Is Natural And Nutritional Treatment For Cushings Disease In Dogs Possible?

Natural and Nutritional Treatment For Cushings Disease In DogsCushings Disease is a disease seen commonly in dogs and rarely in cats, where a benign (not cancerous) but functional tumor in the pituitary gland over-secretes a hormone that over stimulates the adrenal glands in the abdomen to produce too much of the hormone, cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and prepares the body for the “fight or flight response,” where peripheral circulation is minimized and pooled centrally, the heart rate increases, the pupils dilate, and the gut slows down, leaving the body primed for a fight or rapid flight from danger. Make no mistake, cortisol is a very important and essential hormone, but too much of it over time is damaging to the body.

Among its deleterious effects, over time hyper-cortisolism caused by Cushings Disease, may lead to obesity, skin infections, thin hair coat and even hair loss, pigmentary changes of the skin, urinary tract infections, loss of lean muscle mass, anxiety, diabetes, heart enlargement, kidney failure, and cataracts of the eyes. Excessive cortisol also has a diuretic effect, commonly causing dogs to drink and urinate excessively, in some cases, never seeming to be able to quench their thirst.

Conventional treatment for Cushings Disease is to treat with a medication called trilostane that enzymatically inhibits the production or cortisol at the level of the adrenal gland, thereby neutralizing the over-stimulation caused by the functional pituitary gland tumor. It is an effective and safe treatment course, but it is also expensive. What’s more, I commonly see canine patients that I know have Cushings Disease, but repeatedly test negative for the disease. If a veterinarian cannot conclusively prove Cushings Disease, then he/she cannot treat it aggressively because of risk to the patient. I call these cases “Cushings Disease in waiting.”

There are also patients that are very mildly positive for Cushings Disease where treatment may be overkill, and of course patients with owners that have serious budgetary concerns that make treatment with trilostane cost prohibitive. Thus, while I will always maintain that for conclusively proven, unequivocal Cushings Disease patients, that the best course of action is treatment with trilostane, for borderline Cushings Disease patients, the aforementioned Cushings Disease patients in waiting, and for proven cases of Cushings Disease where treatment is cost prohibitive, I advocate for dietary and natural management of disease. What’s more, even for patients that are undergoing trilostane therapy for proven cases of Cushings Disease, natural management has the ability to reduce drug doses, thereby saving the client money, while overall increasing the safety of the patient who may end up less reliant on a pharmaceutical solution.

Natural management of Cushings Disease in dogs (and cats when disease rarely presents itself – I have only seen one case in all my years of practice) must begin with diet. Sodium restriction is key in management of Cushings Disease, as sodium levels will tend to be high in Cushings patients. This will help reduce the excessive thirst and urination, help reduce hypertension and therefore reduce the impact of Cushings Disease’s role in causing kidney failure and heart disease, respectively.

Since so many pet diets are high in sodium because of its appeal to canine and feline palates, it is difficult to find foods that have restricted levels of sodium. As such, you may want to consider prescription diets for kidney failure and/or heart disease that are sodium and phosphorus restricted. If you have a little bit more time on your hands, cooking a home cooked diet for your pet would be ideal, since you can keep refined and processed grains out of the diet. 50% fresh vegetables (green beans, peas, baby carrots, and broccoli are good choices) chopped, steamed, or puréed into a paste, served with a low sodium meats (rabbit, chicken, turkey, venison) served cooked or raw with no salts added give the benefit of low sodium, fresh ingredients with no preservatives, as well as unprocessed nutrients and beneficial antioxidants and free radical scavengers. If you choose to feed raw meat, be certain to choose reputable sources to prevent raw meat bacterial food toxicity. My preference are sources that exist solely for the purpose of providing raw meat for pet consumption that freeze the meat on site and ship frozen, for the per owner to then freeze upon receipt and thaw as needed.

Melatonin is a hormone that is normally secreted by the pineal gland, and has several important functions in the body. Research at the University of Tennessee, College of Veterinary Medicine, suggested that Cushings Disease patients not only suffer from the deleterious effects of excess cortisol, but also from excess female hormone, estradiol that the adrenal gland also is responsible for secreting. We believe that estradiol, not cortisol, may be responsible Cushings in waiting cases, where patients show hallmark clinical signs of disease, yet repeatedly come up negative on cortisol based testing for Cushings Disease. Melatonin has been shown to inhibit estradiol production and inhibit cortisol production. The dose for a dog under 30 pounds is 3 mg administered once every 12 hours, 6 mg every 12 hours for dogs over 30 pounds. The dose for cats is 1.5 mg administered once every 12 hours. Use regular, not extended release products.

