An Alarming New Lump or Bump on Your Pet?

By Dr. Karen Becker


Let’s say you’re giving your dog a nice massage or a bath, and as you run your hands over his body, you suddenly feel a strange lump under his skin. Random lumps and bumps are so common in dogs that this scenario plays out every day all over the world, but it’s still alarming when it happens to you and your dog.

Especially as dogs age, they can develop harmless growths beneath the skin, many of which turn out to be fatty tumors, or lipomas. Lipomas are benign fatty masses enclosed in a thin capsule, and they’re the most common type of noncancerous soft tissue growth in dogs. Any dog, regardless of breed, gender or age, can develop a lipoma (or several).

Fatty tumors in dogs typically develop just beneath the skin’s surface on the neck, upper legs, underarms or torso. However, they can occur anywhere on the body, including in muscle tissue. If the lipoma is under the skin, it will have a soft, squishy feel and you’ll be able to move it around. If it’s in muscle tissue, it may feel very firm.

Certain Dogs May Have a Tendency to Develop Lipomas

It’s true that any dog can develop a fatty tumor — young, old, spayed, neutered, obese or thin. However, in my experience there’s a link between the number and size of lipomas on a dog, his ability to metabolize fat and his overall vitality.

If a dog doesn’t have a vibrant, thriving metabolism, what tends to happen is he accumulates fat in what I call “glumps.” When you or I gain weight, we tend to gain it in several places on our bodies. When a dog with inappropriate fat metabolism gains weight, he adds glumps of fat in one spot. These are lipomas, or benign fatty masses.

Certain breeds tend to acquire more lipomas than others, including Labrador and Golden Retrievers, making many vets wonder about a possible epigenetic component to the formation of these benign masses. Some holistic and integrative veterinarians also believe lipomas and other fatty tumors are a sign that a dog’s body is not able to effectively eliminate toxins via processes involving the liver, kidneys, and intestines.

And according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles, lipomas are a manifestation of “stagnant Qi,” or “phlegm” (an “energetic blockage” that eventually manifests in a physical, benign mass). Regardless of how or why lipomas occur, it’s important to know they are usually nothing to fear, but do require monitoring.

Most Fatty Tumors Don’t Require Surgery

Many veterinarians recommend removal of every lump, bump and skin tag, but many of us in the integrative veterinary community prefer to leave confirmed benign lumps (like lipomas) alone unless they are seriously interfering with a dog’s mobility or quality of life.

When you bring your dog in for a suspicious lump, your veterinarian should perform a fine needle aspirate to determine whether the mass is something to worry about or simply a benign lipoma. If it comes back as a harmless fatty mass, it should be noted on your dog’s body chart, including its size and the date. Then it can be watched for any changes in size, shape or appearance.

If your dog’s lipoma grows in size, depending on its location it may be medically necessary to remove it before it’s big enough to impinge on his quality of life. This would include, for example, a growing lipoma in the armpit that’s changing the dog’s gait, or one on the sternum that rubs against the carpet every time he lays down, causing skin abrasions.

Some lipomas remain the same size throughout a dog’s life. They’re nothing to worry about, and it’s only necessary to watch them for growth or any sort of change. Bottom line: I very rarely surgically remove lipomas except in situations where the lump is affecting range of motion or the dog’s gait or comfort level.

If the dog’s quality of life is suffering, if she’s no longer walking comfortably, if there’s ribcage rotation or if she’s compensating in ways that are causing skeletal problems, often removing the lipoma will dramatically improve her musculoskeletal health. In those cases, it’s best to remove the mass sooner rather than later, because the bigger the lump, the bigger the incision.

Surgical removal of a lipoma is called debulking surgery. Debulking means we remove the majority of the mass, but not all of it. Benign fatty tumors are frustrating to deal with because while we can remove all the visible fat, there are always (and I do mean always) fat cells that remain.

They can be in the fascia, slipped down into the musculature or on the underside of the skin. Those fat cells have a memory, and unfortunately, lipomas can reform.

We call the procedure debulking because we can’t promise we’ll completely remove all the fat cells or that the lipoma won’t reappear in the same location. However, despite the tendency of lipomas to regrow in the same spot, you should still consider removal under certain circumstances.

7 Ways to Helping Your Dog Avoid Lipomas

To give your canine companion the best chance to avoid fatty tumors, it’s important to keep her in good physical condition while also supporting her metabolism, immune and lymphatic systems, and organs of detoxification.

  1. Do at-home physical exams very consistently. The more comfortable you are with knowing what’s normal, when it comes to being in touch with every inch of your dog’s external terrain, the sooner you will know when something is changing, like a fat glump starting. Massaging tiny accumulations of fat, early on, can help dissipate these annoying masses from gaining momentum and becoming a problem down the road.
  2. If you’re feeding a processed diet, your pet is getting a dose of chemical additives and carcinogenic byproducts like heterocyclic amines and acrylamides with every bite. And keep in mind that grain-free kibble has just as many synthetic nutrients and usually a higher glycemic index than regular kibble, so pets eating grain-free food are really no better off when it comes to dietary stress.

Feed a whole, fresh, organic, non-GMO, nutritionally balanced and species-appropriate diet to reduce metabolic stress. Pet food in its natural state provides needed moisture and ensures the highest level of biologic assimilation and digestion.

  1. Provide clean, pure and high-quality drinking water. Your pet’s drinking water shouldn’t contain fluoride, chlorine, heavy metals or other contaminants. I recommend filtering not only your pet’s drinking water, but also yours; however, I don’t recommend alkaline water for pets.
  2. Be mindful of your dog’s BMI (body mass index) and body condition score. Pets can be thin and under-muscled, as well as overweight/obese. Thin dogs who don’t get daily exercise can also develop lipomas. Regular exercise provides your dog with countless benefits, including promoting regular elimination.

Exercise also stimulates blood circulation and the lymphatic system, so toxins are moved efficiently to the liver and kidneys for processing. Physical activity also improves respiration and helps your pet eliminate mucus from the respiratory tract.

  1. Forbid smoking in your home, and use only nontoxic cleaning products. Consider investing in an air purifier to control dust mites. Avoid polluting your pet’s indoor air quality with perfumes, air fresheners and scented plug-ins or candles. These products are heavily laden with chemicals and are known to cause or worsen respiratory conditions like asthma in both people and pets.

