Candy Pee and Me: How Big Pharma Seduced Me at NAVC

It’s been entirely too long since I’ve posted, and for that I apologize. I’ve been terribly busy responding to nastygrams depositing my checks from Big Pet Food sneering at plebians going to a continuing education conference this past week, and what a week it was.

Like many of you, I read the Indy Star’s expose about the loose strings of pharmaceutical companies (or, in internet conspiracy parlance, Big Pharma) at continuing education conferences such as the one I was going to attend, and also like many of you, I was surprised. And excited. I had no idea this was what I had to look forward to! I thought I was just plunking down a couple grand in fees, airfare, and hotel for a measly week of polishing my science know-how, and here’s this whole seedy underbelly of riches I had no idea existed.

I arrived in Orlando for the North American Veterinary Community Conference with 16,000 of my closest friends energized, ready to be plied with jewels, cash, and cars. Kind of like The Price is Right, but with drugs.

In the past, I’ve wandered the exhibit hall for a breather in between talks, taking a peek at the new products on the market. Sometimes the companies would give us candy, or pens- enough to get us to stop by and familiarize ourselves with the product, but not enough to justify actually changing how we practice medicine. I would have done it anyway. Because becoming familiar with new products is, you know, what we’re supposed to do.

I wanted to start my day with one of the storied free food lectures, hoping to begin my morning with roasted pheasant and perhaps a fluffy souffle. Then I learned you had to get up at 6:30 and the most they could guarantee was that the food was “hot,” so I passed and had a Kind bar instead.

"All we need is cantaloupe and these vets won't know what hit them."

“All we need is cantaloupe and these vets won’t know what hit them.”

After a few am lectures about respiratory distress, where the speaker (and every other one at NAVC) carefully informed us about their financial ties- or lack thereof- to the topics of their talk, I hit the exhibit hall in search of fortune.

Somewhere past the forceps booth and to the left of the lasers, a long line started to snake through the aisles and out into the halls. Whatever they were giving away, that had to be good.

“Excuse me,” I said to the woman at the end of the line. “Is this where they’re handing out free cars?”

“No,” she said. “This line is for Build-a-Bear.”

“This huge line is for Build-a-Bear?” I asked somewhat incredulously. The three men in front of her turned around and to a one muttered something about little girls at home. It’s cool, guys. Everyone likes Build-a-Bear.

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“Where’s the contest where everyone wins something?” I asked, and they directed me over to the east hall, where a bored looking woman instructed me to spin a ‘wheel of parasites.’ I won a chapstick with a picture of a tapeworm on it.

As I continued to wander, I heard some grumbling from around a corner, where four people were congregated around a woman clutching a big bag. “Where’d you get that?” they asked her, and she pointed to another long line snaking through the hall.

“Is that the jewelry line?” I asked.

“No,” they said. “This is for the stuffed Olaf.”

“Like Olaf from Frozen?” I asked.

“Yes,” a woman replied, “but you have to be careful. They’re really hard to get. You have to go through a screening process.”

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“What sort of screening process?” I asked.

“No one knows,” she said. “All I know is that they keep turning people away who don’t own practices. I think they sell some sort of financial services. It might involve an application and a credit report.”

“I’ve tried three times for an Olaf,” said another woman. “They’re not very nice about it.”

“Isn’t Frozen kind of old news anyway?” I asked, but that was apparently not the right question to ask.

Dispirited, I walked into the booth of a large pharmaceutical company. “If I listen to your spiel,” I asked, “What do I get?”

“Information,” the rep said, pulling out a sheaf of papers.

“No car?” I asked, disappointed. “Or a trip somewhere?”

She dug into her pocket and pulled out some mints. “I have these,” she said, then brightened. “Or a pen! Do you want a pen?”

“I’m OK,” I said. “I think I just need something to drink.”

“They have coffee over by that pet food display,” she said. “I think the line’s down to 15 minutes.”

By this time, the line for the Build-a-Bear had disappeared, and in exchange for giving a journal my email address, I was presented with a small, naked bear.

“We’re having a contest tomorrow for some scrubs,” the booth person said.

“For me?” I asked. “Or the bear?’

“For the bear.”

After an hour or so of this, my tally of freebies was as follows:

-One naked bear

-A bedazzled lanyard

-chapstick

– 15 pens

-one urine container filled with yellow candy (this was actually my favorite)

schwag

“Why do you think these lines for all these freebies are so long, do you suppose?” I asked my friend Kristen. “Are we that hard up for stuff we’d wait for half an hour just for a chance to win a free ipad?”

“You’re veterinarians,” she said. “Of course you are.” Touche.

After a long day of lectures and wandering, I had worked up an appetite, so I set out in search of the free feasts. I searched every corner of the hotel, and couldn’t find a single one. I realized everyone must have gone to the free rock concert instead.

“Free concert?” I said, intrigued. Maybe there was some credence to this Indy Star thing after all! “Who’d they get? Dave Grohl? Bruno Mars?”

There was a long pause as my friend flipped through the conference brochure. “38 Special,” she said.

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“38 Special?” I replied. “Are those guys still alive?”

