Why Is There So Much Cancer In Pets?

Dr. Rob Silver of Colorado State University is on the cutting edge of integrative veterinary cancer management in dogs and cats.  I had the distinct pleasure of attending one of his lectures at a recent veterinary conference I attended.  The insights I came away with were eye opening with regard to why there is so much cancer in dogs and cats and what proven alternative treatments are available to us to prevent and treat cancer.  This article will focus on cancer incidence and prevention in our pets.

One of the most troubling aspects of cancer is the surge of its incidence in pets in the past decade.  Statistically, 50% of all pets born in the the last 10 years will ultimately die of cancer.  While this is very concerning for our valued furry family members that we love, it should also trouble people as it pertains to future human health.  With much shorter life spans than people, disease patterns in dogs and cats (especially dogs that physiologically are a lot like us) often provide a preview of what may be in store for future human populations as we proportionately age.

Dr. Silver highlighted 6 main contributors to the sharp rise of cancer in pets:

1.) GMO derived pet foods

GMO stands for genetically modified organisms.  As it applies to food, this refers to genetically modifying seed so that food crops are resistant to damage from spraying herbicide.  I just recently wrote an article on GMO and its link to cancer in pets and people, so please refer to this article for more on GMO and why it is likely a contributing factor in the rise of cancer in pets:

Why Are GMO Foods So Bad For Pets And People?

2.) Food processing

The processing of pet food has several effects of the quality of food that may promote or worsen cancer.  The first is that processing into kibble requires a large amount of high glycemic index carbohydrates.  Cancer metabolism differs from the metabolism of normal cells and tissues and thrives on this kind of energy nutrient.  High glycemic index carbohydrates play such a prominent role in supporting cancer metabolism that using anti-diabetes drugs have also come to the forefront of management of many types of cancers.

Processed pet foods often contain red dye # 3, a known carcinogen.  Processed foods commonly generate glycotoxins, a set of oxidant compounds that create oxidative stress on the body’s tissues and negate the benefits of anti-oxidants in the food.

3.)  Rapidly declining air quality

The World Health Organization has declared poor air quality to be the single greatest human health risk of the millennium.  Since 2006 to present, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have increased from 375 PPM to 400 PPM and there are no indications that this rise will be curtailed any time soon.

A phenomenon known as ‘ground-level ozone’ occurs when carbon monoxide and other toxic gases interact with one another while being exposed to sunlight. The EPA links ground-level ozone conditions to reduced lung function and chronic inflammation of the airways.

4.)  Ozone generated by ionizing air purifiers and printers

The research is still conflicting on the potential cancer causing properties of  ozone, but it is worth mentioning that in some studies, ozone has been shown to alter the the growth characteristics of epithelial cells, a cell line of living tissue where cancer commonly arises.

While a direct link of ozone in it purest form (not the ground level ozone as discussed above) generated from air purifiers and printers, it is reasonable to be cautious that any environmental factor that can alter cellular growth cycles could potentially be carcinogenic.  A major characteristic of cancer afterall is the unregulated and unrestricted growth and replication of cells.

5.) Second hand smoke

Second hand smoke in the home is significantly more impactful (in a negative way) to pets than to people (and we already know how bad it is for people).  Gravity pulls a higher concentration of second hand smoke to the ground level where pets spend a greater majority of their time.  The result is a much higher carcinogenic effect in pets.

6.) Formaldehyde and flame retardants in wood, carpets, and curtains

Hardwood floors, furniture, rugs, insulation, and curtains commonly contain the preservative formaldehyde in them, a well known carcinogen.  These same fixtures also commonly contain flame retardants such as TDCIPP, a known carcinogen.  Pets tend to spend a lot of time on the carpet putting them at great risk of exposure to these potential cancer causing elements in these items

One can clearly see that cancer causing environmental and food considerations surround us.  This article is not meant to instill panic among my readers, but instead create awareness of the circumstances that are contributing to a sharp increase in cancer in our pets.

