in an irrational manner and there will always be a need to re-dose often. Users have self-reported that this drug is mentally addictive and that they take the drug in disproportionate amounts, which lead them to be hooked and suffer further negative side effects. Although it is not physically addictive and the user can easily get used to the high, one can feel extremely tired and withdrawn for days after using the drug, enabling them to re-dose to fight feeling tired, thus, doubling the addiction.

Most fatal incidents and drug-deaths related to mephedrone use also involve other drugs and alcohol. Taking mephedrone with other stimulants, drugs and alcohol reinforces the harmful side effects.

Drug Effects

One side effect is that it will narrow the veins resulting to a reduced blood flow. In some instances, the user may suffer tightness in the chest and difficulty of breathing. Continuous use can further cause heart damage and eventually cardiac arrest. In addition, pain may also be felt in the arm and leg areas due to the decreased blood flow.

Mephedrone is also recognized as a neurotoxin, in that it can damage the nervous system, raising the risk of poor memory recollection and concentration.

Some short-term side effects of mephedrone use include headaches, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, anxiety, paranoia, fluctuating heartbeat, palpitations, difficulty to breathe, grinding of teeth, hallucinations, delusions, uncontrolled muscular movements, erratic behavior, loss of appetite, excessive sweating, nose bleeding, blurred vision, dilated pupils, chest pain and tightness, hyponatremia and inflammation of the heart.

Meanwhile, prolonged use can decrease the production of serotonin, leading to higher risk of depression and damage to memory. It wasn’t concluded yet if the impairments are reversible.

Pet Health

How DNA Testing Can Benefit Your Dog

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You may have come across the concept of canine DNA testing from either the Internet or your veterinarian who has discussed it with you. DNA testing in dogs helps to identify breed type or parentage, and can detect traits and diseases as well. This type of testing could prove to be helpful in the overall welfare of your dogs.

Technology has provided dog owners and veterinarians the convenience of testing pets in homes and clinics. A standard dog DNA testing kit is comprised of a swab and a protective sleeve.

All you have to do is stick the swab inside the mouth to reach your dog’s inner cheek to collect the sample. Place the swab inside the protective sleeve and mail it back to the company’s laboratory. It will take a few weeks to get the results, which will be either sent through e-mail or posted directly to you.

Here are some of the benefits of canine DNA testing:

Breeders

DNA testing provides breeders with a tool to eliminate genetic conditions. It can identify which ones carry the mutation, which could be helpful most especially when you are crossbreeding.

Veterinarians

It will enable pet doctors to treat conditions that are genetically carried down through the bloodlines of breeds.

Dog Shelters

It enables staff members of dog pounds and shelters to properly label the dogs for adoption.

Forensics

In New York City and other U.S. locations, genetic samples of registered dogs are used to trace the pet owners who leave dog droppings uncollected.

These advantages should be able to encourage you to have your dog’s DNA tested.

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Substance Abuse

The Real Danger of Scopolamine Abuse

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Chemical structure of scopolamine.

Another lethal drug that is being used recreationally and in connection with the commission of certain crimes is a substance called scopolamine. While it is an approved prescriptive medication, it is now being used as a party and date-rape drug.

Scopolamine has been found to produce side effects that are potentially dangerous, and its properties have been found to have the potential for abuse.

What is Scopolamine?

Hyoscine hydrobromide, also known as scopolamine hydrobromide, is a prescription medication used in the treatment of conditions including motion sickness, postoperative nausea and vomiting, gastrointestinal spasms, renal spasms, Parkinson’s disease, muscle spasms, involuntary movement in the lungs or urinary tract, bowel cholic, irritable bowel syndrome, hypersalivation, and eye inflammation. It has also been used to treat asthma, depression, and chemotherapy-associated nausea.

Scopolamine belongs to a class of drugs called anticholinergics, which act to block the activity of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine that triggers nausea and vomiting.

The medication may be administered orally, subcutaneously, ophthalmically, intravenously, and via transdermal patch (e.g. Transderm-Scop, Transderm-V).

Scopolamine Abuse

The main ingredient of scopolamine is burundanga, which is derived from comes from a datura plant called “Borrachero tree.” The drug is also known as “devil’s breath” and has been used as a mind control agent.

Burundanga plant, from which scopolamine is extracted.

Burundanga plant, from which scopolamine is extracted.

The practice of using scopolamine to reduce a person’s free will and force him into submission is common in Columbia, where the tree naturally flourishes. It is associated with crimes such as rape, abduction, theft, and robbery. It is estimated that the number of annual scopolamine incidents in the country amounts to about 50,000.

These occurrences are common in night clubs and bars which are frequented by male predators who target attractive and unsuspecting women. The tablets are usually crushed and slipped into drinks or food. The effects produced are similar to the date-rape drug Rohypnol and has been reported to render the victim unconscious for more than 24 hours. The victim may not remember the incident the following day.

