4 Health Care Considerations for Flat-Faced Dogs

By Jennifer Coates, DVM as seen in PetMD

Flat-faced dogs, like the French Bulldog, Pug, Boston Terrier and English Bulldog, are among some of the most easily recognizable dog breeds. Many of the most famous dogs on social media fall into these breeds.

 

While flat-faced dogs are undeniably cute, the physical attributes that make them so unique are what cause them to require special care considerations.

 

So before taking the leap and adding a flat-faced dog to your family, it is important to do some research into brachycephalic dog breeds to learn about the specific health issues and care requirements they have.

 

Health Considerations With Flat-Faced Dogs

 

Flat-faced dogs come with some unique health considerations. Not every individual will suffer from all of these conditions, but owners of brachycephalic dog breeds should be observant for their potential symptoms.

 

  • Respiratory Issues Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome, also known as brachycephalic syndrome, is the name for the respiratory distress dogs with flat faces can experience. These dogs often have small nostrils, an elongated soft palate, extra tissue in the larynx and a narrower-than-average windpipe, all of which can lead to breathing difficulties.

 

Symptoms of brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome include:

o    Difficulty breathing/wheezing

o    Excessive snoring, panting, coughing or gagging

o    Heat and/or exercise intolerance

o    Discoloration of the gums or tongue due to lack of blood oxygenation

o    Difficulty sleeping (especially when dogs lie on their sides)

o    Difficulty swallowing

 

  • Eye Problems – Since flat-faced dogs tend to have shallow eye sockets, their eyes protrude further than other breeds. This makes their eyes vulnerable to dryness, injury, infection and proptosis (displacement from the socket). Facial skin folds may also result in fur rubbing on the eye’s surface.

 

  • Dental Issues – Because of their relatively small jaw structure, dental problems, like overcrowded and overlapping teeth and an underbite, are common in brachycephalic dogs.

 

 

Caring for Flat-Faced Breeds

 

Awareness of the conditions that can afflict flat-faced dogs is important because there are things you can do to make their lives easier. For example, keeping these dogs slim is vital to their overall health. Monitor their diet and weight closely.

 

Exercise is also essential, but you need to take special precautions to prevent overheating and/or a worsening of breathing problems. Avoid walking or playing with your dog when it’s particularly hot or humid outside, and always watch for signs that it’s time to take a break.

 

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Spaying and Neutering Dogs 101: Everything You Need to Know

Reviewed for accuracy on January 8, 2019, by Dr. Hanie Elfenbein, DVM as seen on PetMD

Spaying or neutering is one of the most responsible ways dog owners can care for their pet. First-time dog owners are likely to have many questions about spaying and neutering procedures, from the risks involved to how much they will cost. Here are some answers to the most common questions that pet parents have about the spay and neutering process.

 

What’s the Difference Between Spaying and Neutering?

 

Spaying a dog refers to the removal of a female dog’s reproductive organs, while neutering refers to the procedure that’s done for males.

 

When a female dog is spayed, the vet removes her ovaries and usually her uterus as well. Spaying renders a female dog no longer able to reproduce and eliminates her heat cycle. Typically, behavior related to breeding instincts will cease, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), but this is not always true for every dog.

 

The procedure is also known as an ovariohysterectomy (where both uterus and ovaries are removed) or an ovariectomy (where only ovaries are removed). Both surgeries are equally safe and effective.

 

When neutering a dog, both testicles and their associated structures are removed. This procedure is also known as castration. Neutering renders a male dog unable to reproduce, but any behavior related to breeding instincts, like humping, usually ceases—but not always, says the AVMA. This may depend on the age of the dog and other factors.

 

Alternative procedures, like vasectomies for male dogs (the severing of the tubes that conduct sperm from the testes), are available but not commonly performed.

 

Why Spay or Neuter?

 

Animal shelters around the country are filled with unwanted puppies and dogs. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reports that approximately 6.5 million animals enter the shelter or rescue system annually. Of those 6.5 million animals, only an estimated 3.2 million find their way out of the shelter or rescue and into a home.

 

Spaying and neutering reduces the number of unwanted litters, which, in turn, helps to reduce the number of unwanted pets or stray animals that enter shelters or rescues.

 

These procedures also have specific health benefits that can help a dog live a healthier, longer life, and they may reduce behavioral issues. Spaying a dog helps prevent serious health problems, including mammary cancer and pyometra, a potentially life-threatening uterine infection, says Carolyn Brown, senior medical director of community medicine at the ASPCA.