While it is nor realistic that we will eliminate every potential source of carcinogen in our lives and the lives of our pets, depending on our life styles and individual capacities to make changes, being aware of these problems, we can at least chip away at some of these predispositions to cancer and reduce the overall risk.

For example, carpet is old and needs replacement?  Consider going for tile or hard wood floors not treated with formaldehyde or flame retardant.  Do not smoke in the home.  Make dietary changes.

In my next article, I will be highlighting more specific changes that can be made to help prevent cancer in pets.  Stay tuned!

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Why Are GMO Foods So Bad For Pets And People?

I just returned from the Veterinary Meeting Expo in Orlando, a large veterinary continuing education conference.  One of the most enlightening days I spent was attending a series of lectures put on by a prestigious group of integrative veterinary specialists.  This article is based on what I learned about foods derived from GMO and why it is widely believed to be one of the prevalent reasons the incidence of cancer and other metabolic diseases in dogs and cats are vastly on the rise (statistically, more than 50% of dogs and cats born in the last decade will die from cancer).  This article will focus on the likely role GMO derived pet foods will play in that troubling statistic, but fresh of my conference much more is to follow!

GMO stands for genetically modified organisms.  Specifically as it applies to food, the most passionate debate about GMO is its widespread use in agriculture where food crops grown from seed that is genetically modified to produce plants and their food yields that are resistant to damage from the mass spraying of an herbicide (weed killer) called Round Up.

Round Up and GMO seed were originally patented and mass produced by a company called Monsanto.  Critics of the use of GMO point to two troubling aspects of GMO: 1.) The resultant strains of produce food crops that are disruptors of the body’s hormone systems; and 2.) rather than having to take more care in spraying just the weed areas of their crops, farmers with GMO crops genetically modified to be resistant to damage from the herbicide, may now instead be less discerning and spray larger, widespread quantities.  The latter results in more herbicide sprayed directly on our food (and hence more direct consumption), more herbicide in the groundwater and soil, and a net compounding effect of the already inherent hormone disrupting effects of the food the crops produce.

In 2012, a group of French scientists performed a study of GMO derived corn with test rats.  The genetic line of rats used in the research has a long established history of control data and is widely used in scientific studies.  The study was published in the scientific journal Elsevier.

The findings of the research found an unusual statistically high incidence and mortality rate in rats fed GMO corn via kidney disease, liver disease, and most significantly, the incidence of mammary cancer (equivalent to breast cancer in people).  Once published in Elsevier, the store and the research behind it was vehemently attacked via a mass letter writing campaign.  Elsevier under mounting pressure, retracted the article in 2013.

It was later discovered that a majority of the letter writing and dissenting scientists of the French study had either direct or indirect financial ties to Monsanto.  This eventually led to a republishing of the article with all of its research findings in the German run scientific journal, Environmental Sciences Europe, in 2014.  French researchers that published the study have maintained the integrity of their research on GMO and Round Up and considered the initial retraction scientific censorship.  Here is an actual image of malignant mammary tumors that developed in test rats used in the study:

Rats Mammary Tumors Monsanto GMO Research

GMO remains banned in France and most European countries.  On the other hand, 95% of corn consumed in foods in the United States by pets and people comes from GMO crops.

I will leave you with an interesting development in the field of GMO…Monsanto no longer exists.  The company was purchased by animal and human pharmaceutical giant, Bayer.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Primary source for article: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jun/24/controversial-seralini-study-gm-cancer-rats-republished

What Is Your Pet’s Microbiome And Why Is It Important To Know About It?

The microbiome of a pet is the sum total of the bacterial and fungal population that normally resides in the gut of a dog or cat that is necessary for proper digestion and promoting immunity from infectious disease at the level of the gut.  The microbiome of a person has actually been measured and found to have a mass on average of 2 kg or roughly 4 1/2 pounds.  If one can picture how tiny the microscopic bacteria and fungi that comprise the human microbiome, the sheer numbers of these organisms to add up to over 4 pounds is astounding.