Maximum success treating with melatonin is seen when used in combination with flaxseed lignans (flaxseed hulls). The lignans have a direct phytoestrogentic effect, while also serving to lower estradiol and cortisol production. Flaxseed oil is also rich in omega-3-fatty acids, which not only directly condition and nourish the skin, often a problematic area for Cushings patients, but also are naturally anti-inflammatory and protective to the skin, and other tissues and organ systems. Thus, I would try to find a product that has both flaxseed oil with lignans included. The dose is 40 mg every other day for dogs weighing less than 30 pounds, once daily for dogs weighing over 30 pounds. For cats, the dose is 20 mg every other day.

Make no mistake, for serious, clearly diagnosed Cushings Disease in dogs and cats, natural treatment for Cushings Disease alone, may only be successful in borderline positive cases, or cases where Cushings is strongly suspected, but has yet to be proven diagnostically. However, for cases of Cushings where financially treatment with trilostane is cost prohibitive, a natural approach can be very helpful, and worth a try. At the very least, a natural approach can do no harm. For confirmed cases of Cushings disease where treatment with trilostane is indicated and underway, I would advise this Cushings natural management approach in order to attempt to reduce trilostane doses over time, saving cost and increasing the safety of the patient.

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.

Nutritional Cancer Prevention – Treatment Support In Dogs And Cats

CNatural Prevention and Treatment of Cancer in Dogs and Catsancer forms in our bodies of our pets every day, the vast majority of the time, without notice or consequence to us. Cancer begins through mutations at the cellular level, which leads to an abnormal proliferation of abnormal cells. The reason this process goes un-noticed and is inconsequential the overwhelming majority of the time, is because our immune systems are up to the task of identifying and clearing the abnormal cells before they have a chance to gain an established presence and/or spread in our bodies. The same is true for dogs and cats.

Thus, when endeavoring to prevent cancer or support canine and feline patients that are battling cancer, we must begin with immune system support. Vitamin C, vitamin E, and B complex vitamins, and beta carotenes are all immune system boosting, antioxidant, free radical sponging nutrients, and are invaluable for cancer prevention and support. These items can be found in supplemental forms in pharmaceutical grade, pet multivitamin formulations, as well as in nutritious diets geared toward immune boosting and free radical scavenging nutrition goals.

Pharmaceutical grade Omega-3-fatty acids are an invaluable tool for guarding against the deleterious effects of cancer in the body, namely inflammation at the level of the cells and tissues of the body. This is especially true in the organ systems where cancer wreaks the most havoc, the central nervous system and the circulatory system. By directly blocking inflammatory pathways and directly healing cells through integration into the cell membrane, omega-3-fatty acids both protect and heal the body.

Regarding diet, beyond choosing diets rich in antioxidant and free radical scavenging nutrients, we should also avoid nutrient forms and foods that are known to cause cancer, as well as feed cancer. Simple sugars that result from refined grains are known cancer feeding agents. Cancer thrives on sugar, and carbohydrates presented in this simple form are little more than sugar. Processed meats that are laden with preservatives like sodium nitrate or other chemicals keep the meats from going rancid and make them more appealing, but they are known cancer causing agents.

Ideally, if one has the time to research home cooked diets for dogs and cats that properly represent species appropriate nutrient percentages would be ideal. Meats should be fresh and uncured, and can even be considered for raw feeding if purchased from reputable, raw diet sources. Make certain that you engage in dully diligent research in purchasing meat for raw consumption, however, as prevention of raw meat bacterial toxicity first and foremost starts with the meat’s source. My favorite sources are the ones frozen on site and shipped frozen. The one contraindication for raw meat feeding is dogs and cats undergoing immune suppressive therapy, such as chemotherapy or radiation, as these mitigating circumstances increase the risk of food born bacterial food poisoning.

