Arthritic Pets

Arthritis in Pets

By Dr. Karen Becker and comments by Diane Weinmann

Like humans, pets can and do develop osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD). About 20 percent of dogs and cats of all ages suffer some degree of OA, including 1 in 4 dogs in the U.S.1,2 The risk increases with age, just as it does in humans. In fact, one study showed that more than 90 percent of kitties over the age of 10 have arthritis in at least one joint.3

Inflammation Is a Primary Source of Pain in Arthritic Pets

OA is a chronic inflammatory joint disease that causes pain, soreness, stiffness, swelling and lameness in pets. One of the most important ways we help dogs and cats with arthritis is managing their pain. As veterinary pain specialist Dr. Robin Downing explains it:

 “… [U]nmanaged (or undermanaged) pain leads us down a dark rabbit hole in which pain moves from a minor nuisance, to decreased quality of life, to unbearable suffering, and it can ultimately result in physical pathology that leads to death. In other words, it’s not an exaggeration to state that pain kills.”4

Inflammation is one of the pain-causing factors in arthritic pets, so decreasing it is of paramount importance in keeping your dog or cat comfortable and mobile. In addition, inflammation increases the risk for many other serious diseases, including insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart and respiratory disease, cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) disease, kidney disease and decreased life expectancy.

Another disease associated with inflammation is cancer. Inflammation kills the cells of the body. It also surrounds cells with toxic inflammatory byproducts that inhibit the flow of oxygen, nutrients and waste products between cells and blood. This creates an environment in which abnormal cells proliferate.

Excess Fat Is a Primary Source of Inflammation

Unfortunately, most pets with arthritis are already, or become overweight, in part because they can no longer move around comfortably.

“The white fat that accumulates in overweight and obese patients secretes inflammatory and proinflammatory hormones that can enhance and amplify the chronic pain experience,” writes Downing. “For this reason, normalizing body composition — decreasing both the pet’s weight and the size of its fat compartment — is a critical component of any multimodal pain management strategy.”5

Downing makes the point that simply cutting back on the amount of food your pet eats isn’t enough, because while body mass will decrease, the fat compartment will remain (in proportion to the smaller body size). “In other words, a large marshmallow will simply become a smaller marshmallow,” she explains, which is why it’s necessary to feed a diet that allows the body to burn fat selectively for energy.

Veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward, founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), calls excess fat an “adipokine storm” inside your dog’s or cat’s body:

“Adipokines are signal proteins produced by fat tissue,” says Ward. “Leptin, adiponectin and interleukin-6 (IL-6) are examples. We know adipokines cause or contribute to hundreds of harmful inflammatory processes throughout the body. Think of every fat cell as a little factory pumping out hundreds of potentially toxic compounds. Multiply that by millions or billions in an obese pet. The real danger of excess fat isn’t the fat; it’s the inflammation the fat causes.”6

Ward firmly believes inflammation is the biggest threat pets face today. Scientific evidence of the damage excessive inflammation causes to the body continues to mount.

I agree, and I think toxic fat combined with a toxic environment (lawn chemicals, flame retardants/PBDEs, vaccines, and flea and tick pesticides, to name just a few) plus malnutrition, courtesy of the processed pet food industry, is a 100 percent guarantee pets will suffer from at least one degenerative condition such as arthritis in their lifetime.


Processed Pet Food Is a Primary Source of Obesity in Dogs and Cats

Most integrative veterinarians, including me, believe processed diets are by far the biggest contributor to pet obesity. Most processed pet food isn’t biologically appropriate and contains exactly the types of ingredients that promote weight gain and inflammation in the body.

It’s also true that today’s dogs and cats are overfed and under-exercised, however, the first thing I scrutinize with any overweight patient is the type of food he’s eating. I look for things like the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio in the diet. Food high in omega-6 essential fatty acids and low in omega-3s (which is the case with most processed pet diets) is associated with inflammatory conditions.

Commercial pet food is also typically high in pro-inflammatory carbohydrates, including processed, high glycemic grains and starchy vegetables like potatoes or legumes, which contain lectins. If a pet is fed any dry food it’s a red flag, because all kibble contains some form of starch — it can’t be manufactured without it.

Arthritic Pets (and All Pets) Should Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

All dogs and cats, especially those with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, should be fed a moisture-rich, nutritionally balanced, species-appropriate diet that is naturally anti-inflammatory, consisting of real, whole foods, preferably raw, organic and non-GMO. It should include:

High-quality protein, including muscle meat, organs and bone (protein coming from animal sources should make up more than 80 percent of a cat’s diet)
Low to moderate levels of animal fat (depending on your pet’s activity level)
High levels of EPA and DHA (omega-3 essential fatty acids)
A few fresh cut, fibrous vegetables, pureed
No grains or starches
A whole food vitamin/mineral supplement that meets the additional E, zinc, iron, copper, manganese and vitamin D deficiencies often found in homemade diets OR enough of these hard-to-source foods in whole food forms, daily
Beneficial additions such as probiotics, digestive enzymes and super green foods

Along with a nutritionally balanced, species-appropriate diet, it’s important to practice portion control at every meal. For most pets, this means a carefully measured morning and evening meal. And don’t forget to factor in any calories from treats. You also need to know exactly how many calories your dog or cat should be eating per day. Use these calorie calculators to determine how many calories your pet should take in to lose weight or maintain his or her current weight.

Natural Supplements to Manage the Inflammation and Pain of Arthritis

Chondroprotective agents (CPAs) protect the joints and slow the rate of cartilage degeneration, and include glucosamine sulfate, collagen, MSM, eggshell membrane, perna mussel (green-lipped clam), Adequan and cetyl myristoleate.