Toxins in the air also come from the off-gassing of chemicals from new synthetic household items like flooring, carpeting, furniture, drapes and even pet beds. Unless you’re providing an organic pet bed made without chemicals that specifically states it contains all-natural fibers and hasn’t been chemically treated, you should assume it has been treated with flame retardants.

  1. Consider periodic detoxification for your dog. We all try to reduce toxin exposure in our pet’s environment, but it’s nearly impossible to avoid all sources of exposure, so providing an occasional detoxification protocol for your pet can be very beneficial.

Circulation-enhancing therapies such as massage and chiropractic treatments also assist in detoxification. Adding a tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar for every 20 pounds of weight to your dog’s food each day may also help prevent fat from accumulating over time.

  1. Don’t allow your dog to be over-vaccinated or overmedicated. This includes avoiding all unnecessary vaccines, veterinary drugs (e.g., antibiotics and steroids) and chemical flea/tick preventives. You want to ensure your four-legged family member is protected against disease, but overdoing vaccines, chemical preventives and other types of drugs can dramatically increase the level of toxicity in the body.



Your Kitty Loves This More Than Just About Anything

Written by Dr. Becker and comment by Diane Weinmann


As pet lovers, we all recognize that the connection we have with our cats is very different from the way we interact with our dogs. It’s not just a myth that kitties are more independent and self-reliant than dogs — it’s a fact. Cats simply don’t view their humans in the same way dogs do. For instance, they don’t get crazy happy when we arrive home. Their primary attachment is to their environment/territory/turf, not to us, whereas our dogs tend to treat us as if we hung the moon.

Unlike Small Kids and Dogs, Cats Don’t Develop ‘Secure Attachments’ to Their Human Caregivers

Even kittens who were properly socialized to people at precisely the right age and are quite comfortable around humans, don’t form the type of emotional attachment to their owners that dogs do, which was illustrated by a small 2015 study in the U.K.1

For the study, two University of Lincoln researchers used the Ainsworth Strange Situation Test (SST), a tool that measures whether a small child or dog has developed a secure attachment to a caregiver who represents safety and security in strange or threatening environments. They used the SST, adapted for cats, to evaluate 20 kittles and their owners.

Beyond the observation that the cats vocalized more when their owners left them with strangers than the other way around, the researchers found no other evidence to suggest the kitties had formed a secure attachment to their humans. According to the researchers:

“These results are consistent with the view that adult cats are typically quite autonomous, even in their social relationships, and not necessarily dependent on others to provide a sense of security and safety.”

This obviously doesn’t mean cats have no ties to their humans; however, we need to develop alternative tools to better measure the normal characteristics of the cat-human bond, since the concept of secure attachment isn’t among them.

Cats Evolved as Self-Sufficient Loners

If you know much about felines, it’s no great mystery why they’re so different from dogs and therefore, in their relationships with people. Cats evolved as independent loners, unlike dogs, whose wolf ancestors lived in packs with a well-defined social structure.

The domestic cat’s ancestor is the African wildcat, which hunts alone for small prey animals such as mice, rats, birds and reptiles. Wolves, on the other hand, need members of their pack to help them bring down bigger prey. The exception to this rule is the lion, who lives in packs (prides) like wolves, and hunts and eats communally.

In domestic cats, socialization during the first 2 to 8 weeks of life gives them the ability to socially attach to their human, but only on their terms, of course. Once a feral kitten, for example, is over 2 months old, it can be very challenging to try to “tame” him or turn him into an indoor kitty.

But regardless of how well-socialized a kitten is, she’ll retain her independence throughout her life. She can be extremely friendly and extroverted, but she’ll never submit to you as a dog will. She won’t hesitate to set you straight if you do something that displeases her, either.

And because cats evolved to be loners, they don’t have the communication skills dogs do. That’s why it’s so important to monitor your kitty’s behavior for signs she’s feeling stressed, ill or has an injury. If you find her hiding in her covered litterbox or in a closet she never visits, for example, chances are something’s wrong and you need to investigate.

Despite Their Aloofness, Cats Enjoy Interacting With Their Humans

In a 2017 study, a pair of U.S. university researchers concluded that cats actually seem to like humans a lot more than they let on.2 According to

“[The researchers] point out that cats may simply be misunderstood, noting that recent research has found that cats have complex socio-cognitive and problem solving abilities. They suggest further that the commonly held belief that cats are less reactive to social stimuli might be due to a lack of knowledge regarding the things that cats actually find stimulating.”3

The researchers set out to determine what types of things stimulate cats, and to what degree. There were two groups of kitties involved — one group lived with families, the other group consisted of shelter cats. For the study, the cats were isolated for a few hours, after which they were presented with three items from one of four categories: food, scent, toy and human interaction.

The researchers mixed up the items for the cats so they could better evaluate which they found most stimulating, and determined the kitties’ level of interest for a given stimulus by whether they went for it first, and how and how long they interacted with it. The researchers observed a great deal of variability from one cat to the next, regardless of whether they lived in a home or a shelter. But overall, the cats preferred interacting with a human to all other stimuli, including food.

The kitties spent an average of 65 percent of their time during the experiment interacting with a person, leading the study authors to conclude that cats really do like being around their humans, despite how they might behave around them.

You Have More Influence on Your Cat Than You May Think

A study published in 2013 offered further insights into captive feline behavior.4 For example, did you know our cats take on human habits, or that they adapt their lifestyles to ours?

While genetics certainly play a role in feline personality and behavior, it’s clear environment is also a significant factor. “Our findings underline the high influence of human presence and care on the amount of activity and daily rhythm in cats,” says study co-author Giuseppe Piccione of the University of Messina’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.5

The purpose of the study was to explore the effect of different housing environ­ments on daily rhythm of total locomotor activity (TLA) in cats. The cats in the study lived with owners who worked during the day and were home in the evenings. They were all well cared for. The kitties were separated into two groups, with the first group living in smaller homes and in close proximity to their humans. The other group lived in more space, had an indoor/outdoor lifestyle and spent their nights outside.