Other than being used illicitly by criminals to render their victims helpless and submissive, it is also used recreationally by abusers who seek the feelings of euphoria that the drug elicits. It is commonly abused as a party drug by users who prefer it for its hallucinogenic properties.

Signs and Symptoms

Abuse of scopolamine causes a person to appear extremely “relaxed.” Users have the tendency to be more truthful and submissive. They are unable to resist following suggestions and may be coerced to do some against that are normally against their will.

The high produced by the drug can be addicting. Heavy or frequent users are likely to encounter several health effects as well as troubles with work, school, or finances.

Dangers of Scopolamine Abuse

Even when taken at regular doses, Scopolamine can cause confusion, agitation, rambling speech, hallucinations, and paranoia. It can trigger allergic reactions that are manifested by difficulty of breathing, constriction of the throat, and swelling of the lips and tongue.

Other side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, headache, dry mouth, blurred vision, dilated pupils, dry or itchy eyes, flushing, rashes, seizures, constipation, decreased sweating, restlessness, agitation, confusion, rapid heartbeat, and poor coordination.

Children and elderly are more susceptible to these side effects compared to other patients.

Drug Warnings

Those who are diagnosed of conditions such as kidney disease, liver disease, coronary artery disease, tachyarrhythmia, cardiac conduction disorder, brain damage, enlarged prostate, stomach obstruction, bladder problems, ulcerative colitis, open-angle glaucoma, psychosis, hypertension, hyperthyroidism, and toxin-medicated diarrhea should discuss these health concerns with their doctor before taking scopolamine. It is usually not recommended that people with these conditions be prescribed scopolamine. However, when the medication becomes necessary, its administration and dosage should be closely monitored by a medical professional.

In patients with Parkinson’s disease, abrupt discontinuation of the use of transdermal patch may result in adverse effects such as headache, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. These withdrawal effects may appear more than 24 hours from the removal of the patch.

Pregnant women should likewise consult their physicians before taking the drug as it is not yet known whether scopolamine may be harmful to the fetus.

Scopolamine interacts with the metabolism of other drugs such as other anticholinergics, tricyclic antidepressants, antihistamines, analgesics, diuretics, and muscle relaxants. The drug is known to intensify the effects of such medications.

Since the side effects of Scopolamine include drowsiness, dizziness, and blurred vision, driving and operating machinery while under the influence of the drug can be potentially hazardous. As much as possible, performing these activities should be avoided by those who are taking the medication. Excessive exercise and underwater activities should likewise be avoided.

Chemical structure of scopolamine.

Chemical structure of scopolamine. [Photo by Edgar181 via Wikimedia Creative Commons]

Treatment for Scopolamine Abuse

The psychoactive properties of the drug can get people addicted. Some users have reported developing withdrawal symptoms after the cessation of drug use. These include feelings of depression, confusion, and psychotic episodes.

The treatment of scopolamine addiction often involves individualized treatment and regular therapy sessions. Various counseling approaches may be utilized to help the patient recover from the addiction.

Recommended Dosage

Scopolamine tablets usually come in 0.4 milligrams and should be taken every 8 hours or as directed by the doctor.

The transdermal patch is for external use only and is applied behind the ear. It delivers 1 mg of scopolamine which is enough to last for 3 days. It should be applied 4 hours ahead of time to prevent motion sickness. Only one patch should be worn at a time.

Scopolamine Overdose

Scopolamine overdose is dangerous, and medical attention should be sought immediately. Some of the overdose symptoms are tachycardia, arrhythmia, hyperventilation, blurred vision, double vision, night blindness, disturbed color perception, pounding in the ears, dry mouth, skin flushing, gastrointestinal motility, decreased urination, painful urination, painful urination, headache, dizziness, drowsiness, seizures, irritability agitation, anxiety, hallucinations, fatigue, sluggishness, and loss of consciousness.

Drug overdose is usually treated with medications such as physostigmine and supportive therapy.

Scopolamine is intended to be used for medical purposes only and should be used according to the instructions of a physician. It is not safe to be taken as a recreational drug. Those who know do so may develop a physical and psychological dependence on the substance which is dangerous in the long run. If so, treatment centers should be contacted as soon as possible for the appropriate intervention and therapy.

[Burundanga image by Jorge Lascar via Flickr Creative Commons]

Substance Abuse

Synthetic Marijuana Creates Zombies in New York City?

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The rise in the abuse of synthetic marijuana has turned plenty of people in New York City into zombies. Daily Mail Online reported a recent incident where people along the neighborhood of Brooklyn were walking with blank stares, while others were just lying by the sidewalk.

