It’s a Dog’s Life
Nala and Lulu, Dr. Travis’ and Dr. Ordon’s dogs, join The Doctors onstage for the first ever Ask the Vet episode!
Health Benefits of Pets
Could the cure for depression be as easy as caring for a pet? The psychological and physiological benefits of companion animals are often cited by health care workers. “They can lower blood pressure, elevate mood, and lower depression and loneliness,” Dr. Jim says.
Dr. Lisa illustrates the point by describing the pet program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. “They bring the pets around to the patients that have been there awhile, and it’s really been shown to make them a lot happier and healthier.”
Unwelcome Bed Buddies
Do you have a “welcome mat” on your bed? Beware! Unseemly characters like fleas, mites and ticks often tag along with your pet for an unwelcome cuddle! Make sure to check with your veterinarian and perform regular flea and pest treatments on your pets.
President-elect Barack Obama recently stated that his family is looking for a First Dog that won’t cause an allergic reaction in their eldest daughter, Malia. The Doctors explain that people are allergic to dog’s dander, saliva and urine, so there’s no such thing as an allergy-free pooch. Dr. Travis notes that kids who grow up around dogs often have fewer allergies than kids who do not.
The pediatrician agrees, but cautions, “If someone really has a true dog allergy, then you have to avoid the exposure.”
Veterinarian Carolyn McCray joins The Doctors with advice on how to keep the other “kids” in your life healthy and happy! She demonstrates how to gently brush canine teeth on Dr. Travis’ dog, Nala. She encourages pet owners to brush their furry friends’ teeth every week to keep their choppers and gums healthy. Other options to keep tartar at bay include mouthwash and specially formulated bones and treats.
Warning Signs of Pet Dental Trouble:
• Bad breath
• Teeth discoloration
• Inflamed gums
• Discomfort or pain when eating dry food
Addie is concerned for her beloved cat, Enya. She says that Enya urinates frequently, doesn’t eat and is losing weight. Dr. McCray explains that these symptoms could indicate anything from kidney troubles, chronic renal insufficiency (CFR), hypertension or diabetes. She takes Enya’s blood pressure and states that it’s within normal range, so she is able to rule out hypertension. She instructs Addie to take Enya to the vet to have the kitty’s blood drawn for further diagnosis.
Let’s Get Physical
Dr. McCray stresses the importance of early intervention for any ailment your pet suffers. Just as people go in for an annual physical, our four-legged friends should have a yearly exam and blood work as well. As with humans, late detection of diseases or conditions severely limits treatment options.
Toxic Food for Pets
It’s not unheard of for someone in the family to sneak table scraps into Fido’s eager mouth. Most people assume that dogs like human food just as much as they do!
Chocolate Lovers Beware!
Chocolate, long considered to be a decadent creation of the gods, is toxic to dogs and can cause irreparable harm such as permanent paralysis or heart attack.
Peel Me a Grape
Grapes and raisins cause acute kidney failure in pets.
Macadamia nuts can also cause paralysis in pets.
Dogs often show their affection with sloppy wet “kisses,” but Dr. Jim warns that canine mouths contain bacteria called Camplyobacter, which they get from smelling each other’s backsides. The bacteria will cause the stomach flu in humans and each year more than 200,000 Americans contract the virus after their dogs lick their mouths. Ringworm can also be passed orally, so it’s best to keep the kisses for your human friends!
Pruney Fingers and Toes
Eight-year-old Ethan from Los Angeles, California, asks the pediatrician why his hands get so wrinkled if he stays in the pool or tub for too long. Dr. Jim says that most people think the “pruney” skin is a result of dehydration, but that’s untrue. He explains that sebaceous glands in the skin secrete a substance to moisturize and waterproof the skin. If someone stays in water -- especially warm water -- for too long, the substance washes off and water soaks into the skin. The result is water-logged fingers and toes!
Dr. Jim adds that people with very dry skin should limit their bath time to less than 10 minutes; otherwise the skin will over-hydrate and further irritate the skin.
Scratch and Sniff
Nine-year-old Travis from Plantation, Florida, asks Dr. Jim, “My mom always makes me shower right away when I come home from baseball! Can’t I just use deodorant?”
Dr. Jim explains that body odor in prepubescent and pubescent kids is a product of hormones -- specifically androgens -- that stimulate sweat glands. Bacteria cluster around sweat glands on the surface of the skin and feed off the increased levels of sweat; the by-products of the bacteria’s metabolic processes cause body odor. The pediatrician says that kids can start using deodorant by age 13 -- earlier if their hormonal changes warrant it. He cautions that parents should make sure the deodorant doesn’t contain aluminum, as there are potential health risks with the element.
“Word to the wise,” Dr. Jim joshes, “If you wait for all your friends to start telling you to use deodorant, then it’s too late!”
Nifty After Fifty
Ella, a feisty 77-year-old, asks The Doctors what she can do to stay fit. Dr. Jim invited her to a Nifty After Fifty exercise class, where they hopped, skipped and “caned” their way to fitness. The seniors used their canes to perform Cane-Fu to elevate their heart rate and improve their balance. The pediatrician jokes, “Ella, man, she packs a mean cane!”
Tips to Staying Fit
1. Take the stairs instead of the elevator
2. Park far away and walk the length of the parking lot to the store
3. Walk at a brisk pace and add one minute to your time each day
CVS/pharmacy Medicine Cabinet Makeover
CVS/pharmacy pharmacist Papatya visits the set and lists the essential items every medicine cabinet should contain:
• Adhesive wraps
• Cotton balls
• Alcohol swabs
• Cold and cough medicine
Papatya offers these other important tips:
1. Check the expiration date on all medications.
2. Medicines should be stored in a cool and dry place, which is often not the bathroom!
3. Store medicines up high and out of reach of children.
4. Make sure to have the poison control number handy.
When the Bough Breaks
Despite all your warnings, kids aren’t always careful. Chances are, many will have an accident and even break a limb. Nearly seven million Americans suffer bone breaks every year. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Steve Yacoubian says that most children don’t require surgery for a broken bone; a cast is usually applied and it takes approximately six weeks or so for their bones to heal. The surgeon adds that the most common fractures and breaks for children are sports related; the most commonly broken bones are the clavicle, forearm and shin.
There are many different kinds of fractures, which are classified according to the way in which the bone breaks, but all fractures can be classified as one of the following:
1. Simple: the bone breaks, but does not break through the skin.
2. Compound: the bone breaks and breaks through the skin as well.
3. Incomplete: when the bone cracks.
4. Complete: when the bone breaks in two or more places.
What to Do if You Break a Bone
1. Try not to move the affected limb
2. Stabilize the bone
3. Apply ice
4. Seek medical attention immediately
Wrap it Up
Dr. Yacoubian demonstrates how to care for a broken arm on his 8-year-old son, Daniel. The surgeon explains that the most important thing to do if you suspect a break is to stabilize the affected limb. He inserts Daniel’s forearm into a rolled newspaper to demonstrate an easily-fashioned means of support.
Next, Dr. Yacoubian demonstrates how a cast is put on in less then two minutes! He dips a fiberglass roll in warm water and expertly wraps it around Daniel’s forearm and wrist... and voila! Daniel has a sturdy new cast!
Scratching the Itch
Dr. Yacoubian says a little trick to stop the itching inside a cast is to put the fingers in cold water, which should cease the itch sensation.