Research At CSU Suggests Stem Cell Therapy Beneficial To Cats In Chronic Kidney Failure

Chronic kidney failure, commonly known among veterinarians as chronic renal failure, is the number one cause of death in cats.   It is generally accepted that if a cat lives long enough, it is not a question of if he will develop kidney failure, but a question of when.   Many cats are genetically predisposed to chronic renal failure and will develop the disease before 10 years of age.

Chronic renal failure is a degenerative disease where there is progressive loss of functional kidney tissue.  As functional kidney tissue turns to scar tissue, the kidneys progressively experience a gradual reduction in key functions, including detoxification, concentrating urine, and regulating red blood cell production.

In the past, our only means of diagnosing chronic renal failure in cats was detection in general blood work with proportional elevations of two key kidney values in combination with unusually dilute urine seen on urinalysis.  By the time these circumstances manifested, however, 75% loss of functional tissue had already been lost.

With the advent of early screening with a blood test called SDMA and a change in interpretation of the key kidney value called creatinine (previously 2.1 was considered elevated, whereas now the American Feline Renal Society recognizes 1.6 or higher an indicator of renal disease), we are able to detect chronic renal failure well before there is substantial loss of functional tissue.

This has been very important for cats with chronic renal disease, where dietary modifications with prescription renal diets that limit phosphorous, sodium, and metabolic proteinaceous waste could be implemented to slow the degeneration and maintain quality of life.  While these dietary measures have proven invaluable for cats in active chronic renal failure, their role in slowing progression of early disease remains questionable.

While the renal diets are still an accepted strategy for slowing the progression of early chronic renal failure, new research at Colorado State University headed by Dr. Jessica Quimby suggests that stem cell therapy could play a key role in stabilizing degenerative chronic renal failure in cats.  Her research early on, however, indicates that once the functional tissue is gone, stem cell therapy will not restore the tissue and is not as powerful in turning back the clock on kidney health.  She states that her research shows the most significant benefit to stem cell therapy is with cats that are screened early and treated early to stabilize and halt the loss of kidney tissue before reaching the 75% loss threshold.

Still, the conclusions of Dr. Quimby’s research are still premature and she observes that stem cell therapy may still be quite helpful even for cats with more advanced stages of chronic renal disease.  She states, “Up until now, we’ve focused on cats with early stages of the disease with the hope of slowing disease progression.  We noticed that a few cats with worse stages in those studies were actually doing really well. We can’t ignore the possibility that stem cells could help those cats, too.”

With cutting edge technology from Tithon Animal Services that enables us to now harvest stem cells from peripheral via simple blood draw (the Colorado State study is using stem cells derived from fat which requires a minor surgical procedure for harvest) that my clinic is now utilizing there is a  subsequent dramatic reduction in cost and invasiveness for treatment.  With simple blood draw followed by simple IV infusion of the stem cells once they are processed (typically in 1-2 business days) there is really little reason not to attempt stem cell therapy in cats in early to advanced stages of chronic renal failure.

The biggest takeaway from this article with regard to stem cell therapy and chronic renal failure in cats is early screening of disease is key in optimizing treatment success.  Thus, by 8 years of age, every cat should be having at least once yearly blood and urinalysis screening for detection of disease and early intervention.

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 this article: https://source.colostate.edu/veterinarians-pursue-stem-cell-therapy-cats-severe-kidney-disease/

Recognition & Integrative Prevention & Treatment For An Often Overlooked Disease In Senior Aged Dogs

I hear it all the time when I ask how a senior aged canine patient is doing at the beginning of a well visit. The answer often goes something along the lines of  these variations:

“He is good, but doesn’t seem to hear well because he doesn’t come sometimes when I call him.”

“He is good, but doesn’t seem to hear that well because he doesn’t always greet people at the door anymore.”

“He is good but has selective hearing…he doesn’t not always come when called, but for some reason, he always hears his food dish being filled.”

…Etc.

In the majority of cases, simple hearing tests I perform as part of my routine physical examination reveal that the patient can hear just fine. What the owner perceives as lack of hearing or selective hearing is usually the early stages dementia, also known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. In fact, a Washington State University study determined that by age 11, 30% of dogs are showing early signs of dementia. The percentage of dogs with dementia increases with age until by age 16, 100% of dogs according to the same study have dementia.

Dementia in dogs results from age related changes in the brain that lead to reduced perfusion of the memory centers of the brain. These degenerative changes also lead to personality changes such as heightened anxiety, depression, insomnia, or even aggression. These changes can start as early as 7 years of age.

