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

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

By Dr. Karen Becker and comments by Diane Weinmann

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Signs of Possible Dental Disease in Your Pet

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

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

5 Steps to Help Keep Your Dog’s Mouth Healthy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Medium Dogs 25 – 50 lbs      /    1 – 2 scoops

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


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

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


Homeopathy for Pets

Homeopathy for Pets

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Here is link to a store to purchase remedies:


Giving Remedies

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

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

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

Remedies for Upset Tummies

Homeopathy is also a great option for motion sickness.

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

Remedies for Anxiety

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

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

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

Can Street Cats and Stray Cats Become Pets?

By Nancy Dunham as seen in PetMD

Comments by Diane Weinmann


(Piper who was a stray feral kitten living happily in my girlfriend’s home)


Is there a stray cat hanging out outside your home? Or slowly spending more and more time in your yard? You might very well have been adopted by a local street cat and are now probably asking yourself, “Can you turn a stray cat into a house cat?”


Yes, that stray cat or alley cat can become your beloved house cat, but there are some caveats you should consider.


First, understand the difference between a stray cat, an alley cat and a feral cat. It’s often impossible to tell at first glance. Both types of cats may seem skittish when you first approach them.


So, what’s the difference? Feral cats are wild and not used to people or domesticated. Stray cats and some alley cats have often had socialization and may have even been neutered and received health care. These distinctions can be critical for the health of your other pets and family members.


Domesticating Feral Cats


Dr. Ann Hohenhaus, DVM, DACVIM (SAIM, oncology) at The Animal Medical Center in New York, urges extreme caution when attempting to turn a street cat into a pet. “Feral cats are likely to have some health issues. Stray cats can too, of course,” she says. “But feral cats have lived outdoors and likely haven’t had any health care.”


Street cats may have serious illnesses that can spread—ringworm, feline leukemia, rabies and other infectious diseases can infect other pets and humans.


“If you adopt a feral cat, you are setting yourself up for heartbreak,” said Dr. Hohenhaus. “”I am not saying you shouldn’t ever take a feral cat [into your home] but think carefully about it first.”


Pet behaviorist Pamela Uncles, Companion Animal Behavior, a practice in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, adds that behavioral challenges may abound.


“I don’t think you shouldn’t take them. I think you should be informed,” she says. “You need to know the risks going in. That’s the bottom line with everything.”


Taylor Truitt, CEO and founder of The Vet Set, Brooklyn, New York, says that feral cats might be best cared for outside as community cats. “If cats aren’t socialized by 16 weeks of age, it usually doesn’t go well,” she says.


“I have owners who say they have feral cats as pets, but they feed the cats outside,” says Truitt. “The cat is never in the house….It’s tough to catch a feral cat, and when you do, they are more afraid than anything….I always say don’t do it.”


Diane Weinmann’s in laws had great luck domesticating two feral cats together.  They were born outside and after vet appointments they were welcomed into their home but be aware—they did not have any other pets!


Adopting a Stray Cat


Generally, stray cats—those that have had basic human socialization—may easily adapt to home life and form bonds with people.


Stray Cat Health


And unlike feral cats, strays are often fixed and have had some medical care. So you’re generally not starting from the beginning with major medical expenses. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take your new friend to the vet. Always take a new pet to your veterinarian for a checkup for any vaccines they might need or health issues you need to address.


Make Gradual Introductions


Cats brought into the home should be secluded from other animals, even after their vet visit, says Dr. Truitt. That will allow them to adapt to the sights, sounds and smells in their new environments. You and others in your home might be used to the sound of the dishwasher or doorbell, but new pets aren’t.


You may want your new cat to become best friends with your current cat or other pet. That can happen if you slowly introduce them. For first meetings, Uncles recommends that you keep it to just a few minutes long. Each day, allow the pets to see each other for longer periods of time, and allow them to gradually interact with you.