Natural substances that can reduce or eliminate the need for painkillers in the early stages of arthritis include a high-quality omega-3 supplement (krill oil), ubiquinol, turmeric (or curcumin), supergreen foods (spirulina, astaxanthin), natural anti-inflammatory formulas (such as proteolytic enzymes and SOD), homeopathic remedies (Rhus tox, Bryonia and Arnica, for example), and Esterified Fatty Acid Complex (EFAC).

I have found CBD oil to be a very safe, long-term management strategy for chronic pain, and there are also Ayurvedic and Chinese herbs and nutraceuticals that can be very beneficial, depending on the animal’s specific symptoms.

Additional Beneficial Treatment Modalities for Arthritic Pets

Laser therapy Maintenance chiropractic
Assisi loop Underwater treadmill
Massage Acupuncture
Daily stretching


Dr. Becker recommends bringing your arthritic pet for a wellness checkup with your integrative veterinarian at least twice a year to review the status of her health, and to check the range of motion in her joints, the muscle mass she’s either gaining or losing, and to make adjustments to her protocol as necessary to ensure her quality of life is optimal.

Diane also recommends essential oils like Dr. Shelton’s New Mobility along with routine energy healing using healing touch for animals or reiki.  Diane has many clients that schedule weekly healing touch for animal distance sessions.   She has a cat client that she has been healing for years now and he is 21 years old!  Yeah energy healing!!!!



Identifying Behavioral Pain Indicators in Ridden Horses

by Erica Larson, News Editor

Your horse might buck if a bug bites, swish his tail if you give a whip-tap on his haunches, or show the whites of his eyes if he spots a very scary object. But one researcher recently reported that if these behaviors become regular occurrences, especially without provocation, your horse is probably trying to tell you he’s in pain.

In a series of studies over the past few years, Sue Dyson, MA, Vet MB, PhD, DEO, Dipl. ECVSMR, FRCVS, head of Clinical Orthopaedics at the Animal Health Trust Centre for Equine Studies, in Newmarket, U.K., and colleagues developed and validated an ethogram for ridden horses—a catalog of behaviors a horse might display under saddle and what they mean. She designed the ethogram to help identify low-grade lameness or pain in ridden horses.

In her most recent study Dyson compared horse behavior and pain scores before and after diagnostic analgesia (nerve blocks given during a lameness exam) to see if individuals with no specific training on the ethogram could use it to reliably recognize pain in horses working under saddle. She shared the results at the 2018 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 1-5 in San Francisco, California.

“Owners and trainers are often poor at recognizing lameness,” especially if it’s subtle, Dyson said. “Performance problems are often labeled as training-related, behavioral, or ‘just how he’s always gone.’

24 Pain-Associated Behaviors


  • Ears rotated back behind vertical or flat
  • Eyelids closed or semiclosed
  • Sclera (whites of the eye) exposed
  • Intense stare
  • Opening mouth repeatedly
  • Tongue exposed and/or moving in and out of the mouth
  • Bit pulling through the mouth, to the left or right


  • Repeated head position changes
  • Head tilt
  • Head in front of the vertical
  • Head behind the vertical
  • Head moving constantly from side to side and/or head tossing
  • Tail clamped or held to one side or large tail swishing movements


  • Rushed gait/irregular rhythm
  • Sluggish gait/irregular rhythm
  • Hind limbs not following in the front limbs’ tracks
  • Repeated wrong lead and/or change of lead in front or behind in canter
  • Spontaneous gait changes
  • Stumbling and/or repeated toe-dragging
  • Sudden change in direction of movement
  • Spooking
  • Reluctance to move freely/stopping spontaneously
  • Rearing
  • Bucking with or without kicking out backward

“Horses are trying to communicate with us,” she added. “We need to learn to listen.”

Dyson said the original ridden horse ethogram contained 117 behaviors. In the current study she and colleagues focused on 24 behaviors they identified as most closely associated with pain (see sidebar). She said the presence of eight or more of these markers likely reflects musculoskeletal pain.

In the study Dyson had one assessor trained in how to apply the ethogram and 10 untrained assessors (two veterinarian interns, one junior clinician, five vet techs, and two veterinary nurses) assessors each watch videos of 21 horses ridden in working trot and canter in both directions by professional riders, before and after diagnostic analgesia (42 videos total). The videos were presented in a random order, she said.

“The ethogram was applied in a binary fashion for each behavior: yes or no for the presence of the behavior,” she added.

The study horses had various diagnoses of unilateral or bilateral lameness in the front and/or hind limbs, kissing spines, or sacroiliac pain. Before veterinarians administered the diagnostic analgesia, the trained assessor identified three to 12 (with an average of 10) behavioral indicators of pain in ridden horses, Dyson said. After analgesia, the trained assessor pinpointed zero to six (an average of three) behavioral indicators of pain—a significant decrease in behavior scores, she said.

“The untrained assessors also had significant reductions in behavior scores for all the horses after resolution of pain,” she said.

Additionally, “the reduction in behavior scores verifies a likely causal relationship between pain and behavior,” she said.

Dyson and her colleagues also analyzed agreement among assessors—how often they independently came to the same conclusions about a horse’s behavioral indicators:

  • Agreement was “fair” among the untrained assessors for lame horses;
  • Agreement between the trained assessor and the untrained assessors for lame horses was moderate; and
  • After diagnostic analgesia, there was fair agreement among the untrained assessors and slight to no agreement between the untrained assessors and the trained assessor.

Based on these findings, Dyson concluded that both trained and untrained assessors can use the ridden horse ethogram to identify the likely presence of musculoskeletal pain. However, veterinarians, owners, trainers, and others using it require education on the ethogram for best results, she said.


Essential Oils and carrier oils- great for people and pets!

By: Cynthia Lankenau, DVM, CVA, CVCHM, RH (AHG) and comments by Diane Weinmann

While essential oils have long been popular for healing in people and animals, more than merely treating animal’s ailments, essential oils are excellent for treating the home environment – people, living space and animals.


