Boost your dog’s immunity with acupressure

By: Amy Snow as seen in Animal Wellness 2013

 

These four acupressure points are powerful allies for making sure your dog’s immunity is up to the job of protecting him from illness.

Your dog’s immunity is everything. His health depends on how well it protects him from all sorts of pathogens and toxins lurking in the environment, in food, and even in your house. Any breakdown in this system means his health can easily be compromised.

The immune system has a huge job to do. Your dog is constantly being bombarded with allergens and toxins from plants, bugs, fertilizers, and household chemicals. Trips to the dog park or doggie daycare expose him to bacterial and viral pathogens. When his immune system is strong – great, no problem, he stays healthy. In fact, a moderate level of daily exposure to allergy-causing irritants and other pathogens can actually make his immunity stronger. Your dog’s natural resistance builds when challenged by exposure to pathogens.

Health issues arise when the dog’s body is not able to resist pathogens because his immunity is weak. Allergies, respiratory problems, digestive issues, inflammation, and other immuno-mediated diseases are all due to a compromised immune system, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

TCM is all about the immune system

In TCM, every health issue goes back to the body’s ability to resist external pathogens and maintain internal balance. The key word here is “balance”. Health is maintained when chi (also seen as qi), the essential life-promoting force, fl ows in a harmoniously balanced fashion throughout the body. Any disruption to the smooth and balanced flow of both chi and blood interrupts the balance of the body.

When there’s an imbalance of chi and blood, the health of the animal is compromised. Chi is unable to vitalize the body, and blood can’t moisten and nourish it. This, in turn, leads to an inability of the internal organs to function properly. A domino effect occurs in which the immune system becomes weakened and your dog becomes vulnerable to pathogens.

Chinese medicine practitioners focus on restoring and supporting a balanced, harmonious flow of chi and blood. Chi and blood flow along energetic pathways, or meridians, throughout the dog’s body. Along these meridians are pools of energy called “acupoints”. We can influence the fl ow of chi and blood by stimulating specific acupoints.

Left: The Thumb Technique works best on larger dogs and on the trunks and necks of medium-sized dogs. Gently place the soft tip of your thumb on the acupoint, count to 20 very slowly, then move to the next point.


Right: The Two-Finger Technique is a good choice when working on small dogs or the lower extremities on medium to large dogs. Place your middle finger on top of your index finger to create a little tent; lightly put the soft tip of your index finger on the acupoint and slowly count to 20.

For instance, the Lung is responsible for creating and dispersing Protective or Defensive chi, also called Wei chi. Protective chi is immune system chi and defends the dog from external pathogens, such as Cold or Heat, that can enter the body and disrupt the balanced flow of chi and blood. We can select certain acupoints, known after thousands of years of clinical observation, that enhance the Lung’s capacity to perform its role in strengthening immunity.

Immune strengthening acupressure session

The only difference between acupressure and acupuncture is that in acupressure you don’t use needles to stimulate acupoints; you can use your thumb or index finger. By following the accompanying acupressure chart for Immune System Strengthening, you can support your dog’s health, help him maintain a balanced flow of chi and blood, and benefit his immune system.

Each of the four acupoints selected for this session are commonly used to boost immunity. Remember to stimulate these points on both sides of your dog’s body.

1. Lung 7 (Lu 7), Lie Que, Broken Sequence – Regulates and supports Lung function, enhancing Protective Wei chi in benefiting the immune system.

2. Large Intestine 4 (LI 4), He Gu, Adjoining Valley – This point is known to directly boost the function of Protective chi.

3. Large Intestine 11 (LI 11), Qu Chi, Pond in the Curve – LI 11 has many energetic properties; one is to benefit immunostimulation by energetically building Protective Wei chi while also clearing the Lungs of excess fluids.

4. Stomach 36 (St 36), Zu San Li, Leg Three Miles – St 36 also has a tremendous number of properties and is the goto acupoint for metabolic issues as well as enhancing Lung function and Protective chi.

