Natural Relief For Dogs That Suffer From Thunderstorm & Fireworks Anxiety

Summer is a wonderful time for dogs and humans alike with more hours of daylight, better weather to enjoy walks and time outdoors, and an increase in exercise and quality time.  Summer unfortunately carries with it a dark side that is very frightening and even panic inducing to many dogs: thunderstorms and fireworks.

The barometric pressure drops, static electricity, and of course noise associated with thunderstorms combine to terrify many dogs.  The constant barrage of fireworks blown off in the evening on and around July 4th are also often terrifying.  Here in Florida where I live and practice veterinary medicine, we almost always have a strong thunderstorm every afternoon and fireworks are legal, which makes for a rather prolonged pre and post July 4th nightly fireworks serenade.  Summer here can be especially stressful at times for many of our canine kids.

Thundershirt

When this invention first came out years ago, all I could think of was how silly it was and how consumers can be duped into buying anything.  Over time, however, one credible client after another came in proclaiming that it really helped.

The Thundershirt is a vest that fits snugly with uniform pressure throughout the trunk of a dog.  It thereby creates a swaddling type affect on the dog similar to that which a human infant experiences when placed in a swaddle.

With so many success stories, having a Labrador Retriever that suffers severe thunderstorm and noise anxiety, I decided to give a a try (86 pounds of pure panic is not fun for Bernie or his human family).  On the directions, it states that the shirt may not work until the fourth or fifth use and to make sure you use it at least this many times before judging the product.  For Bernie, I did not see any improvement at first, but clearly saw a marked difference on the fourth use and thereafter.

However, be careful and do not make the mistake of leaving it on all of the time, as it can create a refractory effect where the dog is no longer influenced by the vest.  Use it only in anticipation of times of stress, then remove after the stressful element has passed (storm, vet visit, evening of fireworks, etc.).

I cannot say that my Lab and many other dogs that use thunderstorms are completely without stress after its application, but it most certainly take some edge off, often eliminating the need for pharmaceutical sedation.  Combined with another canine anti-stress innovation below, it can be especially effective.

Pheromone Therapy

One good strategy to maximize the efficacy of the Thundershirt is to spray it down with a soothing pheromone.  A pheromone is a hormone that is secreted by animals that goes airborne and is detected by smell.

Lactating female dogs secrete a pheromone during milk let down to calm and soothe her puppies so that they will relax and nurse effectively.  The scent is imperceptible to humans.  Pharmaceutical company Ceva isolated this pheromone and literally put it in a bottle in a product called Adaptil.  It can be used as a spray that lasts for 6-8 hours or a plug in diffuser that constantly covers a 700 square foot area with the scent.

The diffuser can get a bit pricey so I find the best use of Adaptil is to use the spray to spray down the Thundershirt in anticipation of a thunderstorm or an evening of fireworks.  I have also seen it work quite well for dogs that experience anxiety for vet visits or travel anxiety in a car or airplane.

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.

When It Is Advisable To Supplement Dogs With Vitamin C And When It Is Not

Vitamin C is ascorbic acid, a compound that is found naturally occurring in many fruits and vegetables and commonly seen as a dietary supplement.  Vitamin C is an antioxidant compound, meaning that it is in a class of compounds that absorbs and removed free radicals that can do damage to cells and tissues of the body.  For this reason, antioxidants are commonly referred to as biological sponges.

Vitamin C also plays a significant role in boosting the immune system and is clearly proven to help protect mammals from infectious disease and to hasten recovery from infectious disease.  How this occurs in complex, but in short, vitamin C directly influences the release of immune messenger molecules involved in summoning and activating the protective cellular defenses of the immune systen against infectious disease.

Returning to its antioxidant activity, vitamin C also reduces oxidative stress that weakens the body during periods of not only infectious disease, but disease in general, including cancer and autoimmune disease; that also cause oxidative stress on the body.  The reduction of oxidative stress helps to relieve the impact of disease on cells and tissues and strengthen the patient, making vitamin C with few exceptions, a cornerstone supplement of choice for patient that are battling cancer and other chronic diseases.

Where dogs and people differ significantly with regard to vitamin C is that people cannot manufacture vitamin C, whereas dogs do.  People need to receive their vitamin C exogenously via diet and suffer poor health and disease when they do not.

Dogs, on the other hand, do not need to take in dietary vitamin C because they can synthesize their own.  However, not all dogs manufacture vitamin C equally and many even young adult dogs that are subsequently prone to infectious disease benefit from supplementation in the diet.  Many senior dogs lack in their vitamin C production as they age and I generally recommend choosing senior diets that have vitamin C added or directly adding  vitamin C to the diet via nutritional supplements.

Here is where we have to be careful with vitamin C.  It is a crucial nutrient involved in the building of connective tissues (ligaments, tendons, cartilage) and bones.  Thus, with few exceptions, I generally recommend against supplementing puppies with extra vitamin C.

One may wonder why vitamin C is a bad idea to supplement puppy diets since it such an integral component to the building of bone and connective tissue, something it would seem puppies would benefit from.  However, the body often works in what is known as reflex inhibition.  If vitamin C is supplemented in the canine body that is designed to synthesize its own vitamin C, the body will often suppress it own intrinsic vitamin C production in presence of excess exogenously supplemented vitamin C.  By subsequently hindering a puppy’s intrinsic ability to manufacture its own vitamin C, supplementing it could lead to reflex vitamin C deficiency and hinder proper bone and connective tissue development.  We may also potentially hinder its ability to make its own vitamin C permanently.

Thus, we always must be careful to balance the need for vitamin C supplementation in dogs with the patient’s breed, overall health, and age.  I would strongly advise against taking it upon yourself to start vitamin C supplementation for your dog without consulting with a veterinarian.  Vitamin C can be beneficial to a dog’s health but if not taken under the appropriate circumstances, it has the potential to cause harm.

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.

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 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Cautionary Tail Of 3 Dogs

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

History

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

Presentation

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

Diagnosis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Warning About The Use Of Essential Oils Around Pets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cannabis Medical Marijuana Uses For Dogs & Cats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Promising Natural Treatment For Dogs With Cancer – Apocaps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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