Proportionally, we have found the microbiome of dogs and cats to be equivocal, so it is reasonable to conclude that maintaining a healthy microbiome is as important in dogs and cats for maintenance of a healthy GI system as it is in people.  There are countless circumstances that can negatively influence the microbiome of dogs and cats beginning with diet.  For example, studies have found that dogs fed a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet had decreases in the ratio of Bacteroidetes to Firmicutes bacteria.   Interestingly, the same is not true in most cats, as it seems at least anecdotally, that the opposite may actually be true.

Any metabolic, infectious, autoimmune, or parasitic disease that throws off the homeostasis (metabolic balance) of the body can negatively impact the microbiome of pets.  Thus, when veterinarians are presented with chronic gastrointestinal disease in pets, we are commonly recommending general blood work to rule out that the GI disturbance actually be a secondary manifestation of systemic disease elsewhere in the body.  Sometimes the microbiome of a pet is negatively affected simply by advancing age.

The importance of a healthy microbiome cannot be overstated.  From a primary standpoint, it maintains healthy digestion and a healthy local digestive immune system.  This make the pet’s ability to process and absorb food, as well as the ability to fight infection largely dependent on a healthy balance of beneficial gut bacteria and fungi.

Subsequently in any case of chronic disease, whether primary at the level of the gut or elsewhere, a pet should be maintained on a veterinary grade, high quality probiotic supplement, which gives the gut a regular, healthy inoculation of beneficial gut microbes to maintain a healthy microbiome.  Since age alone can negatively impact the integrity of the microbiome, I also recommend that any pet over the age of 5 be maintained on a probiotic supplement.

I wrote earlier about the magnitude of the microbiome in terms of shear numbers of microbes that comprise a healthy microbiome.  It should subsequently come as no surprise that we have observed that typical probiotic supplements that offer gut microbes in the millions per dose are largely ineffective in significantly boosting the microbiome and positively affecting health.  More realistically, in order to effectively promote a healthy microbiome in pets, it is necessary to choose probiotic supplements that offer gut microbes in the billions per dose.

The microbiome may not be the sole answer to every pet’s optimal healthy, but it should be among the first considerations in promoting the overall wellness and health of dogs and cats.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

A Cautionary Tail Of 3 Dogs

I closed out my last week of 2017 presented with 3 eerily similar canine cases that all presented severely sick.  The breeds may have all been different, but outside of breed, all three dogs had striking similarities in their history, presentation, disease predisposing factors, and diagnosis.

History

Each dog was relatively young, between 7-9 years of age, and all three were males.  The owners of each dog claimed regular wellness veterinary care, but none went beyond a discount vaccine clinic and based on records, none had been actually examined in years (there is an abysmal legal loophole in Florida that allows vaccines to be administered to patients by technicians or assistants without an examination as long as a licensed veterinarian is in the building).

Presentation

All three dogs were depressed, weak, dehydrated, and not eating.  Each dog had severe dental disease, a major predisposing factor for what the ultimate diagnosis would ultimately be for all 3 dogs.

Diagnosis

All three dogs were found to have severely elevated kidney values and phosphorous in their bloodwork, a finding which led to a diagnosis of chronic kidney failure.  Based on their numbers and presentation, all three dogs were given a poor to grave prognosis.

The timing of these diagnoses was very difficult for the owners in the week leading up to Christmas and New Year, with each family desperately wishing to keep their pet with them at least through the holiday season.  Thus, each owner despite the odds elected to attempt treatment.

Luckily, in the case of chronic kidney failure, other than the cost, there is little to lose in attempting treatment.  Consisting primarily of aggressive IV fluids,  GI protectants, anti-nausea medication and antibiotics, it is not an invasive course of treatment and only takes 2-3 days to play out to see if the patient will respond.  Ultimately, only one of the three would recover to the extent that he would make it through the holidays and even still, he carries a poor to grave prognosis.

I did not write about this to depressed pet owners, but instead shared my experience as a cautionary story for pet owners to learn from.  The demise of these dogs was likely very preventable.

