Do your upcoming travel plans include pets? Whether you’re flying to an exciting destination or hitting the road, these suggestions can make the journey easier for animals and humans alike:

  • Prep your pet. Traveling can prove stressful to animals, so don’t catch your pet off-guard. Before leaving town, practice taking short rides in the car or spending time in a carrier. This will help your pet get used to the experience.

If you haven’t already microchipped your pet, this may be a good opportunity to do so. This is also the time to ensure your pet’s collar is up-to-date with your current contact information.

  • Pack right. Pack plenty of food and fresh water and a sufficient supply of any medications your pet is taking, as getting refills away from home could be difficult. To alleviate anxiety, bring along pet blankets and toys as reminders of home. Also pack a pet-specific first aid kit, which should include non-stick bandages, adhesive bandages, towels, gauze and your veterinarian’s phone number.
  • Follow rules. Do your research to ensure you’re following rules along the way and at your destination. Check airline policies, as well as hotel and campsite restrictions and accommodations. Travel across state or international borders requires a health certificate. Some locations require more information and documentation. Give yourself plenty of time to handle these details.

Your veterinarian can be a good resource in learning what to expect. To that end, a checkup is also a good idea before a trip, as vaccinations or preventive medications may be needed before traveling.

  • Safety first. While seatbelts alone can keep a dog from moving about the cabin of the car, they are not your safest option. To help protect pets in a crash, anchor a crate using a seatbelt or other secure means.

When flying, opt to keep your pet in the cabin of the plane, if possible. Temperatures and air quality in cargo can put a strain on pets. If your animal is too large to fly in the cabin, speak to your veterinarian about what you can do to keep your pet safe and relaxed in-flight.

  • Prepare for anything. Even the best-laid plans can hit snags. Be prepared for the possibility that your pet will become accidentally injured or develop an unexpected illness while traveling, prompting an unplanned trip to the vet. To prepare, consider solutions like the CareCredit credit card, issued by Synchrony Bank, which features special financing options (subject to credit approval) that can allow you to focus on getting your pet better while making monthly payments. More than 200,000 healthcare providers and health-focused retailers, including over 20,000 veterinarians, accept the CareCredit card nationwide, which also sponsored the distribution of the tips in this article. Go to for pet healthcare providers closest to your vacation destination.

Advance planning is key when traveling with a pet. With a little care, you can make your travels with furry friends safe, fun and memorable.

Spending time in a carrier during short jaunts can help a furry friend feel less-stressed by the experience during a long-distance trip. (Photo credit: alexei_tm /

Source: StatePoint

It’s that time of year again. Your healthcare providers and pharmacists are gearing up for flu season.

What does gearing up look like? Well, we know the devastation the flu can cause, but many people choose not to get vaccinated, sometimes because of faulty information they’ve read online or heard from others. So we see it as our job to bust myths about this lifesaving vaccine.

For example, many people tell me that when they got a flu shot, they were sicker that year than ever before. But the flu shot was never intended to be a silver bullet. Numerous other viruses can cause flu-like illnesses that aren’t actually the flu.

Here’s what the flu feels like: It comes on suddenly. One day you’re fine, the next day you feel like you were hit by a truck. Your whole body hurts. You have a high fever, cough, headache, sore throat and fatigue. It typically lasts a week — unless you have complications, in which case it lingers longer. And if you have vomiting and diarrhea, you most likely have a viral stomach bug, which is different from the flu. Only occasionally does the flu cause vomiting, and even then it’s more common in children. But diarrhea is not part of the picture with the flu. The flu shot doesn’t help with stomach bugs. I wish it did!

The following are some common myths you’ve probably heard about the flu vaccine and why they’re untrue.

Fiction: The flu shot causes the flu.

The flu shot is a killed virus vaccine, and, as such, can’t cause the illness it is meant to protect against. It’s a different story for the influenza nasal spray vaccine, which uses a live-attenuated or weakened form of the flu virus — so it shouldn’t be given to anyone with a suppressed immune system because it could give them influenza.

“But I felt so cruddy after getting the flu shot,” you might say. It’s not uncommon to feel a bit under the weather after the flu shot, or any vaccine, for that matter. A bit of achiness, mild fatigue and even low-grade fever is considered a normal response and is just your body’s immune system kicking into gear. It’s not the flu. The flu is much, much worse.

Flu season typically lasts from November until April, some years running as late as May. Because it takes two weeks for the flu shot to work, we want to get vaccinated before flu season begins. You’re not protected against the flu until those two weeks are over. But if you end up not being able to get the flu shot until later, don’t distress. It will still offer protection for the remainder of the flu season.

Fiction: The flu shot isn’t effective. It won’t help.

Even though the flu shot is the best guess for which strains are circulating that particular year — based on which strains have hit the southern hemisphere, since their flu season comes before ours — it still protects you from serious complications of the flu. Some year’s vaccines are better than others, but that doesn’t mean the vaccine isn’t worth getting.

The national Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that of all the pediatric deaths caused by influenza during the 2012-13 flu season, 90 percent were not vaccinated against the flu. It’s also worth noting that since 1938, when the flu vaccine was introduced, we haven’t seen a flu pandemic. The 1918 Spanish flu pandemic killed nearly 50 million people worldwide.


Fiction: I’m healthy, so I don’t need a flu shot. I’ll get over it.

Maybe. But even healthy people can have serious complications from the flu — pneumonia, respiratory failure, death.

It’s true that those with chronic illness, the elderly, infants and pregnant women are at the greatest risk. But of those pediatric influenza deaths from 2012-13, 40 percent had no chronic illness or other risks for serious complications.

More to the point, getting vaccinated is about more than just protecting yourself. When you catch the flu virus, you’re contagious approximately one to two days before you have a single symptom, so you could be spreading the virus without even knowing it — touching doorknobs, shaking people’s hands and so forth.