Over time, the cats in the first group adopted similar lifestyles to their owners in terms of eating, sleeping and activity patterns. The second group became more nocturnal. Their behaviors were similar to those of semi-feral cats, for example, farm cats. Dr. Jane Brunt of the CATalyst Council made this observation to Seeker:

“Cats are intelligent animals with a long memory. They watch and learn from us, (noting) the patterns of our actions, as evidenced by knowing where their food is kept and what time to expect to be fed, how to open the cupboard door that’s been improperly closed and where their feeding and toileting areas are.”6

Indoor cats who spend a lot of time with their humans tend to mimic their eating habits, including those that lead to obesity. And if you happen to keep the litterbox in your bathroom like many cat parents do, you might notice Fluffy often seems to use her “toilet” while you’re using yours.

Feline personalities are often described in terms like “aggressive,” “arrogant,” “curious” or “timid.” These traits apply to people as well, and researchers theorize that cats’ environments may have a greater impact on their personality than previously thought.

Cats Appreciate Reciprocal Relationships With Their Caregivers

Dr. Dennis Turner is a leading expert on the feline-human bond and his research shows that unlike dogs, cats follow their human’s lead when it comes to how much involvement they have with each other.7 Some cat owners prefer a lot of interaction with their pet, others don’t have much time to devote or simply prefer less interaction.

Kitties are quite adaptable to their humans’ needs in this regard and fall into step easily with the pace the owner sets. They do this without complaint, and their independent, self-sufficient nature helps them get along without a need for the same level of interaction their canine counterparts demand.

Even more fascinating is Dr. Turner’s discovery that cats seem to understand the need for balance in their relationship with their humans:

“What we found was the more the owner complies with the cats wishes to interact, the more the cat complies with the owners wishes, at other times. They go up together, or they go down together. If the person doesn’t comply with the cat’s wish to interact then the cat doesn’t comply with the person’s wishes. It’s a fantastic give and take partnership. It’s a true social relationship between owners and cats.”

 As an animal communicator, I have found that cats love their owners very much but are not as demonstrative as dogs based on their physical differences in body types.  They cannot wag a tail and shake paws (usually but I have seen cats do a high five). I also find they are great cuddlers and take comfort in sleeping with their owners and being close to them.  They also like to hear your voice and enjoy when you talk with them.  They like being greeted when you get home and I had one cat client that told me when his mom got home she would yell LEEEEOOOOO (Leo) just like that. He really enjoyed hearing that and would come running.  Many of my cat clients come when called.  Not unlike our canine companions.  They also enjoy treats!


Eyes are the window to your pet’s soul—keep them healthy!

By Dr. Karen Shaw Becker


Eye problems are one of the most common reasons dogs and cats wind up at the veterinarian’s office. Some eye infections are harmless and self-limiting, meaning the body takes care of the problem itself. At the other end of the spectrum are eye infections that are very serious, causing permanent damage, including blindness or the loss of an eye. Many infections fall somewhere in between those two extremes.

How Serious Is Your Pet’s Eye Problem?

Veterinarians categorize eye infections as urgent. Most are not a true emergency, unless there’s been trauma to the eye or sudden bulging, in which case your pet should be seen by your regular veterinarian or at an emergency animal clinic immediately.

Generally speaking, you can consider your pet’s eye infection urgent if there are obvious changes to the eye that grow progressively worse to the point where you’re concerned. If your dog’s or cat’s quality of life is suffering due to an eye problem, it’s another sign the situation is urgent.

For example, if yesterday you noticed your cat blinking frequently, and today he’s not opening one of his eyes at all, it’s time for you to call the veterinarian for an appointment as soon as possible.

Eye Infections in Cats

Cats don’t have as many eye problems as dogs, because many kitties live their lives indoors, which dramatically reduces the likelihood of injuring an eye or being exposed to infection. Outdoor cats, however, have about the same risk level as dogs. The feline herpes virus is usually the cause of viral eye infections in kitties. If your cat is exposed to the virus, chances are she’ll never completely clear it from her body. She may have intermittent flare-ups for the rest of her life brought on by stress.

Because feline herpes virus is a stress-induced condition, cats with optimally functioning immune systems can effectively suppress the virus. But if your kitty’s immune system is weakened for any reason and she encounters a stressful situation, a viral outbreak can result, causing redness, irritation and inflammation of the eyes. It could also lead to a secondary bacterial infection.

Cats can also develop primary bacterial eye infections caused, for example, by chlamydia, as well as fungal infections like cryptococcus.

When to Call the Vet, and Prevention Tips

If your kitty’s eye infection isn’t resolving on its own after a few days, it’s important for your veterinarian to identify the cause so it can be treated correctly. This is very important, because viral, bacterial and fungal infections are managed very differently. There’s no single medication your vet can prescribe that will treat everything.

Symptoms of an eye infection in your cat can be tricky to detect, because kitties are masters at hiding discomfort, no matter the cause. You may notice her slowly blinking her eyes, or holding one eye closed, or pawing at them. You might also see some redness, which can be a sign of a condition known as conjunctivitis. Sometimes, there can be discharge and crusting around the eyes as well.

The best way to keep your cat safe from all types of eye infections is to keep her indoors and only allow her outside for leash walks or in a secured area like a catio, where she can be safe while outside. You can reduce your pet’s risk of acquiring an eye infection by at least 80 percent simply by never allowing her to roam free outdoors.

Eye Infections in Dogs

Viruses, bacteria and fungi also cause eye infections in dogs, as well as Lyme disease. Canine eye infections are either acute or recurrent. An acute eye infection means your dog was fine yesterday, but today he’s squinting, or his eyes are red and irritated, or he’s pawing at them or rubbing his head along the couch or on the floor.

Unlike cats, dogs are more likely to let us know there’s a problem as they try to self-soothe to relieve the discomfort. If your dog is really rubbing or pawing at his eyes, you should consider an E-collar to prevent him from doing permanent damage before the situation either resolves on its own in a day or two, or you get him to the veterinarian for diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Symptoms of an eye infection are similar in dogs and cats. Many dogs will have a green or yellowish discharge from an infected eye, which is a definite sign of a problem. Certain breeds known for tear staining are predisposed to recurrent eye infections, including the Lhasa Apso, the Shih Tzu and the Maltese.

Helping Your Dog Avoid Eye Problems

If your dog has long hair around his eyes, ask the groomer to clip it short, or you can trim it yourself. This will help prevent the hair from matting in the corners and will also reduce moisture build-up, both of which can set the stage for a secondary eye infection.