Had these dogs received proper veterinary care with actual yearly hands on examination by a veterinarian, the dental disease would have pointed out well before it reached such a severe point.  Had the dental disease subsequently been treated in the early stages, a major predisposing factor for chronic kidney failure would have been eliminated.

Regular yearly wellness bloodwork starting at age 5 would have caught kidney disease in its early stages and proactive measures could have been put in place to maintain the longevity of the kidneys and subsequently the longevity of and quality of life of the patent; rather than tragically lose them well shy of their 10th birthday.

A regimen of kidney protective diet (protein, sodium, and phosphorus restriction), GI protectants, and anti-oxidants often extend the lives of chronic kidney disease patients for years.

Chronic kidney failure is only one of countless life shortening diseases that can be managed or even prevented with proper and timely veterinary wellness care.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

A Warning About The Use Of Essential Oils Around Pets

I see the essential oils craze all over social media and the internet.  Main stream medicine is clearly not behind the claims of some of these products.  As an integrative veterinary practitioner, I maintain an open mind, embrace proven and safe natural treatment, but still caution embracing a particular course of treatment just because of anecdotal claims of efficacy and no real study or clinical trials to prove its efficacy and safety.  In the case of the use of essential oils and people I remain far from convinced, especially with multilevel marketing behind pushing it for the most part…but alas, I digress, as human health is not my expertise.

Pets, on the other hand, are my expertise and I have grown very concerned about people recommending essential oil therapy for pets only because they believe or were told it was great for people.  Let me be very clear, pets and people are not the same!  Case in point, essential oils in the classes of phenols, monoterpene hydrocarbons, phenylpropanes, and ketone groups are potentially toxic to dogs and cats, especially cats.  They most certainly are not therapeutic and I would caution their use meant for people in households that have dogs and cats.

Below is a list of common essential oils that a consensus of toxicologists have deemed potentially harmful to pets

  1. Anise (Pimpinella anisum)
  2. Birch (Betula)
  3. Bitter Almond (Prunus dulcis)
  4. Boldo (Peumus boldus)
  5. Calamus (Acorus calamus)
  6. Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora)
  7. Cassia (Cassia fistula)
  8. Chenopodium (Chenopodium album)
  9. Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum)
  10. Garlic (Allium sativum)
  11. Goosefoot (Chenopodium murale)
  12. Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)
  13. Hyssop (Hyssopus sp. with the exception of Decumbens)
  14. Juniper (Juniperus sp. with the exception of Juniper Berry)
  15. Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
  16. Mustard (Brassica juncea)
  17. Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
  18. Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
  19. Red or White Thyme
  20. Rue (Ruta graveolens)
  21. Santolina (Santolina chamaecyparissus)
  22. Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)
  23. Savory (Satureja)
  24. Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
  25. Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)
  26. Terebinth (Pistacia palaestina)
  27. Thuja (Thuja occidentalis)
  28. Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)
  29. Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
  30. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

If social media is any indication with the multimedia blitz of pushing essential oils as the next an greatest cure for any number of ailments and ramping up for the gifting holiday season, please beware of that many of these oils can be very harmful for pets, especially those that are senior aged, living with chronic disease, or simply are cats (who often have much greater sensitivities to things that may be harmless to people and dogs).

With regard to treatment for pets with essential oils, there is special reason to be cautious.  There currently is no consensus on their efficacy or real proof of any of the claims I have seen.  Moreover, with actually proven potential for harm if the wrong essential oils are used on or around pets, I would not recommend their use until there is real peer reviewed study on their efficacy and safety, preferably untainted by the multilevel marketing industry altogether.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Pet Owners Should Not Take “Natural” To The Point Of Absurd

I can appreciate pet owners who wish to feed their pets organic and natural food, pursue natural, side effect free alternative treatment options, and avoid chemicals, preservatives, and pesticides.  I try to do that for myself and my human and furry family as much as it is feasible.  As an integrative practitioner of veterinary medicine, I often attract these kinds of pet owners and enjoy a great working relationship with them most of the time.  There are occasions, however, when I deal with such naturally minded pet owners that draw a lines in the sand that defy common sense and venture into the realm of the absurd.