There are three ways to use essential oils:

  1. Topical application for bodywork and cranial-sacral work.


  1. Topical application on acupuncture points for point stimulation, or on discrete areas of the body. Topical application depends on the humors you want to affect –lymphatics, blood or nerves – and the regions you want to influence. Massaging the ears with oils can have an effect on the nervous system. Massaging the paws will have an effect on the circulation of blood.


  1. Medical grade essential oils can be given orally in a one- or two-drop dose. (Remember that cats are sensitive to the eugenols of the phenol group.)

Many oils that we want to use topically are what are considered “hot” oils that could cause burns to the skin; therefore, you need a “carrier” oil.  Examples of hot oils are camphor, wintergreen, and oregano, thyme, cinnamon bark, and lemongrass.

Examples of carrier oils that can be used are:

Hazelnut oil can penetrate the epidermis and find its way into the dermis; it’s astringent and good for oily skin in any animal, including humans.

Macadamia oil is an appropriate carrier for dry or aged skin.

Almond oil is energetically absorbed through the skin very quickly; it’s high in antioxidants, vitamins E and B, and is very protective and nourishing for the skin.

Olive oil is green and very heavy; it has a descending effect on the body, so it’s very good for hyperacidity in any animal. It’s also good for heart conditions and promotes drainage of stagnation in the blood. It nourishes the blood and can be used in cases of anemia.

Sunflower oil opens the Heart and the Zhong Qi, is very good for respiratory conditions and cardiovascular conditions, resonates with CV 17 and stimulates Wei energy, and is very high in antioxidants, especially vitamin E.

Safflower oil is similar to sunflower but resonates more with the chest for cardiovascular issues; it promotes blood circulation and is good for blood stagnation.

Coconut and palm oils are very high in amino acids. They resonate with our Jing (essence).They help with constitution and neurologic issues, and whenever there is a problem with the curious vessels, bowels, brain, spine, genitals, bones and marrow (they would be good for arthritic conditions).


Dog has a Runny Nose??—Check it out!

By Dr. Karen Becker DVM

Many pet parents believe if their dog’s nose is warm or dry, it means they’re sick. Actually, that’s a myth. A warm dry nose by itself doesn’t mean your pooch is under the weather. Normal, healthy dog noses go from moist and cool to warm and dry and back again quite easily.

However, it’s important to distinguish between a moist nose and a runny nose. Runny noses aren’t nearly as common in dogs as they are in children (thankfully), but they do happen, and for a variety of reasons. If your four-legged family member develops nasal discharge (the technical name for a runny nose), it’s important to investigate the cause.

Relatively Benign Reasons Your Dog Might Have a Runny Nose

In some dogs, an entirely harmless reason for occasional colorless, odorless, watery discharge from the nose can be exercise or excitement.

Another cause of this type of runny nose is irritation of the nasal cavities from seasonal or environmental allergies, or an inhaled foreign object. If your dog has been playing outdoors and suddenly develops nasal discharge, especially with sneezing, I recommend making an appointment with your veterinarian.

If you notice your dog’s nose tends to run whenever spring rolls around, or each time you light a scented candle in your home (which I don’t recommend, by the way), she could be dealing with seasonal allergies or an irritant in her indoor environment. Household chemicals that trigger a runny nose and sneezing in people can cause the same symptoms in dogs. Indoor irritants like cologne, cigarette smoke, household cleaners, fiberglass, pesticides and aerosol deodorants can trigger a reaction in sensitive dogs.

Situations like these should be addressed to identify and eliminate or at least minimize triggers related to your pet’s nasal discharge. Seasonal and environmental allergies in dogs tend to start out mild, but grow progressively worse over time.

A seemingly harmless occasional runny nose caused by an allergen can turn into a significant allergic response, which in dogs is most often expressed through the skin. Intense itching, hot spots and other skin problems are very often the culmination of months or years of unaddressed allergies.

It’s also important to note that in brachycephalic breeds (dogs with flat or “pushed in” faces) the nasal passages are compressed. This can trigger a runny nose and other symptoms when there’s an upper respiratory infection or exposure to irritants. These breeds include the Boston Terrier, Bulldog, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Pekingese and the Pug.

5 Serious Causes of Nasal Discharge in Dogs

There are several more serious reasons for nasal discharge in dogs, most of which also involve sneezing, coughing or other symptoms. The following five potential causes for your dog’s runny nose require veterinary attention.

1. Foreign bodies — A “foreign body” in your dog’s nose means there’s something in there that shouldn’t be. For example, if your furry family member likes to dig in the dirt or obsessively sniffs the ground, chances are she’ll wind up with some soil, grass or the occasional bug up her nose.

This can cause her nose to run, and will also trigger sneezing to expel the foreign material. Hunting and sporting dogs who spend a lot of time outdoors running at full speed through natural settings can also wind up with odd things (e.g., twigs or sticks) up their nose.

Sneezing and nasal discharge are your dog’s body’s attempt to expel the foreign invader. Sometimes, however, medical intervention is required. Signs of the presence of a foreign object in your dog’s nose include sneezing, pawing at the nose and nosebleeds.

You might also notice your pet’s breathing is noisier than normal, and there might be a visible bulge or lump on one side of the face or nose.

2. FoxtailsFoxtails are treacherous little plant awns that are ubiquitous in California, reported in almost every state west of the Mississippi and have recently spread to the east coast as well.

In late spring and early summer, foxtail plant heads turn brown and dry, and scatter across the landscape. The tiny spikes on the plant heads allow them to burrow into soil, and wildlife also helps spread them around. The foxtails can eventually make their way into the noses, eyes, ears, mouths and just about every other opening of a dog’s body. They can get deep into your dog’s nostril or ear canal or under the skin in no time, and often too fast for you to notice them.