When your dog is outside, he’s exposed to allergens that he can also bring indoors on his fur and paws. Ragweed and pollen can get into your pet’s eyes and cause inflammation leading to a secondary bacterial infection. Keeping your pup’s face clean is a good way to minimize the microscopic bits of debris that collect on his face. Wipe gently with a damp cloth to remove allergens, dust and other irritants that can lead to an eye problem.

If your dog’s eyes tend to tear a lot, it’s important to remove the salt and gunk that collects in the moist crevices in the corners of his eyes, as this is also a set-up for a secondary eye infection. Making sure your dog doesn’t stick his head out the car window when you’re traveling with him is also an important step in reducing the risk of eye injury or infection.

If your dog digs and burrows in your yard or when you take him on walks or hikes, he’s at risk of getting dust, mulch, grass and other irritants from the soil in his eyes. Any foreign object, no matter how small, that winds up in your pet’s eyes creates a potential problem. Again, keeping your pet’s face clean by wiping with a soft, damp cloth after he’s been outdoors can go a long way toward eliminating the irritants that can result in infection.

Never use Visine or other human eye drops in your pet’s eyes unless you’ve cleared it with your veterinarian. You can use plain contact lens solution, which is also called eye-irrigating solution, to rinse the eyes, but avoid all chemical-based drops sold for human use, as they’re not only inappropriate for pets, but can actually do more damage. You can use pure colloidal silver from your local health food store on a clean cloth to safely disinfect around your pet’s eyes.

Other Conditions That Can Mimic Eye Infections in Pets

Other conditions of the eye that can mimic an eye infection include glaucoma, corneal ulcers, dry eye, cherry eye, entropion (the eyelids roll inward and can irritate the eye) and uveitis, an autoimmune condition.

If you notice a change in your pet’s eyes that doesn’t resolve on its own in a day or two, make an appointment for your dog or cat to be seen by your veterinarian or a veterinary ophthalmologist to determine the cause of the problem and the right course of treatment. If your dog or kitty is prone to recurrent eye infections, talk with your integrative veterinarian about homeopathic, herbal and nutraceutical preventives that can help manage the health of your pet’s eyes.


Overweight cat?? Don’t feed a high fiber dry diet!!!!

Overweight cat?? Don’t feed a high fiber dry diet!!!!


By Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

Recently, researchers at the University of Illinois, with financial support from Nutro (a processed pet food manufacturer) published a study titled “Effects of weight loss while feeding a moderate-protein, high-fiber diet on body composition, voluntary physical activity, and fecal microbiota of overweight cats.”1 The study involved eight neutered male, overweight cats, and the researchers reported three primary findings:

·         It’s possible to help cats lose weight by gradually reducing their daily food intake over a period of several weeks

·         The cats’ fecal microbiota changed as they lost weight, with some bacterial groups increasing in number while others decreased, which could indicate positive health effects such as lower inflammation

·         The cats’ weight loss didn’t result in measurable increased voluntary activity, even though they were housed together in a large room with toys and cat towers for up to 22 hours each day

If Your Cat Needs to Lose Weight, Don’t Go This Route

While I’m happy to see additional research on feline health, I take issue with this study for its use of a high-fiber dry diet. In general, it annoys me to see research into how well a particular species of animal can digest food they were never intended to eat in the first place.

The theory behind fiber-filled diets is that they make pets feel full. The problem, however, is they’re not being “filled up” at the cellular level where it really counts. In a 2012 study published in the Journal of Animal Science,2 researchers showed that fiber blocks absorption of crucial nutrients into the small intestine. It acts as a barrier, preventing trace minerals, vitamins and antioxidants from being absorbed into the body.

Chronic deprivation of nutrients to the cells can result in feelings of constant hunger. This is because your carnivorous kitty isn’t getting enough protein to adequately sustain her biology. The constant hunger prompts many pet parents to feed more food. The end result is a pet that is still fat (and often fatter), but at the same time undernourished.

Next to water, protein is the most important nutrient for your cat. Every cell of her body requires protein and when she doesn’t get enough of this essential nutrient, a host of negative side effects can occur.

In addition, cats aren’t built to digest carbohydrates (which include fiber) efficiently. They lack the necessary enzymes to break down and digest fiber or turn it into energy. The majority of starch coming from carbs in a cat’s diet ends up stored as fat. Given the ingredients in dry cat food, it’s easy to see from a physiological standpoint how cats fed kibble become overweight in the first place.

Another problem with kibble — all kibble — is lack of moisture, which is extremely detrimental for felines. Cats don’t have an efficient thirst drive like dogs and other animals. Their bodies are designed to get most of the water they require from their diets, and kibble can’t handle the job.

If your cat isn’t getting sufficient moisture from her food, she’s going without. You won’t find her at her water bowl lapping up huge quantities of the wet stuff to compensate for lack of moisture in her diet. This puts her in a state of constant, chronic, low-grade dehydration, which over time can contribute to major organ failure and chronic constipation.

Moisture-Rich Diets Help Cats Lose Weight Naturally

A 2011 University of California-Davis study found that cats eat less, lose weight and maintain healthy body composition when fed moisture-rich diets.3 The researchers concluded that canned (wet) diets result in cats voluntarily eating less and a corresponding reduction in body weight.

Further, nutritional content and digestibility were not compromised, which as I mentioned is a big concern with dry cat food formulas. In addition, six cats involved in a concurrent palatability study “greatly preferred” the canned diets to kibble. These study results make perfect sense because cats in the wild don’t have problems with overweight or obesity. They hunt and eat their natural prey, which contains nutrients vital to their survival, including a high percentage of water.

It stands to reason that when the kitties in the UC-Davis study were fed food closer in digestibility and nutrient content to a species-appropriate diet, they needed fewer calories to feel full. They lost weight naturally without compromising healthy body composition.

The Diet I Recommend for Overweight Cats

Pet foods high in carbohydrates — typically kibble — are the biggest cause of obesity in both cats and dogs. Your kitty needs food high in animal protein and moisture, with low- to no-grain content.

A nutritionally balanced, high-quality fresh food diet is the best choice for pets who need to lose weight. It’s important to adequately nourish your cat’s body as weight loss occurs, making sure his requirements for key amino acids, essential fatty acids and other nutrients are met.