Allowing cats to see each other for short times, such as through glass doors, is another way to begin to introduce them. But depending on the stray cat’s background, she may not acclimate as you would hope, says Uncles.


Pet Supplies for Bringing Home a Stray Cat


If you are taking in a stray cat, here are some cat supplies you should have on hand:


§  Litter Boxes. When cats have lived outdoors they often must be reintroduced to using cat litter boxes. Dr. Truitt says that it’s a wise idea to have one on each floor of your home.


§  Cat Toys. It’s a great idea to have a few cat toys for your new kitty to play with to keep them mentally and physically stimulated. In the beginning, keep the new cat’s toys separate from those of your other cat or pet, advises Dr. Truitt. Try different types of toys, like cat feather wands, interactive laser pointers and cat toy mice. Playing with your cat is a great way to build trust and strengthen your bond while also providing a healthy outlet for their exercise needs.


§  Cat Scratchers and Trees. Some cats prefer to scratch vertically, while others enjoy horizontal scratching. Buy a few different types of cat scratchers so you can discover which your new cat prefers, says Uncles. You can also get something that offers both options and gives your cat a safe, high place to go to—a tall cat tree. Don’t assume that your new cat will have the same cat-scratching preferences as your current or previous cat.


§  Catnip. Some cats find it appealing, says Dr. Hohenhaus, but about 25 percent of cats aren’t affected by it. But don’t worry—there are other safe and healthy catnip alternatives. Here are some recommended by Dr. Hohenhaus:


o    Silver Vine (Actinidia polygama)


o    Tatarian Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica) 


o    Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)


§  Calming Aids. There are some natural cat calming products you can discuss with your veterinarian when bringing any new cat into the household—especially a stray or feral cat. Cat pheromone diffusers and cat calming treats can be helpful if used correctly.

Essential oils of Lavender or Calm-A-Mile RTU (ready to use) petted on or diffused  (Calm-A-Mile neat) will help along with Bach Flower Essence’s rescue remedy 4-5 drops on their food (only on food) three times per day. or or (lavender)

Email Diane Weinmann with questions on essential oil or Bach Flower Essences at



Cranial Cruciate Ligament Disease (ACL)

Cranial Cruciate Ligament Disease (ACL)


By Dr. Karen Becker

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

What I Discovered About My Canine Patients With CCL Damage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Most CCL Ruptures Occur After Years of Gradual Deterioration

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

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

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

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

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

Treating CCL Disease Non-Surgically

Treating CCL disease non-surgically involves three essential strategies:

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

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

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

Natural Supplements and Medications

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

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

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

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

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

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

Physical Therapy and Exercise

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

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

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

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

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

Dietary and Additional Recommendations

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

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

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

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

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

Ears have it!

By Dr. Karen Becker and  comment by Diane Weinmann

Recurring ear problems are very common in dogs. Otitis externa is the medical term for inflammation or infection of the outer canal of the ear, and some dogs are more prone to the condition than others. I suspect many persistent ear infections in dogs are treated, but never actually resolved. I also think we don’t talk enough about the importance of routine ear maintenance for canine companions.

There are two basic causes of ear problems in dogs: chronic inflammation, and infection. Untreated inflammation can lead to infection. If your dog’s ears are warm to the touch, red, swollen or itchy, but there’s little to no discharge, chances are the problem is inflammation. However, if one or more of those symptoms is present along with obvious discharge, it’s usually a sign of infection.

How Dogs’ Ears Become Inflamed

  1. The most common reason for ear inflammation in dogs is allergies. An allergic response to food or something in the environment can cause inflammation throughout your pet’s body, including the ears. A dog with allergy-related ear inflammation will sometimes run his head along furniture or the carpet trying to relieve his misery.

He may also scratch at his ears incessantly, or shake his head a lot. If you see any of these behaviors, check your dog’s ears for redness and swelling.

