Phytosphingosine Vital Component In Management Of Skin Disease In Dogs And Cats

Phytosphingosine is naturally occurring lipid compound on the outer layer of the skin of dogs and cats.  It is produced by the break down of wax-like compounds secreted by glands within the deep layers of skin.  This break down occurs via the skin’s natural flora, a population of good bacteria and yeast that are a normal component to normally functioning, healthy skin.  Phytosphingosine subsequently forms a transparent layer that protects the skin against drying, ultraviolet damage, harmful bacteria and yeast, and antigens that may trigger allergy.

Following a major inflammatory episode of the skin that may involve infection, allergic skin disease, parasitic infestation, autoimmune disease, or other diseases of the skin, despite resolution of disease, to varying degrees the skin’s ability to maintain the protective phytosphingosine layer becomes compromised for some time (as long as 3-6 months).   Subsequently,  although treatment for the resolution of skin disease may have proven successful, the canine or feline patient is often prone to relapses of disease for prolonged periods of time.

Thus, the inclusion of phytosphingosine as a natural prevalent ingredient to our canine and feline therapeutic shampoos has proved to be an invaluable, side effect free tool in the treatment of any number of skin diseases.

With few exceptions, phytosphingosine based shampoos are excellent adjunctive topical skin diseases, including (but not limited to):

  • Skin infections that do not involve puncture or deep ulceration of the skin
  • Allergic skin disease
    • Hair loss
    • Itching
    • Redness/irritation
  • Mange
  • Autoimmune disease

Even in the absence of disease of the skin, a phytosphingosine based maintenance, conditioning shampoo helps to maintain a full, shiny, healthy hair coat.

As the largest organ of the body, maintaining healthy skin is essential to maintaining optimal health and quality of life.  Phytosphingosine is a proven natural compound that aids in the maintenance of a healthy skin and hair coat.

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.

Treatment For Flaky Skin And/Or Dull Hair Coat In Dogs And Cats

Flaky skin is not representative of healthy skin. Thus, if you are observing flakes on the coat of your dog or cat that means something is inherently amiss with the health of the skin and hair coat. However, there is not one single cause for the presence of flaky canine and feline skin, and determining the cause of flakes is paramount to finding a solution to treat them.

Dry Flakes

When the flakes are observed on the skin and hair coats of dogs and cats are dry to the touch, feeling like the character of fish food flakes, this typically indicates simple dry skin. Flakes of this kind often are not accompanied by significant hair loss, foul odor, and/or redness or irritation. This presentation is fairly easy to treat with a combination of omega-3-fatty acids derived from fish oils taken orally, and weekly to biweekly baths with a moisturizing shampoo fortified with oatmeal and essential fatty acids. This approach comprehensively, directly conditions and nourishes the skin and hair coat.

Oily FlakesWhen the flakes have an oily feel to them, this typically means that a skin disease process is at work that is more complicated than simple dry skin, known as seborrheic dermatitis. Seborrheic dermatitis occurs when the rate of skin cell turnover becomes excessive due to inflammation. This is also often accompanied by overactive sebaceous glands (glands that secrete conditioning, water proofing oils for the skin), hence the typical oily texture of flakes, skin and hair coat in patients that suffer from seborrheic dermatitis. In addition to flakes and oiliness, the skin is often itchy, inflamed, and there is often a general foul odor to the pet.

The most common inflammatory influence with regard to seborrheic dermatitis is skin allergy. Thus, in addition to direct anti-seborrheic topical management of the skin and hair coat (more on that below); a comprehensive skin allergy management regimen is also imperative. From a supplemental point of view, omega-3-fatty acids derived from fish oils are still important, but for more reasons than just directly conditioning the skin and hair coat. By their nature, omega-3-fatty acids are naturally anti-inflammatory, diverting inflammatory biochemical pathways to inert, non-reactive pathways

An allergic pet should also be fed a hypoallergenic 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, an 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.

Hydrolyzed protein diets are also very effective, since they take away the necessity to find novel protein sources. Hydrolyzed diets cut large chain proteins into smaller, maximally absorbable chains that are unlikely to lead to allergic reactions that erupt in the skin.

For a carbohydrate source for patients with seborrheic dermatitis, I like rice, technically a grain, but unlikely to cause adverse reaction in the gut. Potato is also a good carbohydrate source that also contains other important nutrients such as potassium.  

Last but not least, from a topical point of view, a pet that suffers from chronic seborrheic dermatitis, should at least in the short term, be regularly bathed with a veterinary grade, anti-seborrheic shampoo. Such a shampoo should have benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid as its two active medical ingredients, while also having aloe, essential fatty acids, and other naturally conditioning agents in it. Your veterinarian can recommend effective anti-seborrheic shampoo products. I typically advise bathing with such a shampoo three times weekly until the flakes, oiliness, and odor are under control, and then bathe the pet as needed.

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.

Can Fleas Be Controlled Naturally In Dogs & Cats?

The direct answer to this question is yes. However, I will state plainly and unequivocally it is not brewer’s yeast or garlic. Naturally minded pet owners need to stop living in denial about brewer’s yeast and garlic as legitimate flea preventive agents: FACE FACTS, THEY DO NOT WORK. The actual answer will be quite surprising to most naturally and holistically minded pet owners. But first, a little background is in order.

