No article can replace the services of a trained veterinarian. The
following articles are not intended to encourage treatment of illness, disease, or other medical problems by the layman.
Any application of the recommendations set forth in these articles is solely at the reader’s discretion and risk.
You should consult a veterinarian concerning any veterinary medical or surgical problem. If a veterinarian is caring
for your pet, for any condition, he or she can advise you about information described in this article.
The Dry Cat Food Crisis
Provided by Feline Future (http://www.felinefuture.com)
facts about scandalous and poor quality ingredient components of commercial dry cat foods are no new evidence. One thing
seldom discussed, however, is the simple nature of these products of being dry and the severe cumulative side effects this
leads to when fed in this manner.
Today, dry, commercial cat food is by far the most popular product to feed to companion cats. The attributes which
all brands of this product have in common are: "convenient" and "inexpensive" when compared to other methods
of feeding cats. In recent years commercial dry foods have been heavily promoted through advertising and by Veterinarians
to be the choice of caring, health conscious care givers.
The truth is dry commercial cat foods are anything but healthy for cats.
First and foremost, the nutritional composition
of commercial dry foods does not compare to or reflect the cat's natural diet from which cats have evolved as absolute and
The natural prey diet of the cat contains between 65%-75% water. The cat, having evolved on the plains
of Africa, has adapted to quench her water requirements entirely on the moisture content in her prey.
Due to its nature, commercial dry cat food contains no more than 10% moisture.
Cereals create the base of dry commercial
foods and make up over half of the foods weight. Cereals frequently used in commercial dry cat foods like corn, rice, and
wheat, give the food bulk and structure and represent a cheap source of calories. Cereals are primarily made up of carbohydrates,
a nutrient nearly absent in the cat's natural prey diet. The liver and other organs store small amounts of carbohydrates and
the cat may receive additional minute amounts of this nutrient through the stomach and intestines of her prey; this however,
would never total more than 1-2% carbohydrates compared to the total weight of the prey. However, commercial dry foods may
contain as much as 45% carbohydrates. A diet high in carbohydrates will result in obesity, because excessive amounts of this
nutrient are converted by the liver to body fat. Since a cat metabolizes primarily fat and protein for energy, most of the
carbohydrates in the diet are then stored as body fat.
It is not an exaggeration to compare a commercial dry cat food based diet fed to a cat with a fortified
macaroni and cheese dinner diet fed to a human. Both products are overprocessed and based on refined carbohydrates. Added
vitamins attempt to compensate for nutrient loss, but the food still lacks many other essentials including enzymes, complete
amino acids and fatty acids. Neither reflects the natural diet or nutritional needs of either species. However, in the opinion
of the individual consuming it, both taste good . For a more accurate analogy, the macaroni and cheese dinner would need to
be modified such that the cheese flavored sauce is a component of the noodles and most importantly these new noodles are served
dry to the human!
Water is the most important
nutrient. Of course, neither we nor our cats can live on water alone, but its importance is demonstrated by the fact that
during the absence of food and water a creature will perish from thirst long before perishing from starvation.
That said, we don't claim that cats die of dehydration
when fed on a commercial dry cat food diet, because most cats will have a supplementary source of water available of which
they will take advantage. Or do they?
mentioned previously how cats evolved as dwellers of the African plains and desserts, and their adaptation of stilling their
needs for water with the moisture content of their prey. During the past 40 million years, the cat did not need to rely on
supplementary water intake and, even if needed, the cat would not readily do so, because to her it is not natural.
1 cup (85 gm) of dry commercial cat food rehydrated with 225 ml water to
contain a 75% moisture yields over 2 cups of food.
On average, natural foods contain 70% water. A cat fed a commercial
dry food diet will consume approximately one cup of the product per day. For an adequate water intake, the cat would need
to drink 225 ml (8oz) supplemental water per day! If she does not consume this adequate amount, dehydration will set in.
Does Your Dog Food
A study of the Pet Food Fallacy
(From Natural Pet, March-April 1995 issue)
by Ann Martin
Proteins are the building blocks of life and must be of good quality in order to sustain it. To survive, your cherished
animal companion must be provided with proteins. The pet food industry would have us believe that their foods provide a "complete
and balanced diet" for our pets. In reality what we are feeding are the dregs of the human food chain, garbage unfit
for human or animal consumption.
What do these proteins consist of and how good are they? If you really want to know
the truth read on ... if you're not ready for it, you had better stop now.
Animal proteins consist of diseased meat,
road kills, contaminated material from slaughterhouses, fecal matter, euthanized cats and dogs, poultry feathers, all prepared
together as rendered material. Yes, these are the sources of animal protein presently used in many commercial pet foods. Vegetable
proteins, often the mainstay of dry foods include ground yellow corn, wheat shorts and middlings, soybean meal, rice hulls
and peanut meal. All provide very little nutritional value and are nothing more than sweepings and offal from milling room
floors left over after processing. The removal of the oil, germ, bran, starch and gluten from these grains eliminate the essential
fatty acids and a number of fat soluble vitamins and antioxidants.
The animal proteins used in these foods come from
a number of different sources. Dead stock removal operations provide the '4-D' animals: dead, diseased, dying or disabled.
Most have died or are dying from causes unknown and have been treated with a wide array of drugs before their demise or have
been given a lethal injection of a potent drug to euthanize them. The animals are then delivered to a "receiving plant"
where the hide (sold to a tannery), skin, fats and meat are removed. The meat from these animals can be sold for pet food
after it is completely covered in charcoal (to prevent ingestion by humans), and marked "unfit for human consumption".