  1. Another cause of ear inflammation is moisture, also known as “swimmer’s ear.” We see this primarily during the summer months when dogs are outdoors playing in lakes, ponds and pools.

Wet ear canals and a warm body temperature are the perfect environment for inflammation and/or infection to develop. That’s why it’s important to thoroughly dry your dog’s ears each time he comes out of the water, has been outdoors in the rain or snow and after baths.

  1. The third major reason for ear problems is wax buildup. The presence of earwax is normal, but dogs have varying amounts. Some dogs need their ears cleaned daily, while others never have a buildup. Certain breeds produce more wax than others, such as Labradors and other retrievers who tend to love the water. If you have one of these breeds, you should get your dog accustomed to having her ears cleaned while she’s a puppy.

Other breeds, such as Bulldogs, Cocker Spaniels and Poodles can also produce an abundance of wax that needs regular attention.

When Inflammation Turns to Infection

Ear infections in dogs usually involve the outer canal, which is surprisingly deep. The medical term for these infections is otitis externa, but if the infection recurs or never really clears, we call it chronic otitis. There are a number of things that can cause otitis including:

  • Foreign material in the ear, such as from a plant like a foxtail
  • Water in the ear that creates a moist, warm environment
  • Excess glands in the ears that produce wax and sebum
  • Narrowing of the ear canal
  • Heavy, hanging ears

If your dog has an ear infection, it’s very important to identify whether it’s a bacterial or fungal infection, or both, in order to treat the problem effectively.

The Difference Between Fungal and Bacterial Ear Infections

By far, the most common cause of fungal ear infections in dogs is yeast. Yeast is always present on the bodies of animals, but when the immune system isn’t in prime condition, the fungus can grow out of control and cause an infection. Most dogs prone to yeast infections need to have their ears cleaned and dried frequently. If the problem seems chronic or there’s a persistent infection that just won’t clear up, there’s probably an underlying immunological cause that should be investigated.

For much more information on yeast, including how to deal with yeasty ears, view my video and article on yeast infections in dogs. Bacterial infections of the ear are actually more common than fungal infections. Bacteria are either pathogenic or nonpathogenic. Pathogenic bacteria are abnormal inhabitants of your pet’s body, picked up from an outside source, for example, contaminated pond water.

Nonpathogenic bacteria are typically staph bacteria that are normal inhabitants of your dog’s body. Occasionally these bacteria can overgrow and overwhelm the ear canal. Any normal, helpful bacteria can grow out of control and cause an infection in a dog with an underperforming immune system.

Why An Accurate Diagnosis Is so Important

Veterinarians diagnose yeast infections with cytology, which means looking at a smear of the ear debris under a microscope. An accurate diagnosis of a bacterial ear infection requires an ear culture. Your veterinarian will swab your dog’s ear and send the sample to a lab to determine what type of organism is present, and what medication will most effectively treat it. Never let your veterinarian simply guess at what bacteria is causing your pet’s ear infection. Instead, ask them to find out.

It’s very important to finish the medication your veterinarian prescribes, even if your dog’s ear infection seems to clear up before the medication is gone. Stopping the medication early can lead to regrowth of resistant organisms. In addition, while your dog is being treated for an ear infection, be sure to keep his ears clean and clear of gunk so the topical medication you put into the ears can reach the infected tissue.

Natural, Nontoxic Treatments for Bacterial Ear Infections

Unfortunately, these days more and more ear infection culture results are showing the presence of bacteria that are resistant to most conventional medications. These are cases in which complementary therapies are not only a last hope, but can provide highly effective, nontoxic relief.

One example: A 2016 study tested the effectiveness of manuka honey to treat bacterial ear infections in 15 dogs.1 Researchers applied 1 milliliter (mL) of medical grade honey in the dogs’ ears for 21 days. The results showed the honey “promoted rapid clinical progress,” with 70 percent of the dogs achieving a “clinical cure” between seven and 14 days, and 90 percent by day 21.

