I just had a fun conversation with my dentist, whose husband is a physician. We were remarking on how often well-meaning medical professionals do dangerous things to their pets, because they don ™t realize that animals are not people. A single acetaminophen tablet (Tylenol š) can kill a cat. Ibuprofen (Advil š) can destroy a dog ™s intestinal tract. Every animal species has some idiosyncrasy in it’s anatomy or physiology that keeps veterinarians on their toes. Did you know that a horse has no gall bladder? Cows and horses digest their food in completely different ways, and thus need very different diets. Cats are true carnivores and dogs are not. This means that cats need more protein and a different array of amino acids than do dogs. If a healthy dog eats cat food, he will probably be just fine, but if a healthy cat eats only dog food, he will likely go blind and develop life-threatening heart disease! A nice bar of special dark chocolate can be enough to kill a dog – and since grapes are now known to cause kidney failure in dogs, adding a glass of red wine to that chocolate could really put him over the edge! Lab values and drug dosages are quite different also. Our goals for controlling diabetic dogs and cats, include keeping the blood glucose level below 200 – this would be dangerously high for a person. In order to control a dog ™s hypothyroidism, I have to give him over 10 times the human dose of thyroid supplement!

Roy Rogers said that veterinarians are the best doctors because their patients can ™t talk to them, they ™ve just gotta know. More recently I have seen a fun t-shirt that says œReal doctors treat more than one species.  The truth is that your veterinarian does know the differences between species and should be the only one to help you treat your pets. We would enjoy helping you to take care of your pets.

by Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP