Dietary And Nutritional Treatment For Canine Cognitive Dysfunction/Senility

Recognizing and Treating Dementia or Cognitive Dysfunction In DogsCanine cognitive dysfunction, also known as senility, refers to problems with spatial orientation, memory, house training, and night pacing that is commonly observed in dogs as they age. The signs of canine cognitive dysfunction are progressive with time, and are commonly missed early on in the manifestation of disease, or written off as age related quirky behavior.

The reason for the progressive brain dysfunction is because with age, the following occurs:

1.) The brain atrophies, that is, it decreases in size and mass with age. In addition to the decrease in size, the overall number of neurons in the brain, the cells that comprise the brain and central nervous system, decrease in number. The result is a decrease in brain function.

2.) There is an increase in beta amyloid plaques. Beta amyloid is a protein that accumulates in the brain over time and directly damages neurons, leading to cognitive impairment.Numerous micro hemorrhages (bleeds) and clots that form in the vasculature of the brain reduce blood circulation, which leads to oxygen deprivation to neurons, which in turn leads to neuron damage, death, and overall cognitive impairment.

3.) The important neurotransmitter, serotonin decreases with age, which contributes to interrupted sleep/wake cycles, confusion, and fear.

The natural approach to management of senility in dogs must begin with early recognition. Thus, if you begin to notice odd “quirks” in your dog’s behavior as he/she ages, do not just write it off as age related eccentricity. In a recent study of 69 senior dogs completed at UC Davis, College of Veterinary Medicine, it was determined that 32% of dogs over the age of 11 had signs of senility, while 100% of dogs over the age of 16 years had confirmed senility. Following recognition of the signs of senility, begin a diet rich in anti-oxidants to minimize free radical damage to the brain that occurs with more frequency with age.

Talk to your veterinarian about proper dosing with anti-oxidants, such as vitamin E, B complex vitamins, beta carotene, and vitamin C. Start your dog on pharmaceutical grade omega-3-fatty acids. Omega-3-fatty acids are naturally anti-inflammatory and also help to repair damaged cells, as they are also an integral component to the cell membrane. The net result of omega-3-fatty acids is improved circulation and nerve conduction. The importance of omega-3-fatty acids in brain and central nervous system health cannot be overstated.

S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e) is a supplement that has known protective and regenerative properties toward the liver, and has a well-established use in veterinary medicine for alternative management of liver disease. While the mechanism is not known for certain, SAM-e has also shown a reduction in clinical signs associated with canine cognitive dysfunction.

St John’s wort is an herbal supplement known to increase serotonin in the brain. The increase in serotonin helps to reverse the reduction of this important neurotransmitter that commonly occurs as the result of senility. The effect of increasing serotonin levels in the brain, includes reduction in confusion, fear, as well as more consistent and better sleep.Early recognition and aggressive nutritional management are the best methods to combat this common disease of aging dogs. This type of intervention before significant irreversible damage has been done to the brain, not only significantly slows the progression of disease, but can even turn back the clock on the aging of the brain.

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

How To Naturally Prevent Bloat In Large, Deep Chested Dogs

Preventing Bloat In Large, Deep Chested DogsBloat is a common disease seen in large and giant breed dogs, where the stomach accumulates with gas and fluid and distends to a dangerous point. Unable to expel the gas and fluid, this distension leads to a painful, tense stomach that is prone to rupture, or twist on its axis, complications that are very serious and life threatening. Once a dog has an active bloat, alternative medicine has little to offer, as the stomach needs to be decompressed as soon as possible, either by passage of a stomach tube, or surgically. Thus, this article is focused more on prevention for dog breeds are prone to bloat, as well as prevention for dogs who have already survived one or more episodes of bloat.

Given the strong genetic link with bloat, for dogs that are genetically predisposed to the disease, it is believed that it is not a question if a particular dog may bloat, it is a question of when. Since the industry has yet to have effective genetic marker testing, we cannot really know for certain if a dog may be genetically prone to bloat, unless there is a known immediate relative of the dog that had a confirmed case of bloat. Subsequently, without effective testing for predisposition to canine bloat, if you are the owner of any large or giant breed of dog (70 plus pounds), you should simply assume that your dog is prone to bloat and take preventive measures to give the dog his best chance to avoid a bout of bloat.

Prevention starts with diet. You should start by avoiding starchy foods, such as processed grains and simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are not only pro-inflammatory, but they also tend to increase bowel secretions, potentially setting the stage for gut distention. Instead, carbohydrates should be complex in nature, best supplied by vegetables.

Diets should be high in protein and moderate to low in saturated fats. Protein should be of high biological value, meaning that it is easily broken down during digestion; a high percentage of it is absorbed, while only a small percentage is excreted as waste. Poultry based protein sources, rabbit, and venison are examples that tend to fit these criteria quite well. Lean beef is a good option if fed raw.

Regarding raw feeding, done correctly and engaged with maximum safety precautions, there is anecdotal evidence suggesting a decrease in the incidence of bloat in predisposed breeds fed raw. However, given the AVMA’s (American Veterinary Medical Association) stance against raw feeding due to the risk of raw food bacterial toxicity, there is little peered reviewed and/or veterinary college based studies that substantiate this observation at this time.

