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.

What Is It About Thunderstorms That Causes So Much Fear And Anxiety In Some Dogs?

Countless dog owners deal with the often heartbreaking circumstance of their beloved dog experiencing sheer panic during thunderstorms that tend to occur in late summer.  Here in my home state of Florida, dogs prone to thunderstorm anxiety suffer on a near daily basis from July through October.  I have an 11 year old yellow Labrador who began experiencing thunderstorm anxiety as he neared 2 years of age so I deal with this issue not just as a veterinarian but also as a dog parent who loves his dog dearly.

So why do some dogs react so fearfully to thunderstorms?  The noise of the thunder probably plays a significant role, but some dogs like mine, may suffer thunderstorm anxiety, but may be okay with other loud noises like fireworks. My late Border Collie mix Lulu was the complete opposite, as she had zero fear of thunderstorms while fireworks set off panic.

Like my Lab, some dogs are akin to being a living barometer where he may be pacing and anxious while it is sunny, quiet, with calm winds, and clear skies outside, but there is a storm on its way still 45 minute out.  Thus, the effects of the thunderstorm on dogs prone to thunderstorm anxiety are clearly multi-factorial and include:

  • Noise
  • Static electricity
  • Barometric pressure drop

Thunderstorm anxiety often worsens with time, especially if measures are not taken to reduce its severity.  From experience, there is rarely one single remedy an effective approach is typically multimodal.  Below are some common remedies, some natural, some not, listed with pros and cons:

  • Apply a snug garment – this is when a snug fitting shirt like the Thundershirt is placed on the dog that has an effect like swaddling a new born baby.  The shirt Storm Defender takes this concept a step further by integrating a metallic lining to the shirt that the product claims disperses static electricity.  Most of the benefits of these products are anecdotal by I see them work often enough to recommend giving them a shot.
    • Pros – Drug free approach that legitimately provides anxiety relief to some dogs.
    • Cons – They often do not work.
  • Pheromone therapy – A veterinary pharmaceutical was able to synthesize and bottle a calming pheromone that the lactating female dog emits to calm her puppies and encourage them to nurse.  The product, Adaptil, comes in plug in diffusers and sprays.  The diffusers provide 24/7 therapy in a 700 square foot space, while the sprays last for 6-8 hours.  Some dog owners spray down snug garments with Adaptil prior to fitting the dog in the shirt.
    • Pros – Drug free approach that legitimately provides anxiety relief to some dogs.
    • Cons – Costly for some dog owners, sometimes does not work.
  • Sedatives like Valium and Xanax
    • Pros – Often work well to relieve anxiety, not very costly.
    • Cons – Effectiveness usually lessens over time and doses need to be increased or drug changed frequently, if storms blow in quickly there is not adequate time to absorb the drug in the GI to provide relief, the drug often lingers longer than desired period, and they are drugs that need to be eliminated metabolically in most cases by the liver.  There is a relatively new product called Sileo that is a micro-dose of a commonly used veterinary tranquilizer that is very effective, quick acting (it absorbs by transmucosally after application on the gums), and relieves anxiety without obvious sedation or lingering side effects.  Its main con at this point is cost.

I have found herbal calming remedies so largely ineffective that they do not make my list as a legitimate strategy to manage thunderstorm anxiety in dogs.  I usually tell owners that they may be worth a try because they are generally safe and they have nothing to lose other than a few bucks in trying them.

Realistically, most people never find a cure, but the right mix of some or all of the above.  If it is affordable, Sileo has been the most effective treatment that I have used for my own dog, but even at wholesale pricing, I find it cost prohibitive with a daily thunderstorm occurring every day in Florida from early July through late October.  I also do not like the notion of drugging (albeit a micro-dose) my dog for 3 months out of the year.  Thus, I generally reserve Sileo for major tropical storms and hurricanes, rely on Thundershirt with occasional Valium and scratching Bernie’s head.  My presence per my wife’s observance, makes a huge difference in how Bernie responds to management strategies, which is why I often take him to work with me during the summer months.

My advice to you is to work with your vet to find the right approach for your dog and go with the right mix of approaches may require both natural and pharmaceutical management.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Is Natural And Nutritional Treatment For Cushings Disease In Dogs Possible?

Natural and Nutritional Treatment For Cushings Disease In DogsCushings Disease is a disease seen commonly in dogs and rarely in cats, where a benign (not cancerous) but functional tumor in the pituitary gland over-secretes a hormone that over stimulates the adrenal glands in the abdomen to produce too much of the hormone, cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and prepares the body for the “fight or flight response,” where peripheral circulation is minimized and pooled centrally, the heart rate increases, the pupils dilate, and the gut slows down, leaving the body primed for a fight or rapid flight from danger. Make no mistake, cortisol is a very important and essential hormone, but too much of it over time is damaging to the body.

