Is Holistic Therapy For Epilepsy In Dogs & Cats Possible?

Epilepsy is a seizure disorder seen in dogs and cats, where an abnormal nidus in Natural Therapy And Alternative Medicine For Treatment Of Epilepsy In Dogs And Catsthe brain forms that fires electric pulses on its own and leads to convulsive activity. Conventional treatment for epilepsy can range from nothing for mild cases, to one or more maintenance anti-convulsive medications. What many pet owners with dogs and cats that suffer from epilepsy do not know, is that alternative, holistic therapy is often very helpful in these cases. While alternative options for treatment of epilepsy may not necessarily preclude all dependence on anti-convulsive medications, they can go a long way toward minimizing drug doses, or need for multiple drugs, and may be effective therapy alone for mild to moderate cases of epilepsy.

Regular anti-seizure acupuncture has clearly clinically proven efficacy in reducing the severity and frequency of seizures. Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese form of healing that has been around for thousands of years. The Chinese credit its efficacy in maintaining health and effectively treating a variety of ailments to increasing the flow of a life force through the body, they call Chi. Per Chinese medicine, the blockage of Chi is the root cause of disease in the body, and re-establishing its flow through the body by careful placement of needles along meridians resolves many health issues and optimizes health. From the Western point of view, that is, many Western practitioners of human and veterinary medicine that acknowledges the health benefits of acupuncture, acupuncture works by increasing circulation and nerve conduction.

Whatever one chooses to credit acupuncture’s benefit, there is no question that it works. This is especially evident in animal patients that are not prone to “placebo effect,” the ability of a patient to convince him/her self that a treatment is working solely because he/she wants it to. In animals, it either works or it does not, and acupuncture clearly works in cases of epilepsy. For pet owners seeking alternative medicine for their pet’s epilepsy, seeking a certified veterinary acupuncturist should be the first order of business.

With regard to epilepsy, it is also well documented that mental stimulation (fear, excitement, stress, etc.) can set off seizures. Thus, keeping a dog or cat afflicted with epilepsy calm can be beneficial. Dogs and cats thus may benefit from products that are naturally calming. Supplements that have the calming amino acid tryptophan, as well as calming roots and herbs, such as ginger root, kava, and valerian can help reduce the frequency of seizures in epileptics.

This can be taken one step further with cats, that respond favorably to a calming pheromone that can be placed in sprays and aerosolizing diffusers that is soothing to cats, while not detectable by the senses of people. There are several products available on the market, but be sure to do your research before buying one. The alternative medicine industry for both people and pets is largely unregulated, fake or poor quality products are unfortunately quite common.

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.

Dog Or Cat Fart A Lot? Something May Be Wrong.

Even under the best of circumstances, it is unrealistic to think that dogs and catsDog And Cat Farts, Excessive Gas will live free of flatulence. An occasional stinky toot here and there is normal. However, a constant, unrelentingly, gassy pet is not normal, and it usually indicative of an underlying gastrointestinal problem.

Excessive gas most commonly occurs as the result of a food allergy. Food allergy means that there is a dietary sensitivity to one or more ingested proteins in the diet that lead to inflammation of the lining of the gut, subsequent malabsorption, and fermentation of unabsorbed food in the hind gut. Gas is a byproduct of fermentation.

Food allergy is most commonly linked to animal meat protein, the most common of which are beef and chicken. Some pets may also react to large proteins that are present in grass grains, such as wheat, barley, and corn.

Thus, the first step in addressing an excessively gassy pet is to engage in a hypoallergenic food trial. Hypoallergenic diets must have the following qualities.

1.) They must present a novel animal protein source, that is, a protein source that the pet has never been fed before. The body gets sensitized to allergenic proteins over time from repeated ingestion of it, hence the need to present the pet with a completely new protein source. Good choices include venison, rabbit, and duck.

2.) They must be grain and preservative free.

3.) They must be species appropriate nutrient balanced.

The easiest method to accomplish this is to purchase a prescription hypoallergenic diet from your veterinarian that meets these criteria. Another way to accomplish this is home feed with fresh ingredients, if time and schedule permit the commitment. For both species you will want to use fresh meat sources for home prepared diets. Your pet may benefit from raw feeding, but if you go this route, be certain to use companies that specialize in providing raw meat for pets that have good reviews. This will minimize the potential for raw meat bacterial food poisoning. My favorite raw meat sources for pets are those that ship the meat frozen, the customer receives the product still frozen, to then be thawed out and fed on an as needed basis.