Pharmaceutical grade omega-3-fatty acids are another good preventive measure against bloat. Omega-3-fatty acids are naturally anti-inflammatory at virtually every tissue level, and the gut is no exception. Digestive enzymes that aid in the breakdown of nutrients for absorption represent another dietary supplement that is a good sense preventive measure for bloat. Maximum breakdown of nutrients leads to maximum absorption, which in turn leads to less gas and fluid accumulation in the gut.

Small, frequent meals are ideal for dogs that may be predisposed to bloat. Breaking down the daily food requirement into 3-4 small meals makes certain that the gut is not filled substantially at any given time. From a metabolic perspective, this approach also helps to maximize metabolic efficiency to help prevent obesity and a stagnant metabolic rate, two predisposing factors for bloat.

My last point regarding diet is to not allow a large or giant breed to engage in strenuous exercise for 45-60 minutes following a meal. Exercise immediately following a meal is a known risk factor for bloat. Thus, immediately following a meal, exercise should be restricted to a short potty break in the yard, or slow, short leash walk.

For young female large and giant breed dogs that are to undergo a spay sterilization procedure, request that while your veterinarian is in the abdomen performing the spay, that he also tack the stomach to the body wall. That way, if the dog experiences bloat in her lifetime, the stomach tack will prevent the stomach from twisting. Tacking the stomach adds only a small amount of surgical time to the spay, requires only a slightly larger incision, and only a modest increase in cost. The result, however, may prove to be priceless, as prevention of stomach twisting in the midst of a bloat episode may mean the difference between life and death.

I will reiterate that there is a strong genetic link to the development of bloat. As such, sometimes despite our best efforts to prevent the incidence of bloat, it still occurs. However, following the natural prevention measures outlined in this article, will give your big dog his/her best chance to avoid the pain and danger of bloat in his/her lifetime.

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 Management Of Anal Sac/Gland Disease In Dogs And Cats

Dog Scooting Because of Anal Gland or Anal Sac DiseaseDisease of the anal sacs occurs in about one in 5 dogs, and about 1 in 30 cats based on my own clinical experience. Before discussing natural options for dealing with this issue, it is important to first explain why disease occurs in the first place.

 Under normal circumstances, the function of the anal sacs, pouches that exist at approximately 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions in the rectal wall about 1-3 cm proximal to the anal sphincter, is to collect secretions from the anal glands. When a dog or cat defecates, the pressure of the feces passing through expresses the anal sacs and the anal glandular secretion then coats the feces, giving it a scent that is distinct to the animal.

 Anal sacs disease begins with poor anatomical conformation leading to decreased ability to fully empty, and rather than get excreted, the fluid remains in the anal sacs. Over time, as the sacs continue to distend with unexpressed fluid, they begin to cause irritation and the pet will often begin to scoot. If left too long, dogs and cats can develop abscesses from ascending infections the static fluid has predisposed the anal sacs to.

 Management early on is simple, where the veterinarian performs a manual expression of the anal sacs. In the case of infection, sometimes a course of antibiotics needs to be completed, as it is too painful to attempt to empty the contents, plus surrounding tissue may also in infected secondarily. In chronic cases of dogs and cats with anal sacs issues, the development of scar tissue can lead to further inability for the anal sacs to naturally empty, thus exacerbating the problem. This makes manual expression difficult for the veterinarian and the pet, sometimes necessitating surgical removal of the anal sacs.

 When discussing natural management of disease of the anal sacs, it is in most cases unrealistic to assume that we will be able to create circumstances where manual expression will not be necessary. However, in many cases, we can significantly decrease the frequency of anal sacs expression by taking a few simple measures. While there are usually inherited contributing factors that lead to reduced anal sacs emptying, there is one major factor that is human caused: pet obesity. Obesity is known to either contribute to, or even be the primary cause for, reduced anal sacs emptying. Thus, if your pet has anal sacs problems and is overweight, enact a dietary portion and calorie control plan to get weight off as a first step.

 This segues nicely into this next strategy to help with disease of the anal sacs, which is to increase fiber. Fiber bulks up stools, thereby increasing the potential for the anal sacs to get expressed more effectively and empty more efficiently. For overweight pets, you can kill two birds with one stone by feeding a high fiber, prescription weight control diet. Diets such as Hills R/D and Hills W/D will not only get weight off of pets because much of what they are eating in these diets is fiber that fills the tummy but is not absorbed, but all that fiber effectively bulks up the stool.

 If your pet has anal sacs issues and is not obese, or you are a pet owner committed to feeding grain free, another method to increase fiber is by adding canned pumpkin to the diet. The dose is about 1/8 of a teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight added to the food once daily. Another source of fiber one can add to the food is psyillium. Psyllium is a common additive in commercial natural regularity supplements, and a simple Google search for “veterinary psyllium” will lead to several different dog and cat product options. This is a nice option for cats that may not be thrilled about having canned pumpkin in their food, but be certain to purchase a non-scented/non-flavored formula for your cats if you choose this route.

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.