If your dog’s nose suddenly starts running and he’s sneezing uncontrollably, he could have a foxtail in his nose. If you suspect he’s been exposed to foxtails or is exhibiting suspicious symptoms, I recommend you consult your veterinarian or an emergency animal clinic as soon as possible.

3. Infections — Whereas bacterial and viral infections of the upper respiratory tract typically cause coughing, an infection caused by the opportunistic Aspergillus fungus causes sneezing and nasal discharge.

A nasal Aspergillus infection is thought to develop from direct contact with the fungus through the nose and sinuses, which occurs when a dog is exposed to outdoor dust, hay or grass clippings. Symptoms include pain and bleeding and/or discharge from the nose, sneezing and visible swelling.

In addition, an infected tooth or its root can cause sneezing and nasal discharge. In canines, the third upper premolar has roots that are very close to the nasal passages. If this tooth or one close by becomes infected, sneezing and nasal drainage can be the result.

4. Nasal tumors — Chronic nasal discharge and sneezing can be symptoms of a nasal tumor. These tumors are unfortunately fairly common in dogs, especially breeds with longer muzzles like the Collie. Second- and third-hand tobacco smoke has been identified as a significant cause of nasal cancer in pets. Most types of nasal tumors do not metastasize, but they do spread locally, destroying the structures of the nose.

5. Nasal mites — Nasal mites are microscopic little bugs that can take up residence in your dog’s nose and sinuses. They cause terrible itching in the nose, which triggers fits of sneezing, as well as chronic nasal discharge and even nosebleeds.

Your dog can get a nasal mite infestation by digging in the dirt with her face, or by going nose-to-nose with an infected dog. The mites can be identified by taking a nasal swab and looking at it under a microscope. If there is an infestation, the mites will be visible.

If you notice nasal discharge, swelling or an unpleasant odor from your dog’s nose or the area around it, or if she seems to be having trouble breathing or is making abnormal respiratory sounds, it’s time to make an urgent appointment with your veterinarian.


Dog’s bad breath—Don’t think you can fix it by using your toothpaste!!!!

Dog’s bad breath—Don’t think you can fix it by using your toothpaste!!!!

By Dr. Karen Becker and comments by Diane Weinmann

In the U.K., the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) is warning pet parents not to use human toothpaste when they brush their dog’s teeth. The alert was issued “… after research suggested it was being seen as a solution to bad breath,” according to The Telegraph.1

The RSPCA cautioned that the presence of fluoride in many human toothpaste brands, along with the growing use of the artificial sweetener xylitol, could be toxic to dogs if ingested. It’s important to realize that unlike humans, dogs don’t spit out toothpaste, so every bit of it gets swallowed or absorbed through the tissues in the mouth.

In addition to fluoride and xylitol, most human toothpaste contains a long list of chemicals and other substances your dog (and you) may be better off avoiding. My recommendation is to use an all-natural enzymatic dental gel designed specifically for pets.

Survey Says: Lots of Dogs Have Halitosis, and Lots of Dog Parents Are Clueless

According to the Kennel Club, dental disease is the second most commonly diagnosed health issue for dogs in the U.K. In the U.S., it’s the number one medical problem — 80 percent of dogs have some degree of gum disease by the age of 3.

The RSPCA’s warning followed a survey of 2,000 pet parents that showed nearly 8 percent had tried to get rid of their dog’s bad breath with human toothpaste. Some people fed their dogs mints to freshen their breath, others offered sticks of gum and some thought a good grooming would solve the problem. There were even pet parents who vowed to keep their toilet lid down, fearing the time-honored canine tradition of drinking from the bowl was causing their dog’s stinky breath.

“While we applaud owners who take responsibility for caring for their dogs teeth, we would also stress that only toothpaste formulated for dogs should ever be used,” a Kennel Club spokeswoman told the Telegraph.

This is worth repeating. Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth is the single most effective thing you can do to keep those teeth and gums in good condition. Daily brushing is ideal, but if that’s not workable, set a goal of four to five times a week.

Bad Breath Resulting From Gum Disease Isn’t ‘Normal’ for Dogs — It’s a Serious Problem

More than half the U.K. pet parents surveyed believed bad doggy breath was normal and not a symptom of poor dental health; only a fifth worried about bad breath being a sign of a serious health problem. When plaque isn’t removed from your dog’s teeth, it collects there and around the gum line and within a few days hardens into tartar. Tartar sticks to the teeth and ultimately irritates the gums. Irritated gums become inflamed — a condition known as gingivitis.

If your dog develops gingivitis, the gums will be red rather than pink and his breath will probably be noticeably foul-smelling. If the tartar isn’t removed, it will build up under the gums, eventually causing them to pull away from the teeth. This creates small pockets in the gum tissue that become repositories for additional bacteria.

At this stage, your dog has developed an irreversible condition, periodontal disease, which causes considerable pain and can result in abscesses, infections, loose teeth and bone loss.

When periodontal disease is present, the surface of the gums is weakened. The breakdown of gum tissue allows mouth bacteria to invade the bloodstream and travel throughout your dog’s body. If his immune system doesn’t kill off the bacteria, it can reach the heart and infect it.

Studies have shown that oral bacteria, once launched into the bloodstream, are able to fight off attacks by the immune system. What many pet parents don’t realize is there’s an established link between gum disease and endocarditis, which is an inflammatory condition of the valves or inner lining of the heart.

Researchers also suspect certain strains of oral bacteria may lead to heart problems. Some types of bacteria found in the mouths of pets produce sticky proteins that can adhere to artery walls, causing them to thicken. Mouth bacteria are also known to promote the formation of blood clots that can damage the heart.

How quickly these events take place depends on a number of factors, including your pet’s age, breed, genetics, diet, overall health, and the frequency and quality of dental care he receives. It’s also important to realize that some dogs will require regular professional cleanings even when their owners are doing everything right in terms of home care.