Vegetables should be fresh, and ideally organic. If organic vegetables are too rich for the budget, make certain that they are thoroughly washed prior to feeding. Good vegetable options to feed dogs and cats include green beans, broccoli, green peas, and sweet potato (in moderation due to simple carbohydrate levels). Dogs and cats benefit from apples and pears in moderation as well (for fiber and antioxidants), however, avoid other fruits, as some are not safe for feeding dogs and cats. If a dog or cat may be finicky about eating veggies and/or fruits, blending them into a paste often make them more appealing. The breakdown of home prepared dietary feeding for dogs should be about 50% meats to 50% vegetable/fruits, for cats, 80% meats to 20% vegetables/fruits.

If schedule, time constraints, budget constraints, or all of the above preclude the ability to home cook/prepared diets for your pets, then seek commercial diets that are preservative free (but vacuum sealed for preservation), free of processed or refined grains, cured meats, and have ingredients that are fresh on site (and not from China!). There are a number of diets that fit this description, but be certain to ask your veterinarian’s opinion on the diet you are considering, or research reviews, Better Business Bureau, etc., prior to feeding.

Lastly, acupuncture is an excellent modality by which the body can be supported to maximize self-healing. From the ancient Chinese perspective, acupuncture works by increasing the body’s life force, called Chi. From the Western medical perspective, acupuncture’s health benefits stem from increased nerve conduction, circulation, and endorphin release that result from its practice. Either way, the health benefits of acupuncture are well documented.

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.

Dietary And Nutritional Treatment For Canine Cognitive Dysfunction/Senility

Recognizing and Treating Dementia or Cognitive Dysfunction In DogsCanine cognitive dysfunction, also known as senility, refers to problems with spatial orientation, memory, house training, and night pacing that is commonly observed in dogs as they age. The signs of canine cognitive dysfunction are progressive with time, and are commonly missed early on in the manifestation of disease, or written off as age related quirky behavior.

The reason for the progressive brain dysfunction is because with age, the following occurs:

1.) The brain atrophies, that is, it decreases in size and mass with age. In addition to the decrease in size, the overall number of neurons in the brain, the cells that comprise the brain and central nervous system, decrease in number. The result is a decrease in brain function.

2.) There is an increase in beta amyloid plaques. Beta amyloid is a protein that accumulates in the brain over time and directly damages neurons, leading to cognitive impairment.Numerous micro hemorrhages (bleeds) and clots that form in the vasculature of the brain reduce blood circulation, which leads to oxygen deprivation to neurons, which in turn leads to neuron damage, death, and overall cognitive impairment.

3.) The important neurotransmitter, serotonin decreases with age, which contributes to interrupted sleep/wake cycles, confusion, and fear.

The natural approach to management of senility in dogs must begin with early recognition. Thus, if you begin to notice odd “quirks” in your dog’s behavior as he/she ages, do not just write it off as age related eccentricity. In a recent study of 69 senior dogs completed at UC Davis, College of Veterinary Medicine, it was determined that 32% of dogs over the age of 11 had signs of senility, while 100% of dogs over the age of 16 years had confirmed senility. Following recognition of the signs of senility, begin a diet rich in anti-oxidants to minimize free radical damage to the brain that occurs with more frequency with age.

Talk to your veterinarian about proper dosing with anti-oxidants, such as vitamin E, B complex vitamins, beta carotene, and vitamin C. Start your dog on pharmaceutical grade omega-3-fatty acids. Omega-3-fatty acids are naturally anti-inflammatory and also help to repair damaged cells, as they are also an integral component to the cell membrane. The net result of omega-3-fatty acids is improved circulation and nerve conduction. The importance of omega-3-fatty acids in brain and central nervous system health cannot be overstated.

S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e) is a supplement that has known protective and regenerative properties toward the liver, and has a well-established use in veterinary medicine for alternative management of liver disease. While the mechanism is not known for certain, SAM-e has also shown a reduction in clinical signs associated with canine cognitive dysfunction.

St John’s wort is an herbal supplement known to increase serotonin in the brain. The increase in serotonin helps to reverse the reduction of this important neurotransmitter that commonly occurs as the result of senility. The effect of increasing serotonin levels in the brain, includes reduction in confusion, fear, as well as more consistent and better sleep.Early recognition and aggressive nutritional management are the best methods to combat this common disease of aging dogs. This type of intervention before significant irreversible damage has been done to the brain, not only significantly slows the progression of disease, but can even turn back the clock on the aging of the brain.