 

Neutering male dogs helps keep them from developing testicular cancer, Brown says. Neutered male dogs are also generally less aggressive and less likely to stray from home. This helps keep them safe because they are less likely to get into fights or be hit by a car.

 

On the other hand, some diseases, like prostatic cancer and certain orthopedic conditions, are slightly more common in dogs who have been spayed or neutered. For most pet parents, however, the pros of spaying and neutering their dogs outweigh the cons.

 

When Should You Spay or Neuter Your Dog?

 

The traditional age for spaying or neutering a dog is between 4 and 6 months, although a spay clinic or shelter may safely spay or neuter dogs as young as 2 months old, says Brown. However, “each individual owner should discuss their specific circumstances with their personal vets,” recommends Brown. Several factors can influence the timing of spaying and neutering.

 

For example, a dog’s breed can make a difference. Research has shown that larger dog breeds tend to mature a little later than their smaller counterparts, explains Brown. An animal’s living situation may also be a consideration.

 

For example, a male and female from the same litter who are adopted into the same home should be spayed and neutered earlier, before the female goes into heat, Brown says. On the other hand, there’s less urgency to spay or neuter if the puppy is the only intact dog living in the house, she adds.

 

Most veterinarians recommend spaying a female dog before her first heat cycle. This varies but occurs somewhere between 5 and 10 months of age. Spaying before the first heat cycle greatly reduces her risk of developing dog mammary (breast) cancer.

 

For male dogs, adult size is an important factor. Small and medium male dogs are generally neutered earlier—around 6 months of age—while your veterinarian may recommend waiting until a giant breed puppy is a year or more before neutering.

 

But before a dog is spayed or neutered, it’s very important that the vet, whether at a private practice, a spay/neuter clinic or a shelter, give the animal a complete checkup to ensure he or she has no health issues, Brown points out. The pet’s owner should also provide a full medical history, because underlying conditions or current prescription pet medications could be relevant, she says.

 

Recovery From Spay and Neuter Surgery 

 

Dog owners can help their pets have safe and comfortable recoveries after being spayed or neutered by following some precautions recommended by the ASPCA:

 

  • Keep the dog inside and away from other animals during the recovery period.
  • Don’t let the dog run around and jump on and off things for up to 2 weeks after surgery, or as long as the vet advises.
  • Ensure the dog is unable to lick their incision site by using a dog recovery cone (popularly known as the “cone of shame”) or other methods, as recommended by the vet.
  • Check the incision every day to make sure it’s healing properly. If redness, swelling, discharge or a foul odor are present, contact your vet immediately.
  • Don’t bathe the dog for at least 10 days post-surgery.
  • Call the vet if the dog is uncomfortable, is lethargic, is eating less, is vomiting or has diarrhea.

 

Brown also recommends discussing pain management with the vet before the procedure is done to be sure that pet pain medication is sent home with the dog. Pain medication may or may not be needed, but it’s best to have on hand just in case, she notes.

 

A good way to gauge a dog’s recovery is that if the dog is comfortable and energetic enough to play, he or she is probably doing okay, says Dr. Marina Tejeda of the North Shore Animal League America’s SpayUSA based in Port Washington, New York.

 

However, a playful dog is not license to allow her to run around before she is fully healed. Feeling like her usual self is just evidence that your dog is on her way to recovering.

 

Is Spay and Neuter Surgery Risky?

 

Spay and neutering are common surgeries, but there’s always some degree of risk involved for animals undergoing surgery and with general anesthesia, according to the AVMA.

 

Dogs should be given a thorough physical exam to ensure their general good health before surgery is performed. Blood work may be recommended to ensure that the dog has no underlying health issues, says Dr. Tejeda. Liver and kidney issues and heart murmurs may require further investigation, she notes.

 

What Are Some Misconceptions About Spay and Neuter Procedures?

 

A number of misconceptions about spaying and neutering dogs persist. One of the most popular beliefs is that a sterilized dog will get fat. Not true, as long as dog owners provide the proper amount of exercise and dog food, notes Brown of the ASPCA.

 

Dogs do tend to need fewer calories (by about 20 percent) after being spayed or neutered, but changing their diet appropriately and keeping them active will prevent weight gain.

 

Another misconception is that spaying or neutering a dog will change a dog’s personality. That’s not true, either. “It shouldn’t change their behavior much at all,” Brown says. If anything, it may help stop unwanted behaviors such as marking in the house.

 

What Does It Cost to Spay or Neuter Your Dog?

 

The cost of spaying or neutering a dog varies widely by geographic area as well as the size of the dog. Petfinder reports that most animal hospitals charge more than 300 dollars for the surgery. A low-cost clinic may charge in the range of 45 to 135 dollars, but this varies by location.

