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imageedit_1_6385079406Adequan: A Near-Miracle for Dogs with Arthritis
By Christie Keith

Is your dog slowing down as he gets older? Does she hesitate before jumping in the car, on the bed, or going up the stairs? Is he dragging himself up from a reclining position with his shoulders instead of springing up with his hindquarters?

If so, your vet might have diagnosed your dog with osteoarthritis, the same condition that afflicts millions of American humans, too. And your vet probably suggested the same remedy that you see pushed on dozens of TV ads nightly: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, from over-the-counter medications like Advil to prescription drugs like Vioxx or Celebrex.

The canine version of these prescription drugs are known as Rimadyl, Etogesic, Metacam, and Deramaxx. Like all NSAIDs, including the human ones, they have a long list of potential side effects, include vomiting, bloody diarrhea, kidney and liver damage, and even death.

Of course, side effects don’t affect every animal who takes the drugs, and many pet owners are so thrilled to see their stiff, painful dog become active and limber again that they’re willing to take the risk. I gave my old dog Lillie Rimadyl towards the end of her life, and I’m not saying that decision is always wrong. But there is an option that many vets and dog owners seem unaware of, and I think it’s a crying shame.

I’m talking about the veterinary drug called Adequan Canine.

Adequan is an injectable substance known as a “polysulfated glycosaminoglycan,” and is very similar to the more familiar oral supplement known as glucosamine. Adequan has been proven to be preferentially taken up by inflamed joints when injected into the dog’s muscles. It soothes and lubricates the joint, naturally reducing inflammation and pain by reducing friction. Even better, instead of just masking pain as NSAIDs do, it actually helps to rebuild cartilage in the damaged joint. It’s not just pain control, it’s therapy.

To make the “miracle” tag even more appropriate, Adequan does this without much in the way of potential side effects. Some humans who have used Adequan on themselves (there is no human version licensed in the United States) report that it stings a little; it upsets some dogs’ stomachs for a while after the injection, and in very rare cases it can cause low platelets – a condition that is reversed upon stopping the drug.

Adequan has one major drawback: The price. My hope is that if more vets started using and recommending it, the cost could come down. My vet lets me order it wholesale through her practice, and then just charges me a few dollars for the injections. Some vets will order it for you and let you give the injections yourself at home, but it’s an intramuscular injection and I’m not comfortable doing those.

It’s crucial that the full loading dose, following the directions in the package insert, be given. Until we followed the directions, my chow mix didn’t get any relief at all from the Adequan, but as soon as we did, the change was dramatic after 2-3 injections. The biggest problem I have found with people who say they tried Adequan and it “didn’t work” is that they didn’t do the loading dose, so I am going to say it again: The loading dose is critical.

The interval needed to maintain the dog will vary from individual to individual. Generally we would experiment with intervals as we tapered them off. Once the full loading period was done, we’d let the dog go until we saw some symptoms appear, and then we gave the injection and set the interval as one week LESS than the interval that resulted in symptoms. As my chow mix got older this interval did get shorter, but with the deer hounds, who we started the instant we saw signs that arthritis was starting, the opposite has occurred: The interval has gotten LONGER (which we found out by missing a few appointments by accident!).

I sincerely wish that more vets would recommend Adequan. It is much safer than the NSAIDS such as Rimadyl and Deramaxx. It is a better first step for dealing with pain from degenerative joint disease than NSAIDS, and the NSAIDs are always there if Adequan isn’t enough.

When coupled with acupuncture and chiropractic, I’ve observed that the benefit of Adequan is greatly increased, so if those therapies are available, they are also well worth seeking out. You can also continue the oral glucosamine supplementation with a high-quality supplement such as Cosequin; I know owners of large dogs who say they have been able to extend the symptom-free period between Adequan injections to as much as six months by starting out aggressively, and tapering off while giving oral glucosamine supplements at the highest recommended dose.

If your dog has arthritis, before you put him or her on Rimadyl, Deramaxx, or other NSAIDs, talk to your veterinarian about giving Adequan a try. There is information for dog owners as well as veterinarians on the manufacturer’s website at www.adequan.com.

Ask Dr. McClaine about adequan on your next visit to Desert Care Animal Hospital

A Safe Halloween for you & your pets

A Safe Halloweencat-halloween

Halloween can be a frightening time for pet owners across the country. It can be scary for our furry friends too. Desert Care Animal Hospital encourages pet owners to protect their four-legged family members this October by being mindful of their F.E.A.R. – food, environment, attire, and recovery.


Halloween means candy and tasty treats are plentiful and easily accessible to young children and pets. Candy, especially chocolate, is toxic to animals and can cause vomiting, restlessness, heart disturbances, and even death. Although grapes and raisins are a healthy alternative snack for humans, they can be potentially deadly for dogs. These fruits contain an unknown toxin that can damage dogs’ kidneys and cause kidney failure.