You should provide good complex carbohydrate, fiber, and antioxidant sources from fresh vegetables. Green beans, cooked spinach and sliced carrots are good options to feed. If your pet is not crazy about veggies, you can make them more palatable by pureeing them into paste. Under normal circumstances, I am a fan of feeding broccoli, but given its tendency to ferment in the hind gut, it would be best to avoid broccoli for the gassy pet. I advise feeding dogs 50% meat, 50% vegetables, whereas cats should be fed 100% meat, or 80% meat, 20% vegetables (some cats benefit from some fiber in the diet).

Whether you choose to feed prescription veterinary diet or home prepared, you should feed the hypoallergenic diet exclusively for 8 weeks. If the gas problem resolves, then you have your solution: continue to feed it exclusively for life. If the gas continues unabated or is still excessive to some degree, then try adding probiotics and digestive enzymes to the diet. Probiotics provide “good” bacteria essential for normal digestion, whereas digestive enzymes aid in the breaking down of nutrients into optimally absorbable forms to maximize digestive absorption. Both supplement types will help to increase digestion and reduce gas.

If none of the above helps, then the dog or cat may have a condition that is more severe than produced from simple food allergy and malabsorption. These difficult cases should be seen by a veterinarian, as something more serious like inflammatory bowel disease chronic parasites may be present.

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.

Therapeutic Massage For Dogs Has Proven Health Benefits

Massaging your dog will no doubt be an enjoyable and bonding experience for the both of you, but it also has proven health benefits just as it does in people.  Per the Mayo clinic, therapeutic massage in people can help to treat digestive disorders, anxiety/stress, soft tissue strains and sprains, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, insomnia, muscle pain, seizure disorders, allergies, and more.

Physiologically built similarly to people, dogs naturally enjoy these same health benefits, while providing your furry family member who loves you unconditionally with some TLC and pampering.  What dog does not deserve that?

Please see the chart below for massage regions that facilitate health for various organ systems.  You can do this daily and rotate the spots to facilitate well rounded health for your canine companion.  Best of all, its costs you nothing but a few minutes of your day.

Therapeutic Massage Has Proven Health Benefits For Dogs

What’s more, petting one’s dog causes proven health benefits for people.  Per the Mayo clinic, the act of petting a dog reduces stress and anxiety, hastens recovery rates, and reduces dependence on medication.  So…when you commit to massaging your dog, you are helping your own health as well.  It is a win-win for all parties!

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 Ear Infection Prevention In Dogs And Cats

How To Prevent Ear Infections In Dogs And CatsDogs and cats have anatomical ear considerations that differ significantly from the human ear, that facilitate wax build up and secondary infections with great frequency. This difference includes much wider diameter external ear canals, especially taken in consideration of their proportional diameters in comparison to the much smaller overall body mass of dogs and cats. There is also an acute bend in the ear canal as it courses down from its superficial opening, making an almost right angle turn toward the ear drum. This combination makes it easier for allergens and microbes to enter, but more difficult for the body to get them out. Adding in pendulous ears and prevalent skin allergies that many dog breeds are predisposed to (e.g., cocker spaniels), and you have a recipe for a perfect storm of poor ear health.

In approaching the management of ear disease in dogs and cats, it is important to first understand that in most cases, there is no definitive cure for chronic ear disease. Chronically diseased ears are more often than not, a constant work in progress that mandate ongoing maintenance and attention from the pet owner. With that in mind, below are the most important goals in maintaining health ears and preventing ear infections in dogs and cats.

Keep Ears Clear of Wax

Wax builds up in canine and feline ear canals just as it does in people, only usually more abundantly. Knowing that we regularly need to remove wax from our own ears with cotton tipped swabs; we must understand that the same applies to dogs and cats. However, as previously noted, in the case of dogs and cats, wax production is often far worse, as moisture and environmental allergens that come in contact with those big external ear canals, often leads to over-secretion of wax. An overabundance of wax significantly increases the potential for secondary infection.  Thus, selectiing an ear cleanser that breaks up wax well is pivotal in preventing ear infections.  

Cleansers that have small percentages of acetic acid and alcohol acomplish the breakdown and removal of ear wax well.   

Keep Ears Dry

Moisture left within ear canals enables a watery environment that many species of bacteria and yeast thrive in. This is very important in consideration of dogs and cats that are regularly groomed and bathed, as well as dogs that swim. Drying ears thoroughly after bathing and swimming is therefore very important.  I would also advise a “drying” cleanser to follow up after physically drying the ears canals.    