 

But the proliferation of low-cost spay and neuter clinics makes it worth researching the low-cost options available in a given area. Organizations SpayUSA and the ASPCA offer searchable national databases to help dog owners find affordable spay and neuter resources in their areas.

 

SpayUSA offers vouchers that cover part of the surgery’s cost at participating clinics. Dog owners can also check with their local municipalities for specific low-cost and affordable options for spay and neuter procedures.

 

Dr. Tejeda points out that low-cost care provided by spay and neuter clinics does not necessarily mean the care will be less comprehensive than what a private practice provides. “Low-cost does not mean low-quality,” she emphasizes. Ask for a breakdown of the costs associated with your dog’s spay or neuter to get an idea of what is and what is not included.

 

 

By: Samantha Drake

 

STROKES IN DOGS AND CATS

By W. Jean Dodds, DVM on March 24, 2019

With the untimely passing of actor Luke Perry, awareness of strokes came into the spotlight. Can dogs and cats have strokes? Yes; they can. Here’s what you need to know.

Types

Just like humans, dogs and cats can have one of two types of stroke: ischemic or hemmorhagic.

Ischemic
Ischemic strokes are caused by a blood clot, called a thrombus, which forms inside one of the brain’s arteries. The clot then blocks blood flow to a part of the brain. However, unlike humans, its typically only involve the smaller blood vessels in pets.

An embolism is a small blood clot (or piece of atherosclerotic plaque debris in people) that develops elsewhere in the body and then travels through the bloodstream to one of the blood vessels in the brain.

Hemorrhagic Stroke
There are two types of hemorrhagic strokes: intracerebral and subarachnoid.

An intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel inside the brain bursts and leaks blood into the surrounding brain tissue.

Subarachnoid strokes are typically caused by an aneurysm, which refers to a weakening of an artery wall that creates a bulge, or distention, of the artery. This type of stroke involves bleeding in the area between the brain and the tissue covering the brain, known as the subarachnoid space.

Signs

The symptoms or signs of strokes are similar in dogs and cats. They are rare and usually occur in geriatric pets.

Cats

·         Abnormal eye movements

·         Altered mental status

·         Circling

·         Head pressing

·         Head tilt

·         Muscle spasms

·         Not using the legs normally

·         Seizures

·         Unequal pupil sizes

·         Unsteadiness when walking

·         Weakness

Dogs

·         Abnormal behavior

·         Abnormal eye movements

·         Abnormal eye positioning

·         Blindness

·         Falling to one side

·         Head tilt

·         Inability to walk or walking with an uncoordinated gait

·         Loss of consciousness

Causes

Cats

·         Brain tumors

·         Cancer

·         Diabetes

·         Heart disease

·         High blood pressure

·         Hyperthyroidism

·         Kidney disease

·         Liver disease

·         Lung disease

·         Vestibular disease

Dogs

·         Bleeding disorders

·         Cancer

·         Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism)

·         Diabetes

·         Heart disease

·         High blood pressure

·         High and prolonged doses of steroids like prednisone

·         Hypothyroidism, severe

·         Kidney disease

·         Vestibular disease

Prevention

A stroke is usually caused by an underlying disease. The best preventative measure is to monitor the pet periodically in order to diagnose the disease before a stroke can occur. Disease diagnosis involves twice yearly check-ups in geriatrics and annually in younger pets , which includes routine blood, endocrine and urinalysis screening.

What to Do in the Event of a Stroke

If you think your companion dog or cat has suffered from a stroke, please take him or her to a veterinarian as soon as possible. As well, we recommend that you always keep the phone number and address of your area emergency veterinarian on hand for all pet related emergencies.

 

14 Common Health Warning Signs in Dogs

By Dr. Karen Becker

 

When our dogs don’t feel well, or we suspect they don’t, it would be such a relief if they could just tell us, wouldn’t it? It’s incredibly stressful to have a dog who, for example, is clearly miserable judging by her hunched posture, tucked tail and sad eyes, and there’s no way to gauge what’s going on, how long it might last or how serious it is.

Even if you’re very disciplined about taking your dog for regular veterinary checkups, it’s still very important to be alert for changes in her health or behavior between visits. After all, you know your furry best friend better than anyone, and you’re her first line of defense when there’s a problem brewing beneath the surface.

The Morris Animal Foundation lists common signs to watch for in dogs that should always prompt a call to your veterinarian.1

1. Skin lumps or bumps — Most of the time, lumps and bumps on a dog’s skin are harmless, though they can be unsettling and ugly. However, it’s important to have new growths evaluated by your veterinarian. It’s rare that a growth requires emergency action, however, occasionally a mass like an abscess or cyst may require urgent care.