Synthetic marijuana is a designer drug wherein herbs and plant leaves are drizzled with lab-manufactured liquid chemicals to imitate the psychoactive effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in real marijuana. This drug is commonly known as K2 or Spice, and disguised as incense in colorful three ounce pockets labeled “not for human consumption”.

Users of this drug are mostly teenagers and young adults. The popularity of this drug among its users stemmed from its accessibility. It can easily be bought from cigarette shops, convenience stores, gasoline stations and through the internet because it was deemed legal then. This is the reason why selling of synthetic cannabinoids was banned in the U.S. starting July 2012.

The truth of the matter is that the more the government prohibits the use and sale of illicit drugs, the stronger is the need for underground chemists to create new substances and disguises just to continue the distribution of illegal drugs on the streets. In addition, the ban hasn’t really stopped the use of this drug.

Recently, it is believed that K2 and Spice products might be mixed with other potent substances whose side effects are also equally lethal. The overdose of this drug can resemble an opioid overdose wherein the effects cannot be predicted.

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Substance Abuse

Loperamide Abuse Emerging As A New Prescription Drug Problem

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According to research from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), roughly 44 people die every day due to overdose from prescription drugs.

Recently, FDA released a report that warns about taking high doses of over-the-counter and prescription drugs such as loperamide, which can lead to abuse and health problems. This stern warning stems from several cases of people who want to achieve heroin-like highs by turning to abusing loperamide.

In this article, we will discuss the emerging problem on loperamide abuse, and how it’s affecting the world at large.

What is loperamide?

Loperamide is an over-the-counter prescription drug used to control diarrhea, and it is available in liquid, tablet and capsule forms. Loperamide hydrochloride is an active ingredient that acts as an anti-motility drug, and works by slowing down the muscular contractions of the intestine.

Loperamide allows more time for water and electrolytes to be re-absorbed, making it effective to control and regulate the movement in the intestinal tract because it acts as a multi-opoid receptor.

The maximum approved dose of Loperamide for adults is 8 to 16 milligrams per day.

Concern on loperamide use

Because Loperamide is an opioid, it can induce adverse brain effects especially when consumed in massive amounts. This can be toxic and may lead to cardiac dysrhytmia and ileus, a form of paralysis of the intestine.

The American College of Emergency Physicians issued and released a case report that reveals how opiod addicts are leaning towards over-the counter medication to address their addiction, leading them to dangerous consequences. The report showcases the rise of use of loperamide as a recreational drug, which has already claimed lives.

The issue of loperamide abuse

Since 2011, the number of oral loperamide abuse posts in web-based forums has increased dramatically. Several of these online discussion boards talk about using loperamide for recreational purposes.

Loperamide abuse is a growing problem in the United States, and there is an increase in the usage of this drug to self-treat opioid addiction. In an online publication of Annals of Emergency Medicine, a case study was published to outline the history of substance abuse and its direct effect to massive loperamide addiction. The case study published in Annals of Emergency Medicine is authored by Dr. William Eggleston of the Upstate New York Poison Center.

The study outlined the case of two patients (with history of substance abuse) who are undergoing opioid withdrawal. Both patients called emergency services and were treated with standard Advance Cardiac Life Support. The research study discussed and documented two loperamide-induced deaths, and highlighted the extreme danger of loperamide abuse.

“Loperamide’s accessibility, low cost, over-the-counter legal status and lack of social stigma all contribute to its potential for abuse,” said Eggleston in a news release.

Loperamide is chemically designed not to have any psychoactive effects and it does not produce a high. High intake of loperamide can reduce symptoms of opioid withdrawal but can generate heroin-like effects. Psychoactive effects are recognized when 10 or more loperamide doses more than the recommended amount are taken.

In related news, the Upstate New York Poison Center noted a dramatic increase in relation to loperamide abuse and misuse from 2011 through 2015.

Loperamide does not require a doctor's prescription for purchase.

Loperamide does not require a doctor’s prescription for purchase.

Effects of loperamide abuse

In 2014, more than 47,000 cases of drug overdose were recorded by the FDA. About 61 percent of these account for opioid drug abuse and misuse.

The epidemic and continuous rise of opioid addiction gave birth to another form of drug abuse for addicts who cannot get their hands on prescription painkillers. This drug of choice is anti-diarrhea medication, more popularly known as Imodium and Pepto.

The primary ingredient of these medicines is loperamide, which usually produces psychoactive effects when taken in high dosages. Overdosing on this particular medication can be toxic and life-threatening. Loperamide abuse and overdose can lead to health risks and heart problems.