Clinical signs of dementia in dogs begins with them not always coming when called or not running to the door to greet people. They often seem to have selective hearing because they may still recognize their favorite cues like hearing the food bag open or seeing their owner getting the leash for a walk. As the most exciting things in their lives, feeding and walks stand out most prominently in their minds and those memories are often the last to go.

Eventually, dogs with progressing dementia may fail to recognize food and not eat, experience pacing and vocalize often in the evening hours. They may also go from having been very well house trained all of their lives to eliminating in the home.

If you have a senior aged dog (7 years or older), the following are integrative solutions that serve as proactive prevention and treatment of dementia:

1.) Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 Fatty Acids derived from fish oil have potent anti-inflammatory activity in the body. As a key component to the cell membrane, omega-3 fatty acids also protect and maintain the integrity and health of cells. In the case of the brain, with the body lacking the ability to make new brain cells known as neurons (like people, dogs are born with a finite number of brain cells), this is key. Omega-3 fatty acids also help preserve the health of blood vessels, helping to maintain good blood flow to the brain and other organs.

2.) S-Adenosyl Methionine (SAM-E): SAM-E is a molecule that is formed naturally in the body. It can also be made in the laboratory. SAM-E is involved in the formation, activation, or breakdown of other chemicals in the body, including hormones, proteins, phospholipids; and certain drugs involved in the formation, activation, or breakdown of other chemicals in the body, including hormones, proteins, phospholipids, and certain drugs.

As a supplement, SAM-E is known to help improve mental performance, reduce depression and anxiety, and help in the treatment of many other diseases.

3.) Daily Walk: In addition to the benefits of exercise, taking your dog for a walk is mentally stimulating for them and helps to keep their mind stimulated and alert. Mental stimulation maintains blood circulation in the brain, playing a key role in brain health.

Items 1-3, I would implement for any dog 7 years or older. There is no adverse side effects or negative aspects these strategies. In fact, in addition to brain health, by implementing these simple strategies, you will also promote health in many other areas of the body. If your senior dog is experiencing confusion, selective hearing, and/or night pacing, in addition to 1-3, I would add treatment number 4.

4.) Selegiline: Selegiline is sold under the veterinary brand name Anipryl. Taken once daily, it increases dopamine production in the brain that increases perfusion to the memory centers of the brain. Selegiline also increases serotonin production in the brain, which reduces stress and anxiety associated with dementia.  Selegiline requires a prescription from your veterinarian.

If you have a senior age dog, now that you have read this article, be cognizant of subtle signs of dementia. Whether you see signs or not, take a proactive approach to prevention once your dog enters the realm of the senior years at age 7.

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 Daily Source Of Inspiration, Especially Today

March 14 is a special day.  It is the birth date of one of the most renowned scientists in history, Albert Einstein.  It is a date each year that falls within the dawn of longer days filled with sunlight, baby birds, and of the other beautiful aspects pf spring; a time of rejuvenation, rebirth, and better weather.  For me, the most beautiful aspect of this date is that it is my younger sister’s birthday.

Do I celebrate Leslie Welton Griffin’s birthday because she is my sibling that I love?  Of course!  She is a wonderful, giving person full of life, intelligence, and passion.  In her school years, Leslie was a popular girl but always was compelled to befriend everyone, most especially the kids that were ignored, shunned or treated poorly because they were different.  Leslie always found the beauty within those kids, celebrated and embraced what was different about them, and showed them what it means to be appreciated and loved unconditionally.  The adult version of her is no less magnanimous.

March 14 now means even more to the Welton family.  At age 34, after nearly 3 years of experiencing strange symptoms for which multiple doctors had no answer for, she was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in one of her lungs.  This led to an invasive surgery to remove it and save her life.

This is quite a curve ball for a person to be thrown at such a young age.  However, rather than despair over the card she was dealt, Leslie emerged full of gratitude and inspiration to not only lead a healthy and natural life style that prevents cancer, but spread her vision beyond just physical health and promote healthy mind and spirit through her blog, her line of natural products, dietary and nutritional recommendations, and positive energy.  She is driven to help others prevent and avoid what she went through.  She calls her life philosophy of living life free in mind, body, and spirit, The Free Life Recipe.  You can visit her blog at the link below:

http://www.freeliferecipe.com/

An avid animal lover, in the not so far off future, Leslie will be expanding her line of natural products into the pet world, so stay tuned for great things to come!  Happy birthday baby sister!

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.