Keep Ears Acidified

Microbes that commonly over grow in ears and lead to ear infections in dogs and cats, proliferate most effectively in an alkaline environment. Thus, creating an acidic pH – the opposite of alkaline – within the ear canal is an effective strategy for inhibiting microbial growth and limiting the tendency for a pet to develop ear infections.  Cleansers with small eprcentages of acetic acid and salicyclic acid often effectively maintain an acidic environment within the ear canals.   

Manage Skin Allergies

If your pet is developing ear infections because of a confirmed skin allergy, controlling the allergy is paramount. Nutritionally, consider natural anti-inflammatory therapy with mega-3-fatty acid supplementation. For 30 percent of skin allergy patients that have a food allergy component to their sensitivities that manifest in the skin, a prescription, hypoallergenic diet can be key in preventing ear infections.

Home cooked diets are also a good choice, as the pet owner has full control of the ingredients.  Select fresh vegetables and a protein source the pet has never been exposed to (venison, rabbit, duck are good choices) and avoid grassy grains, such as wheat, barley, oats, and corn.  Dogs should be fed 50/50 meat to veggies, whereas cats should be fed 80/20 meat/veggies.  A pet multivitamin that does not have any animal bi-product is generally advised with home prepared diets to optimally round out nutrition needs unique to dogs and cats.   

For pets where natural management may fall short, talk to your veterinarian about maintenance on anti-allergy medication, such as antihistamines or Atopica.

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.

Holistic And Nutritional Management Of Chronic Diarrhea In Dogs And Cats

Natural Treatment For Chronic Diarrhea In Dogs And CatsDiarrhea describes loose or watery stool. All cats and dogs will have bouts of diarrhea in their lifetime, at least a few times per year. The most common causes for these isolated cases of diarrhea are from infection with a virus or bacteria, infestation with a gastrointestinal parasite, or dietary indiscretion. In cases of chronic diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBD), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or malabsorption (body cannot properly break down and absorb dietary nutrients). The focus of this article is managing dogs and cats that suffer from chronic or recurring diarrhea.

Diarrhea can be broken down into three different physiological processes.

Osmotic diarrhea means that some substance is drawing water from the body into the bowel, liquefying the stool. Certain medications, food, or poorly absorbed nutrients that have osmotic properties can lead to this type of diarrhea.

Secretory diarrhea occurs when the body is actively releasing water into the bowel. This is the most common type of diarrhea noted with infections or parasites, but can also be seen when a dog or cat is under treatment with certain medications.

Exudative diarrhea refers to the presence of mucus, blood, or even pus in the bowel, and most commonly results from IBS, IBD, and food allergy.

Since malabsorption, IBS, IBD, and food allergy are the most common causes for chronic and recurring diarrhea in dogs and cats, our focus in this article is managing osmotic and exudative diarrhea through diet and supplementation. Success with nutritional and natural supplementation alone varies, depending on the severity of disease and the type of chronic disease that is causing the diarrhea. However, even if prescription medication is necessary to adequately control diarrhea, the nutritional strategies and supplementation outlined in this article, will minimize drug doses and increase the overall safety of the canine or feline patient.

Diet

Diets should be free of grassy grains (wheat, corn, barley, and oats) and contain a novel protein source, that is, a protein source the dog or cat has never before consumed. This covers the patient for possible food allergy, as food allergy sensitivities build over time from prolonged, repeated consumption of a protein, most commonly, and animal source protein. For most dogs and cats, that rules out chicken and beef, as these are the most common protein sources found in commercial pet food diets. Good novel protein sources include: rabbit, venison, and duck, as well as an array of less common sources. Another option is to select a prescription hypoallergenic hydrolyzed diet. Hydrolyzed diets cut large chain proteins into smaller, maximally absorbable chains that are unlikely to react with the gut.

For a carbohydrate source for patients with chronic diarrhea, I advise white rice, technically a grain, but unlikely to cause adverse reaction in the gut. Rice is not only a minimally reactive carbohydrate source, but it is also binding, as it is low residue. White rice is not fibrous, so it will not irritate the gut. While still trying to get the diarrhea under control, it is not advisable to feed dogs and cats fiber, as it can further irritate an already inflamed bowel. Fiber in the form of brown rice can be gradually added once the diarrhea is well regulated.

Ideally, you should select preservative free diets to take as much unwholesome ingredients out of the diet as possible. If you have the time, home cooking for the pet is a very good idea, as that gives you 100% control of what the pet consumes. For dogs, I advise 70% rice and 30% meat protein. For cats, I advise 40% rice, 60% meat protein. For cats, once diarrhea is regulated, I would try to gradually raise the protein percentage to 20% rice, 80% meat protein. For both dogs and cats, after the diarrhea is regulated, try gradually transitioning from white rice to brown rice.