Signs of Possible Dental Disease in Your Pet

If you notice any of the following signs in your dog, it’s time to make an appointment with your veterinarian to prevent a dental problem from negatively impacting her health and quality of life:

Redness of the gums Tenderness around the mouth and/or teeth
Bad breath Drooling or dropping food
Loose teeth Bleeding from the mouth
Discolored teeth Loss of appetite/poor appetite
Broken teeth Weight loss

5 Steps to Help Keep Your Dog’s Mouth Healthy

  1. Feed a nutritionally balanced, species-appropriate, fresh food diet, and feed it raw if possible. When your dog gnaws on raw meat, it acts as a natural toothbrush and dental floss.
  2. Offer recreational bones and/or a fully digestible, high-quality dental dog chew to help control plaque and tartar. The effect of dental chews is similar to raw bones, but safer for power chewers or dogs who have restorative dental work and can’t chew raw bones.
  3. Brush those teeth, preferably every day. If every day is too tall an order, commit to do it several times a week. A little time spent each day brushing your dog’s teeth can be tremendously beneficial in maintaining her oral health and overall well-being.
  4. Perform routine mouth inspections. Your dog should allow you to open his mouth, look inside and feel around for loose teeth or unusual lumps or bumps on the tongue, under the tongue, along the gum line and on the roof of the mouth. After you do this a few times, you’ll become aware of any changes that occur from one inspection to the next. You should also make note of any differences in the smell of your dog’s breath that aren’t diet-related.
  5. Arrange for regular oral exams performed by your veterinarian. He or she will alert you to any existing or potential problems in your dog’s mouth, and recommend professional teeth cleaning under anesthesia, if necessary.

Daily homecare and as-needed professional cleanings or nonprofessional dental scaling (NPDS) by your veterinarian or dental professional are the best way to keep your pet’s mouth healthy and disease-free. It’s important to note that while NPDS can be a great way to prevent dental disease from occurring, it’s not a good substitute in cases of moderate to severe dental disease.

Diane has had great results using a product call PlaqueOff. This product can be used by dogs and cats alike and you sprinkle the granules on your pet’s food based on their weight.  Here is how this product can help:

Helps control plaque and tartar
-Improves bad breath
-A natural seaweed supplement
-Add it to your pet’s daily food

ProDen Plaqueoff is ingested via a powder placed over your pet’s daily food. The natural compound in the product comes out through the saliva and works to break down the bacterial biofilm that forms on the teeth and gums. This is how the natural bacteria in the mouth take hold onto the teeth and gums, colonizing and creating the oral problems of plaque and tartar, bad breathe and gingivitis. It does not change the ph of the mouth or kill off the normal levels of bacteria. ProDen Plaqueoff has been proven to reduce plaque and tartar on the teeth and gums, depending on composition, diet and how long it has been there. It then works to prevent bad breath, plaque and tartar from returning.

Small Dogs & Cats < 25 lbs  /    1/2 – 1 scoop

Medium Dogs 25 – 50 lbs      /    1 – 2 scoops

Large & Giant Dogs 50 lbs + /   2 – 3 scoops


Please note *Not recommended for animals undergoing treatment for hyperthyroidism. Keep away from children and animals

Diane has used this product for over 7 years with her husky and he has fabulous teeth!  I recommend it to many of my clients with great results.  If your dog has really bad teeth I would suggest you get a professional cleaning then begin using this product on a daily basis.

Homeopathy for Pets

Homeopathy for Pets

See in Dogs Naturally Magazine By Deva Khalsa VMD and additional info from the Honest Kitchen

Homeopathy is fun to use and the fact that it works so very well with so many medical problems makes it all the more rewarding!  So what exactly is Homeopathy?

Homeopathy is a form of ‘energy medicine’ that uses remedies made from highly diluted natural compounds. Most of the commonly used remedies are inexpensive and easy to find. They can be found at most health food markets, some human pharmacies, online at a multitude of sites and even at K-Mart. I suggest you compile a kit of common remedies to have ready and waiting when minor emergencies occur because there’s often not the time to run to the store and this stuff always seem to happen late at night or on a major holiday!

Homeopathy has particular rules associated with using it and this can be confusing and put off prospective students. But for many simple and common accidents and illnesses, it can be pretty simple to use. The first thing to do is to assemble a homeopathic kit to have at home and then buy a book or two about homeopathy. Homeopathic remedies number in the thousands and are made from anything and everything. But you only need to learn some of the rules of homeopathy and have about a dozen remedies to be off and running.


Here is the straight goods on how to work with homeopathic remedies.

  • Homeopathic remedies need to melt on the gums so they should not be hidden in a treat or in food. Our dogs have a built in pouch on the side of their mouth and the remedies can go right in there.


  • Try not to handle the remedies but drop them straight from the bottle into your dog’s cheek.


  • Remedies come in tiny white pellet or liquid form. Either form can be placed directly into your dog’s cheek.


  • It’s not important if you give one drop of the remedy or five or one homeopathic pellet or three because homeopathy is an energy medicine and there is typically none of the physical substance left in the remedy. One tiny white pellet could treat an elephant and 10 pellets could treat a mouse. That’s a hard one to digest, if you’ll excuse my pun, but people are always worried about how much to give and how often to give. The amount is no big deal and you give it until they get better. If it’s not working at all, you stop giving the remedy. We’re all just too used to using antibiotics that have to be calculated to the weight of the dog and have a certain time they need to be given. This is simply not the case with homeopathy.


  • Because homeopathy is an energy medicine the remedies should not be stored next to heavy electromagnetic appliances such as televisions and computers or left in the bright hot sun for a long time.