My recommendation when you find a growth is to monitor it. If it’s growing or changing quickly, you’ll want to see your veterinarian as soon as possible. However, if you notice, for example, a discoloration on the skin or what looks like a skin tag that doesn’t get bigger or change over the course of days, weeks or months, then just mention it to your vet at your pet’s next wellness exam.

2. Sudden collapse — this is an emergency! — When a dog collapses, it means he experiences a sudden loss of strength that causes him to fall and not be able to get back up. If a collapsed dog also loses consciousness, he has fainted. Either of these situations is an emergency, even if your dog recovers quickly and seems normal again within seconds or minutes of the collapse.

All the reasons for fainting or collapsing are serious and require an immediate visit to your veterinarian. They include a potential problem with the nervous system (brain, spinal cord or nerves), the musculoskeletal system (bones, joints, muscles), the circulatory system (heart, blood vessels, blood) or the respiratory system (mouth, nose, throat, lungs).

3. Dramatic weight gain or loss — If your dog seems to be gaining a lot of weight, it’s most likely a result of what she’s eating (e.g., a dry diet), how much she’s eating and a lack of physical activity (most dogs — no matter their size or age — don’t get nearly the exercise they need).

However, it’s also possible that a tumor in her abdomen can make your dog appear to be gaining weight or getting fat, so it’s best to give your veterinarian a call if your dog is getting bigger and you don’t know why.

On the flip side, often a loss of appetite is the first sign of an underlying illness in dogs. There can be many reasons your dog isn’t hungry or refuses to eat, but not eating can begin to negatively impact his health within 24 hours. And for puppies 6 months or younger, the issue is even more serious.

Weight loss is the result of a negative caloric balance, and it can be the consequence of anorexia (loss of appetite) or when a dog’s body uses or eliminates essential dietary nutrients faster than they are replenished. Weight loss exceeding 10 percent of your dog’s normal body weight will be a red flag for your veterinarian. There can be several underlying causes, some of which are very serious.

4. Changes in chewing, eating and drinking habits — If your dog is having difficulty chewing, there’s something painful going on in his mouth that needs investigating. Possibilities include dental or gum disease, a broken tooth or tooth resorption.

Changes in your dog’s appetite or eating habits can signal any number of underlying problems, from oral disease to a gastrointestinal (GI) disorder to cancer. If your dog is suddenly drinking his water bowl dry, it’s also cause for concern. Excessive thirst (along with excessive urination) are symptoms of several disorders, including urinary tract problems and kidney disease.

5. Non-healing sores or wounds — If your dog has a sore or wound that isn’t healing, the most immediate concerns are pain and the potential for infection. There are many nontoxic therapies that can successfully treat these wounds, including manuka honey, negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT), shockwave therapy and laser therapy.

Since sores that won’t heal can also be a sign of a more serious underlying disease such as cancer, I recommend making an appointment with your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.

6. Loss of energy — A lethargic dog will appear drowsy, “lazy” and/or indifferent. She may be slow to respond to sights, sounds and other stimuli in her environment. Lethargy or exhaustion is a non-specific symptom that can signal a number of potential underlying disorders, including some that are serious or life-threatening. If your pet is lethargic for longer than 24 hours, it’s time to make an appointment with your veterinarian.

7. Bleeding or discharge from any orifice — “Orifices,” or openings into and out of your dog’s body, include the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, anus and urethra. If you notice bleeding or unusual discharge from any of these openings, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Be aware that digested blood in your dog’s poop will appear as black tarry stools. Fresh blood in the stool indicates bleeding in the colon or rectum. Either situation is cause for concern and should be investigated as soon as possible.

Blood in your dog’s urine, called hematuria, can be obvious or microscopic. There are a number of serious disorders that can cause bloody urine, including a blockage in the urinary tract, a bacterial infection and even cancer. Vomited blood can be either bright red (fresh) or resemble coffee grounds (indicating partially digested blood). There are a variety of reasons your dog might vomit blood, some of which are relatively minor, but others are serious and even life-threatening.

8. Persistent cough — Coughing in dogs, unless it’s a one-and-done situation, generally indicates an underlying problem. Examples include a possible windpipe obstruction, kennel cough, bronchitis, pneumonia, heartworm disease, heart failure, and tumors of the heart and lungs. All causes of coughing require investigation, and in most cases, treatment.

9. Change in breath or body odor — A common cause of stinky breath in dogs is dental or gum disease, which is entirely preventable in the vast majority of cases. If your pet’s mouth has reached the point of emitting a foul odor, it’s past time to make an appointment with your veterinarian for an oral exam.