One potential health issue is cardiac dysrhythmia, a heart ailment characterized by an abnormal heartbeat. It can potentially be life-threatening because the heart rate can range from low to high in a second. There are two classifications in the case of irregular heartbeats:

  • Bradycardia is a slow heart rhythm and is characterized under 60 beats per minute.
  • Tachycardia is a fast heart rhythm with over 100 beats per minute.

Another possible health effect of loperamide abuse is central nervous system and respiratory depression. This medical condition causes slow breathing to the point of stopping. This physiological depression of the central nervous system may result to a decreased heart beat and may lead to loss of consciousness, and eventually to coma and early death. This condition is usually caused by depressant drugs and drug overdose, and it leads to inhibited brain activity.

High dosage of loperamide can also increase the risk of kidney and liver failure, while withdrawal symptoms of the drug may lead to cardiovascular toxicity, severe anxiety and vomiting.

Actions to take against loperamide abuse

Loperamide is fast becoming a drug of choice because it is cheap and readily available over the counter. This is one of the reasons behind the unintended epidemic in the misuse of loperamide.

Based on all of the things mentioned above, the following actions may help address the growing problem on loperamide abuse:

  • It is important that health care professionals be made aware of this dilemma.
  • The federal government must work with health care officials to investigate on this particular drug abuse problem.
  • It is highly recommended to ensure that the use of these drugs should be monitored closely, and possible make loperamide a prescription drug to avoid unnecessary abuse of the medication.
  • Proper information dissemination is needed. All health officials should be aware of the increasing incidence of loperamide abuse and its cardiac toxicity.
  • The drug should be used with precaution and must be carefully directed to the consumers and patients. The proper use of loperamide should be between 8 to 16 milligrams a day, and no more. Anything higher than that must be monitored and prohibited.
Loperamide intake must be monitored closely.

Loperamide intake must be monitored closely.

Final words

Loperamide intake may be habit-forming and may increase a patient’s tolerance for the medicine. In case of loperamide abuse, urgently discontinue the drug and start the appropriate therapy for the patient. There is a high chance that the patient will undergo opioid withdrawal, and several symptoms may manifest such as excruciating physical pain, muscle ache, anxiety and diarrhea.

The biggest take home point in this discussion is that loperamide is an effective drug in treating gastrointestinal problems, and that’s why it’s readily available over the counter. However, since it has addictive properties especially when taken and consumed in large amounts, precaution is a must.

Patients advised to take loperamide must religiously follow the dosing recommendations as prescribed by the doctors and pharmacists. Also, loperamide usage should not taken lightly. Patients and consumers should take the medication only if advised by doctors and health care professionals.

[Loperamide tablets image by Kristoferb via Wikipedia Creative Commons]

Substance Abuse

Fentanyl Lacing Aggravates Danger of Recreational Drugs

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fentanyl abuse

Known as an effective drug for relieving chronic pain, fentanyl is said to be stronger than morphine in providing anesthetic properties to moderate and lessen pain of medical patients. Its mechanism focuses on acting upon the brain and spinal cord receptors so that users may have higher pain threshold and lower reaction to pain.

The drug, once packaged into other forms of drugs like cocaine, invites additional danger to occasional and habitual recreational users given that they do not usually take fentanyl for its opioid function. With little to no knowledge of the effects of fentanyl on their health, recreational cocaine users might suffer from the severe impacts of fentanyl on their system.

In Ottawa, Canada, medical practitioners are alarmed by the increasing possibility of recreational drug users that may be affected by fentanyl intake in the form of cocaine. Given that recreational users may not immediately feel the effect of the drug on them, they might increase their intake, which could possibly lead to more harmful effects to their health.

Patients who are given fentanyl for pain management purposes are closely monitored by their doctors to ensure that there will be no side effects, as reported in this news article. This said, recreational drug users who are not aware that the substances they take in carry fentanyl could really be put in danger and might even die sooner than expected.

It is highly recommended that parents take charge in educating their children on fentanyl intake or any drug substances. To prevent harm and death related to drug abuse, elders, especially parents, should take responsibility of increasing the understanding and raising the consciousness of the youth in communities.

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Pet Health

Most Common Dog Diseases: Signs, Symptoms, Testing, and Treatment

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Like humans, dogs are also prone to sickness, infections, and health issues. Since they could not express how they feel, it is up to dog owners to assess any physical or personality changes that may indicate some medical conditions that could require a trip to the veterinarian’s clinic. Being equipped with as much information as possible could help detect these signs early on to prevent serious complications.

How To Tell If Your Dog is Sick

Strange behavioral changes are one of the first indicators that a dog may be sick and needs some medical attention. Dog owners who are most familiar with their dog’s habits could tell right away if their canine friend is not feeling well. Here are some common behavioral signs:

  • Sudden loss of interest in games or usual activities;
  • Lack of energy or enthusiasm;
  • Restlessness or irritability;
  • Withdrawal;
  • Sudden clinginess;
  • Frequent changes in position or location;
  • Uncharacteristic urination or elimination.