Unlike drugs, Homeopathy does not work by body weight (e.g., give 500 mg per 25 pounds of body weight). With Homeopathy, the original physical substance is sequentially diluted and this is why you have the funny numbers after the name of the remedy. Arnica 6x does not mean that you have to give it six times! It means that the remedy has been diluted six times. To confound you even more, the more dilute the remedy the more powerful it is, so very highly diluted remedies are usually only available to doctors. The potencies most commonly available to you are 6x and 30x (diluted 1/10 either 6 or 30 times) and 6c and 30c ( diluted 1/100 either 6 or 30 times).


Homeopathic remedies are chosen in accordance with how the patient experiences his illness. For instance, one person who has a cold may want everyone in the house at attendance and worrying about him while another wants to be left alone to lie quietly in the dark. Each of these individuals would need a different remedy based on the individual picture they present. Let’s say your dog has arthritis and stiffness. Look that up in a Homeopathy text book and you’ll be given a choice of remedies. The specific way the problem presents in your dog will determine the remedy you choose.

For example, look at arthritic stiffness in dogs. Your choice of remedy might depend on whether your dog is worse or better when he first gets up after resting. If he’s better after resting, he might need the remedy Bryonia as noted above. I’ve found that most dogs are stiff at first but after walking a bit they get less stiff after they move around for a bit. Oftentimes these same dogs are worse in cold damp weather. With this presentation you’d likely choose the remedy Rhus toxidendron.

Rhus tox, as it is commonly known, is much cheaper than NSAID’s and also much safer to use. If you were to determine that Rhus tox was the best remedy for your dog, you would simply put a few pellets to melt in his cheek pouch about three times a day and watch him over the next week, noting changes in his condition. If he gets better, you’ve got the right remedy and if there is no change, there’s no harm done. Go back and do a little more reading in your handy books on homeopathy. When you have the right remedy, and you’ll know because there will be improvement.


Here are several homeopathic remedies that you can keep on hand for basic needs. You may want to go out and purchase these commonly used remedies to have on hand in case the need arises. They are small and make a great travel kit too.

  • Apis mellifica – great for bee and other insect bites. Give every 20 minutes for a few doses after a bee sting. This remedy is made from the Honeybee, is used for insect bites and stings that produce sensitive swellings. Animals who can benefit from apis may be very hot but not thirsty and their pain is often alleviated by cold.


  • Arnica montana – good for general pain, stiffness due to overexertion, soreness and musculoskeletal injuries and is one of the best known homeopathic remedies. It is commonly used in humans, in both topical creams and oral pellets. Arnica is excellent for bruising, muscle aches, sprains and general injuries especially where the animal is shocked. Animals who benefit from arnica may be fearful of touch and restless, constantly moving from one spot to another because of their discomfort.


  • Arsenicum album – great for GI upsets from eating spoiled food where there is both vomiting and diarrhea. When any digestive upset is caused by food poisoning or the consumption of garbage this remedy should be given twice an hour for a few hours.  It is also great remedy for diarrhea. Pets that need this remedy often feel chilly and their symptoms are alleviated by warmth. It’s especially useful in younger animals, and for those who are anxious, restless and thirsty. They are afraid to be alone and especially fearful of strangers.


  • Borax (the remedy, not the powder) – excellent for fear of thunderstorms and fireworks. Give this at the 6c potency twice a day for a month during the season.


  • Calendula (can be used both as an oral remedy and as an external ointment) – use for skin infections or any kind of external infection. It’s a remarkable healing agent and a tube of the ointment should always be on hand to apply topically to scrapes, infections and wounds. You can also buy a tincture and dilute it 1/10 and flush any cuts or wounds with it.


  • Carbo vegetabilis is made from charcoal, and is used for the alleviation of gas. It is a great remedy to keep on hand for dogs who are prone to bloat. Weakness, shock and general exhaustion indicate the need for carbo veg.


  • Thuja occidentalis is indicated for the treatment of warts and skin complaints. It is also used to help with adverse vaccine reactions, especially those reactions that cause skin problems
  • Hepar sulphur – is wonderful to treat painful abscesses anywhere on the body and painful infected anal glands.


  • Hypericum – is an excellent remedy to give for any pain due to nerve damage or injuries to nerve-rich areas. I once closed my finger in a window and learned firsthand the wonders of Hypericum. Great for when you cut your dog’s toenails too short.


  • Myristica – phenomenal remedy for anal sac infections and chronic anal sac problems.


  • Rhus tox – for arthritis that’s better after moving around, general musculoskeletal injuries, red swollen eyes, skin infections and skin itching.


  • Ruta – fantastic for any injury to tendons or ligaments and this remedy has a real affinity for the knee so you would use it immediately after any knee or cruciate injury.


  • Silicea – pushes foreign bodies like splinters or foxtails out of the skin.


  • Ledum – the first choice for any type of puncture wound, including those from insect bites. Insect bites that require


  • Apis will be hot and red whereas bites that require Ledum will be cool and appears bruised.


  • Fragariaif your dog has terrible tartar buildup, try using the homeopathic remedy called Fragaria (6x).  Give 1-2 pellets twice a day for a month (do not mix with food) and you should see an improvement.


Homeopathic remedies have been used to treat illness in people and animals since the late eighteenth century. Homeopathic treatment stimulates the body’s own defenses to cure itself and promote health. The majority of homeopathic remedies are made from a special dilution of plants or minerals.

*Remedies are placed on small lactose pellets or in a water based solution for oral administration. They are designed to enter the blood stream directly through the mucous membranes of the mouth so they should be separated from food and water by 30-60 minutes. One dose may last 3 weeks or longer. It is important to monitor your pet’s symptoms and report any changes to your holistic veterinarian.

Avoid touching homeopathic remedies with your hands. Put pellets in a teaspoon and tip it onto your pet’s tongue or for liquids, drip them from the eyedropper onto the tongue without touching the mouth.