Everyone needs a flu shot — to protect themselves and their loved ones and to protect those more vulnerable in our community. The flu shot can be given as early as 6 months of age.

You are more likely to have serious consequences from the flu than from the other infections for which we more readily vaccinate. In 2015, we had our first measles-related death in more than a decade. By contrast, the CDC estimates between 9.2 and 35.6 million cases, 140,000 to 710,000 hospitalizations, and 12,000 to 56,000 deaths from the flu in the United States annually.

Statistically speaking, you should absolutely get your flu shot.

Fiction: I can’t get the flu shot because (1) I have an egg allergy or (2) I don’t want to get mercury poisoning.

Good news. As of the 2016-17 flu season, the CDC now recommends the flu shot for everyone, even those allergic to eggs. If you can eat cooked eggs without difficulty or have a milder version of an egg allergy, you can get a flu shot at any location. If you have a serious egg allergy, you can still get the flu vaccine but need to have it administered by a physician who can recognize and respond to a severe allergic reaction.

As for mercury, there is none in the flu shot unless you are receiving a vaccine drawn from a multi-dose vial. And even then, the amount of mercury in one pediatric dose is equivalent to eating one three-ounce can of tuna — and it’s a much less harmful form of mercury (ethyl mercury rather than methyl mercury).

Fiction: I don’t like needles, but the nasal spray version of the flu isn’t available anymore.

While it’s true that the nasal spray flu immunization was not available for the last two years because of decreased effectiveness against the H1N1 strains of influenza, it has been revamped and will again be available for the 2018-19 flu season. Check with your medical provider to see if they are offering this form of the vaccine.

Please protect yourself and those around you. Get your flu shot. And if you have more questions or concerns, ask your health care provider. Don’t let misinformation and misunderstandings keep you from being healthy and safe.

MultiCare Health System offers flu shots for adults and children at a wide range of locations throughout the Puget Sound and Inland Northwest regions. Pharmacies that offer the flu shot typically accept most forms of insurance, but be sure to let your primary care doctor know you received your flu shot so it can be added to your record.


Dr. Gretchen LaSalle, who wrote this article,

Don’t let faulty information stop you from getting a flu shot. That’s the advice of medical experts.

is a family medicine provider for MultiCare Health System’s Rockwood Clinic. MultiCare is a not-for-profit health care organization with hospitals, clinics and services in the Puget Sound region and eastern Washington.

It comes as no surprise that testosterone replacement has become one of the most common requests urologists receive. Advertisements for testosterone replacement can be found everywhere, from your local newspaper to radio and TV ads. The ads promise to improve a man’s vitality, his overall health, his sex life, his energy — seemingly without any significant downside.
If you include the popularity of the fitness and sports industries in America, the demand for testosterone has risen dramatically over the past 10 years. Between 2009 and 2013, the number of men who were prescribed testosterone more than doubled. 

There is no question that men with medical conditions that reduce testosterone can benefit from testosterone replacement. There is solid medical evidence that a man with low testosterone is at increased risk for heart disease, anemia, bone loss (osteoporosis), diabetes and obesity.

Similarly, when these men are given testosterone replacement, there is clear evidence that their health can improve overall. So why shouldn’t every man be screened for testosterone and treated if it’s low?

The problem remains that we do not fully understand the impact of testosterone replacement on the male body. The evidence is not crystal clear: 

  • First is the concern regarding cardiovascular health. Men who receive testosterone replacement were recently found to have slightly worse atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries that supply the heart of blood). This finding is confusing and hard to interpret.

Generally we have understood that narrow arteries increase the risk of a heart attack, and most of the procedures cardiologists perform are designed to restore the diameter of these very arteries. But we also know men who take testosterone are generally less likely to have a heart attack. Research into this paradox is ongoing, but for now, men with significant coronary atherosclerosis should be wary of starting testosterone replacement.

  • Second is the concern regarding stroke risk. Testosterone is known to increase the number of red blood cells, and when there are excess red blood cells present, blood clots may form — which can cause stroke (especially if those arteries are increasingly narrow). So men who take testosterone need regular blood tests to make sure they are safe.
  • Lastly is the matter of urinary function. While the risk of developing prostate cancer due to testosterone replacement has largely been rejected, many men notice that their urinary function declines when taking testosterone, with weaker urinary stream and inability to empty the bladder fully. Such men should be monitored carefully.

If you believe you are experiencing the side-effects of low testosterone, make sure to discuss this with your physician, who can determine if it is a testosterone deficiency or another condition. 

If you are concerned about low testosterone, talk to your primary care provider, who can refer you to a urologist for treatment as needed.


Dr. Douglas Sutherland, who wrote this article,

Dr. Douglas Sutherland advises men to talk to their physicians about side-effects and treatments of low testosterone.

 is a urologist at MultiCare Urology of Tacoma and MultiCare Urology Gig Harbor. MultiCare is a not-for-profit healthcare organization.

When it comes to senior nutrition, or a healthy diet in general, the encouragement of dietary fat may cause some head-scratching. But with fat being one of the three core macronutrients (carbohydrate and protein being the other two), it is absolutely imperative for human health. Additionally, dietary fat does not necessarily lead to fat accumulation in the body, and is needed to maintain cell structure and integrity, offer insulation, assist in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and other valuable physiological processes. But too much and the wrong type of fat may cause weight gain and the risk of chronic disease, including heart disease and diabetes. By addressing unhealthy versus healthy fat sources and incorporating dietary fats with lean proteins and complex carbs, seniors can maintain and improve health.

Source: Silver Cuisine by BistroMD.

The right kind of food can give seniors a healthy source of fat in their diets.