If these sudden changes are observed, dog owners should check for accompanying physical manifestations in order to determine the underlying problem.

Common Dog Diseases

Even the most well-cared dogs are susceptible to diseases and infections. As a dog owner, you need to be aware of the common ailments that afflict canines and to be able to identify the presenting signs and symptoms so that veterinary care can be sought immediately.  Here are some usual canine medical conditions and the symptoms to watch out for:

Heartworms

Heartworms are parasites (Dirofilariaimmitis) that live in a dog’s heart and infest the arteries. These parasites can grow to several inches and produce young ones that spread throughout the dog’s bloodstream.

A dog can get infested with heartworms when he is bitten by a mosquito with microfilaria. The larvae are deposited on his skin where they breed and enter the bloodstream through the veins. They grow into adult worms and reside in the dog’s heart. If the condition is left untreated, the dog could develop heart failure.

The symptoms of heartworm disease include persistent coughing, difficulty breathing, weakness and fatigue, depression, loss of appetite, and fainting. The illness can be diagnosed by using a simple blood test to check for the presence of microfilaria in the blood.

To treat heartworm infestations effectively, the dog usually has to be hospitalized. The vet would inject anti-heartworm drugs to kill the parasites. The treatment can be dangerous because when the adult worms die, they continue to reside in the heart chamber and the arteries where they eventually decompose. As a result, some dogs develop severe inflammation and respiratory failure that could lead to death.

Parvovirus

Canine parvovirus (CPV) is a highly contagious viral disease that can be life-threatening. It attacks the dog’s cells and causes severe harm in the intestinal tract and the white blood cells. It can cause damage to heart muscles that lead to cardiac diseases.

It especially affects puppies and adolescent dogs that have not been immunized against the virus.  Some breeds including Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers, Labrador retrievers, American Staffordshire terriers, and German shepherds have been found to be at increased risk of contracting the disease.

CPV is manifested through physical signs such as severe vomiting, loss of appetite, bloody and foul-smelling diarrhea, fatigue, fever, and enlargement of lymph nodes.

Some diagnostics need to be performed to ascertain whether a dog has been infected with CPV. These tests are:

Complete Blood Count

Dogs infected with CPV usually have low white blood cells. A result indicating below normal WBC count is indicative of the disease.

Fecal Antigen Test

The Canine Parvovirus Antigen Test Kit can detect any pathogenic strain of CPV in the dog’s fecal matter. It is highly recommended to test if puppies or unvaccinated dogs have been infected.

Currently, there are no drugs that can kill the virus. The remedies available only provide management of the symptoms to prevent secondary infections. Most dogs do not recover from the disease.

Fortunately, the infection can be prevented by vaccination which usually administered at 6 to 8 weeks of age with booster shots given until the puppy reaches 16 to 20 weeks of age.

Cancer

This is one of the diseases that scare dog parents the most but sadly, it is also becoming more prevalent among the canines, especially among older dogs. Certain breeds such as Boxers, Boston terriers, and Golden Retrievers have been observed to commonly develop a type of cancer called lymphoma.

The presenting signs of this complex disease include the appearance of lumps, persistent sores, abnormal discharges, bad breath, lethargy, unexplained weight loss, black stools, loss of appetite, sudden lameness, and difficulty of breathing.

To diagnose cancer, the veterinarian has to perform a needle biopsy to collect a sample of the tissues where the lump is located. The specimen is sent to a pathologist who conducts a thorough examination to determine whether there is a malignancy and to assess the stage of the disease. Other laboratory exams such as x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, ultrasounds, urine tests, and blood tests are also helpful in arriving at the diagnosis.

Treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy.

dog diseases clinic

Diabetes

Diabetes is a complex disorder that is also common among dogs. It is characterized by increased levels of blood sugar that are caused by either underproduction of insulin (Type 1) or inadequate response to insulin (Type 2). Type 1 diabetes is more common.

The symptoms of the disease include changes in appetite, weight loss, increased thirst, dehydration, increased urination, vomiting, urinary tract infections, fatigue, cataract formation, and blindness. If left untreated, complications such as kidney disease and renal failure can result.

To arrive at a diagnosis of diabetes, the veterinarian will usually order laboratory exams such as blood tests and urinalysis. Meanwhile, a test kit called the PetConfirm Canine Combo can check for conditions such as diabetes, kidney diseases, and urinary tract infection. The kit also comes with a reusable P-Scoop Urine Collector, which makes urine collection hassle-free.

Another wellness kit which is non-invasive and pain-free is the PetConfirm – Instant General Wellness Health Home Testing Kit for Dogs. It can detect blood, glucose, and protein in the dog’s urine. It is also recommended for the screening of conditions such as diabetes, kidney diseases, and urinary tract infections.