Among its deleterious effects, over time hyper-cortisolism caused by Cushings Disease, may lead to obesity, skin infections, thin hair coat and even hair loss, pigmentary changes of the skin, urinary tract infections, loss of lean muscle mass, anxiety, diabetes, heart enlargement, kidney failure, and cataracts of the eyes. Excessive cortisol also has a diuretic effect, commonly causing dogs to drink and urinate excessively, in some cases, never seeming to be able to quench their thirst.

Conventional treatment for Cushings Disease is to treat with a medication called trilostane that enzymatically inhibits the production or cortisol at the level of the adrenal gland, thereby neutralizing the over-stimulation caused by the functional pituitary gland tumor. It is an effective and safe treatment course, but it is also expensive. What’s more, I commonly see canine patients that I know have Cushings Disease, but repeatedly test negative for the disease. If a veterinarian cannot conclusively prove Cushings Disease, then he/she cannot treat it aggressively because of risk to the patient. I call these cases “Cushings Disease in waiting.”

There are also patients that are very mildly positive for Cushings Disease where treatment may be overkill, and of course patients with owners that have serious budgetary concerns that make treatment with trilostane cost prohibitive. Thus, while I will always maintain that for conclusively proven, unequivocal Cushings Disease patients, that the best course of action is treatment with trilostane, for borderline Cushings Disease patients, the aforementioned Cushings Disease patients in waiting, and for proven cases of Cushings Disease where treatment is cost prohibitive, I advocate for dietary and natural management of disease. What’s more, even for patients that are undergoing trilostane therapy for proven cases of Cushings Disease, natural management has the ability to reduce drug doses, thereby saving the client money, while overall increasing the safety of the patient who may end up less reliant on a pharmaceutical solution.

Natural management of Cushings Disease in dogs (and cats when disease rarely presents itself – I have only seen one case in all my years of practice) must begin with diet. Sodium restriction is key in management of Cushings Disease, as sodium levels will tend to be high in Cushings patients. This will help reduce the excessive thirst and urination, help reduce hypertension and therefore reduce the impact of Cushings Disease’s role in causing kidney failure and heart disease, respectively.

Since so many pet diets are high in sodium because of its appeal to canine and feline palates, it is difficult to find foods that have restricted levels of sodium. As such, you may want to consider prescription diets for kidney failure and/or heart disease that are sodium and phosphorus restricted. If you have a little bit more time on your hands, cooking a home cooked diet for your pet would be ideal, since you can keep refined and processed grains out of the diet. 50% fresh vegetables (green beans, peas, baby carrots, and broccoli are good choices) chopped, steamed, or puréed into a paste, served with a low sodium meats (rabbit, chicken, turkey, venison) served cooked or raw with no salts added give the benefit of low sodium, fresh ingredients with no preservatives, as well as unprocessed nutrients and beneficial antioxidants and free radical scavengers. If you choose to feed raw meat, be certain to choose reputable sources to prevent raw meat bacterial food toxicity. My preference are sources that exist solely for the purpose of providing raw meat for pet consumption that freeze the meat on site and ship frozen, for the per owner to then freeze upon receipt and thaw as needed.

Melatonin is a hormone that is normally secreted by the pineal gland, and has several important functions in the body. Research at the University of Tennessee, College of Veterinary Medicine, suggested that Cushings Disease patients not only suffer from the deleterious effects of excess cortisol, but also from excess female hormone, estradiol that the adrenal gland also is responsible for secreting. We believe that estradiol, not cortisol, may be responsible Cushings in waiting cases, where patients show hallmark clinical signs of disease, yet repeatedly come up negative on cortisol based testing for Cushings Disease. Melatonin has been shown to inhibit estradiol production and inhibit cortisol production. The dose for a dog under 30 pounds is 3 mg administered once every 12 hours, 6 mg every 12 hours for dogs over 30 pounds. The dose for cats is 1.5 mg administered once every 12 hours. Use regular, not extended release products.

Maximum success treating with melatonin is seen when used in combination with flaxseed lignans (flaxseed hulls). The lignans have a direct phytoestrogentic effect, while also serving to lower estradiol and cortisol production. Flaxseed oil is also rich in omega-3-fatty acids, which not only directly condition and nourish the skin, often a problematic area for Cushings patients, but also are naturally anti-inflammatory and protective to the skin, and other tissues and organ systems. Thus, I would try to find a product that has both flaxseed oil with lignans included. The dose is 40 mg every other day for dogs weighing less than 30 pounds, once daily for dogs weighing over 30 pounds. For cats, the dose is 20 mg every other day.