The key to healthy weight loss is to meet your cat’s unique nutritional requirements through a balanced diet but feed less food (portion control), which forces his body to burn fat stores.

My recommendation is a moisture-rich homemade fresh food diet, comprised of lean meats, healthy fats and a few fibrous vegetables as the only source of carbohydrates. Also be sure to calculate kcal (kilocalorie) requirements for your cat’s ideal weight, measure his food portions using a measuring cup and drastically limit treats (be sure to include treats in his total daily calorie count).

I recommend setting aside a small portion of homemade food that can be rolled into tiny pea-sized bites and used as treats throughout the day. Another option is homemade chicken jerky (I don’t recommend commercial jerky treats, as many have been linked to pet illnesses).

In the beginning days of a gradual transition to his new normal way of eating a better diet in smaller quantities, it’s almost a sure bet your cat will try to convince you to feed him more of what he wants. This is the time for tough love, so distract him with playtime, petting, brushing or a walk outdoors if he’s willing.

Given enough time and patience, most kitties can successfully make the change to a healthier diet and smaller portions. However, since it’s dangerous for felines to go without eating, it’s important to ensure your cat doesn’t simply refuse to eat as a reaction to a new or different diet.

This is especially true for overweight cats, because they can quickly develop a life-threatening condition called hepatic lipidosis triggered by a sudden loss of appetite or a sudden cutback in caloric intake. As long as the transition to a better-quality, reduced-intake diet is very gradual (see my part one and part two videos on how to win the healthy food battle with your cat) and he’s eating enough, stay the course. You won’t be sorry!

Indoor Cats, Especially Fat Ones, Need Encouragement to Exercise

It’s no surprise that the cats in University of Illinois study didn’t voluntarily start to exercise. Like dogs, most adult cats, regardless of body condition, need an incentive to get moving — which is where you come in.

Consistent exercise, including at least 20 minutes of high-intensity activity will help your cat burn fat and increase muscle tone. Make sure he has things to climb on, like a multi-level cat tree or tower. Invest in a laser toy, either a very inexpensive, simple one or something a bit more sophisticated like the Frolicat®.

When considering other feline diversions, think like a hunter and choose toys and activities that appeal to your cat’s stalking instinct. I recommend eliminating food bowls and hiding meals in food-dispensing “mice” placed around the house, forcing your cat to go look for food, an activity that engages his brain, body and palate. And don’t overlook old standbys, either, like dragging a piece of string across the floor in view of your cat.

Ping-pong balls are another oldie but goodie, along with bits of paper rolled into balls, and pretty much any light object that can be made to move fast and in unanticipated ways. For more ideas on how to challenge your cat both physically and mentally, take a look at my interview with cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy.

I also recommend walking your cat in nice weather using a harness. This gets him out into the fresh air, stimulates his senses and gets his paws in direct contact with the ground. An alternative is a safe, fully enclosed porch or patio area that prevents him from getting out and other animals from getting in.


7 ways to beat dog arthritis

By  Sherman O. Canapp Jr., DVM, MS, CCRT and Lisa M. Fair, VT, CCRA, CMT and comments by diane weinmann

With early intervention and a multi-faceted treatment plan, you can help get the better of the common condition of arthritis.

If your dog has arthritis, he has lots of company. It’s the most common joint disease in canines. One in every five dogs older than a year is affected, and by the time a dog is ten or older, that incidence has increased to one in two.

Managing osteoarthritis (OA) often involves the palliative treatment of well-established disease using just a few therapies. But early intervention, coupled with a multimodal treatment regime, could do a lot more to reduce the effects of this prevalent disease.

  1. Diet and supplements

Nutrition plays a role in developmental skeletal disease. An excess of specific nutrients can exacerbate musculoskeletal disorders, and fast-growing, large breed puppies are at particular risk. For these dogs, controlled growth, optimum levels of calcium, phosphorus and essential fatty acids, and specific nutrients to enhance development are all essential to reduce the risk of developmental skeletal disease. In all dogs, providing proper nutrition during growth, and maintaining a healthy weight through life, can help minimize OA.

Diets that include or are supplemented with these nutrients may reduce inflammation, slow degradation, enhance cartilage repair and provide relief from discomfort:

  • EPA and DHA, two components of Omega-3 fatty acids, reduce inflammation and reduce pain associated with OA. EPA suppresses the enzymes associated with cartilage destruction.
  • Glucosamine is a precursor for glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), a primary component of joint cartilage. It may influence cartilage structure and restore synovial fluid. GAGs may aid in the prevention of OA.
  • Chondrotin sulfate is an important structural component of cartilage and helps it resist compression. It may reduce inflammation, stimulate synthesis of proteoglycans and hyaluronic acid, and decrease catabolic activity.
  • ASUs (avocado/soybean unsaponifiables) help protect cartilage from degradation. Studies have shown a synergy when glucosamine hydrochloride, chondrotin sulfate and AUS are combined. They help inhibit the expression of agents involved in cartilage breakdown.
  • MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) may have anti-inflammatory effects. Research suggests there may be increased benefits when MSM is combined with glucosamine and chondrotin.
  • SAM-e (S-Adenosyl methionine) can reduce discomfort associated with OA. Some studies even found it to be as effective for relieving pain as NSAIDs.
  • Vitamin E is an antioxidant. Oxidative damage caused by free radicals can contribute to degenerative joint disease. Vitamin E inhibits oxidation, but the levels must be higher than minimal requirements to achieve these benefits.
  • Vitamin C is well known for its antioxidant activity. Although dogs can synthesize enough to meet minimal requirements, supplementation may improve antioxidant performance. It is important to note that vitamin C supplementation can contribute to calcium oxalate crystal formation in susceptible dogs.
  • DLPA (DL-phenylalanine) is a natural amino acid used to treat chronic pain. It inhibits several enzymes responsible for the destruction of endorphins, pain-killing hormones. DLPA can be used as an alternative to NSAIDs.
  • Traumeel is a homeopathic formulation of 12 botanical substances and one mineral substance. It is purported to have anti-inflammatory, anti-edematous and anti-exudative properties. Traumeel is often used as an alternative to NSAIDs.
  • GLM (green-lipped mussel) contains anti-inflammatory components that may benefit joint health. Clinical studies of GLM powder added to diets showed it to be effective in reducing symptoms.
  • Several herbs have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, including boswellia, yucca root, turmeric, hawthorn, nettle leaf, licorice, meadowsweet and willow bark. Consult with a veterinarian experienced in using herbs.
  • Hyaluronic acid (HA) has been shown to slow the progression of osteoarthritis and decrease inflammation within the joint. Specifically, it increases joint fluid viscosity, increases cartilage (GAG) formation, and decreases degrading enzymes and cytokines. Over 70% of dogs have been reported to respond well to HA and improvement can be noted for over six months following administration. My clinical impression is that HA used alone is useful for synovitis and mild to moderate OA.
  1. Weight management and exercise

Obesity is a known risk factor for OA. Dogs with excess weight should be placed on a diet management program, which may include food and treat restriction, a change of diet, exercise and behavior modification. Weight management alone may result in significant clinical improvement.