In addition, the bacteria-killing activity of the honey worked against all bacteria species tested, including multiple strains of drug-resistant bacteria. It’s important to note that it doesn’t appear the antimicrobial activity of honey is enough on its own to resolve every ear infection. Most of the dogs in the study had complete symptom relief by day 21; however, several still had bacterial infections.

Another remedy for resistant ear infections that’s receiving a lot of attention is medicinal clay. Green clay has been shown to effectively treat a variety of bacteria that have been implicated in chronic ear infections, including pseudomonas and MRSA.2

Preventing Ear Infections

As I mentioned earlier, some dogs are much more prone to ear infections than others. If your pet is one of the unlucky ones, I recommend checking his ears daily or every other day at a minimum. It’s wax, moisture or other debris collected in the outer ear canal that invites infection.

The solution is simple, but you must do it consistently: Clean your pet’s ears when they’re dirty. If his ears collect a lot of wax every day, they need to be cleaned every day. If his ears don’t produce much wax or other gunk you can clean them less often, but you should still check them every day and take action as soon as you see the ear canal isn’t 100 percent clean and dry.

If you think your dog might already have an ear infection, it’s important to make an appointment with your veterinarian before you begin a cleaning regimen. In many cases an infection leads to rupture of the eardrum, which requires special cleaning solutions and medications. For healthy canine ears, a few of my favorite cleaning agents include:

Witch hazel Organic apple cider vinegar mixed with an equal amount of purified water
Hydrogen peroxide, a few drops on a cotton round dabbed in coconut oil Green tea or calendula infusion (using cooled tea)
One drop of tea tree oil mixed with 1 tablespoon coconut oil (for dogs only — never cats) Colloidal silver

Please never use rubbing alcohol to clean your dog’s ears! It can cause burning and irritation, especially if the skin is inflamed. Use cotton balls or cotton rounds only to clean the inside of the ear canal. You can use cotton swabs to clean the outer area of the ear, but never inside the canal, as they can damage your dog’s eardrums.

The best method for cleaning most dogs’ ears is to saturate a cotton ball with cleaning solution and swab out the inside of the ear. Use as many cotton balls as necessary to remove all the dirt and debris. Another approach is to squirt a small amount of solution directly into the ear, then follow with cotton balls to wipe the ears clean. However, this method may make your dog shake her head wildly, drenching you in ear cleaning solution!

Just a few minutes spent cleaning and drying your pet’s ears as necessary (this means daily, in many cases) will make a huge difference in the frequency and severity of ear infections — especially in dogs who are prone to them.

Diane has many pet clients that have chronic ear issues.  She always recommends Dr. Melissa Shelton DVM essential oils.  The Canine ear spray is a great preventative treatment to avoid those nasty infections.

Canine Ear Spray

Ingredients:  Fractionated Coconut Oil, Water, Grain Alcohol, Essential Oils of Copaiba (Copaifera officinalis) , Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia), Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus), Melaleuca alternifolia, Citronella (Cymbopogon nardus), Clove (Syzygium aromaticum), Helichrysum (H. italicum), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis Verbenone Chemotype), Lemon (Citrus limon), Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)

Canine Ear Spray is intended as a spray to be used with a variety of ear conditions in dogs.  Essential oils contained within this product exhibit anti-parasitic, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-tumoral, and anti-inflammatory properties.  In our veterinary hospital, the use of this spray has proven incredibly beneficial for dogs with chronic ear conditions, and especially those that are resistant to many traditional drugs and antibiotics.  Many of our patients were near surgical removal of the ear canal (Total Ear Canal Ablation or TECA surgery) prior to starting on the Canine Ear Spray.  In clinical use, we see great comfort with the use of the spray and also vast improvements in infection, swelling, and pigmentation.  A major benefit to a spray such as this – is that is actually supports a healthy immune system, instead of shutting the immune system off – as in the case with steroid use.