Diabetes can be managed with oral medications, insulin injections, and dietary changes.

Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections are also common among dogs, with the females being more susceptible. Infections can occur in the lower urinary tract, in the bladder, or in the kidneys.

UTIs are caused by various types of bacteria or fungi that have entered the bladder or urethra. If left unchecked, the infections could spread to the kidneys and cause serious ailments.

Among the symptoms of UTIs are frequent urination, painful urination, incontinence, increased thirst, low-grade fever, fatigue, and depression.

To detect UTI, a urinalysis is usually performed. Dog owners can also resort to home test kits such as the PetConfirm – Instant Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Early Screening Home Urine Testing Kit For Dogs, which can detect early signs of UTI. Urine samples may be conveniently collected using the P-Scoop Extendable Dog Urine Collector.

The infections are normally treated using antibiotics to kill the bacteria. Some herbal remedies are also helpful.

Kidney Failure

When a dog has kidney failure, his body becomes unable to remove wastes from the blood. This causes toxins to build up in the blood, a condition called uremic poisoning. The disease can be acute or chronic.

Acute kidney failure occurs suddenly and is often an offshoot of a type of poisoning or a reaction to certain drugs. This type of disease is highly fatal and requires hospitalization.

Chronic kidney failure develops gradually and is more common. It is caused by a diet high in phosphorus and low in calcium. It may also occur secondarily to other conditions such as urinary tract infections, diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune diseases.

The common symptoms of acute kidney failure include dehydration, walking with stiff legs, arched back, and little or no urine output. On the other hand, chronic kidney failure may manifest signs such as increased thirst, frequent urination, pale appetite, weight loss, nausea or vomiting, constipation, and fatigue.

Kidney failure may be detected through a blood test that measures the concentrations of the blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine levels. A veterinarian may also order a urine test.

Home test kits such as those mentioned in No. 4 are helpful for homeowners who can perform the screening in their homes before going to a veterinarian for confirmation tests. Because kidney failure can be fatal, early detection through regular screening can save or prolong the dog’s life.

Treatment of kidney failure includes fluid therapy to address dehydration. Dietary changes are also necessary. The dog must be fed foods that are low in protein, phosphorus, calcium, and sodium. These foods include eggs, cottage cheese, and milk.

Dogs are also prescribed Vitamin D supplements to improve phosphorus and calcium absorption.

Rabies

Rabies is a deadly viral disease that is transmitted through a dog bite or through contact with the saliva of an infected animal.

The typical symptoms of rabies include irritability, aggression, restlessness, biting or snapping, fever, hypersensitivity, loss of coordination, seizures, paralysis of the jaw muscles, paralysis of the hind legs, foaming at the mouth, excessive salivation, weakness, and loss of appetite.

There are no tests to confirm rabies in live animals so it is best to be aware of these symptoms. If the dog has been bitten by a wild animal, the veterinarian should be contacted immediately.

There are also no treatments for rabies and the infection results in death. However, the disease is preventable through vaccination.

dog rabies

Conclusion

These are some of the most common diseases that afflict canines. Knowing them helps the dog owners to recognize the symptoms and be prepared to administer the remedies when they become necessary. Also, understanding breed predispositions could provide information about what probable diseases to expect, and how to prevent them.

However, it is important to maintain regular check-ups, screenings, and vaccinations or booster shots to ensure that the pet has a strong immune system to avoid as well as combat infections.  Dog owners should invest in health and veterinary services to keep their dogs healthy.

Observing proper nutrition, regular exercise, supplementation regimens, and good habits are also some of the best ways to prevent dog diseases.

Substance Abuse

Kratom Ban Expanding In More U.S. States

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More states are on a mad rush to ban kratom, the new substance that serves as an opioid replacement and is a hundred times less deadly than synthetic opioids. Despite earlier accounts of the therapeutic effects of kratom, Alabama became the latest state to ban the plant and place its active ingredients on the controlled substance list, according to a news release.

Originating from Thailand and Malaysia, kratom is still relatively new in the United States. It was banned by the Thai government in 1943 due to fears that it could destroy the opium tax revenue that the nation depended on. With cannabis no longer on the list of banned substances, it looks like there is a new plant that is set to take its place.

Kratom is available in different varieties—red vein, green vein, and white vein. Popular branded capsules with different names such as Krave are already in circulation, prompting some states to ban the plant-based drug.

The American Kratom Association revealed that anti-kratom legislation is already in the works in the states of Florida, Georgia, and Kentucky. Democrat Senator Arthur Orr was the sponsor of the Alabama bill that placed kratom’s active ingredients mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine as Schedule I.