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.

How To Naturally Prevent Bloat In Large, Deep Chested Dogs

Preventing Bloat In Large, Deep Chested DogsBloat is a common disease seen in large and giant breed dogs, where the stomach accumulates with gas and fluid and distends to a dangerous point. Unable to expel the gas and fluid, this distension leads to a painful, tense stomach that is prone to rupture, or twist on its axis, complications that are very serious and life threatening. Once a dog has an active bloat, alternative medicine has little to offer, as the stomach needs to be decompressed as soon as possible, either by passage of a stomach tube, or surgically. Thus, this article is focused more on prevention for dog breeds are prone to bloat, as well as prevention for dogs who have already survived one or more episodes of bloat.

Given the strong genetic link with bloat, for dogs that are genetically predisposed to the disease, it is believed that it is not a question if a particular dog may bloat, it is a question of when. Since the industry has yet to have effective genetic marker testing, we cannot really know for certain if a dog may be genetically prone to bloat, unless there is a known immediate relative of the dog that had a confirmed case of bloat. Subsequently, without effective testing for predisposition to canine bloat, if you are the owner of any large or giant breed of dog (70 plus pounds), you should simply assume that your dog is prone to bloat and take preventive measures to give the dog his best chance to avoid a bout of bloat.

Prevention starts with diet. You should start by avoiding starchy foods, such as processed grains and simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are not only pro-inflammatory, but they also tend to increase bowel secretions, potentially setting the stage for gut distention. Instead, carbohydrates should be complex in nature, best supplied by vegetables.

Diets should be high in protein and moderate to low in saturated fats. Protein should be of high biological value, meaning that it is easily broken down during digestion; a high percentage of it is absorbed, while only a small percentage is excreted as waste. Poultry based protein sources, rabbit, and venison are examples that tend to fit these criteria quite well. Lean beef is a good option if fed raw.

Regarding raw feeding, done correctly and engaged with maximum safety precautions, there is anecdotal evidence suggesting a decrease in the incidence of bloat in predisposed breeds fed raw. However, given the AVMA’s (American Veterinary Medical Association) stance against raw feeding due to the risk of raw food bacterial toxicity, there is little peered reviewed and/or veterinary college based studies that substantiate this observation at this time.

Pharmaceutical grade omega-3-fatty acids are another good preventive measure against bloat. Omega-3-fatty acids are naturally anti-inflammatory at virtually every tissue level, and the gut is no exception. Digestive enzymes that aid in the breakdown of nutrients for absorption represent another dietary supplement that is a good sense preventive measure for bloat. Maximum breakdown of nutrients leads to maximum absorption, which in turn leads to less gas and fluid accumulation in the gut.

Small, frequent meals are ideal for dogs that may be predisposed to bloat. Breaking down the daily food requirement into 3-4 small meals makes certain that the gut is not filled substantially at any given time. From a metabolic perspective, this approach also helps to maximize metabolic efficiency to help prevent obesity and a stagnant metabolic rate, two predisposing factors for bloat.

My last point regarding diet is to not allow a large or giant breed to engage in strenuous exercise for 45-60 minutes following a meal. Exercise immediately following a meal is a known risk factor for bloat. Thus, immediately following a meal, exercise should be restricted to a short potty break in the yard, or slow, short leash walk.

For young female large and giant breed dogs that are to undergo a spay sterilization procedure, request that while your veterinarian is in the abdomen performing the spay, that he also tack the stomach to the body wall. That way, if the dog experiences bloat in her lifetime, the stomach tack will prevent the stomach from twisting. Tacking the stomach adds only a small amount of surgical time to the spay, requires only a slightly larger incision, and only a modest increase in cost. The result, however, may prove to be priceless, as prevention of stomach twisting in the midst of a bloat episode may mean the difference between life and death.

I will reiterate that there is a strong genetic link to the development of bloat. As such, sometimes despite our best efforts to prevent the incidence of bloat, it still occurs. However, following the natural prevention measures outlined in this article, will give your big dog his/her best chance to avoid the pain and danger of bloat in his/her lifetime.

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.