These four acupoints are powerful allies for making sure your dog’s immune system is up to the job of protecting him from illness. Regular acupressure sessions, along with a healthy diet and lifestyle, mean you can relax and enjoy yourself when you’re out and about with your dog, because you know his body is strong and healthy.

 

How to treat hot spots on dogs

By: Animal Wellness

Hot spots bugging your dog? Here’s how to identify these irritating lesions and heal them as quickly as possible.

Canines with allergies, sensitivities or skin irritations are prone to developing hot spots. Excessive paw licking is the first sign of a developing hot spot, and the infection can quickly worsen if your dog continuously aggravates the area.  Luckily, there are a number of natural remedies available. But before you reach for a solution, let’s take a closer look at hot spots so you can identify whether your pet has one. Remember – the earlier you start the healing process, the better!

What causes hot spots in dogs?

Your dog will generally feel immediate relief from hot spots when gentle topical solutions are used. But first, it’s important to note that hot spots have an underlying cause — which, if not addressed, will result in additional problems.  Causes may include:

·         Skin fungal condition

·         Allergy to flea or tick bites

·         Skin disease

·         Dietary intolerance

·         Food allergy/sensitivity

·         Environmental allergy/sensitivity

Treating hot spots

You’ve identified the cause of your dog’s hot spot. Now it’s time to treat it. Your first step should be to heal him from the inside out with a healthy, high-quality diet. An allergy test can help you determine which ingredients are best for your pooch. Next, remove anything in his immediate environment that might be irritating his skin. Rule out causes of allergies such as fleas, dust mites, mold, or chemical-based cleaning products.

Once you’ve removed the underlying problem, reach for a non-toxic solution formulated for pets. Antibacterial and anti-fungal products like Banixx Pet Care are designed to help your dog make a speedy recovery from hot spots, regardless of the cause. This steroid-free, sting-free solution does not contain alcohol, and won’t harm the healthy tissue surrounding your dog’s hot spot. Simply apply twice a day to the affected area (disposable gloves are good for this), and take your dog on a short walk to allow the formula time to work its magic.

If your dog’s hot spots persist despite home treatment, seek help from your veterinarian

 

Dementia Symptoms Increasing in Older Dogs

Written by Dr. Karen Shaw Becker and comments by Diane Weinmann

Not many years ago, people with aging dogs focused only on keeping their pets healthy from the neck down, forgetting that such issues as weight control, possible arthritis and major organ support only go so far if their dog’s brain health is overlooked. Including your dog’s brain health in the overall picture is even more important as they get older, especially since more and more reports are emerging that show a “startling” number of older dogs starting to show signs of dementia.

According to veterinarian Melissa Bain, professor of Clinical Animal Behavior at UC Davis, canine cognitive dysfunction, or CCD, usually starts when the animals reach 9 or 10 years of age, and there are five typical signs that point to a dog’s cognitive decline:

  • Loss of house training or other previously acquired knowledge
  • Changes in sleep habits and reversed sleep cycles, e.g. sleeping all day
  • Failure to recognize their owners or other pets in the household
  • Anxiety in the form of excess panting, shivering, moaning and/or nervousness
  • A decrease in purposeful activity

Dog owners should also know about other signs to watch for. Witnessing certain behaviors may help you recognize something is happening with your dog’s cognitive abilities, especially if you’ve never seen them before. Examples that may indicate CCD, otherwise known as geriatric dementia, include:

  • Getting lost in the house
  • Getting stuck behind furniture
  • Becoming overly aggressive

Vetstreet1 notes other signs that indicate something might be wrong; such as noticing your dog staring at walls for long periods of time, repetitive behaviors like walking in a circle or pacing, changes in hearing and vision, and/or vocalizing at inappropriate times. My ancient Boston terrier, Rosco (over 18 years old in this picture), would often get “stuck” in the narrow space between the toilet and the wall and was unable to navigate himself out without assistance, a common sign of CCD in older dogs.