There are many factors that may contribute to your dog’s chronic, recurrent, or first time ear condition.  Please read more about other changes you can make in your dog’s lifestyle that will help you to combat chronic ear infections and allergies.

Directions for Use:

Shake well before each use.  Spray 1-3 pumps into the ear(s), once to twice a day.  You are not trying to saturate the ear canal or drip the solution into the ear canal directly.  Coating the outer surface of the ear and upper part of the exposed ear canal, will result in the “traveling” of this solution to deeper parts of the ear.  Monitor the ear tissues for any signs of irritation, and stop use if noted.  Generally this recipe is used for 2 weeks or longer.  Work with your veterinarian to determine frequency and length of use, based on response and recheck ear smear results.

This recipe has been used long term, for several months at a time or more when needed.  However, if irritation occurs, please discontinue use.  Although this new formulation of the Canine Ear Spray rarely creates irritations, if it does occur, placing Fractionated Coconut Oil into the ear and onto any irritated surfaces will help decrease any issues.  Fractionated Coconut Oil is safe for use in the ear – however we do not recommend filling the entire ear canal with it.

If your dog is very resistant to having a “spray” in the ear, you can spray the product onto your fingers and wipe gently into the ear and ear canal.  


To order

Hyperthyroidism in Cats

Hyperthyroidism in Cats

By Dr. Karen Becker

Recent research has revealed that yet another chemical substance found in households may be contributing to feline hyperthyroidism, a disease that affects a significant percentage of cats over the age of 10. The chemicals are called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and they are widely used as water and oil repellents. According to ScienceDaily:

“PFAS are a family of more than 3,000 structures of highly fluorinated chemicals used in industrial processes and consumer products, such as protective coatings for carpets, furniture and apparel, paper coatings, insecticide formulations, and other items.”1

PFAS are used in many industrial applications calling for nonstick or slick surfaces, such as food packaging, stain- and water-resistant fabrics, nonstick cookware and firefighting foam. These chemicals are now ubiquitous in our environment, having migrated into the air, household dust, food, soil, and ground, surface and drinking water.

Study Links PFAS Chemicals to Hyperthyroidism in Cats

For the study, a team of researchers at the California Environmental Protection Agency looked at blood levels of PFAS in two separate groups of Northern California kitties, most of which were at least 10 years old. The first group of 21 was evaluated between 2008 and 2010; the second group of 22 was sampled between 2012 and 2013.2

The researchers observed that the higher the blood levels of PFAS, the more likely the cat was to be hyperthyroid. One type of PFAS in particular, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) was significantly higher in hyperthyroid kitties. These findings “… may indicate a possible link between PFAS levels and cat hyperthyroid, warranting a larger study for further investigation,” according to the research team.

In a bit of good news, the scientists noted a slight decline in PFAS blood levels between the first group of cats tested eight to 10 years ago, and the second group tested more recently. This mirrors recent results in humans as more companies phase out use of these chemicals, and presumably, as people gradually replace PFAS-treated household items.

Reducing Your Family’s and Pet’s Exposure to PFAS

Your best bet is to avoid all products that contain or were manufactured using PFAS, which will typically include products that are stain-resistant, waterproof or nonstick. From the Environmental Working Group:3

Find products that haven’t been pre-treated and skip optional stain-repellent treatment on new carpets and furniture
Cut back on fast food and greasy carryout food, since these foods often come in PFC-treated wrappers
Especially when buying outdoor gear, choose clothing that doesn’t carry Gore-Tex or Teflon tags, and be wary of all fabrics labeled stain- or water-repellent
Avoid nonstick pans and kitchen utensils — opt for stainless steel or cast iron instead
Pop popcorn the old-fashioned way, on the stovetop, since microwaveable popcorn bags are often coated with PFCs on the inside.
Choose personal care products without “PTFE” or “fluoro” ingredients; also avoid Oral-B Glide floss, which is made by Gore-Tex

It’s also important to filter your pet’s drinking water, and yours, to remove contaminants such as fluoride, chlorine, heavy metals and others. Household tap water typically contains enough toxic minerals, metals, chemicals and other unhealthy substances to damage your pet’s health long term.