Tips For Natural Support For Treatment Of Asthma And Allergic Bronchitis In Dogs And Cats

Natural, dietary and holistic management of asthma and bronchitis in dogs and cats.Asthma, chronic allergic bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), all fall under the category of inflammatory airway disease. In cats, we more commonly see asthma, which is an inflammatory disease of the respiratory airways that leads to episodes of spasm of the smooth muscle that controls the diameters of the airways; resulting in narrower airways that cause labored breathing and spasmodic cough. In dogs, the more common inflammatory airway disease presentation is of chronic nature, where inflammation leads to chronic cough, which tends to worsen during allergy prone seasons. Inflammation can be so severe in some dogs, that inflammatory products and debris can actually create a blocking or obstructive influence within the airways, leading to the term, “chronic obstructive airway disease.”

 Since inflammation is the driving force behind all of these presentations of inflammatory airway disease in all of its forms, natural treatment for all of these variations of disease must include natural anti-inflammatory therapy. Nutritionally, nature’s most effective molecule that naturally blocks inflammatory pathways that lead to deleterious health effects, is omeg-3-fatty acids. Omega-3-fatty acids can come from plant sources that are rich in omega-3, such as avocado, or from fish oils. High quality omega-3-fatty acids do not only reduce inflammation at the level of the airways, but also reduce inflammation in virtually all of the tissues of the body.

Another important area where inflammation may be reduced is at the dietary level. For any pet that is experiencing inflammatory disease of any kind, I recommend a grain free, preservative free diet, preferably with a novel protein source (that is, a protein source that the pet has never been exposed to). Starchy processed carbohydrates are pro-inflammatory, and thus should be avoided. Proteins that are common in foods and therefore a pet has had long term exposure to – such as beef and chicken – sometimes lead to allergic sensitization in dogs and cats, thus my recommendation for a novel protein source.  However, just because a diet is grain free and preservative free, does not mean that it is necessarily nutritious, so be certain to confirm any dog or cat diet’s reputation for nutrition by first checking with your veterinarian and choosing diets with strong positive reviews.

For any dogs and cats that have inflammatory airway disease, it is strongly recommended that air conditioning and heating filters are frequently changed. Ionic air purifiers are also very helpful. Keeping filters clean and reducing allergens and pollutants through ionic attraction help reduce the amount of reactive airborne allergens are being inhaled by your pet, thereby reducing inflammatory triggers.

 Lastly, if anyone smokes in the home, STOP. Smoking in the home creates constant assault to the airways, and no amount of management, alternative or otherwise will effectively control disease if smoking occurs in the home.

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.

Natural Treatment Options For Stress/Anxiety In Dogs And Cats

Have a stressed out dog or cat? Do not feel that you are alone. While for some it may sound unusual or even comical to hear that a dog or cat may live with stress or anxiety, it is far more common than most people realize. Unfortunately, relieving the stress is not a simple matter when it comes to dogs and cats. Since we cannot lay our dogs and cats out on a couch to talk out their issues, it is our job to instead try to identify the stress triggers, then lessen their impact or engage in as much avoidance of the triggers as we can accomplish. While many articles you may read may focus on training, behavior, chemical, or serotonin increasing prescription medication to calm your stressed out pet, since this is a natural healing site, my focus in this piece will be on applications of natural remedies for anxiety disorders.

If you have arrived at this page, clearly you have already identified that your pet has stress issues. Thus, I do not plan to delve into the different kinds of, or manifestations of stress. Let us instead get right to the point and talk about how we can give these poor stressed out creatures (and yourselves) some peace.

Dogs

For dogs, I have seen a lot of success by supplementing with the amino acid, tryptophan. Many people recognize the amino acid tryptophan as a prevalent amino acid in turkey, which contributes to that stupor many of us feel following an overindulgent Thanksgiving dinner. I have also noted success by treating dogs with valerian, kava, and ginger. The problem with these aforementioned modalities is that after a few days, each commonly leads to refractoriness, meaning that the same doses become increasingly ineffective over time. Thus, I generally having a calming herbal treatment and a separate tryptophan based calming treatment, administered separately alternating every 2-3 days.

For our more challenging cases that do not respond effectively to these direct calming treatments, I would advise considering maintenance on St John’s Wort, an herbal treatment that raises serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of contentment and joy, while reducing feelings of fear and melancholy. In order to work properly, St. John’s Wort has to be administered daily as a maintenance treatment, as it takes time for it to build serotonin to an effective therapeutic level. Thus, it can take several weeks to see an improvement with St. John’s Wort. The good news, however, is that the aforementioned herbal and amino acid regimen can safely be used in conjunction with St. John’s Wort.