Light to moderate low impact exercise is recommended to reduce stiffness and maintain joint mobility. Specific exercise requirements vary based on the individual dog, but short walks (15 to 20 minutes) two to three times daily are typically recommended. Swimming is an excellent low impact activity that can improve muscle mass and joint range of motion. Consistency is critical – exercise should be performed on a routine basis. Excessive and/ or high impact exercise should be avoided.

  1. Acupuncture and chiropractic

Dogs have approximately 360 acupuncture points throughout their bodies. Response varies, with some dogs showing significant improvements in discomfort and mobility. Some experience no obvious benefits and a few do not tolerate needling. Consulting a veterinarian trained in TCVM provides the best chance of successful treatment. TCVM can help with weight management as well as joint issues.

Chiropractic can improve comfort and mobility in dogs with OA. These dogs often develop improper spinal biomechanics secondary to gait changes. Adjustments can restore proper bony relationships and re-set receptors responsible for maintaining correct posture, balance and mobility.

  1. Rehabilitation therapy

This may be used in conjunction with other therapies. In some cases of mild to moderate OA, it may actually eliminate the need for additional medical therapies. The goals of rehabilitation therapy for dogs with OA include pain relief, maintaining or building muscle strength, flexibility, and joint range of motion, core strengthening and overall conditioning.

  • Cold therapy causes vasoconstriction to reduce inflammation, muscle spasms and pain. It benefits dogs with acute exacerbation of chronic arthritis.
  • Heat therapy causes vasodilation. It reduces muscle tension and spasm, improves flexibility of joint capsules and surrounding tendons and ligaments, and provides pain relief.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) reduces pain. It stimulates large cutaneous nerve fibers that transmit sensory impulses faster than pain fibers. TENS also increases the release of endorphins, which block pain perception.
  • Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) involves the stimulation of muscle fibers for strengthening. Dogs with OA typically lose muscle mass due to weakness and disuse. NMES may help minimize atrophy, and provide proprioceptive, kinesthetic and sensory input directly to the muscle as well as give pain relief.
  • Therapeutic ultrasound (TUS) uses sound energy to affect biological tissues. It provides deep heating of tissues and can increase blood flow, collagen extensibility, metabolic rate and pain thresholds. It can also decrease muscle spasm.
  • Low level laser therapy (LLLT) may have positive effects on injured cartilage and may also reduce pain.
  • Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) uses sound waves characterized by a rapid and steep rise in pressure followed by a period of negative pressure. Mechanical and chemical effects on a cellular level may stimulate healing and modulate pain signals.
  • Manual modalities:

Stretching – Most dogs with arthritis have some inflexibility due to shortened muscles and joint restriction. Performing gentle passive range of motion therapy and stretching can increase overall range of motion. Heat therapy applied prior to these therapies enables collagen fibers to be maximally stretched.

Joint mobilization – May help improve joint range of motion and decrease pain in dogs with mild to moderate OA. It involves low-velocity movements within or at the limit of the dog’s range of motion.

Massage – Decreases myofascial pain, adhesion formation and muscle tension, and increases vascular and lymphatic circulation. Can help reduce edema, improve blood flow, decrease muscle stiffness and improve muscle flexibility and joint mobility.

  • Therapeutic exercises can be of significant benefit. Most dogs with OA have moderate to severe muscle atrophy and loss of motion within affected joints. Therapeutic exercises maintain and rebuild muscle mass, strengthen muscle force, maintain and improve joint range of motion and overall function and conditioning.
  • Hydrotherapy includes underwater treadmill and swim therapy. It encourages range of motion, and improves muscle tone and mass with reduced stress to joints and tissues. Hydrotherapy can help relieve pain, swelling and stiffness, improve muscle mass and tone, increase joint range of motion, and improve circulation.
  1. Regenerative medicine therapy
  2. a) Stem cell therapy

Published literature supports the use of stem cell therapy (SCT) to treat OA in dogs. Most veterinary research has focused on adult stem cells, specifically mesenchymal stem cells. MSCs decrease pro-inflammatory and increase anti-inflammatory mediators.

  1. b) Platelet-rich plasma (PRP)

The concentrated platelets found in PRP contain bioactive proteins and growth factors. These work by binding to cell surface receptors and activating intra-cellular signaling cascades. They promote cell proliferation, cell migration and differentiation, and work as antiinflammatory factors counteracting the inflammatory cytokines at work in arthritis.

SCT and PRP are often administered together.

6. Assistive devices

These provide assistance with mobility. Booties can provide traction for slippery surfaces. Orthotics provide support to joints and can improve comfort. Slings and harnesses can be used to assist dogs when rising, walking, climbing stairs and during elimination. Carts provide independent mobility for dogs that have difficulty walking.

7. Conventional medications – NSAIDs and corticosteroids

NSAIDs have been the conventional foundation for treating symptoms of arthritis. They have anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic properties. However, serious adverse effects can occur, especially with chronic use. These most commonly include gastrointestinal, renal, hepatic and coagulation disorders. The goal is to use the minimal effective dose when other treatments are not successful.

In the treatment of severe arthritis, an intra-articular corticosteroid may be beneficial.

It can provide pain relief for end-stage osteoarthritis. Response to treatment is typically seen within a week and benefits may last a year or more.

Once established, canine osteoarthritis is incurable. But if joint problems are diagnosed early on, and managed with a range of integrative therapies, you can help stave off the debilitating effects of arthritis, and that means greater longevity and quality of life.