One of my friends has a 14 year old golden retriever who is just beginning to show signs of geriatric dementia.  He normally doesn’t leave her side—no need for a leash but just recently he wondered down the drive way and started walking down the sidewalk seemingly confused.  She called him and asked where he was going.  He seemed to come out of a fog, looked at her and realized he was leaving the yard then came back to her.  This is an example of the type of behavior you can experience when your dog begins geriatric dementia.

What Causes Canine Cognitive Dysfunction?

Helping your companion animals maintain bright, strong brain function throughout their senior years is even more important as you start noticing changes. If changes look as if they’re a mental or behavioral problem, it may actually be physical. Three main signs of age-related changes in dogs that cause gradual impairment stem from three main contributors:

  • Oxidative stress from free radical damage is physiological and impacts your dog’s brain tissue more than any other parts of their body, and can be evidenced both by decreased cognitive function as well as nerve disease, similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans.
  • The formation of lesions on the brain may include nerve-damaging beta amyloid deposits, proteins that form “senile plaque” buildup that interferes with the transmission of brain signals.
  • Alterations in brain metabolism can diminish due to decreased availability of oxygen and energy, at least in part due to environmental stressors, including your dog’s diet.

Although human and canine brains are significantly different, they have remarkably striking similarities both anatomically and physiologically, and the way the diseases manifest themselves appear “almost identical,” Washington State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital explains further:

“More, dogs’ brains react to dementia treatments exactly as human brains do, making them ideal human dementia testbeds. As with human dementia, causes of CCD are not well known.

But accumulations of sticky proteins called beta-amyloid plaques around neurons, and the breakdown of neurons resulting in so-called neurofibrillary tangles, are considered leading causes. As in humans, both phenomena impact the brain by interrupting nerve impulse transmission.”2

Studies estimate that more than 60 percent of dogs between age 15 and 16 can show at least one symptom of CCD, but according to Bain, one reason more dogs have been showing signs of mental aging in recent years is simply because dogs are living longer due to advances in veterinary medicine.3

 

Danish Study: ‘Support’ Is Key for Dogs With CCD

A Danish study during which 94 dogs 8 years of age were investigated with a CCD questionnaire and observational sleep studies, subsequently published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, notes that vitamin E was investigated as a potential marker of CCD. The researchers reported:

“Four key clinical signs dominated in dogs with CCD: sleeping during the day and restless at night, decreased interaction, disorientation at home, and anxiety … CCD did not influence survival negatively. Small breeds did not show better survival than large breeds and there was no difference between sexes.

A few key questions addressing sleep-wake cycle, interaction, and signs of confusion and anxiety can be used as a clinical marker of CCD. Special attention should be paid to anxiety in dogs with CCD because it may be especially stressful to both dog and owner. Dogs with CCD seem to have a good chance of living a full lifespan if supported by the veterinarian and the owner.”4

Significantly, most veterinarians are becoming more aware of CCD and asking questions earlier rather than later in the lives of the dogs they treat, but some experts maintain that as many as 80 percent of older dogs have CCD that is both unrecognized and undiagnosed.5

How a Dog’s Diet Influences His or Her Health, Including Cognitive Health

Rather than assuming it’s an age-related cognitive issue, investigating the underlying cause of what appears to be CCD with the help of a professional veterinarian is important, especially if the dog in question is young, such as 5 or 6 years old.

To view the overall picture of your dog’s health, Bain says taking a look at their diet may be a significant key. I couldn’t agree more. She also notes, “There could be anything from hypothyroidism to urinary tract infections to blindness to deafness that all can mimic the signs of canine cognitive dysfunction.”6

These and other physical problems can be addressed to the greatest degree by providing a balanced, fresh food diet that includes “brain food” coming from omega-3 fatty acids, such as krill oil, MCTs coming from coconut oil and plenty of food-based antioxidants (only found in fresh fruits and vegetables), which are crucial for cognitive health.