Scientists have for some time observed that plants that grow in soil laden with species bacteria called Saccharopolyspora spinosa were conspicuously devoid of insect pests. Further research determined that the reason behind the insecticidal properties of the soil was due to a secretory molecule within the bacteria called spinosad. Specifically, while posing little toxicity risk to mammalian species, spinosad is highly toxic to an adult insect’s nervous system, with contact leading to rapid and high mortality rates in many species of insects, most notably, fleas.

Pharmaceutical Eli Lilly has been able to isolate and mass produce spinosad in two of their animal health division’s marquis products for dogs and cats: monthly oral flea preventive Comfortis, and monthly oral heartworm and flea preventive, Trifexis. A spinosad derivative called spinatorem is available for cats, administered as a monthly topical flea preventive.  In either form, isolated and mass produced by a pharmaceutical, spinosad is still by in large considered to be a natural isolate and insecticide, to the extent that a garden may still be legally identified as “organic” if spinosad is applied for insect control.

This is where so many naturally minded pet owners are quite surprised at my answer when they ask me if there are any natural or holistic flea prevention/control options available. They expect me to tell them that brewer’s yeast, garlic, cedar sprays, ultrasonic emitters, and other natural modalities that are popular internet pet forum talking points but do not actually work for prevention of fleas, are the answer; when the only currently proven natural flea prevention solution comes from a multibillion dollar a year pharmaceutical company.

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.

Naturally Reducing The Impact Of & Maintaining Cardiac Function In Dogs In Cats With Heart Disease

Natural Treatment For Heart Disease In Dogs And CatsWith few exceptions, regardless of the many different presentations of chronic heart disease in dogs and cats, whether primarily or secondarily, there are metabolic and structural abnormalities at the level of the heart muscle. These abnormalities lead to electrical conduction anomalies, deficiencies in the strength and timeliness of heart contractions, and compromise the ability of the heart chambers to adequately fill with blood. The net result of this is a heart that is grossly inefficient and fails to circulate adequate amounts of blood to oxygenate and nourish the body.

Our medical technology in treatment of heart disease has effectively retained quality of life and significant longevity for canine and feline patients with chronic heart disease. Just in my 12 plus year career alone, the advances in medical management of heart disease has progressed by leaps and bounds. However, the supplemental side of nutrient therapy to aid in the treatment of heart disease has progressed painstakingly slowly. What’s more, heart healthy supplements have for too long been ignored as a means to effectively prevent or stave off heart disease in dogs and cats.

L-Carnitine

L-Carnitine is an amino acid that is not considered an essential amino acid, as a normal body can produced all it needs by the liver utilizing the amino acids lysine and methionine, in combination with Vitamin C, B1, and B6. Carnitine is required for transporting long chain fatty acids into the mitochondria of cells, tiny cellular structures that are consider the powerhouse of the cell. Once transported into the mitochondria, the fatty acids are converted into the ultimate chemical energy source of the body, known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Mitochondria are abundant in the cells of all organs that have a large energy requirement, including the heart.

Although the normal pet is able to manufacture all of the L-Carnitine it needs under normal circumstances, it may not under different circumstances, where there may be an inherited deficiency in manufacturing this amino acid. It has actually been long theorized that this is the mechanism behind a specific kind of heart failure called dilative cardiomyopathy.

There is also credible evidence that even in chronic heart disease patients that manufacture adequate levels of L-Carnitine, that providing additional L-Carnitine has shown considerable benefit in management of progression and severity of disease. Thus, L-Carnitine should be an integral supplement taken by all patients afflicted with any stage of chronic heart disease. What’s more, for all breeds where dilative cardiomyopathy is seen more commonly – Cocker Spaniels, Great Danes, Doberman Pinschers, and all giant breed dogs – these dogs should be started on a regular regimen of L-Carnitine early on.

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 is also present in the mitochondria of the cells. It is involved in the conversion of oxygen into energy for the cell. It is especially important for the cells of organs that have high oxygen requirements, such as the heart and brain. Given its affinity for oxygen and other oxidizing compounds, Coenzyme Q10 is also a very potent anti-oxidant that protects tissues and organs from oxidizing chemicals and metabolites. All of this considered, it should come as no surprise that research suggests that Coenzyme Q10 is an invaluable supplement for management of heart muscle damage and debilitation.

Taurine

Taurine is an essential amino acid that has particularly high concentrations in the eyes and heart. It is considered essential to heart health, as deficiencies of it are directly linked to a dilative cardiomyopathy in cats and dogs. However, Taurine deficiency is not necessarily a dietary deficiency, but it could be an inherited abnormality in a dog’s or cat’s ability to absorb and assimilate the nutrient from the diet.

In most cases, dogs and cats fed animal meat based diets will satisfy their Taurine needs. With regard to cats, I have not actually seen a case of dilative cardiomyopathy in a cat fed a feline labelled diet, or home prepared diet heavy in meats. I have, however, seen many cases of heart disease in dogs fed canine diets with adequate crude protein requirements, or home prepared diets heavy in meats.

As such, like Coenzyme Q10 and L-Carnitine, Taurine should also be an integral component to management of chronic heart disease in dogs and cats. Also like L-Carnitine and Coenzyme Q10 in dog breeds known to be predisposed to dilative cardiomyopathy, they should be started and maintained on supplementation from a young age.

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 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.