As an animal communicator and holistic healer for pets, Diane Weinmann recommends NuJoint Plus and NuJoint DS (double stuff) for a dog who has arthritis.   Here is some information regarding the product below:

NuJoint Plus® K-9 Wafers

Hip and Joint Support


MSM supplies biologically active sulfur to animals’ joints. Use of MSM has been shown to reduce the rigidity of cells in the soft tissues of the body. By reducing this rigidity, fluids are able to pass more freely from the cell and this helps to reduce cell pressure.

Glucosamine provides the joints with the building blocks needed to for good health.. Acting as a catalyst, Glucosamine helps animals synthesize new cartilage caused by wear and tear. Hip and joint discomfort can happen when normal wear and tear break down cartilage.

Chondroitin attracts and holds fluid within cartilage tissue helping to lubricate joints and increase mobility. Chondroitin neutralizes the destructive enzymes that are known to damage and destroy cartilage. Chondroitin aids the entry of Glucosamine which is the building block of healthy joints.

Vitamin C plays a vital role by supporting immune function, helping white blood cells function normally, and it also promotes cartilage growth and tissue repair. Aging dogs may especially benefit as they become less proficient at producing their own supply of vitamin C.


Glucosamine Sulfate 250 mg
Chondroitin Sulfate 125 mg
MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) 125 mg
50 mg Vitamin C (Ester-C®) 50 mg

Flavored with Real Chicken Liver


Recommended Daily Dosage


 Daily Dosage

Pets Weight
1/2 to 1 wafer under 10 lbs
1 wafer 10-24 lbs
2 wafers 25-49 lbs
3 wafers 50-100 lbs
4 wafers over 100 lbs

To jump-start your pet’s immune health and provide maximum support, please contact our Customer Service department for additional dosage recommendations.


NuJoint DS® K-9 Wafers

Hip and Joint Support

MSM supplies biologically active sulfur to animals’ joints. Use of MSM has been shown to reduce the rigidity of cells in the soft tissues of the body. By reducing this rigidity, fluids are able to pass more freely from the cell and this helps to reduce cell pressure.

Glucosamine provides the joints with the building blocks needed to for good health. Acting as a catalyst, Glucosamine helps animals synthesize new cartilage caused by wear and tear. Hip and joint issues can happen when normal wear and tear break down cartilage.

Chondroitin attracts and holds fluid within cartilage tissue helping to lubricate joints and increase mobility. Chondroitin neutralizes the destructive enzymes that are known to damage and destroy cartilage. Chondroitin aids the entry of Glucosamine which is the building block of healthy joints.

Vitamin C plays a vital role by supporting immune function, helping white blood cells function normally, and it also promotes cartilage growth and tissue repair. Aging dogs may especially benefit as they become less proficient at producing their own supply of vitamin C.


Glucosamine Sulfate 500 mg
Chondroitin Sulfate 250 mg
MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) 250 mg
50 mg Vitamin C (Ester-C®) 50 mg

Flavored with Real Chicken Liver


Recommended Daily Dosage

Daily Dosage Pets Weight
1/2 to 1 wafer under 10 lbs
1 wafer 10-24 lbs
2 wafers 25-49 lbs
3 wafers 50-100 lbs
4 wafers over 100 lbs

To jump-start your pet’s immune health and provide maximum support, please contact our Customer Service department for additional dosage recommendations.



Order Code: 82416

or click here

Walking Your Dog vs. Just Letting Your Dog Out in the Backyard

By Paula Fitzsimmons and comments by Diane Weinmann

Letting your dog use your fenced-in backyard for potty breaks and exercise is convenient, especially when life gets hectic. It’s also a great way for her to get fresh air and exercise in a safe environment.


Walking your dog, however, is associated with a myriad of physical and mental benefits, which contributes to your dog’s well-being. Learn how to balance the backyard with the sidewalk to make sure your pup gets the exercise and bonding time she needs.


Is a Backyard Enough for Your Dog?


Letting your dog run around in the backyard is a beneficial supplement to walking your dog. But dogs thrive on variety, says Dr. Pam Reid, a certified applied animal behaviorist (CAAB) and vice president of the ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Behavior Team. “Most dogs enjoy seeing different things, smelling new smells, feeling novel substrates under their feet and hearing unfamiliar sounds.”


Relying solely on the backyard for your dog’s exercise can lead to problems. “It is not uncommon for these dogs to become bored and frustrated, which can lead to destructive behaviors, barking, repetitive behaviors (like perimeter circling, and even escape attempts. It is also common for many backyard dogs to begin showing territorial behaviors like barking, rushing at the fence and running the fence when people or other dogs pass by,” says Jenn Fiendish, a veterinary behavior technician who runs Happy Power Behavior and Training in Portland, Oregon.


If solely kept in enclosed spaces, they can also become sheltered, says Dr. Ari Zabell, a Vancouver, Washington-based veterinarian with Banfield Pet Hospital. As a result, “They can become less confident and comfortable with new people, pets and experiences that they aren’t exposed to on a regular basis.”


While walking your dog does provide them with exercise, a fenced-in backyard can, too. “The backyard is the safest option to let the dog run full tilt and burn off some steam, so both activities should be incorporated into a happy dog’s lifestyle,” says Dr. Reid.


Be sure that you have a secure, fenced yard so that animals cannot escape. You should also microchip your pet, as many animals get out through small holes or by digging under fences.


What Walks Provide That Backyards Don’t


Aside from the physical health benefits, dog walking provides opportunities for enrichment, socialization and training that a backyard may not. “Dogs are, by nature, curious explorers, so going on a walk or hike is a great way to let them explore,” says Fiendish.


Dr. Reid agrees: “Walks are great for providing the mental stimulation that comes from visiting places outside of the familiar backyard. Sniff walks (allowing the dog to set the pace and stop and sniff whenever she likes) are particularly gratifying to dogs.”


Walking your dog on a dog leash also plays an important role in developing her social skills, she adds. “They see, and perhaps even get to meet, unfamiliar adults, children, dogs and other pets. They become comfortable with motorcycles and bicycles zipping by, kids on skateboards, and just about anything else you can imagine!”


Leash walking requires you to be with your dog, providing an opportunity to strengthen your bond, says Dr. Reid. “It’s no fun walking a dog that pulls on leash or zigzags back and forth all over the place, so you’ll be motivated to work on training your dog to be more mannerly while on leash.”