You may also be surprised to learn that aging dogs require more rather than less protein, but it should come from quality sources and include a variety of living, whole, easily-digestible, moisture-rich fresh meats that are suitable for a carnivore. Animal meat should be the foundation of your healthy dog’s diet throughout his life.

In some cases, a species-appropriate diet for your dog is also about what should be eliminated. Unfortunately, many commercial dog foods are loaded with processed ingredients, such as refined carbohydrates that turn to sugar.

Also, eliminate grains, potatoes and legumes in your aging dog’s diet and pay attention to the amount of fiber your dog consumes, as it’s often just unnecessary filler, displacing crucial meat-based protein your aging dog requires. Additionally, the byproducts of high heat processing, known as advanced glycation end products, or AGEs, negatively impact the aging process and may play into premature cognitive decline.7

Needless to say, exercise and lots of time outside is also important for dogs of any age. It not only keeps their blood pumping, but keeps them limber and enhances detoxification. Additionally, one of the most important aspects of maintaining cognitive health in aging humans is social interaction, but it’s also true for dogs.

Exposure to other humans besides his or her immediate family is helpful, and being around other animals is beneficial for them, as well. Continuing mentally engaging exercises on a daily basis is also important, including fun nose work games and treat release puzzles.

One of the most important things for dog owners to do is work with an integrative or functional medicine veterinarian early on in the disease process. I was able to manage my dog’s age-related dementia very well because I addressed it immediately, as soon as symptoms became noticeable.

Proactive vets have been using nootropic supplements for pets (used to enhance memory and brain health) for years, including specific B vitamins, rhodiola, phosphatidylserine, lion’s mane mushroom and a variety of specific brain-supportive herbs.

 

Horse Body Condition

Horse Body Condition

As seen in Equus Extra

 

When you see your horse every day, slow, subtle fluctuations in weight can be easy to miss, especially under a winter coat or blanket. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your horse’s body condition so you can catch developing changes earlier.

One of the most objective ways to evaluate a horse’s weight, short of walking him onto a scale in a veterinary hospital, is to learn to determine his body condition score (BCS), a method of ranking body fat on a scale from 1 (poor) to 9 (extremely fat) developed in 1983 by Don Henneke, PhD.

When horses develop fat, they tend to store it in distinct places just under the skin where it can be easily seen and felt. And they lay fat in certain parts of the body in a particular order—first over the heart and the ribs, then over the rump and back, forward to the withers, and last over the neck. As a result, the specific location of stored fat can tell you how overweight the horse is.

If your horse has a “weight problem” —whether he needs to lose or gain—his feed ration will obviously be central to the solution. An overweight horse needs to consume fewer calories and/or exercise more. But simply cutting back on your horse’s regular feed is not a good idea if it means you’ll be shortchanging his nutrition. Instead, consider switching to a lower-calorie feed meant for easy keepers. Ration balancer products can help ensure  your horse gets all of the vitamins and minerals he needs if you need to  reduce or eliminate his concentrates.

So what’s your horse’s body condition score?

score: 1 (Poor) • Extreme emaciation. • Spinous processes, ribs, tailhead, and hooks and pins are prominent. • Bone structure of withers, shoulder and neck is easily noticeable. • No fatty tissue can be felt.

score: 2 (Very thin) • Emaciated. • Thin layer of fat over base of spinous processes. • Transverse0 processes of lumbar vertebrae feel rounded. • Spinous processes, ribs, tailhead, and hooks and pins are prominent. • Withers, shoulders and neck structures are faintly discernible.

score: 3 (thin) • Fat about halfway up spinous processes; transverse processes cannot be felt. • Thin fat layer over ribs. • Spinous processes and ribs are easily discernible. • Tailhead prominent, but individual vertebrae cannot be visually identified. • Hook bones appear rounded but not easily discernible. • Pin bones not distinguishable. • Withers, shoulders and neck  are accentuated.

score: 4  (Moderately thin) • Ridge along back. • Faint outline of ribs discernible. • Tailhead prominence depends on conformation; fat can be felt around it. • Hook bones not discernible. • Withers, shoulders and neck are not obviously thin.