Candy wrappers can also cause health problems. Animals may eat the wrapper, causing obstruction or irritation to the pet’s digestive system. Candy and wrappers should be kept out of pets’ reach and young children should be taught not to share Halloween goodies with their pet. Seasonal foods such as pumpkins and corn may cause minor stomach irritation; however, they are relatively safe for Fluffy and Fido. Pumpkin seeds may cause digestive system obstruction if consumed by smaller animals.


Due to the increased foot traffic and commotion in your neighborhood, outdoor pets should be kept indoors during the days surrounding Halloween. Unsupervised outdoor animals are susceptible to stress, inhumane practical jokes or theft. Providing a safe, stress free environment reduces the probability of your beloved friend injuring himself or others. Loud and excessive noise created by trick-or-treaters can frighten your cat or dog. Animals should be kept away from the door and out of hearing range of a constantly ringing doorbell and excited children. Fluffy or Fido should be put in a room where they will not be disturbed by noise and activity. A frightened or upset pet may run out the door at the first opportunity and could harm the children in its way.

Be sure decorations are safe from the paws and teeth of curious pets. Crepe paper streamers, fake cobwebs, glow sticks, plastic spiders and cardboard wall hangings can easily be chewed and swallowed, damaging your pet’s digestive tract. Animals can also tip over the candle in a jack-o-lantern and burn themselves or start a fire. Keep decorations out of animals’ reach, and maintain supervision if they play nearby.


Transforming your pet into a superhero, witch, ghost, or goblin can be a stressful and unpleasant experience. Some animals love to dress up, but others dread it. If your furry friend doesn’t mind dressing up, make sure that you select a costume that doesn’t restrict his normal movements, breathing or vision. Costumes that interfere with these things can cause ligament or joint injuries, and animals are more likely to bite if their vision is impaired. Pets are better off left at home during trick-or-treating excursions. However, if they do tag along, it is best to keep them on a very short leash and harness to keep them from fighting with other animals, eating the treats, becoming victims of practical jokes – as black cats often do – or biting strangers they encounter.


It is important to have a plan if your pet becomes sick, injured or lost this Halloween season. Since time is critical during any unfortunate incident, pet parents should always have contact information for their veterinarian and local animal shelters easily accessible. Also, pet owners need to be aware that not all veterinarians are available 24 hours.  It is also important to update your pet’s identification tags and micro chip information each time you move or change phone numbers so that current contact information is always available on your pet.

Desert Care Animal Hospital wishes you a safe and Happy Halloween for you and your pets!



The Truth About Rabies

Rabies-Vaccine-generic-from-rabiesvaccinefordogsdotcom1-040313Rabies! It’s a potent word that demands an exclamation mark.

Our reactions are primal, colored by myths, modern movies and novels such as“Rage,” “Cujo,” “Old Yeller” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.” You may have heard the popular warning: Beware of bats or raccoons in the daytime. They carry rabies!

But the truth is such a raccoon might be a mother taking a break from caring for her babies, one that has distemper or another disease, or one dazed after being injured by a passing car.

A bat in the daytime might be a juvenile learning to fly but “driving” erratically and without parental consent to be out and about, according to Charles Rupprecht, VMD, PhD, chief of Rabies Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

No signs can tell you if an animal is rabid, he says. That’s why there are diagnostic tests.

Wild animals acting oddly—perhaps approaching people—may indicate they have rabies. But nonrabid wild animals also may do that because they are used to humans, says Rupprecht.

Another myth is that certain animals “carry” the disease. Any mammal infected with the virus is its victim as well. Some species are better hosts. Those that lick, suck and bite in their social interactions allow the virus to spread through saliva or brain/nervous system tissue. Hosts that live in large and dense social groups help maintain the virus’ success. more…

Dog & Cat Abscess

catbite diagramPets have a way of getting into trouble with one another. And when the seemingly inevitable altercations ensue, fangs and fur can fly. Unfortunately, a great many of these cases end in abscesses. A bite-wound abscess forms when the body can’t remove infection, inflammation, and damaged cells fast enough after one cat bites another, but there are other kinds of abscesses. An abscess causes a painful lump at the bite site, fever, and tiredness until the infection is cleared up, which will require antibiotics and possibly surgery, depending on the size and severity of the infection. more…

Foxtails and Pets

Foreign Body Is an Outdoor Threat

Jennifer Hawkins, DVM

What Is a Foxtail?

Foxtails are grass awns, or seeds, that are prevalent in the Western United States. These awns look like barley and have tiny spikes on them such that they easily stick to fur and then migrate in one direction only. Thus, once they get caught in the fur of an animal, they often wind their way deeper into the fur coat and penetrate the skin.