Flame Retardants: Another Enemy of Indoor Kitties

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), or flame retardants, are another type of household chemical that has been linked to overactive thyroid in cats, and a 2017 study confirmed the results of earlier studies that prove the high levels of PBDEs measured in indoor kitties are from house dust.4

PBDEs have been used since the 1970s in textiles, electronics and furniture to prevent them from burning, but like PFAS, they aren’t chemically bound to the product material, so they drift into the environment and cling to particles in the air such as house dust.

A number of these chemicals have been banned for use in household products, but they are extremely persistent and can leach into the environment for many years. Contaminated household dust can be inhaled as well as ingested, and can have an adverse effect on the health of kitties.

Brominated Flame Retardants Are Known Endocrine Disruptors

Prior studies of PBDE blood levels in cats have focused primarily on potential causes of feline hyperthyroidism, however, the intent of this study was to measure levels in healthy cats to establish their dust exposure.

The researchers took “paired samples” from the homes of each of the cats, meaning they took both dust samples and blood samples at the same time. They found evidence not only of brominated and chlorinated contaminants currently in use, but also chemicals that have been banned for decades. According to study co-author Jana Weiss, Ph.D.:

“By taking paired samples, we have greater insight into the environment that the cats live in. Moreover the cats in the study spent the majority of their time indoors and therefore air and dust in the home is expected to contribute more than the outdoor environment.”5

The study results are a heads up not only for cat guardians, but also anyone with small children, because both kitties and kiddos engage in a lot of “hand-to-mouth activities.”

“The brominated flame retardants that have been measured in cats are known endocrine disruptors. It’s particularly serious when small children ingest these substances because exposure during development can have consequences later in life, such as thyroid disease,” said Weiss.

Minimizing PDBE Exposure at Home

Most new foam products are not likely to have PBDEs added. If you have foam items in your home, office or vehicle that were purchased before 2005, however, they probably contain PBDEs. The Environmental Working Group offers the following tips to help limit your family’s and pet’s exposure to PBDE-containing products:6

Whenever possible choose PBDE-free electronics and furniture; PBDEs shouldn’t be in mattresses, couches and other foam products sold in 2005 or later, however they’re still put in some new televisions and computer monitors
Avoid contact with decaying or crumbling foam that might contain fire retardants, including older vehicle seats, upholstered furniture, foam mattress pads, carpet padding and kid’s products made of foam
Use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter vacuum cleaner, since these vacuums capture the widest range of particles and are also good for reducing lead or allergens in house dust
Replace couches, stuffed chairs, automobile seats and the like that have exposed foam (if you can’t afford to replace them, cover them with sturdy cloth and vacuum around them frequently)
Don’t reupholster your older foam furniture, especially in homes where children or pregnant women live
Be careful when removing or replacing old carpet, since PBDEs are found in the foam padding beneath carpets; isolate the work area with plastics, and avoid tracking construction dust into the rest of your house
The replacement chemicals for PBDEs in foam are not fully tested for their health effects, so buy products made with natural fibers (like cotton and wool) that are naturally fire-resistant and may contain fewer chemicals

Did You Know PBDEs Are Also in Commercial Cat Food?

The same researchers who published the 2017 study I mentioned earlier also measured PBDE levels in cat food (both canned and kibble) matching the diets of the kitties in the study. They found that blood levels of PBDEs in the cats also significantly correlated with concentrations of those chemicals in the cat food.

In addition, another recent study concluded that fish-flavored cat food is a problem.7 A team of Japanese scientists evaluated cat food and feline blood samples and discovered that the type of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) and PBDE byproducts found in both the food and blood samples are derived from marine organisms.