Make no mistake, for serious, clearly diagnosed Cushings Disease in dogs and cats, natural treatment for Cushings Disease alone, may only be successful in borderline positive cases, or cases where Cushings is strongly suspected, but has yet to be proven diagnostically. However, for cases of Cushings where financially treatment with trilostane is cost prohibitive, a natural approach can be very helpful, and worth a try. At the very least, a natural approach can do no harm. For confirmed cases of Cushings disease where treatment with trilostane is indicated and underway, I would advise this Cushings natural management approach in order to attempt to reduce trilostane doses over time, saving cost and increasing the safety of the patient.

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

Nutritional Cancer Prevention – Treatment Support In Dogs And Cats

CNatural Prevention and Treatment of Cancer in Dogs and Catsancer forms in our bodies of our pets every day, the vast majority of the time, without notice or consequence to us. Cancer begins through mutations at the cellular level, which leads to an abnormal proliferation of abnormal cells. The reason this process goes un-noticed and is inconsequential the overwhelming majority of the time, is because our immune systems are up to the task of identifying and clearing the abnormal cells before they have a chance to gain an established presence and/or spread in our bodies. The same is true for dogs and cats.

Thus, when endeavoring to prevent cancer or support canine and feline patients that are battling cancer, we must begin with immune system support. Vitamin C, vitamin E, and B complex vitamins, and beta carotenes are all immune system boosting, antioxidant, free radical sponging nutrients, and are invaluable for cancer prevention and support. These items can be found in supplemental forms in pharmaceutical grade, pet multivitamin formulations, as well as in nutritious diets geared toward immune boosting and free radical scavenging nutrition goals.

Pharmaceutical grade Omega-3-fatty acids are an invaluable tool for guarding against the deleterious effects of cancer in the body, namely inflammation at the level of the cells and tissues of the body. This is especially true in the organ systems where cancer wreaks the most havoc, the central nervous system and the circulatory system. By directly blocking inflammatory pathways and directly healing cells through integration into the cell membrane, omega-3-fatty acids both protect and heal the body.

Regarding diet, beyond choosing diets rich in antioxidant and free radical scavenging nutrients, we should also avoid nutrient forms and foods that are known to cause cancer, as well as feed cancer. Simple sugars that result from refined grains are known cancer feeding agents. Cancer thrives on sugar, and carbohydrates presented in this simple form are little more than sugar. Processed meats that are laden with preservatives like sodium nitrate or other chemicals keep the meats from going rancid and make them more appealing, but they are known cancer causing agents.

Ideally, if one has the time to research home cooked diets for dogs and cats that properly represent species appropriate nutrient percentages would be ideal. Meats should be fresh and uncured, and can even be considered for raw feeding if purchased from reputable, raw diet sources. Make certain that you engage in dully diligent research in purchasing meat for raw consumption, however, as prevention of raw meat bacterial toxicity first and foremost starts with the meat’s source. My favorite sources are the ones frozen on site and shipped frozen. The one contraindication for raw meat feeding is dogs and cats undergoing immune suppressive therapy, such as chemotherapy or radiation, as these mitigating circumstances increase the risk of food born bacterial food poisoning.

Vegetables should be fresh, and ideally organic. If organic vegetables are too rich for the budget, make certain that they are thoroughly washed prior to feeding. Good vegetable options to feed dogs and cats include green beans, broccoli, green peas, and sweet potato (in moderation due to simple carbohydrate levels). Dogs and cats benefit from apples and pears in moderation as well (for fiber and antioxidants), however, avoid other fruits, as some are not safe for feeding dogs and cats. If a dog or cat may be finicky about eating veggies and/or fruits, blending them into a paste often make them more appealing. The breakdown of home prepared dietary feeding for dogs should be about 50% meats to 50% vegetable/fruits, for cats, 80% meats to 20% vegetables/fruits.

If schedule, time constraints, budget constraints, or all of the above preclude the ability to home cook/prepared diets for your pets, then seek commercial diets that are preservative free (but vacuum sealed for preservation), free of processed or refined grains, cured meats, and have ingredients that are fresh on site (and not from China!). There are a number of diets that fit this description, but be certain to ask your veterinarian’s opinion on the diet you are considering, or research reviews, Better Business Bureau, etc., prior to feeding.

Lastly, acupuncture is an excellent modality by which the body can be supported to maximize self-healing. From the ancient Chinese perspective, acupuncture works by increasing the body’s life force, called Chi. From the Western medical perspective, acupuncture’s health benefits stem from increased nerve conduction, circulation, and endorphin release that result from its practice. Either way, the health benefits of acupuncture are well documented.

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