Store homeopathic remedies 15 feet away from computers, televisions, microwave ovens, and any other devices that emit strong radiation. Keep the remedies away from strong odors. Do not use the remedies in the presence of strong odors such as camphor, mothballs, Tiger Balm, mint, coffee or turpentine. Both electromagnetic forces and strong odors could inactivate the remedy.
*Store in a cool place away from direct sunlight*

With a small investment and a little planning, you can build your own homeopathy kit. These remedies aren’t that difficult to use and can give your dog fast and effective relief from many common injuries and illnesses.

As always, we recommend that you consult with a veterinarian who’s familiar with the use of homeopathy, when using a modality for your pet.

Here is link to a store to purchase remedies:


Giving Remedies

To give remedies, make sure you don’t touch the pellets (if you have to, that’s fine but try to pop them from the cap into your dog’s mouth – if that doesn’t work, place three pellets in a glass of water, stir with a metal spoon, then give the water to your dog in a dropper). Give the remedy before you leave and take some extras along for the ride, in case you need a second or third dose. Don’t give remedies with food.

Homeopathic dosing isn’t based on weight. Give the same dose for all size dogs.

  • Pills – give 3 of the larger pellets or a capful of the smaller little granular pellets
  • Liquid – mix the same amount of pellets in a glass of water. Give a half dropper full, regardless of your dog’s size.

Remedies for Upset Tummies

Homeopathy is also a great option for motion sickness.

Cocculus indicus – can be given just before getting in the car and is the most popular remedy for nausea due to motion sickness. Give your dog three pellets or crush them in a spoon and drop them in some water for him to drink (or in a dropper bottle so you can administer them).

Remedies for Anxiety

Rescue Remedy – this flower essence can also be given right before getting in the car to ease your dog’s anxiety. Follow the directions on the bottle.

Argentum nitricum – this is the first remedy to consider when nausea is accompanied by nervousness and anxiety. Give your dog three pellets or crush them in a spoon and drop them in some water for him to drink (or in a dropper bottle so you can administer them).

With a little help, and a little time, your dog may soon enjoy running errands with you, instead of waiting at home.

Cranial Cruciate Ligament Disease (ACL)

Cranial Cruciate Ligament Disease (ACL)


By Dr. Karen Becker

Cranial cruciate ligament disease disease is an all-too-common problem in dogs today. In fact, CCL injuries are the most common soft tissue injury seen in veterinary medicine today.1 If you’ve had a pet with a CCL injury, you know how serious and debilitating this condition can be.

What I Discovered About My Canine Patients With CCL Damage

Many years ago I realized that very few of the CCL injuries I was seeing in my practice were the result of trauma substantial enough to cause a rupture, so I started doing some research. I found that the dogs in my practice with CCL injuries fell into one of four categories:

  1. Trauma (like being hit by a car)
  2. Size, weight, breed, sex hormone and vaccine status
  3. Dogs eating poor-quality processed diets (usually with very low-quality synthetic vitamins and minerals added to meet AAFCO minimum nutrient requirements)
  4. Dogs eating homemade prey model diets fed by misguided pet parents who believe any type of fresh food is all that matters, recipes are unnecessary and “balance will occur over time,” and without intentional additions to meet specific nutrient deficiencies

The cases of overt trauma were rare and easy to identify and in my mind, the only logical reason for healthy dogs to suddenly tear a ligament would be a traumatic accident. However, the vast majority of dogs I saw with this injury were tearing their ligaments in non-traumatic ways, such as getting on the couch, slipping on the grass or fetching a ball in the backyard. It was clear something else was in play.

Large and giant breed dogs had more CCL injuries than smaller dogs, but that was still a small fraction of my patients. Genetics may play a small part,2 but the other 75 percent of dogs I was seeing with CCL damage didn’t fit into the first three categories. Desexed (spayed and neutered) animals have more CCL damage than intact animals. Sex hormones appear to have a protective effect on the musculoskeletal system.

Overweight or out of shape dogs tax their ligaments more than lean dogs, but my patients weren’t fat or out of shape. They were active and healthy, they weren’t over-vaccinated, and they weren’t desexed.

Eventually I came to the conclusion that nutrition was a possible cause for the majority of CCL injuries I was seeing. Specifically, I suspected a lack of dietary manganese thanks to the human chiropractor (also licensed for animals) who was working at my veterinary hospital, and informed me this is the root cause of many human ACL injuries.

Manganese is required for healthy, strong ligament development and maintenance. A dog’s manganese requirements are high. Food sources vary on the amount of manganese present. For a much more detailed discussion of why I suspect today’s dogs aren’t getting sufficient manganese, read “What’s Behind the Epidemic of Cranial Cruciate Ligament Disease?

Healthy Cranial Cruciate Ligaments Are Essential to Your Dog’s Mobility

The cruciate ligaments are bands of fibrous tissue. Each knee joint (“stifle”) in a dog’s back legs has two cruciate ligaments, which connect the femur (the bone above the knee joint) with the tibia (the bone below the knee joint).

The cruciate ligaments are the main stabilizers of your dog’s knee joint. They cross over each other, with one band running from the inside to the outside of the knee joint, and the other from the outside to the inside. In humans, the CCL is called the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

Inside the knee joint between the femur and tibia is cartilaginous material called the meniscus. The job of the meniscus is to absorb shock and assist with load bearing, and it can be damaged when there is injury to the cruciate ligaments.

CCL injuries are seen in dogs of every size and age, but certain breeds are overrepresented, including the Akita, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Mastiff, Newfoundland, Rottweiler, Saint Bernard and Staffordshire Terrier. Research has identified a genetic component for the disease in Newfies and Labs.

Breeds unlikely to develop CCL disease include the Basset Hound, Dachshund, Greyhound and Old English Sheepdog. The condition is almost never seen in cats.

Most CCL Ruptures Occur After Years of Gradual Deterioration

Rupture of the CCL is a very common reason for hind limb lameness, pain and arthritis of the knee in affected dogs. Ruptures can be partial or complete.