“Apparently.” Pause. “My dad’s gonna be so jealous. He almost took a cruise with them last year.”

Hungry and alone, I went to my room at 10 pm and decided to order room service. After 15 minutes on hold, I placed an order for a Cobb salad and was told it would be an hour and a half, because shutting ourselves in our rooms alone with our papers is apparently a popular choice for veterinarians. I’m so predictable.

 

Pawcurious: With Pet Lifestyle Expert and Veterinarian Dr. V.

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Pet Food Recall: J.J. Fuds Chicken Tender Chunks

The latest pet food recall wasn’t posted by the FDA.  Instead, it was found at PR Newswire and TruthaboutPetFood.com.  The official information:

J.J. Fuds in Valparaiso, IN is recalling a select lot and product of J.J. Fuds Chicken Tender Chunks Pet Food because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women. Animals’ ill with Listeria will display symptoms similar to the ones listed above for humans. People who have concerns about whether their pet has Listeria should contact their veterinarian.

The recalled product was distributed regionally in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois to wholesale and retail customers. The product can be identified by the batch ID code (manufactured date) and UPC code printed on the back of the individual plastic bag or on the master case label. This product is a frozen raw poultry producJJ Fuds Inc Front Labelt (see Safe Handling Instructions on package) and has a shelf life of one year if kept frozen.

The recalled product is as follows:
J. J. Fuds Premium Natural Blends, Chicken Tender Chunks
All 5 lb. bags with:
Product UPC Number: 654592-345935
Manufacture/Lot Code Date: 5/5/14

The recall was a result of a routine sampling program by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development resulting in a positive test for Listeria monocytogenes. The company has not received any reports of dogs experiencing nausea and diarrhea that may be associated with these specific products. The company has received no reports of human illness as a result of these products.

J.J. Fuds, Inc. will immediately start working with distributors and retailers to properly dispose of any affected product left on freezer shelves. The company will also be working with distributors and retailers to recall this product from pet owners to ensure the proper disposal of any affected product that has been purchased.JJ Fuds Inc Case Label

J.J.Fuds is issuing this action out of an abundance of caution and sincerely regrets any inconvenience to pet owners as a result of this announcement.

The recalled product should not be sold or fed to pets. Pet owners who have the affected product at home should return to retailer for a refund and proper disposal.

For further information or questions regarding this recall, please contact us at jjfuds.com or by phone at 888-435-5873 Monday-Friday 8AM-4PM CST.

Contact:
Karl Gottschlich
(888) 432-5873


PetsitUSA Blog

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The wild type

When I was eleven years old, I went hamster crazy.

At that age, I was a connoisseur of books on pets and wildlife, and I owned countless Barron’s books on pets. I had ones on all the common breeds of dog, including one on golden retrievers.  I discovered that the dog book were all written by Americans or by people living in America or writing for an American audience, and often, the books would just have enough filler about that particular breed, which would be followed by chapters that were essentially the same in every single book. Breed did not matter.

However, there were a few exceptions to this rule. Some books were really detailed and had fascinating narratives about the dogs they kept.  They were really good. The book on dachshunds by Leni Fiedelmeier was unbelievably good. The author actually told stories about her dogs as a way illustrating the best way to care for them.

I noticed very quickly that the book was a translation from German. The dogs all had German names, and most of the dachshunds in the photographs in the book were wire-haired, which is the least common variety in North America.

So it was a good book.

I noticed that the only books from that series that were any good were those that were originally written in German. German-speaking pet owners were much more willing to get personal in their books. They were much more willing to help you understand the animal and appreciate it for what it was.

And that’s what brought me to hamsters.

The book on hamsters was by Otto von Frisch. I had no idea who that was, but years later, I learned that Otto was the son of the famous ethologist Karl von Frisch. He was a respected director at the Brunswick Natural History Museum, but he was a master naturalist. His descriptions of hamster behavior and natural history captured my imagination as nothing had before.

I knew that I had to have a golden hamster.

And not just any golden hamster.

Throughout the translation, every time the author mentioned the hamsters that possessed the original coat coloration, they were always referred to as “the wild type.”

That term captured my imagination, and I knew that I wanted to have a male golden hamster of the wild type.

When I went to the pet store to buy my first hamster, all that was available was a female black-eyed cream. She was  a nasty biter, and though I gave her the name of Linda, we always called her the Black-eyed Bitch.

I was given an ancient Teddy bear hamster soon after I got my first one, and then I bought a cinnamon and banded one. The banded one was wild-type, but only on her front and back.

It turned out that the cinnamon hamster was pregnant, and she gave birth a litter of ten. Nine of the babies were banded wild-types, which told me that the wild type was dominant, as were the bands. But one of the little ones was a true wild type without any banding at all.

I kept him, and he was my first male hamster. I came to prefer the males to the females. The males, although smaller, were pluckier and more confident. They matured more muscled up and svelte. I came to notice their scent glands on their hips, which they would rake along the sides of their enclosures. On a wild type male, these glands would stain their fur a bright yellow, almost like epaulets on their tawny sable forms.