In a recent case of an 8 year old female boxer, I determined on a routine yearly visit had stage 3 out of 4 periodontal disease.  The owners were aware of the periodontal disease with their previous veterinarian having made dental recommendations as well, but until seeing me (they had just moved here from another state), the previous veterinarian had told them of the condition of the teeth but did not actually show them (so they told me, anyway).

She was a very good patient, so I was easily able to lift the lips and show the owners how decayed her teeth were with severe gum recession in many spots, tooth root exposure, and even pus along some of the gum margins.  I strongly recommended a professional dental cleaning and what would likely amount to several extractions for teeth beyond repair.

The owners were up front about their preference for natural treatment but to their credit, understood that no amount of enzyme/grapefruit seed extract dental sprays would fix these teeth.  We rran pre-anesthetic blood work which revealed that at an unusually young age, the boxer has significant kidney elevations that indicated chronic degenerative kidney disease.  I still recommend the dental because there is a direct correlation between chronic periodontal disease and acceleration of kidney failure in dogs and cats.  I would take the necessary precautions with my anesthesia protocol to maximize the patient’s safety.

The patient ultimately came through nicely through anesthesia, dental cleaning and oral surgery to removed several teeth.  At discharge, I discussed with the owners that I will circle back with them at the 2 week post-operative re-check to discuss dietary management as the primary means to manage chronic kidney failure in dogs.  The owner said that she would be back for the re-check, but the dietary discussion would not be necessary.  I was not quite sure at the time what the owner meant, but she quickly left and I got distracted with more discharges and forgot about her statement.

At re-check, I confirmed to the owner that all of the surgical sites had healed well and the gum infection had completely cleared.  I then turned the discussion to my recommendation of a prescription renal diet, as these diets are comprised of highly bioavailable protein sources (that are in turnassociated with minimal protein metabolic waste), restricted in sodium and phosphorus, and are fortified with antioxidants to combat toxins that accumulate in the body as a consequence of kidney failure.  All of these aspects of prescription diets for patients in kidney failure combat high blood pressure, reduce the work-load of the kidneys, and produce minimal toxins as metabolic waste that help to maintain quality of life and body condition.

The owner’s demeanor suddenly changed and she became defensive and reminded me that she had already told me that a discussion about diet was not necessary.  She went on to tell me that she and her husband are passionate about feeding raw meat and vegetables to their dogs and that they did not intend to vary from that.  She said that she could not justify intoxicating her dog with processed food and preservatives no matter the claims of the diet.

During circumstances like these, I generally have to take a moment to swallow, take a deep breath, allow my blood pressure to stabilize and collect myself; which I did.  I then patiently explained to her that I respect her passion for all things natural, but in this case, a prescription diet does have preservatives and is processed (since it is engineered to have exactly what a kidney failure dog needs to maintain quality of life and facilitate longevity), but the proteinaceous waste, sodium, and phosphorous levels her raw diet provided the dog would be far more harmful in disease progression than any preservatives or processing.  I offered this owner statistical data that clearly proved the benefit of prescription kidney sparing diets in dogs.

Alas, it was all to no avail.  While she seemed to listen and I thought I may have made a dent, she simply told me no thank you, she and her husband  did not believe in feeding processed food and preservatives to their dogs and that they are fully prepared to take their chances.

This is when I had to resist the temptation to bang my head against the wall as a wonderful boxer that could have had many months, even years, added to her life by simply being fed a special diet, walked out the door to have her life shortened and her quality lessened over her owner’s sheer narrow mindedness and stubbornness.

Natural and alternative medicine minded pet owners frequently complain – often rightfully so – that many veterinarians are dismissive of discussing or looking into natural alternatives to feeding and therapy, and are close minded and  focused on only traditional western veterinary medicine.  Unfortunately, integrative veterinarians that are not close minded, sometimes encounter the flip side to that coin with occasional owners such as the subject of this post, that are to too entrenched in their natural dogma to be reasonable…and the pet at no fault of her own is the one who suffers needlessly.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

 

California Becomes First State To Ban Puppy Mill Sales!

