An Easy, Cost Free, Effective, and Enjoyable Treatment For Dogs With Dementia

Dementia, or Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, is a common a far more common disease in dogs than most dog owners are aware of.  Since “senior moments” in dogs cannot be articulated as they are in people, signs of dementia tend to be more subtle at first.

We commonly hear owners describe their senior dog exhibiting “selective hearing.”  This more often than not is a subtle but clear sign of early cognitive dysfunction.  While they may not connect their name when being called with an owner intention to summons them, they may still have no difficulty in responding to more recognizable (because they are the most enjoyable events of their day) sounds like the sound of kibble hitting the bowl at feeding time.

Statistically, 30% of dogs over the age of 11 and 100% of dogs over the age of 15 are showing significant signs of cognitive dysfunction.  There are recommended holistic supplements known to be helpful in managing these cases such as omega-3-fatty acids, and SAM-E.  There is a very effective medication called selegiline that often successfully manages cognitive dysfunction by increasing levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain.

Perhaps the most effective treatment for dog dementia is something that is also physically good for the dog, physically good for the owner, and mentally good for both: a nice neighborhood walk.  Walking provides the dog with mental stimulus that increases sensory input in the brain, increases blood flow to the brain, increases serotonin production in the brain (which reduces anxiety that commonly accompanies cognitive dysfunction).

When walking with your senior dog, be patient. Let him sniff a lot.  Sniffing is the primary method of sensory input for dogs, far more valuable to them than even  their eyes.  Sniffing other dogs, wildlife, and all of the myriad scents of nature are not only enjoyable to your dog, but provide a wealth of sensory input that exercises his brain.  The physical benefits of keeping arthritic joints moving and keeping up muscle tone to help combat arthritis are an added bonus.

So…if you think your dog may be experiencing dementia or cognitive dysfunction, a daily walk is just what the doctor ordered.

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.

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.

Natural Treatment Options For Stress/Anxiety In Dogs And Cats

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

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

Dogs

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

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

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

Cats

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

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

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

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