Friday, July 8, 2016

Chronic Kidney Disease

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Dr. Roberta Relford

One thing both dog and cat owners need to be aware of is chronic kidney disease. It occurs in both species. Catching it early is optimum, of course. To that end, IDEXX, one of the most trustworthy laboratories in the county, has created a new test specifically designed to discover the disesase.

Roberta Relford, DVM, Ph.D, DACVIM, DAVCP, Division President and Chief Researcher was the main researcher for the development of the test. Dr. Relford is the Division Vice President of Pathology, Internal Medicine, and Strategic Operations IDEXX Reference Laboratories. She graduated from Auburn University in 1982 and was a small-animal practitioner for 4 years. She obtained an MS in pathology at Mississippi State University and a PhD in pathology from Texas A&M University, where she also pursued a residency in small-animal internal medicine. Dr. Relford is board-certified in internal medicine by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and in clinical pathology by the American College of Veterinary Pathologists. She lectures on topics including clinical pathology, internal medicine, infectious diseases, cytology, and platelet disorders.

Dr. Relford was the main researcher who helped develop the SDMA test and she is the CMO at IDEXX Laboratories.

Chronic kidney disease is a leading cause of suffering and death in cats and dogs. In fact, one in three cats and one in ten dogs will develop some form of kidney disease over their lifetime. Unfortunately, by the time veterinarians typically diagnose it, at least 75% of kidney function has already been permanently lost.

Thanks to a breakthrough kidney function test, veterinarians have detected the disease earlier in thousands of cats and dogs since the test was made commercially available in July. SDMA is identifying over two times the number of pets with early CKD than traditional methods. In other words, without the SDMA test, one out of every two cats and dogs with early stage CKD would have been missed by traditional testing methods.

The SDMA test can potentially add years to pets’ lives, and Roberta Relford, DVM, MS, PhD,  speaks to the impact of the test as well as the technology behind it and the importance of screening your pets earlier than veterinarians were able to do before.

Dr. Relford agreed to be interviewed in order to share this discovery with PerPETuallySpeaking’s readers:

1.    Briefly, what is chronic kidney disease? I know that it kills far too many companions.

Chronic kidney disease is the leading cause of suffering and death in cats. In their lifetime, 1 in 3 cats and 1 in 10 dogs will develop the disease. As pets get older, the likelihood they will develop kidney disease increases. In fact, more than half of cats over age 15 are afflicted. Until recently, veterinarians could not detect kidney disease until very late stages, when the kidneys have lost most of their function permanently. At this point, effective treatment options are limited.

The sooner the disease is caught, however, the better – early identification and proper adjustments in diet and treatment may help your pet to live longer and have a better quality of life.

Chronic kidney disease compromises the kidneys’ ability to maintain fluid balance in the body; produce certain hormones; regulate many electrolytes in the body; and excrete waste products via urine. Signs of chronic kidney disease can include weight loss, increased urination and thirst, vomiting and decreased appetite. However, dogs and cats may show no signs of illness until the disease is advanced.

2.    IDEXX SDMA™ is the gold standard. How long has this new test been in development?

The test arrived on the market following an extensive pilot launch involving over 600 veterinary practices and after eight years of research and clinical studies that culminated in the publication of 27 peer-reviewed scientific and clinical publications to date.

3.    Are all veterinarians using it now or are some still using the old test?

The IDEXX SDMA test is available to all veterinarians in the U.S., Canada and Europe. This is fantastic news because the test can detect kidney disease when much of a pet’s kidney function is still intact. This gives you and your veterinarian the chance to take action and give your pet the best shot for a healthy, happy, long life even with kidney disease.

4.    Can owners ask for this test to be run?

Pet owners should feel empowered to ask for the IDEXX SDMA test to be run at your pet’s regular checkup. Today, 2 in 5 veterinarians in the U.S. are already including IDEXX SDMA in their routine testing, at no added cost. If your veterinarian is not offering the test, you may ask him or her to send your pet’s samples to IDEXX’s Reference Laboratories.

5.    Is there anything you would like to say?

What heart disease is to humans, kidney disease is to pets – a leading cause of suffering and death. Now, the IDEXX SDMA kidney screening test gives pet parents and their veterinarians the chance to take action and give their pet the best shot at the happiest, longest life possible – even with kidney disease.

This is why keeping up with your pet’s regular checkups and asking your vet for the IDEXX SDMA screening is so vital.

For more information on IDEXX SDMA and kidney disease in pets, visit

Friday, June 24, 2016

Take Your Dog to Work Day! & Bonus Information for Cat Owners!

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There’s no question that pet-friendly office policies are becoming more widely adopted across the country, and this week at Mars Petcare, their four-legged headcount is up as they celebrate the many benefits of having pets in the workplace ahead of International Take Your Dog to Work Day (TYDTWD) on Friday.

In celebration, they wanted to share some “petiquette” tips for a productive, safe and fun pet-friendly work environment. 

Petiquette Tips:
Come prepared – you wouldn’t leave the house with an infant unprepared, same holds true for your dog. Bring some toys, snacks, water dish and bedding so they can be comfy and stay occupied during the day.

Be your dog’s best advocate – Know your dog and what they like and do not like so you can know what situations they will do best in. If they are nervous, don’t push them too far.

A well exercised dog is a well behaved dog – a good morning run before a day at the office will allow them to settle and you the ability to get tasks completed without as many interruptions.

 "At Mars, we are passionate about pets. We believe they make our lives better by having them as part of our workplace. They not only boost morale, they help foster relationships and build a sense of community. This week, we are celebrating our unique culture by honoring our four-legged friends during Take Your Dog To Work Day, which is something we do all year, too." said Jam Stewart, Director of Corporate Communications, Mars Petcare.

 Now, for that Bonus Information! I received this interesting press release and wanted to pass it along, intact, so that you will have the information in the specific words of the WALTHAM Centre which I have visited in the U.K.

New study reveals cat foods need the perfect combination of great flavour and nutrition
Research by scientists at the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition – part of Mars Petcare -  and the University of Sydney, Australia shows flavour and nutrition both influence how cats choose their food

Brussels, Belgium (15 June, 2016):  A study unveiled today by Mars Petcare has revealed that domestic cats learn to choose their food based on nutrition rather than flavour. The study published in Royal Society Open Science (insert link) today confirms that over time cats learn about the fat and protein content in their food and regulate their intake to reach a target ratio of these nutrients.

Scientists at WALTHAM Centre of Pet Nutrition, Mars Petcare, and the University of Sydney, Australia offered cats foods with various ratios of fat and protein flavoured with fish, rabbit or orange. When first presented with the foods, the cats showed a preference based on flavour. However, over time they learnt about the nutrient composition and selected foods in order to reach a target ratio of protein and fat, regardless of flavour. 

Adrian Hewson-Hughes from the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition at Mars Petcare, and lead author of the study said the findings have implications for the development of foods for cats: “This research has enabled Mars Petcare to understand more about developing foods for cats with both appealing flavours and the appropriate nutrient composition that ensures cats continue to eat foods in the long-term. This in turn feeds into what we already know about nutrition – and through our brands such as WHISKAS, SHEBA and ROYAL CANIN we are committed to developing pet foods that first and foremost ensure cats have access to the right nutrition in a format they enjoy.”

WALTHAM is the global scientific research centre for Mars Petcare delivering breakthroughs in pet nutrition and the science of human-animal interactions.

NOTE:  I received no compensation whatsoever for this blog post.  This is NOT an advertorial. It is information that I wanted to bring to my readers.