The researchers were also able to simulate the way in which the bodies of cats convert the type of chemical present in the food into the type of chemical seen in the cats’ blood samples.

Based on their results, the team concluded the byproducts detected at high levels in cats’ blood samples likely came from fish-flavored food and not exposure to PCBs or PBDEs. However, further work is needed to determine the link between the metabolites (byproducts) and hyperthyroidism. If you’re wondering how these chemicals wind up in fish-flavored cat food, Dr. Jean Hofve of Little Big Cat explains it very well:

“There is a link between the feeding of fish-based cat foods and the development of hyperthyroidism, which is now at epidemic levels. New research suggests that cats are especially sensitive to PBDEs … [which are] found at higher levels in both canned and dry cat foods than dog foods; and more in dry than canned cat foods.

Fish-based foods are even worse, because marine organisms produce PDBEs naturally and can bioaccumulate up the food chain to high levels in fish; this compounds the exposure cats get from fabrics and dust.”8

5 Tips to Help Prevent Hyperthyroidism in Your Cat

  1. Rid your environment of flame-retardant chemicals
  2. Provide an organic pet bed
  3. Feed a nutritionally balanced, fresh, species-appropriate diet to control iodine levels in your cat’s food, since iodine has also been linked to hyperthyroidism
  4. Avoid feeding your cat a fish-based diet, since seafood is a very rich source of iodine, and cats aren’t designed to process a lot of iodine
  5. Avoid feeding soy products to your kitty, as they have also been linked to thyroid damage

I also recommend checking your cat’s thyroid levels annually after the age of 7.


Fall and Winter Pet Hazards

Fall and Winter Pet Hazards

By Dr. Karen Becker and comments by Diane Weinmann

The change of seasons from summer to fall, and fall into winter, while often beautiful, also brings potential hazards for furry family members that pet parents should be aware of.

Fall and Winter Pet Hazards

  1. School supplies — One risk the change of seasons from summer to fall presents for pets is, believe it or not, back-to-school supplies. For example, if you’ve indulged your kids with fruit-scented pencils and erasers, they can attract your dog like a moth to a flame. Common school supplies that present a potential choking hazard for pets include:
Erasers Crayons
Glue sticks/bottled glue Markers
Coins Pencils (splinters)
Action figures/small dolls Pens (especially the caps)
Bouncy balls Paperclips

While these items are considered low toxicity to pets, there is the potential for gastrointestinal (GI) upset and even a digestive tract blockage, so be sure your children keep their school supplies out of reach of four-legged family members.

  1. Antifreeze — Another substance used in the colder months of the year that is highly toxic to pets is antifreeze. The good news is antifreeze poisoning can be easily avoided by taking a few simple precautions:
  • Look for antifreeze products containing the safer propylene glycol rather than highly toxic ethylene glycol
  • Keep antifreeze containers tightly closed and stored out of reach of your pets
  • Dispose of empty or used antifreeze containers properly
  • Be careful not to spill antifreeze, and if you do, clean it up immediately; check your car radiator regularly and repair leaks right away
  • Don’t let pets roam unsupervised where they may have access to antifreeze

Fortunately, U.S. manufacturers of antifreeze and engine coolants have begun to add bittering agents (e.g., denatonium benzoate) to their products to discourage pets, children and wildlife from sampling the sweet-tasting liquid.

  1. Rat poison — Once the weather cools down, rats and other rodents search for shelter and warmth in and under buildings, and in response, people put out rodenticides that are highly toxic to pets. Every fall, most veterinarians see several pets that have been poisoned.