The one concerning limitation of home prepared diets with no vegetables, is that they lack well rounded nutrient requirements, especially for dogs. Thus, if you go this route, I would advise maintenance on a high quality pet multivitamin. Your veterinarian should be able to recommend several options.

In order to maximize absorption, I advise maintenance on digestive enzyme therapy. Digestive enzymes breakdown food nutrients into smaller, more absorbable, less reactive forms. This is helpful for all causes of diarrhea, especially malabsorptive syndromes.

Feeding probiotics is another helpful tool for the canine and feline patient with chronic or recurring diarrhea. Naturally occurring bacteria in the gut are essential for proper digestions. This group of “good” bacteria is known as gastrointestinal flora, and can be supplemented in the form of probiotic. Gastrointestinal flora are often crowded out by bad bacteria in cases of IBS, IBD, and malabsorption. Thus, a regular dose of probiotics can be very beneficial in maximizing digestion by helping to maintain a healthy GI flora.

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.

Diet And Supplement Management, Prevention Of Diabetes In Dogs And Cats

Nutritional Management Of Diabetes In Dogs And CatsDiabetes mellitus, commonly referred to simply as diabetes, is a disease seen occasionally in dogs, and commonly in cats. The end result of this disease is high blood glucose due to the inability of the body cells to absorb dietary sugar. Before understanding what causes diabetes and the best way to manage it from a holistic perspective, it is first necessary to understand the mechanism of the disease.

Under normal circumstances, after carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars (a.k.a., glucose) and absorbed in the digestion process, glucose then enters the blood stream. Chemo-receptors in the blood vessels detect the spike in blood glucose, and then signal the islet cells of the pancreas to secrete a hormone called insulin. Insulin attaches to insulin receptors on cells that trigger the cells to take up the glucose. Glucose is then either utilized for energy, or stored for later use by the cells during periods of low blood glucose (hypoglycemia). This process generally keeps a dog’s blood glucose between 80-120, and a cat’s blood glucose between 80-180.

Diabetes results when either the islets cells of the pancreas lack the ability to secrete adequate levels of insulin in response to absorbed dietary glucose, or the cellular insulin receptors are unresponsive to insulin. Either scenario may occur for genetic reasons due to inherited defects of pancreatic islet cells, cellular insulin receptors, or both. These cases are called Type I diabetes, or insulin dependent diabetes. Either scenario may also occur due to refractoriness or exhaustion of the pancreatic islet cells and/or cellular insulin receptors due to obesity and diets overly rich in simple carbohydrates and fat.  95% of canine diabetics are type I diabetics. Oppositely, 95% of cats are type II diabetics. This means that for dogs, the vast majority of cases of diabetes represent a genetic ticking time bomb where there was little that the owner could have done to prevent; whereas for cats, the vast majority of cases of diabetes were the result of poor diet, lifestyle, and obesity, all very preventable circumstances.

Please bear in mind that just because most diabetic cats are non-insulin dependent diabetics, does not mean that they may not need insulin. In fact, many do. However, unlike dogs, it does mean that with proper diet, there is a chance that a feline diabetic may be able to get weaned off insulin injections over time (about 20%-30% of the time if the correct diet and insulin are chosen). On the other hand, if a feline has a blood glucose over 400, DO NOT TRY TO TREAT THE DIABETES WITH DIET ALONE. Leaving the blood glucose that high leaves the cat prone to neurological disease, skin and bladder infections, blood vessel injury, kidney damage, and a life threatening complication of diabetes called diabetic ketoacidosis.

For dogs, the majority of the time, since they are insulin dependent diabetics, it is unrealistic to think that you will successfully wean them off dependence on insulin. However, with natural management with proper diet, exercise, and supplementation, you can minimize the deleterious effects of diabetes on the body, while minimizing insulin doses, which tend to otherwise progressively increase over time. Thus, let us start with canine diabetic management.

The most important point I can make about diabetes, is that since high blood glucose is the end result and primary harmful health consequence of the disease, we need to avoid simple carbohydrates and sugars. Diabetic dogs should be fed high protein (27%-50% of their total daily nutrient intake), no more than 18% fats, and the rest complex carbohydrate and fiber. There are prescription and commercial diets available that meet these criteria, but you need to research and do your due diligence to find them. Ideally, you should avoid feeding diets that are heavy in refined grains or even grain free if possible.