Pet formulations of all of these treatments can be found through a simple internet search. However, be careful to select reputable and positively reviewed products, as this industry is not FDA regulated and full of bogus products.

Cats

Cats I have found that stressed or anxious cats respond most favorably to a spray and plug in diffuser called Feliway.   Feliway is a synthesized version of a feline pheromone that provides them feelings of contentment.  A pheromone is a hormone messenger that is excreted by mammalian species that emits a scent that is picked up by other members of the species.

This particular pheromone in secreted by the glands of cats near the base of the ear.  They commonly rub this scent on people as that are getting pet and even commonly on inanimate surfaces.  When they are doing that, they are marking that person or object as safe.

By emitting a Feliway diffuser plug in, that pheromone makes the room smell more safe for cats, thereby often helping relieve stress and anxiety.  The spray works for 6-8 hours, so it is ideal to spray on a favorite stuffed toy or handkerchief that can be kept in the carrier with the cat for car travel or trips to the vet.

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.

Natural Management Of Anal Sac/Gland Disease In Dogs And Cats

Dog Scooting Because of Anal Gland or Anal Sac DiseaseDisease of the anal sacs occurs in about one in 5 dogs, and about 1 in 30 cats based on my own clinical experience. Before discussing natural options for dealing with this issue, it is important to first explain why disease occurs in the first place.

 Under normal circumstances, the function of the anal sacs, pouches that exist at approximately 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions in the rectal wall about 1-3 cm proximal to the anal sphincter, is to collect secretions from the anal glands. When a dog or cat defecates, the pressure of the feces passing through expresses the anal sacs and the anal glandular secretion then coats the feces, giving it a scent that is distinct to the animal.

 Anal sacs disease begins with poor anatomical conformation leading to decreased ability to fully empty, and rather than get excreted, the fluid remains in the anal sacs. Over time, as the sacs continue to distend with unexpressed fluid, they begin to cause irritation and the pet will often begin to scoot. If left too long, dogs and cats can develop abscesses from ascending infections the static fluid has predisposed the anal sacs to.

 Management early on is simple, where the veterinarian performs a manual expression of the anal sacs. In the case of infection, sometimes a course of antibiotics needs to be completed, as it is too painful to attempt to empty the contents, plus surrounding tissue may also in infected secondarily. In chronic cases of dogs and cats with anal sacs issues, the development of scar tissue can lead to further inability for the anal sacs to naturally empty, thus exacerbating the problem. This makes manual expression difficult for the veterinarian and the pet, sometimes necessitating surgical removal of the anal sacs.

 When discussing natural management of disease of the anal sacs, it is in most cases unrealistic to assume that we will be able to create circumstances where manual expression will not be necessary. However, in many cases, we can significantly decrease the frequency of anal sacs expression by taking a few simple measures. While there are usually inherited contributing factors that lead to reduced anal sacs emptying, there is one major factor that is human caused: pet obesity. Obesity is known to either contribute to, or even be the primary cause for, reduced anal sacs emptying. Thus, if your pet has anal sacs problems and is overweight, enact a dietary portion and calorie control plan to get weight off as a first step.

 This segues nicely into this next strategy to help with disease of the anal sacs, which is to increase fiber. Fiber bulks up stools, thereby increasing the potential for the anal sacs to get expressed more effectively and empty more efficiently. For overweight pets, you can kill two birds with one stone by feeding a high fiber, prescription weight control diet. Diets such as Hills R/D and Hills W/D will not only get weight off of pets because much of what they are eating in these diets is fiber that fills the tummy but is not absorbed, but all that fiber effectively bulks up the stool.

 If your pet has anal sacs issues and is not obese, or you are a pet owner committed to feeding grain free, another method to increase fiber is by adding canned pumpkin to the diet. The dose is about 1/8 of a teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight added to the food once daily. Another source of fiber one can add to the food is psyillium. Psyllium is a common additive in commercial natural regularity supplements, and a simple Google search for “veterinary psyllium” will lead to several different dog and cat product options. This is a nice option for cats that may not be thrilled about having canned pumpkin in their food, but be certain to purchase a non-scented/non-flavored formula for your cats if you choose this route.

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.