Exciting Cutting Edge Stem Cell Therapy Advances In Veterinary Regenerative Medicine

Regenerative veterinary medicine refers to the repair of tissues by using the body’s own intrinsic healing mechanisms.  We activate the body’s cellular, neurological, and blood born healing capacities with side effect free therapies like Class IV therapy laser and acupuncture and the results have been remarkable.  With increasing momentum of stem cell and platelet rich plasma treatment (PRP), we are now taking regenerative medicine to another level.

Stem cells are progenitor cells that can differentiate into any tissue cell type.  By harvesting the patients’ own stem cells, activating them, and injecting them into injured areas, we are able to repair tissues at the cellular level.  In the past, the harvesting of stem cells has required a minor surgical procedure with general anesthesia where fat from the body is sampled and sent off to a lab to have the stem cells extracted and processed into an injectable media.  Since injection of joints, one of the most common uses of stem cell therapy in veterinary medicine, almost always requires sedation, the costs and client perceived invasiveness associated with anesthesia, minor surgery followed by sedation, clients have often been reluctant to consider it for their pet. As a result, although most veterinarians are strong advocates of this branch of medicine, to date we have found it a tough sell for pet owners.

With new technology from PrimoStem, the general anesthesia and surgical portion of stem cell therapy has been taken out of the process.  Their new technology does not require tissue harvest for collection of stem cells, but instead is able to extract and activate stem cells from a simple blood draw.  The blood is sent off to their lab and within 2 business days arrives to the clinic ready for injection.  Thus, your pet can now enjoy the benefits of stem cell therapy for any number of conditions with a simple blood draw, gentle sedation, and injection into damaged areas of the body, all within a 3 day turn around and two outpatient visits.

Stems cell solutions are directly injected into damaged joints and acupuncture points to seek out, differentiate into the given tissue cell type, and repair it. In addition to direct injection, the patient is given an additional intravenous bolus of stem cells to provide systemic regenerative benefits throughout the entire body.

The applications of this type of treatment is poised to go far beyond orthopedic repair.  As I write this article, there are currently studies in process to assess the benefits of this treatment for chronic degenerative disease such as kidney failure, cirrhosis of the liver, and several degenerative neurological conditions that traditional veterinary medicine previously had no answer for.  Conclusions are still pending as the data continues to be collected, but initial results seem very promising.

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 Simple Feeding Strategy That May Significantly Reduce Cancer In Dogs

In my last post, I discussed the dramatic rise in cancer in pets in past 10 years, as well as some of the proposed reasons for it.  In this post, I would like to focus on one particular study that provides a potentially profound yet simple way that we may decrease the incidence of cancer in dogs.  If you have not yet read my last post, here it is:

Why Is There So Much Cancer In Pets?

Per my last post, the processing of food and the subsequent creation of glycotoxins in processed diets that have an oxidant effect on the body.  Oxidants create oxidative stress to tissues and serve to some degree to negate dietary antioxidants that are known to boost the immune system and prevent cancer.

However, home prepared diets are not necessarily the solution to this issue, as it can be very challenging to properly nutritionally balance a home prepared diet, leading to nutrient deficiencies that can lead to a host of disease, including cancer.  Dr. Rob Silver, a cutting edge integrative veterinary practitioner and researcher at Colorado State University cited a recent study that may solve this dietary conundrum.

Scottish Terriers as a breed are statistically more prone to urinary bladder cancer (called transitional cell carcinoma – called TCC).  As such, they were chosen for a study that compared three test groups:

1.) Dogs fed only a reputable kibble diet.

2.) Dogs fed a reputable kibble diet with green leafy vegetables added to it.

3.) Home prepared diets with no kibble.

The study was quite revealing.  The Scottish Terriers in the second group that were fed kibble with the addition of green leafy vegetables were 70% – 90% less likely to develop TCC in comparison to groups 1 and 3 that were fed pure kibble and home prepared diets with no kibble, respectively.

The conclusions of this study are very clear from my view:

  • There are additional factors outside of genetic predisposition that determine whether or not a dog will develop cancer, as clearly genetic predilection can be affected one way or another by other factors, in this case nutrition.
  • Home prepared diets, likely due to the challenges of balancing them from a nutrient perspective, are not necessarily the answer to dietary cancer prevention in dogs.
  • Feeding kibble provides nutrient balance, but a neutralizing effect of glycotoxins by the addition of antioxidant rich green leafy vegetables may profoundly prevent cancer, providing us the ability to proverbially have our cake and eat it too.

Regarding green vegetables that are among the highest in antioxidants, two optimal choices for addition to kibble diets are spinach, kale and broccoli.  You would generally want to include as close to 20% of total feeding volume represented as vegetables as the dog will still readily eat.

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 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.