While natural kratom is a relatively harmless plant, the active ingredient mitragynine binds opioid brain receptors – the same receptors that react to morphine, heroin, and oxycodone. Although it is much less potent than painkillers or heroin, kratom has similar qualities such as withdrawal symptoms as well as the habit-forming nature that all opioids have. Mitragynine does not bind strongly as synthetic opioids, but the same principle applies.

If there is one redeeming quality of kratom, it has to be its ability to become a gateway drug in order to escape opioid addiction. It may come in handy to a pill popper or a heroin addict. Still, a lot of research may be needed to fully understand the controversial plant, including its benefits and risks.

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Pet Health

All You Need To Know About Dog Health

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dog health veterinarian

The term “health is wealth” is applicable not only to humans but also to our canine friends.

Whether it’s an adult or a puppy, you would want your dog to have a clean bill of health. Dogs serve as your protector, exercise buddy, and companion. However, they will not be able to do all of these things if they are unhealthy.

In this article, we will discuss some tips and advice on keeping your dogs healthy.

dog ownership outdoors

Basic Health Requirements of Dogs

Just like humans, dogs have basic needs that should be addressed by their masters. This is necessary for them to stay healthy and continue doing the activities that they engage in.

Water

dog swimming

The amount of water that your dog will drink depends on certain factors:

  • Body size
  • Overall health
  • Level of activity
  • Age and diet
  • Air temperature and humidity

On the average, a healthy dog would need about 50 to 60 ml of water per kilogram of weight on a daily basis. An 18-kilogram canine needs to drink about a liter of water per day. For dogs that mostly rely on dry dog food, two liters of water a day is required.

You should watch out for any signs of dehydration, which include the following:

  • Dry nose
  • Dry gums (note that gums of a healthy dog are pink)
  • Wrinkling of skin if you pinch the back of the neck

In addition, be careful in giving too much or too little water to your dog. The former could put them at risk of infection or diabetes. The latter, on the other hand, might also put them at risk of an underlying illness like parvovirus infection or pancreatitis.

Food

dog food bowl safety

Not all foods are alike as far as dogs are concerned. Some of them cannot be easily digested by the dog. Examples of these foods include:

  • Grapes and raisins
  • Chocolate or food that contains caffeine
  • Onion and garlic
  • Raw eggs and fish
  • Nutmeg, mushrooms, walnuts
  • Yeast dough

Dogs should be fed at least once every 24 hours. In the case of large breed dogs, they are prone to gastric dilation and hence should be fed smaller meals 2 to 3 times daily. After weaning, puppies should be fed at least thrice daily until they have reached two-thirds of their ideal adult weight and then two times a day until they reach their mature weight.

If you prefer feeding them a homemade diet, make sure that it is complete and has balanced nutrition. A properly formulated recipe must be used and should be appropriate to the life stage of the dog.

Shelter

dog sad alone in house

Dogs are prone to forming habits quickly. They will sleep in the same location where they were trained to do so. For indoor dogs, they need shelter with moderate temperature and well-ventilated. Outdoor dogs need a place that protects them from wind, rain, and other weather hazards. The house should allow the dog to enter completely, turn a full circle, and lie down.

Dogs prefer loose bedding such as straw. They need a place where they can sleep comfortably and will not get wet, especially during cold weather. The space should be kept clean and comfortable. It should have proper air circulation to prevent respiratory diseases. Dogs should be kept in a place where the temperature is as close to their comfort zone depending on their breed, age, and health status.

Signs of Health Issues

Depending on the breed, dogs may be prone to a variety of health issues. Some problems are more common than others. For instance, big dogs can experience bone and joint problems while smaller breeds are likely to experience organ and breathing problems. Here are some common health issues you need to watch out for:

Arthritis

This is the most common health issue in older dogs. Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis but you can make it easy for your pet dog. You can help slow down the aging process as well as arthritis though proper diet and nutrition. For severe arthritis, consult a veterinarian for proper prescription.

Worms

Worms in dogs can lead to weight loss, swollen belly, diarrhea, and lack of energy. Your vet might be able to prescribe medicine for your dog. Make sure to regularly conduct fecal checks to be sure that all the worms are gone.

Allergies

There are different kinds of allergies in dogs. Watch out for any change in behavior. Symptoms could include lack of energy and cough or sneeze. Treatment of allergy requires changing the food of your dog and the shampoo you are using for bathing the dog.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a respiratory infection that can be easily transmitted from one dog to another during interaction. Common symptoms include lethargy, coughing, leaky nose and eyes and loss of appetite. Kennel cough can be prevented through the administration of vaccines.

Vomiting

Vomiting could be due to a number of factors. It is suggested to assess the behavior of your dog which caused them to vomit and see if there could be more serious issues. If there is nothing to worry about, they might just have eaten something. However, for persistent vomiting, you better have it checked out by a vet.