The word “rupture” or “tear” draws a mental picture of an injury to a healthy ligament that occurs suddenly (acutely). However, according to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS), and in my own experience, in the vast majority of affected dogs, the ligament has been gradually deteriorating over a period of months or years.3

When the CCL tears or ruptures, the knee bones no longer move normally and your dog will have difficulty putting weight on the leg without it collapsing. That’s because the tibia is no longer supported by the cruciate ligament and thrusts forward when any weight is exerted on the leg.

Indeed, with complete tears (picture a rope torn in half), only surgical correction or replacement will make the joint completely functional again. The type of surgical technique selected and the competence of the surgeon have a lot to do with outcome success, along with rehabilitation therapy and long-term joint support.

However, the majority of dogs suffer from recurring sprains rather than complete ruptures (picture a frayed rope). In these situations, I recommend you avoid surgery as long as possible by instituting an intensive management protocol. CCL injuries are painful for your dog, and without proper treatment, permanent joint damage can result. Unfortunately, estimates are that from 40 to 60 percent of dogs with CCL disease in one knee go on to develop the problem in the other knee.

Treating CCL Disease Non-Surgically

Treating CCL disease non-surgically involves three essential strategies:

  • Controlling pain
  • Supporting and improving joint health, slowing degenerative joint disease (DJD)
  • Restoring function and strength to the injured leg

The supplement, exercise and dietary regimen I select for my patients is based on each dog’s specific circumstances, age, activity level and job (for example, agility athletes and police dogs have different ligament stress than other dogs).

In my experience, there is no “one size fits all” treatment approach when a dog is diagnosed with CCL damage. Partnering with a proactive integrative veterinarian who will adjust treatment protocols as your dog’s body dictates is a critical part of managing “joint dogs” throughout their lifetime.

Natural Supplements and Medications

Instituting chondroprotective agents (CPAs) as soon as possible helps reduce further damage to joints. For genetically predisposed breeds this means beginning CPAs proactively, at 6 months to 1 year of age. The most commonly used CPAs are perna mussel (green-lipped clam), eggshell membrane, glucosamine sulfate, MSM and cetyl myristoleate.

Dogs who have had substantial CCL injury should be on progressive joint supportive protocols for the rest of their lives to slow degenerative joint disease in the injured knee and improve ligament resiliency in the opposite knee. Medications should be given for as long as necessary to control both the pain of the CCL injury, as well as any maladaptive pain that has developed as a result, such as low back pain.

I also use injections of Adequan and platelet-rich plasma therapy4 to slow joint degeneration and promote joint fluid production in cases of chronic knee problems. Prolo therapy, which involves injecting small amounts of various natural substances into the soft tissues of a damaged joint, can be beneficial for these patients as well.

In addition, I incorporate many natural anti-inflammatories for long-term management. It’s important to always give CPAs with anti-inflammatories, including:

Devil’s claw SOD
Feverfew Serrapeptase
Scutellaria Turmeric and ginger
Boswellia Willow bark (not for cats)
SAMe Proteolytic enzymes

There are some excellent homeopathic remedies and Chinese herbs that can be beneficial as well, but these natural treatments should be given in addition to CPAs, not in place of them.

Physical Therapy and Exercise

There are several orthopedic braces that can be beneficial for limiting range of motion and supporting the rest of the body (including the over-stressed, opposite knee joint). I have found it’s important to match the type of brace to the breed of dog, so work with an animal rehab therapist to determine which brace may be beneficial for your dog.

Once a dog’s pain and lameness are improved, a physical rehabilitation program can be instituted to improve function and rebuild strength. I have found water therapy to be very beneficial in helping dogs recover from CCL injuries, because it helps build strength and muscle mass with little to no discomfort.

On an underwater treadmill, your dog can exercise in a normal posture without putting excess weight on damaged joints. Water also provides resistance during movement, which helps strengthen muscles. During this time, I also typically recommend laser therapy, the Assisi loop,5 acupuncture and electro-acupuncture to help alleviate joint pain.

Chiropractic care can help your dog’s postural imbalances, and may help reduce compensatory stress on the other knee. In addition, massage is excellent for tight, overworked muscles.

It’s important to note that even with intense therapy, there are cases where complete rupture eventually occurs. That’s why many dogs end up requiring CCL surgery to maintain an excellent quality of life. Every patient and situation is different, so the challenge is always finding the methods of treatment that are most suitable and helpful for the individual pet and his family.

Dietary and Additional Recommendations

Don’t guess at your dog’s diet. Feed a homemade, fresh food diet you know is balanced for optimal nutrient intake, including 3.1 mg of manganese per 1,000 kcal (calories). This is the average amount of manganese provided by the canine ancestral diet.

I’m a firm believer in nutrigenomics — you can up- or down-regulate genetic potential by what you feed your dog. If dogs are eating a ligament-supportive diet they should not have degenerative cruciate damage over time. My recommendations for feeding a manganese-rich diet:

  • Follow a homemade recipe that gives amounts of manganese per serving or 1000 kcal
  • Call the pet food company and ask what guidelines they follow, or how much manganese (per 1000 kcal) is in their food, so you know you are meeting optimal intake for your dog
  • Supplement, as necessary (with whole foods or a supplement such as Standard Process E-Manganese) to meet Mn requirements

In addition, it’s very important to keep your dog lean and well-conditioned, preferably intact (opt for an ovary-sparing spay or vasectomy, when possible), and titered versus over-vaccinated. If your dog has sustained a CCL injury, partner with a good canine rehabilitation facility and proactive integrative veterinarian to offer your dog the best chance of recovering from this common injury.

Diane’s dog, Neko, partially tore his ACL over a year ago and just this past May, he completed the job requiring surgery and months of recuperation.  None of this was easy on a lively husky or his owners!  You must be diligent to ensure a complete recovery but after paying $4,000 we were bound and determined that he would heal completely!