In state measure AB485, signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown, retail pet stores are now banned from selling dogs, cats, and rabbits that do not come from shelters and rescue organizations.  Thirty six cities including Los Angeles and San Francisco already had similar bans in place, but this will extend the ban to be state wide.  Direct sales by private breeders will still be allowed.

Retail animal sales will only be relegated to animals that have come from animal shelters and rescue organizations.  Animal welfare activists applaud the law as it is aimed to stop the flow of animals from cruel puppy mill and cattery mass breeding operations where animals are bred in often appalling and abusive conditions.  By offering only rescue animals for sale, the law is designed to also alleviate overcrowded shelters and overtaxed not for profit animal rescue organizations.

The puppy mill ban legislation was celebrated by the Social Compassion In Legislation animal welfare group and co-sponsor of the legislation in the following public statement from the groups founder and CEO, Judie Mancuso:

“We are overjoyed with the Governor’s signature and broad support from the entire animal-loving community for this groundbreaking legislation.  In banning the sale of mill-bred animals, California took a bold step forward. The deplorable conditions that animals suffer in these high-volume breeding facilities are not a secret and now they have a champion in California.”

Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, praised the law for breaking “the puppy mill supply chain that pushes puppies into California pet stores and has allowed unscrupulous breeders to profit from abusive practices.”

True to form, the American Kennel Club criticized the legislation publicly opining that it will strip pet owners of pet store protections, will risk the loss of hundreds of jobs, and will reduce pet choice.  Translation: the AKC will get less checks for bogus “papers” that they provide for puppy mill peddlers to give a false air of credibility to traffickers in animal cruelty and unethical breeding.  From my perspective in my knowledge of the AKC and what a money grubbing, useless and soulless organization that it has become, their opposition to the law says more about its merit than its flaws.

I am not so naive to think that this law is perfect and there will not be loopholes or room for unscrupulous people to find a way to use it to their advantage and not within the spirit of its intent.  However, it is a very big step in the right direction where our nation’s most populous state made a bold statement against the cruel puppy mill and cattery industry.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Cannabis Medical Marijuana Uses For Dogs & Cats

Medical marijuana was just passed in Florida by referendum in the 2016 election.  Despite the voter referendum, conservative counties backed by our republican controlled executive and legislative state government are running interference across the state to disrupt the implementation of medical marijuana leaving it still largely unavailable.

The reality of medical marijuana is that it has a number of legitimate uses for disease management that are virtually side effect free when dosed properly.   The marijuana flower has glandular structures known as trichomes that contain essential oils.  When these glands are separated from the plant, “cannanioids” may be separated out and formulated into the proper ratios that facilitate medical uses with little to no side effects.

Cannabinoids fall into 2 categories.  Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is responsible for the psychotropic effect; while cannabidiol, or CBD, provides the main medicinal component.  However, CBD alone is not clinically as effective as combining it in proper ratios with THC, and the right combination provides enhanced medicinal efficacy via what researchers term the “entourage effect.”

One very common use of medical marijuana in people is treatment of seizure disorders, of which we see a great deal in veterinary medicine, particularly in dogs.  Life threatening complications or organ damage are highly unlikely with properly dosed medical marijuana in comparison to traditional anti-convulsant medications which are know to tax the liver.  Other applications for medical marijuana include management of GI disease, nausea, spinal pain, arthritis pain, anxiety, and cancer management (stimulation of appetite and control of pain).

Are there any risks to treatment with medical marijuana in veterinary medicine?  The biggest risk medical marijuana carries is accidental overdose.  Even then, life threatening reactions to medical marijuana are exceedingly rare.  Also, we must recognized that accidental overdose potential exists with traditional medications as well, often with far more devastating consequences.