Homeowners put out bait to control the mice and rats, assuming their pet won’t or can’t get into it. Even people who hide the bait around their homes can wind up with a poisoned pet. Tips for protecting your pet from rodent bait toxicity:

  • If you have rodents around your home, I recommend a live trap called the Havahart®, which is a humane trap that catches mice, rats and other rodents so you can remove them from your home without using toxins or poisoning your environment.
  • If you must use a bait trap with a killing agent, select a product that contains an active ingredient other than deadly bromethalin. For example, diphacinone and chlorophacinone are short-acting anticoagulants, and most veterinarians will be familiar with standard methods of diagnosis and treatment. But again, I don’t advocate using these products if at all possible.
  • Supervise your dog or cat when she’s outside to ensure she never has a chance to consume rodents or rodent bait around your home or neighborhood.

If you suspect your pet has ingested any type of rodenticide, get her to your veterinarian or the nearest emergency animal hospital right away, and if possible, bring a sample of the product she consumed so the vet staff knows what type of poison they need to address.

Diane Weinmann has personal experience with rat poison.  Her husband was trying to eliminate the mole issue in their back yard and put this poison in the holes the moles created.  My dog, Cocoa, a basset black lab mix, was intrigued by the smell and ate it. He was fine one minute running through the yard and the next he was having convulsions!  We rushed him to the hospital and several days later and tons of money we got our dog back but it was a miracle!  We almost lost him and the vet, God Bless him, stayed with him all night to ensure he pulled through.  So obviously, I do not condone any poisons on your property!  My husband felt horrible and of course, as a good wife, I never let him forget it!

  1. Toxic mushrooms — Fortunately, 99 percent of mushrooms present little or no problem for pets or people; however, the remaining 1 percent can be fatal for most mammals if ingested. And to make matters worse, very few people can tell the difference between a toxic mushroom and a safe one.

Since dogs typically come across wild mushrooms during walks and other outdoor activities, especially if you live in a region with lots of moisture, it’s important to take extra care to keep pets away from areas where mushrooms might be sprouting. Dogs tend to be attracted to two deadly mushroom species: Amanita phalloides and Inocybe. Both varieties have a fishy odor, which may be the lure.

The Amanita muscaria and Amanita pantherina varieties of mushroom also have a fishy odor, and are also frequently eaten by dogs. They contain the toxic compounds ibotenic acid and muscimol, which in rare instances can cause death in dogs.

The Inocybe and Clitocybe mushrooms contain a compound called muscarine that can be lethal to dogs. Since muscarine doesn’t seem to be a problem for humans, it’s assumed dogs must be uniquely sensitive to it. Some Scleroderma mushroom species are also toxic to dogs, but the poisonous substance hasn’t yet been identified.

To ensure your dog isn’t tempted, mushrooms in yards (yours and your neighbors’) should be removed promptly before neighborhood pets have a chance to notice them. As a general rule, veterinarians and pet poison experts consider all mushroom ingestions in pets toxic unless a quick and accurate identification of the mushroom can be made.

If you know or suspect your dog has eaten a mushroom, immediately contact your veterinarian, the nearest emergency animal clinic, or the 24/7 Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661. If your pet throws up or poops, collect a sample, place it in a plastic bag and bring it with you.

Again, Diane Weinmann has a pet client, a golden retriever that DIED from eating mushrooms and another golden that just got violently ill for several days!

  1. Snakes — Snakes preparing for hibernation during the winter months may be more visible in the fall, which can increase your pet’s risk of being bitten. Fortunately, most snakes in the U.S. aren’t poisonous, but even a nonvenomous snakebite can be dangerous for dogs and cats. Tips to keep your pet safe:
If you see a snake, don’t walk by it; turn around and head back the way you came
Clear away snake hiding spots in your yard by removing toys, tools and undergrowth
Be aware that snakes can strike across a distance equal to about half their body length
Keep walkways clear of brush, flowers and shrubs
Clean up any spilled food, fruit or birdseed, which can attract rodents, one of snakes’ favorite foods, to your yard
When walking your dog (or cat), keep him on a leash
Steer clear of long grasses, bushes and rocks
Familiarize yourself with common snakes in your area, including those that are venomous


As you can see, you can never be too careful with our beloved pets and you must protect them as best you can from dangers that they are not aware of!