They were tame in that they tolerated my presence and handling. As solitary animals, I doubt they ever gave me a passing glance. They were other beings, prisoners in our civilization that somehow adapted to our plastic “labyrinth” enclosures, water bottles, and exercise wheels.

My eleven-year-old mind could not comprehend that these animals were derived from a single litter captured in Syria in 1930.  I could not grasp the concept of how inbred these animals were. They were all derived from single litter– indeed a single male and single female from that litter– and that they had somehow survived that bottleneck and were available at virtually every pet shop for $ 5.00.

I did not anthropomorphize them. No, I did worse than that.  The animals I knew all around me were dogs, and I began to project upon them the essence of canines. I even tried to train them a few tricks, which they never learned.

If I owned a hamster now, I think I would have greater appreciation for them as hamsters. I would think of them hanging out in some of the most ancient fields of wheat, occasionally stealing a bit of the grain store for themselves or perhaps falling prey to those first domestic cats.

When I reread Frisch’s book on hamsters, I am able to appreciate this creature. It lived unknown to science until 1839, when a British zoologist first described a specimen of mid-sized hamster from what is now Syria. But they are creatures of the cultivated field, and they knew about our kind for thousands of years before we came to know them.

And yet they remain so distant.

As prisoners in a foreign land should be.

 


Canis lupus hominis

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Zen and the Art of Setting World Records

Hundreds of yogis and doggies were in a very Zen place Sunday at the Carmel Valley (California) Recreation Center as they attempted to break the Guinness World Record for most people and dogs doing yoga together in one place. People and dogs of all shapes and sizes participated in the event which was described as quite peaceful and calm. To break the record, at least 250 dogs were needed to strike a pose with their…
The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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ASK-THE-VET: AN OVERWEIGHT CAT

DonnaNewPicCroppedQuestion: I have two cats. One is about 10 lbs; the other is waaaaaaaay over that. Probably close to 20. One is 9, the other 10. The younger is the heavier. They have been on [brand name] weight control for their entire lives. I switched the heavier one to a different brand of diet food a year ago, and she still gains weight.

Neither are very active anymore, although I do try to entertain them and get them off the bed. The only treat they get is two pieces of another diet food (treats are too fattening in my opinion), and they only get that once in the morning, and once in the evening. They won’t eat any people food at all (I’m glad of that), and they turn their nose up at tuna even.

Canned cat food doesn’t appeal to them either. Any suggestions as to what else I can try? The older one has shown signs of slight weight loss over the last year, but the 9 year old just keeps packing on the weight.

They are both strictly indoor cats and have never been around other animals. Any ideas for me? I would appreciate any advise! Thanks so much!!! (mom to 10 yr old Sissy, and 9 yr old StinkerBelle).

Answer: Thanks for writing in. It can be very challenging to get cats on the weight loss path! The biggest problem is feeding the right amount of calories. Most cats should eat only around 150-170 calories per day. Most dry cat foods have 400 or more calories per cup so they are quite high in calories…meaning they are very easy to overfeed.

The first step would be to figure out how many calories are in your food and then calculate the amount they can have to meet about 150 calories per day. Many cats won’t feel satisfied on this small amount of food which is why adding canned food is often helpful during a weight loss program. It generally has fewer calories so cats can eat more of it and feel more satisfied.

Here are some additional weight loss tips: Weight Loss Tips. There is also a good article here Transitioning Dry Food Addicts to Canned Food on how to introduce and transition even the most finicky dry food eaters to canned food.

Hope this information helps.
Good luck.
Dr. Donna Spector

Answers provided to pet owners by Dr. Donna Spector should be considered information and not specific advice. Answers are to be used for general information purposes only and not as a substitute for in-person evaluation or specific professional advice from your veterinarian. Communications on this site are very limited and should never be used in possible cases of emergency.

Halo, Purely for Pets will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on any information or content contained in a blog or article post. If you have consulted your veterinarian and if you are still concerned about your pet’s condition or if your pet has chronic, complicated or undiagnosed problems, Dr. Spector can offer consultations for you and your veterinarian via www.SpectorDVM.com.

Halo

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Frank Zappa – Dog Breath Variations

Frank Zappa / Ensemble Modern, Alte Oper, Frankfurt, Germany, 17 sept 1992 It was his last professional public appearance, as the cancer was spreading to suc…

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Wet snow

Wet snow fell last night. It’s not the fun powdery snow that is fun to walk in, but it makes the trees prettier.

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Gray squirrel tracks:

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Canis lupus hominis

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The Anatomy of Graying

I recently aged 44 and while I’ve never been one overly preoccupied with age, my chest hair turned gray.  First of all, unlike Geraldo, I spare you a selfie proving it.

But there’s a bigger philosophical if not medical question involved here – why does hair gray differently?

I grayed first in my head hair which jokingly I attributed to my first cross county walk.  My beard came next but now it’s trickled its way down to my chest which I can only blame the PCH for.

But it’s only a few gray hairs which I hope means I still got game.  How and why does hair gray is my question today?
THE JOURNEY CONTINUES

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