December 19, 2011 Uncategorized

How Are You Like Your Pet?

How Are You Like Your Pet?

One of my favorite paintings by the great American artist Norman Rockwell is the 1952 scene “At the Vet’s.” Rockwell skillfully captures what every veterinarian knows: people often look like their pets. In the center of this painting, a Beagle—the all-American dog of the 1950’s—sits on the lap of an all-American boy of the 1950’s. On the left edge of the painting, an elegantly dressed lady wears a black pillbox hat and veil mimicking the hairdo of her elegantly groomed black Standard Poodle.

Pets are much more than caricatures of their owners. We share many similar diseases – diabetes, breast cancer and food-borne illness. Research into the diagnosis and treatment of diseases like these ultimately helps everyone.

Multispecies Melanoma
Take for example the results of a clinical trial published just this month. A DNA melanoma vaccine for dogs, co-developed by The Animal Medical Center and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, has been shown to improve the long-term survival of dogs receiving the vaccine compared to dogs that did not get the vaccine after their oral melanoma was surgically removed. This information paves the way for a human clinical trial of a melanoma vaccine, and because horses get melanomas too, the vaccine is being studied in them as well.

Dogs and Cats Get White Coat Hypertension Too!
Going to the doctor is stressful for everyone, and approximately 10-20% of the population are stressed enough to elevate their blood pressure above the normal range. In some patients, their blood pressure reaches the level when antihypertensive medications are dispensed. This false elevation in blood pressure has been called the “white-coat effect” or “white coat hypertension.” Physicians must work hard to determine if the hypertension is real or stress-related before prescribing medications.

The same white-coat effect has been seen in both dogs and cats having their blood pressure measured in the veterinarian’s office. If your dog or cat has a disease which predisposes him to hypertension, such as chronic kidney disease, your veterinarian will take multiple blood pressure measurements to be sure your pet does not have white coat hypertension.

Ticks Bite Everyone
Lyme disease is the number one tick-transmitted disease seen in humans and a common one in dogs. Most dogs with Lyme disease exhibit lameness, but serious infections can affect the heart and kidneys. Researchers have shown the presence of Lyme disease in a canine population mirrors the geographic distribution of Lyme disease in humans. Furthermore, an uptick in canine cases of Lyme disease predicts an increase in human cases of Lyme disease.

Surprising, isn’t it? You think you love your pet because it is a great companion and an entertaining family member. But because they are like us in many ways, you now know they help keep us healthy too.


This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.

Tags: animal medical center, ann hohenhaus, cat, clinical trial, dogs, hypertension, lyme disease, melanoma, memorial sloan kettering, pet health, pets, ticks, veterinarian,

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