score: 5 (Moderate) • Back is level. • Ribs cannot be visually distinguished but can be easily felt. • Fat around tailhead beginning    to feel spongy. • Withers appear rounded over    spinous processes. • Shoulders and neck blend     smoothly into body.

score: 6  (Moderate to fleshy) • May have slight crease down back. • Fat over ribs feels soft and spongy. • Fat around tailhead feels soft. • Fat beginning to be deposited along sides of the withers, behind the shoulders and along the sides of the neck.

score: 7 (Fleshy) • May have crease down back. • Individual ribs can be felt, with noticeable filling between ribs with fat. • Fat around tailhead is soft. • Fat deposited along withers, behind shoulders, along neck

score: 8 (Fat) • Crease down back. • Difficult to feel ribs. • Fat around tailhead very soft. • Area along withers filled with fat. • Area behind shoulder filled in. • Noticeable thickening of neck. • Fat deposited along inner buttocks.

score: 9  (extremely fat) • Obvious crease down back. • Patchy fat appearing over ribs. • Bulging fat around tailhead, along withers, behind shoulders and along neck. • Fat along inner buttocks may rub together. • Flank filled in flush.

Dogs with Compulsive Disorders

By Dr. Karen Becker

Dogs with compulsive disorders are relatively common, and unfortunately, this is due in large part to modern-day lifestyles. As much as we love our four-legged family members and try to provide for all their needs, most of us aren’t in a position to allow them to live according to their true canine natures. If they could make their own choices, our dogs would be extremely active, spending lots and lots of time outdoors.

Canine Compulsive Disorder

Canine compulsive disorder (CCD), also called compulsive behavior disorder, is similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in humans. People with OCD perform repetitive activities (e.g., washing their hands over and over) and can’t seem to control the behavior.

Compulsive behavior disorder in dogs is also characterized by the repetitive performance of behaviors that serve no purpose. These behaviors include tail chasing or spinning, excessive licking or self-mutilation, flank sucking, chasing lights or shadows, fly snapping and chasing after or pouncing on invisible prey.

CCD shouldn’t be confused with similar repetitive behaviors some healthy, well-balanced dogs perform. For example, herding dogs and other working breeds evolved to do jobs that require the same behavior over and over again. Many retrievers will fetch the ball from sunrise to sunset; other dogs spin in happy circles when they’re excited.

There are also dogs who fixate on smaller animals such as lizards or birds, or inanimate objects like rocks or golf balls. Bored dogs also tend to develop habits that might seem compulsive, such as running along the fence in the front or backyard, or gently licking and chewing a particular paw.

As with humans with OCD, the favored behavior of dogs with CCD can take them over to the point that it interferes with normal daily activities like mealtime and playing. It can also be difficult to interrupt the compulsive behavior once the dog begins performing it.

Research Compares CCD in Dogs and OCD in People

Two of the most common repetitive behaviors in dogs are obsessive licking which results in acral lick dermatitis (ALD), also known as a lick granuloma, and tail chasing. A 2012 Finnish study suggests that dogs exhibiting indicators like tail chasing, air biting (fly snapping), obsessive pacing, trance-like freezing, or licking or biting their own flanks do indeed have a disorder similar to OCD in humans.1 A number of features of tail-chasing dogs are similar to obsessive-compulsive humans, including:

  • People with OCD and tail-chasing dogs begin acting out their behaviors at a young age
  • Both are inclined to engage in more than one compulsive activity
  • Nutritional supplements (vitamins and minerals) are beneficial in reducing the behaviors in both people and dogs
  • OCD is linked to childhood trauma and stress; tail chasing is seen more often in dogs who were separated too early from their mothers
  • Certain people with OCD are on the shy, inhibited side, and this tendency is also seen in tail-chasing dogs

In addition to these similarities, a team of researchers including veterinary behaviorist Dr. Nicholas Dodman, professor emeritus at Tufts University and the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, performed MRI scans on a group of Doberman Pinschers (a breed predisposed to repetitive behaviors), half with acral licking and half without.2