Will we be prescribing medical marijuana in veterinary medicine any time soon?  The answer to this is: not likely.  The first barrier is that standardized dosing research in dogs and cats is still very much in progress with little clear consensus.  The second barrier is that the purchase of medical marijuana in states like California (and likely Florida once it is available) require a medical marijuana card.  In California where medical marijuana has been legal for years, there is no legal mechanism by which a dog or cat can be issued a medical marijuana card.  I assume the same will be the case here in Florida where I practice once medical marijuana is available.

The best option available to pet owners at this time is to talk to a veterinarian who has experience with pets being treated with cannabis oil about proper dosage and reputable manufacturers.  How these veterinary practitioners navigate the legal side of prescribing medical marijuana is not clear to me, however.

In summary, practical applications of medical marijuana are well established in people and early research and anecdotal reports indicate that the same is true for dogs and cats.  While it will likely be some time before this alternative treatment approach will available to dogs and cats, as research evolves and doses are standardized, there will likely be more pressure for a legal avenue to make it available to dogs and cats.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Does A Natural Heartworm Prevention Option Exist For Dogs?

Heartworm disease is a parasite that colonizes and gradually destroys the heart, pulmonary artery, and lungs.  It is transmitted via the bite of a mosquito infected with microfilaria (a microscopic baby heartworm) as it injects the larvae into the dog’s blood stream when feeding on a dog.  Heartworm can also infect wild species of canids, such as foxes, coyotes, and wolves.  Less commonly, heartworm can infect cats, ferrets, and raccoons

Related: Heartworm Disease In Dogs and Cats

As an integrative veterinary practitioner, a branch of medicine that combines traditional western veterinary medicine with proven, natural, side effect free veterinary medicine alternatives, I frequently get asked if there are any natural options for preventing heartworm disease in dogs.  My answer is yes, but it is not likely the answer that a natural medicine or holistically minded person may expect.

The three most active ingredients in commercial monthly heartworm preventive medications – ivermectin, milbemycin oxime, and selamectin – are all derived from a compound within the naturally occurring soil bacteria Streptomyces avermitilis.  It was observed by the Kitasato Institute that certain soils were toxic to several species of invertebrate animals, an animal classification that includes many species of worms.  In 1979, a unique bacteria was isolated by the Kitasato Institute that they believed was responsible for the inability of certain worms to survive in the soil.

The Institute sent the bacterial isolate to Merck Sharp & Dohme Research Laboratories in Rahway, NJ, where it was discovered that it was a particular class of compound called avermectin secreted by the bacteria that was responsible for its ability to kill worms.  It was theorized that the secretion of this compound evolved as either a mechanism to kill soil worms to be used by the bacteria as a food resource or to eliminate the worms which are competition for soil nutrients.

Whatever the case may be, this discovery would soon take human and veterinary parasite medicine by storm.  It began with the recognition that one of the avermectin derivative compounds, ivermectin, was effective in treating Onchocerca volvulus, the worm parasite responsible for causing River Blindess, a disease that is spread by the bite of the black fly and infects 16 million people a year world wide.  The disease is seen most commonly in sub-Saharan Africa and isolated areas of Central and South America.

As the worm larvae develop, they migrate to the skin cause a severe itch, with some cases tormenting infected victims to the extent that there have been many reports of people resorting to burning affected area of the skin with hot coals or hot irons as desperate attempts to relieve the itch.  The can larvae travel to the eyes and also cause blindness, hence the name of the disease (the “River” part come from the fact that black flies live near river banks).  Significant to complete blindness from Onchocerca volvulus is reported in approximately 800,000 people world wide each year.  With the advent of ivermectin and its commercial production by Merck, millions of people each year are spared the tormenting and potentially tragic consequences of infection with Onchocerca volvulus.

Ivermectin and other derivatives of avermectin have proven to treat countless worm and other parasites in both human and veterinary medicine.  Perhaps the biggest contribution of the discovery of avermectins in veterinary medicine is the prevention of heartworm disease, which is nearly 100% preventable with monthly micro-doses of these compounds available in any number of commercial products.   Not only are these products naturally derived, while they may be quite toxic to immature worms, they are virtually harmless to mammalian vertebrates, the class of animals that includes dogs and people.