Finding the Right Balance Between the Backyard and Walking Your Dog


The right balance of yard and walk time is unique to every pet, family, home environment, neighborhood and lifestyle, says Dr. Zabell. “Exercise is an important component of every well-rounded dog’s life, but young, high-energy dogs, for example, will likely require more walks (or runs) than low-energy or geriatric dogs.”


Some dogs prefer the familiarity of a backyard, but still need the exposure that leash walking provides, while others quickly become bored and thrive when walked, says Dr. Reid. “Also, if you’re in a hurry to make sure your dog is ‘empty’ before heading out for a few hours, walking is by far the best option for encouraging the dog to empty his bladder and bowels. The sustained movement plus the novel vegetation that invariably contain the smells of other dogs’ eliminations will quickly prompt your dog to urinate and defecate.”


Walking Your Dog for Maximum Benefits


How often should you walk your dog? Fiendish recommends at least one 15 to 20 minute session each day, and “more if your dog doesn’t have a backyard to be in.” (Experts recommend speaking with your vet if your dog has health problems to determine the appropriate walk duration.)


Any dog collar or harness you use should be comfortable, fit properly and be safe for your dog, she adds. “It is not recommended to use products that cause pain or discomfort as these can inhibit learning, cause fear and harm the human-animal bond.”


If your dog has a tendency to pull, a dog harness has an advantage over a collar because it relieves pressure from her neck, says Laura Hills, certified dog trainer and owner of The Dogs’ Spot, based in North Kansas, Missouri. “In addition, many harnesses have a place in the front, on the dog’s chest, to clip the leash. When used in this way, a dog that pulls will find themselves turned back toward the person holding the leash. This makes pulling more difficult, as it causes the dog to be slightly off balance, and like training wheels, is a great aid while working on loose leash walking.”


If your dog doesn’t typically pull, a flat collar may be a good option, she says. And if you typically walk your dog in the evenings, “Collars and harnesses that are reflective will help dogs be seen better in lower light, which is especially good during the shorter days of winter.”


Learning how to properly exercise your dog includes knowing how to balance walks and yard time. Your vet or dog training professional is in the best position to help. “Your veterinarian should be able to advise you on the best ways to keep your pet safe, exercised and socialized, based on their individual needs, characteristics and lifestyle,” advises Dr. Zabell.

Diane plays with her dog in the backyard, spends time relaxing and reading there with her dog, even having dinner/lunch outside in the company of her dog; however, they go to the park daily (weather permitting) for the enrichment aspect to her dog’s life.  Many experiences, good or bad, cannot be found anywhere but on a walk in the park, neighborhood or woods.  Walk with a friend today!


Common Reasons Your Dog Might be Limping and When to See a Vet

Common Reasons Your Dog Might be Limping and When to See a Vet

Veterinarian Reviewed by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM on August 12, 2018
Posted in Dog Injury by PetWellbeing

Limping is never a good sign, and it may be easy to feel worried or distressed when signs of limping begin to show in your beloved companion dog. While a veterinarian visit is most likely inevitable, you may want or need more information before making the decision to take your dog in for medical attention. The more you know about your dog’s limping, the easier the veterinarian’s job will be in order to start the process of diagnosis and treatment.

Recognizing a limp and taking action

It is important to know what to watch for when you see limping in your dog. Most of the time limping is due to an internal injury, but when you first notice limping it will behoove you to check for things like tics, barbs, or other external causes to the leg and/or foot. Once you have ruled out any sort of external injury, you can focus on what may be happening on the inside.

Your dog will most likely be shifting their weight unnaturally or spending an inordinate amount of time laying down. Your dog may even change their eating habits, eating less or losing interest in things that once brought them joy. These are all signs that something is wrong.

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Sudden limping

Sudden limping in dogs is almost exclusively caused by trauma, including breaks or tears of muscle tissue.

Dogs are an active species, often jumping, running and rolling around. Trauma can easily occur when dogs participate in any of these types of activities. Just like humans, the spectrum of trauma injuries is quite wide, including but not limited to breaks, sprains, strains, dislocations, fractures, back injuries, and muscle tears.

Some may be easier to spot, for example a broken bone that shows an unnatural angle in your dog’s leg. Most of these injuries require medical attention and some even require periods of recovery in the form of physical therapy.

Gradual limping

Regardless of the age of your dog, if you notice gradual limping that gets worse over time, this could be a sign of some sort of degeneration of bone or muscle strength. Although it is more common in older dogs, arthritis, spinal degeneration and disease or infection can all be causes of limping in dogs. Disease and infection are harder to diagnose and treat, and may require x-rays or other more in-depth medical procedures.

There are some dog-specific medications that your veterinarian may be able to prescribe your pooch for any pain they may experience due to arthritis especially. Natural supplements for bone and joint health may also prove to be beneficial to your dog’s daily health.

Home remedies

Cold compresses can help lower a dog’s pain in some cases and could be a good idea. If, however, you administer a cold compress for a period longer than 24 hours with no signs of relief, switch to a hot compress and plan on taking your dog in to the vet.

Under no circumstances should you administer over-the-counter human medications to your dog without the supervision or advice of a veterinarian specialist, as this could result in severe side-effects that could harm the well-being of your furry friend.

Never exercise a limping dog

There is never a case where exercise will improve the limping of your dog. Be sure to let them sleep, rest and simply lie down when you notice a limp. If your dog is small enough, you can even carry them instead of having them walk around, which is great for when they need to relieve themselves, eat, drink or move positions.

This may be easier or harder depending on the age of your dog as well as size. If you have a puppy that has a limp, the puppy may be more brazen in its attempts to play instead of rest. Try confining your puppy to an enclosed space as much as possible to prevent further injury, at least until there are signs of improvement.

When to see a vet

The unfortunate part about knowing when to take your dog to the veterinarian is that dogs cannot tell you what hurts or how much it hurts. This leaves their humans guessing pain level and balancing that against both costs of a vet visit, as well as the well-being of their companion.

Here’s the thing—you know your dog best, and if your dog is in pain, it’s best to simply get them to someone who can diagnose and treat the injury, whether it be sudden or gradual onset. A vet will be able to qualify your pet’s pain and provide solutions that get them back on the road to a full recovery.