If time and schedule permits, home prepared diets with fresh, unprocessed ingredients are excellent, sticking to the aforementioned general diabetic dietary guidelines as best you can. You can likely achieve this balance by feeding 50% lean meats (poultry, venison, lamb) with 50% fresh vegetables and sparing amounts of fruits safe for canine consumption (pears, apples). Good vegetable choices include green beans and broccoli. If your dog is not crazy about vegetables, pureeing them into a paste or steaming them can make them more appealing.

Another important point about diet with regard to management of diabetes is body condition, whether or not a dog is obese. If your dog is obese, dietary portion control and exercise are of the utmost importance. Obesity continually stresses the pancreas and blood glucose metabolism, making it increasingly difficult to regulate diabetes. Obesity also increases the potential for inflammatory disease of the blood vessels (more on this below) and dangerous clot formations.

I strongly advise pharmaceutical grade omega-3-fatty acids supplementation for diabetic dogs, as inflammation and secondary infections at the level of the skin and urinary bladder are common complications of diabetes. Inflammatory disease in the blood vessels of the body (vasculitis) is also a common complication of diabetes in dogs. Omega-3-fatty acids directly condition and nourish these and other tissues and organ systems, while naturally exerting an anti-inflammatory effect.

With regard to cats, from a supplemental and obesity management point of view, the same applies as it does for dogs. The main difference for management of feline diabetes is dietary. Whereas dogs require complex carbohydrate and fiber in their diet, most cats do not. Cats are in the truest sense, carnivores, meaning that their bodies can synthesize any nutrient they require from meat protein. Thus, diabetic cats (as well as all cats, for that matter), ideally should be fed a diet that consists of 80%-90% meat based protein.

Like dogs, commercial and prescription diets exist that fit these criteria, but it is important to take a close look at the ingredients and nutrient percentage breakdowns prior to choosing a diet for your cat. One sure method to ensure proper nutrient consumption is to prepare home cooked diets for your cat. The ingredients would be much like those described above for dogs, however, I would instead feed 80% meat to 20% vegetables, or even 100% meat provided the cat maintains good GI function fed a pure meat diet.

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.

Dental Disease In Dogs And Cats: Natural Prevention And Treatment Strategies

Natural treatment and prevention for dental disease in dogs and catsDental disease is the most commonly diagnosed chronic disease in dogs and cats. Poor dental health is much more than bad breath. The chronic infection that ensues in the gums and the bone surrounding the teeth, from the accumulation of dental tartar causes chronic pain, immune suppression, has a direct link to kidney failure (the number one cause of death in cats, number two in dogs), and can cause heart valve infections. The importance of good dental health in dogs and cats cannot be overstated.

The ideal time to be proactive with dental health care in dogs and cats is early on, before dental disease devolves into bone loss, severe gum recession, bleeding, and necessitating tooth extractions because teeth and surrounding bone are in such disrepair that they are no longer viable. Not only does this head off trauma to the pet, but it is also much less costly to prevent dental disease, rather than have to react to it due to severity.

Veterinarians stage dental and periodontal disease from 1-4, stage 1 being the least severe, stage 4 being the most severe. Natural management of dental disease is often successful in managing stage 1-2 dental disease, whereas, stage 3-4 almost always requires a professional cleaning and tooth extractions to get the mouth healthy again. Below is a general overview of the stages of periodontal disease.

Stage of Dental Disease In Dogs and Cats

While nothing replaces a proper dental cleaning, when budgetary concerns or the stability of a patient under anesthesia are major concerns, Stage 1 and 2 periodontal disease may possibly be contained via proactive dental sprays and chews.  Specifically, for a dental spray to be effective, it should contain grapefruit seed extract, grape seed extract, peppermint oil, and thyme oil.  These ingredients can help to loosen tartar and reduce bacterial infection in the gums.  These products are not FDA regulated, so be certain to read reviews!

Veterinary quality dental chews such as Greeenies, CET Chews, or Ora-Vet dental Chews are not only enjoyable for the pet, but are invaluable for massaging the gums and reducing tartar on the teeth.

Lastly, if you have a cooperative pet, regular brushing with an enzymatically activated veterinary grade toothpaste such as the one made by Vetquinol is a great way to reduce tartar and infection in the mouth.

Like people, however, there is no replacement for a regular, professional scaling and polish.  In order to be properly done, it requires general anesthesia in order to protect the airway, take dental x-rays for teeth with large pockets (that may indicate dangerous and painful root disease), perform extractions if medically necessary, and to scale the inner surfaces of the teeth and back molars.

General anesthesia in an AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) accredited veterinary clinic is very safe, so unless there are severe budgetary concerns or health concerns that make general anesthesia overly risky, be sure to engage in regular cleanings when your veterinarian recommends them.

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.

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.