So there you have it, safe and natural heartworm prevention has existed for decades and is available at just about every veterinary clinic in the United States.  This is probably not what a holistically or naturally minded pet owner expected to or even wanted to read, but it is the truth.  Instead, it is more likely that a reader that was excited to finally have a veterinarian show concrete evidence of one of the common natural heartworm preventive herbal and other concoctions touted or sold online, actually works.  I am sorry to disappoint, but these alternative treatments are at best doubtful, at worst toxic.  Lets review some of the more common ones.

Garlic: Believed by some to stop the maturation of heartworms – Ineffective and toxic to dogs.

Sorrel: Claimed to clear the blood stream of worms, serving as cardiovascular detox – complete and utter rubbish and toxic toxic to dogs.

Guinness Beer: No comment, I will just leave this one for you to contemplate!

Black Walnut Hull: Claimed to kill the microfilaria (infective heartworm larvae injected by the infected feeding mosquito) before it can mature to juvenile and adult stages – Anecdotal reports of efficacy only, luckily not likely to be toxic.

Essential Oils: Claim to prevent heartworm by repelling the pests from feeding on the pet in the first place – Ineffective and possibly tormenting for the pet (essential oils tend to have a very strong scent to us, imagine how they would smell to a dog that can smell 200,000-300,000 more acutely than we can?).

In a heartworm prone area (anywhere mosquitoes exist and the temperature can remain above 57 degree F for two weeks or longer at any given time) I would not recommend risking heartworm infection or possibly intoxicating your dog with any of these and other supposed natural heartworm preventives, especially when proven, naturally derived heartworm prevention already exists; albeit, not necessarily fitting within certain holistic pet owners’ narrative.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Promising Natural Treatment For Dogs With Cancer – Apocaps

Before discussing Apocaps, I must first be clear that as an integrative veterinarian, in cases of treatable cancer, I always advocatefor proven western techniques (surgical resection of tumors when possible, safe and proven chemotherapy, etc.) in combination with supplemental and natural immune boosting/anti-cancer therapy.  I utilize products like Apocaps as ancillary management of these cases, or a primary cancer therapy in cases where more aggressive western treatments/resolutions for cancer in dogs are either not possible due to systemic concerns, individual owner ethical boundaries, economic prohibition, and/or when tumors are not surgically resectable.

With that statement out of the way, I am very excited to introduce this very promising natural treatment for management of cancer.  Before discussing how Apocaps works, it is first necessary to explain what apoptosis is.  Apoptosis is a mechanism of normal cells in the body, a programmed cell death so that aged cells in need of replenishment can clear out and make way for fresh, new cells to support a healthy body.

Unhealthy or mutated cells in the body sometimes lose the ability to undergo apoptosis and instead continue to divide unchecked.  As these abnormal cells divide, they pass along their abnormal characteristics, grow into abnormal tissues call tumors, and cause disease in the body.  This is the underlying mechamism of cancer.

The Apocaps Dog Cancer Treatment is made of plants that have naturally occurring molecules that support normal cellular apoptosis when introduced into the living body. The apoptogens in the forumla are luteolin, apigenin, curcumin, silymarin, beta-glucans, and gingerols.

Other active ingredients used in the production of the Apocaps Dog Cancer Treatment that provide anti-inflammatory activity and immue support are: Vitamin C, Lecithin Powder, Rutin, Peanut Hull, L-Glutamine, Apigenin, Taurine, Zinc Oxide, Ginger Root Extract, Milk Thistle Seed Extract, Turmeric Root Extract, and Magnesium Oxide.

This is not a cure for cancer, but as previously stated, Apocaps are helpful as ancillary therapy for traditional cancer treatment, and palliative therapy for cancer that is not treatable by conventional means.  For the latter, quality of life can be significantly increased as the product reduces oxidative stress on the body that results from cancer.  There are common anecdotal reports that Apocaps can lead to significant reductions in tumor sizes.  Beyond restoration of quality of life, this combination may also lead to increased life expectancy.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.