 Obesity

Obesity is something that is easily noticeable. You need to pay attention to your dog’s weight and have it checked regularly. You can keep obesity in check through a change a diet and regular exercise. Make sure to consult your vet before making drastic changes in diet.

Common Dog Diseases

Some dogs are susceptible to diseases. Thanks to the availability of dog vaccines, what used to be prevalent diseases have become less common. Puppies can be vaccinated as early as 4 to 6 weeks depending on the situation and the advice of the vet. The milk of the mother can also give puppies disease-fighting antibodies which can last for up to 16 weeks.

dog health veterinarian

Here are some common diseases that can afflict dogs:

Diabetes

Symptoms of diabetes in dogs include changes in appetite, excessive thirst, and vomiting. If not treated right away, diabetes results to urinary tract infection (UTI) and cataract.

You should take your dog to the vet for regular insulin injections.  Oral medications and a high-fiber diet can also reverse the effects of diabetes. You may also find help in home testing kits for dogs.

Cancer

Just like in humans, cancer is one of the biggest dog killers and one of the most expensive to treat. It account for 50% of disease-related pet deaths. Symptoms of dog cancer include unusual odor, lumps, drastic weight loss, and lasting behavioral changes.

Rabies

The development of vaccines has somehow controlled the prevalence of rabies among different dog breeds. Still, your dogs are at risk of rabies even if they have received their shots. Symptoms include heavy, thick drool, and aggressive behavior. Make sure your dogs get their shots yearly.

Distemper

Canine distemper is due to a highly contagious, airborne virus. It affects the dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems. Symptoms include runny eyes and nose, fever, cough, and diarrhea. It often leads to nervous twitching, paralysis, and seizure.

Hepatitis

Hepatitis in dogs affects the liver, kidney, and blood vessels. It is a viral disease that is transmitted through urine, feces, or saliva of infected animals. Symptoms of hepatitis include fever, swollen tissues, and hemorrhage.

Corona

Corona affects the gastrointestinal tract and has symptoms that are similar to parvovirus infection but milder and can be effectively treated.

Importance of Proper Dog Nutrition

Proper nutrition is vital in ensuring the health of your canine pet. Given the variety of options to choose from in the market, deciding on what to feed your dog can be a difficult choice. Aside from doing some research, you may also consult your veterinarian on the best nutrition to give your dog.

dog feeding

Generally, there are two choices when it comes to healthy dog diet, namely home-prepared and commercially available. Let us differentiate the two.

Home-prepared food

Preparing home-prepared diets requires more time and research on your part. While they may be great alternatives to commercially available nutrition, incorrect preparation can put your dog at risk.

Commercially -available food products

For those who are not into home-prepared dog food, there is kibble or canned options available. Just make sure that the diet should have high meat content or some of the ingredients should at least have meat.

When looking for proper nutrition for your dog, you can check out different websites or forums. They often have recommendations on what is the best food for your dog.

Dog/Health Maintenance Tips

Just like bringing your toddler or infant to the pediatrician, a regular visit to the veterinarian can help monitor any conditions or behavior that can affect your dog’s overall health and well-being. In the same way, regularly visiting your vet is one of the best ways you can ensure the health and well-being of your canine pet.

Sending your dog to the vet regularly offers a wide range of benefits:

1. Early Disease Detection

A regular visit to the vet paves the way for early detection of any serious illness. This way, if the vet suspects that your pet is in an early stage of a disease, treatment can be started earlier thus preventing it from developing into its later stages.

2. Prevention Can Be Planned

Another advantage of regular visits to the vet is that once the disease is detected, the vet can come up with the right prevention plan for your pet for the coming years. They can recommend the right product, give the right dosage, or suggest alternative treatment methods.

3. Correct Bad Habits

Regular consultation with your veterinarian provides the perfect opportunity to discuss important issues regarding your pet dog. If there is behavior that needs corrective action, the vet is the right person to recommend the right course of action for such behavior.

dog fight bite

Conclusion

Some people consider dogs as part of the family. They give them a nice place to stay, provide them with the most nutritious food, and even buy clothes and toys for them. Just like the way they will treat humans, owners want to make sure that their pet dogs are in the best state of health.

By having knowledge of common diseases, issues, and basic needs, dog owners would be able to understand ways on how to provide the best care for their pet canine.

Helpful online resources:

https://www.lovethatpet.com/dogs/health/basic-preventative-health/

http://www.ctsanimals.ca/va1040/com/assets/data/pdf/kennel/needToKnow1d_10.pdf

http://www.caninejournal.com/dog-health-issues/

https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/4h/4-h-852-w.pdf

http://www.dogster.com/dog-food/dog-nutrition

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