“When we scanned the Dobermans with acral licking, we found they had sophisticated, minute details in the brain that are also found in humans suffering from OCD,” Dodman told veterinary journal dvm360. “The changes were, if not identical, compellingly similar.”3

The Doberman study also revealed a genetic component to CCD. “We … found a gene called CDH2, otherwise known as neural cadherin (NCAD), expressed most significantly in dogs with the compulsive problem,” explains Dodman. Following Dodman’s study, psychiatrists in South Africa discovered that the same deformation of CDH2 was found in humans with OCD.4

Important Considerations for Dogs With Compulsive Behaviors

If you suspect your dog is developing a compulsive disorder, I strongly encourage you to take her to your veterinarian for a wellness exam to ensure the source of the repetitive behavior is indeed behavioral and not an underlying physical condition that needs to be identified and addressed.

The sooner strange behavior stemming from CCD (and diseases causing behaviors that mimic CCD) is addressed, the sooner you can intervene and help. For example, there are lots of reasons dogs lick certain areas of their bodies, many of which can involve allergies and/or skin disorders. It’s important to rule out a problem that actually started in the body rather than CCD, which starts in the head. Other steps you can take to help a dog with CCD:

  • Feed a nutritionally balanced, species-appropriate diet that provides everything your dog needs and nothing she doesn’t (e.g., dyes, preservatives, artificial flavors, synthetic nutrients).
  • Ensure she’s getting daily (and sometimes twice a day, depending on the dog), consistent, rigorous exercise that promotes good muscle tone and body weight, and provides for a strong and resilient musculoskeletal system and organ systems. Exercise releases “feel good” hormones dogs benefit from on a daily basis.
  • Find a hobby or “job” she really enjoys (my personal favorite is K9 nose work).
  • Limit exposure to EMFs in your home by turning off the wireless router at night and providing a grounding pad.
  • Ensure your dog’s immune system is balanced and optimally functional and titer test, in lieu of potentially over-vaccinating.

Most dogs today aren’t nearly as physically active as they’re designed to be. It can be a challenge to tire out a big or high-energy pet, especially a working or sporting breed. If your dog is performing compulsive behaviors, try increasing her exercise. Some suggestions:

Walking or hiking Jogging
Swimming Obedience or nose work events
Playing fetch or tug-of-war Flyball
Biking with a special dog bike leash Agility or other canine sports

I also recommend helping your dog stay mentally stimulated with chews and treat-release toys. In my experience, there are very few extremely healthy, physically active dogs with intractable compulsive disorders, so I can’t overstate the importance of helping your dog be as healthy and active as possible.

Additional Recommendations

Dogs with compulsive disorders tend to be more anxious and high strung than other dogs. An anxious nature may be inherited, but studies suggest environment also plays a role in triggering the expression of a compulsive behavior. Dr. Dodman makes the point that environmental enrichment by itself probably won’t resolve a compulsive disorder, but a stress-free, enriched environment can prevent CCD in the first place and make relapse less likely after a dog has been successfully treated.5

Veterinarians often treat dogs with CCD with drugs that block opioid receptors, but needless to say, I’m not in favor of jumping immediately to pharmaceuticals to treat this condition. They are sometimes appropriate in extreme, intractable cases (for example, a dog headed for the shelter) or when an animal is causing harm to himself.

They can also be beneficial as an interim measure to interrupt the cycle of behavior at the same time other less harmful remedies are being attempted. But my general recommendation is to try behavior modification along with a wide variety of natural remedies first, since every drug has side effects.

In a recent post in the Whole Dog Journal, professional trainer Mardi Richmond discusses additional treatment strategies such as avoiding known triggers, interrupting and redirecting the compulsive behavior, teaching an alternative response, and creating a structured daily routine (to reduce stress).

It’s also important not to try to prevent a dog from performing a repetitive behavior with physical restraint, because it typically causes more anxiety, not less.

 

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.

 

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!!!!