Poor skin and coat condition can cause unpleasant body odor in dogs, as can a yeast infection. If your pet’s normal “doggy smell” suddenly turns sour, give your veterinarian a call.

10. Persistent lameness, stiffness or limping — Mobility problems in dogs are always a sign of an underlying, often painful condition such as arthritis. There are many things you and your veterinarian can do to either resolve or effectively manage the disorders that inhibit your dog’s ability to move around comfortably, so it’s important to have him seen by your vet as soon as possible.

11. Difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating — A dog in respiratory distress will have labored breathing or shortness of breath that can occur when he breathes in or out. Breathing difficulties can mean that not enough oxygen is reaching his tissues. Additionally, dogs with heart failure may not be able to pump enough blood to their muscles and other tissues.

Respiratory distress often goes hand-in-hand with a buildup of fluid in the lungs or chest cavity that leads to shortness of breath and coughing. If your dog has sudden undiagnosed breathing problems or appears to be breathing harder, heavier or faster than before, he should see a veterinarian immediately.

Difficulty urinating includes discomfort while urinating, straining to urinate and frequent attempts to urinate with little success. If your dog cries out while relieving himself, seems preoccupied with that area of his body or is excessively licking the area, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian right away. There are several underlying causes of urinary difficulties, some of which can result in death within just a few days.

Your dog should poop at least once every day because it’s an important part of his body’s natural detoxification process. He’s constipated when he either has difficulty pooping (and the stool he produces is dry and hard), or he isn’t pooping at all. This is why it’s so important to keep an eye on those daily “deposits.” The quantity, color, texture and smell, along with the presence of mucus or blood in your pet’s feces (and urine), are all indicators of his general well-being.

Often, what passes from (or in the case of constipation, doesn’t pass from) your pet’s body is the first sign of a health problem, so you should regularly monitor your dog’s potty area and familiarize yourself with what “normal” looks like for your pet.

On potty walks, constipated dogs tend to look like they’re trying to go or need to go, but nothing’s happening. If after a few minutes of hunching and straining your dog doesn’t go or produces poop that is small, hard and dry, you can reasonably assume he’s constipated.

Sometimes constipated dogs appear bloated and painful, especially when trying unsuccessfully to poop. The stool a constipated dog does manage to pass is often darker than normal and may contain mucus, blood or strange debris. If your dog seems constipated, make an appointment with your veterinarian so she or he can check for underlying conditions.

12. Vomiting or diarrhea — Unless your dog vomits or has a bout of diarrhea as the result of eating something she shouldn’t have, which you have identified, it’s cause for concern. Chronic vomiting or diarrhea are red flag signs of an underlying problem that requires your veterinarian’s attention.

13. Eating more than normal — If your dog suddenly becomes food-obsessed (or more food-obsessed than usual), a relatively unlikely but potentially serious possibility is the presence of an underlying medical condition that causes excessive hunger, no matter how much he eats.

I recommend making an appointment with your veterinarian if your dog seems to be extra hungry even though he’s eating well, and especially if he’s also losing weight.

14. Excessive drinking, panting, scratching or urination — A brewing bladder infection, other types of infection, a metabolic problem such as Cushing’s disease and diabetes can cause excessive thirst and water consumption. Some forms of cancer cause pets to drink more. If your dog is drinking more water than normal, you should have her checked by your veterinarian to rule out an underlying condition.

Normal panting typically occurs when your dog’s body is overheating and is considered a natural, healthy response. Abnormal panting, on the other hand, may be a sign that your dog has a physical or emotional issue that needs further investigation.

Abnormal panting is excessive compared to your dog’s normal panting behavior and occurs during times when she isn’t overly warm and doesn’t need to cool her body down. It doesn’t sound quite like normal panting — it may be louder or harsher, for example, and requires more exertion.

If your dog suddenly starts panting at inappropriate times or the panting seems heavier than usual, you should be concerned, but there’s no need to panic. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss your pet’s symptoms and have her checked out.

If your dog is scratching a lot, there can be any number of causes, all of which deserve investigation. A chronically itchy dog feels miserable, and in addition, underlying causes of itching almost always get worse over time when they aren’t diagnosed and effectively treated.

Excessive urination in dogs typically goes hand-in-hand with excessive thirst as discussed above. Both situations are clear signs of an underlying disorder that requires a vet visit.

 

 

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

Face

  • 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

Body

  • 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
  •  

Gait

  • 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.

USE AND APPLICATIONS

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).