If the animal arrives at the "receiving plant" in a state of decomposition, it is transported to a rendering
plant along with road kill which is too large to be buried along the roadside. Next we have the condemned material from slaughterhouses.
Animals that have died on their way to slaughter, diseased animals or parts, diseased blood, extraneous matter, hair, feet,
head, mammary glands, carpal and tarsal joints or any part of the animal condemned for human consumption can be rendered for
pet food. Before this material leaves the slaughterhouse, it is "denatured" (doused with chemicals) to prevent it
from getting back into the human food chain when being transported to the rendering facilities.
In Canada, the chemical
used to "denature" is Birkolene b. According to the Department of Agriculture, Animal Plant and Health, the composition
of this chemical cannot be disclosed. In the U.S., a number of agents can be used including carbolic acid, fuel oil, kerosene
We now have animal protein classified as "4-D's", road kill and condemned material from the
slaughterhouses. Another source of animal protein, which the industry vehemently deny they use, are rendered companion animals.
Dogs and cats euthanized at clinics, pounds and shelters are sold to rendering plants, rendered with other material
and sold to the pet food industry. One small rendering plant in Quebec was rendering 10 tonnes (11 tons) of dogs and cats
per week from Ontario. The Ministry of Agriculture in Quebec, where a number of these plants are located, advised me that
"The fur is not removed from dogs and cats" and that "Dead animals are cooked together with viscera, bones
and fats in 115C (236F) for twenty minutes." One large pet food company in the U.S., with extensive research facilities,
used rendered dogs and cats in their food for years and when the information came to light "claimed no knowledge of it."
The Food and Drug Administration, Center for Veterinary Medicine, in the U.S., is aware of the use of rendered companion animals
in pet food and has stated, "CVM has not acted to specifically prohibit the rendering of pets. However, that is not to
say that the practice of using this material in pet food is condoned by CVM." In a research paper from the University
of Minnesota, entitled "Facts of Sodium Pentobarbital in Rendered Products", it stated that the barbiturate, sodium
pentobarbital, which is used to euthanize small animals, "survived rendering without undergoing degradation."
the U.S., as in Canada, the pet food industry is virtually self-regulated. In the U.S., the AAFCO (Association of American
Feed Control Officials) sets guidelines and definitions for animal feed ingredients including pet foods. It is up to each
State to adopt and enforce these guidelines. The AAFCO states that there are no restrictions on the type of animals which
can be used in meals, tankage, digests, etc... Any kind of animal can be used including cats and dogs.
The AAFCO Official
Publication, Feed Ingredient Definitions is extensive and lists what can be used in animal feeds. This list includes "Spray
Dried Animal Blood", "Hydrolyzed Hair", "Dehydrated Garbage", "Unborn Calf Carcasses",
"Dried Poultry Litter (means processed animal waste product composed of a processed combination of feces from commercial
poultry together with litter that was present in the floor production of poultry)", "Dried Ruminant Waste",
"Dried Swine Waste", "Undried Processed Animal Waste Products (means a processed animal waste product composed
of excreta, with or without litter, from poultry, ruminants or any other animal except humans)", and the list goes on.
I asked if these definitions applied to only livestock feed and was advised that these guidelines and definitions also apply
to pet foods.
In Canada, there are virtually no regulations in this industry. Other than the Labeling Act which states
that the label must contain the name and address of the company, weight of the product and if it is made for a dog or cat,
there are no set standards. The CVMA (Canadian Veterinary Medical Association) and PFAC (Pet Food Association of Canada) are
voluntary organizations and for the most part
Once ingested, the commercial dry food will
absorb moisture like a sponge from the cat's stomach, causing the cat to dehydrate from within. Because commercial dry cat
food diets are very calorie dense, one cup of dry food, once ingested, will actually give the cat the equivalent of 2 cups
of fresh food. Hence, cats on a commercial dry cat food diet are usually over-fed, because the care giver judges how much
to feed by volume not caloric density. With the additional high carbohydrate content of dry foods, cats very quickly become
Rehydrating dry commercial cat food, by soaking it in water before feeding, to the same moisture
content found in natural foods dilutes protein and fat concentrations per serving to well below nutritionally adequate levels.
More of the soaked food would need to be fed to meet daily protein and fat requirements resulting again in an over feeding
of carbohydrates and calories.
Commercial dry cat food diet and FLUTD (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease):
Clinical disorders of the lower urinary tract of cats are not new phenomena and have been observed as early as 1925.
The frequency of its occurrence in the companion cat population is, however, on the rise, and it is now considered to be a
common feline disease. The formation of struvite crystals in the urine, leading to obstruction of the bladder, is directly
linked to the diet of the cat. Most research relating diet to lower urinary tract disease has focused on mineral content or
more recently on the effect of diet on urinary pH; much less research has been devoted to the effect of diet on urinary volume
or specific gravity. It has been predicted from theoretical considerations, increasing urine volume for a given solute load
has a greater influence on the likelihood of struvite crystal formation than a reduction in urinary magnesium concentration
through restriction of dietary magnesium. In addition, increasing urine volume may increase the frequency of urination which
would hasten crystalloid and crystal transit time through the urinary tract, thus reducing the potential for crystal growth.
It was demonstrated that haematuria (one type of FLUTD) induced in cats by feeding a high magnesium, low moisture-content
diet could be abolished by feeding the same diet rehydrated, containing 80% moisture. The same observations have been made
in the treatment of cats affected with lower urinary tract disease where the re-occurrence of the condition was significantly
reduced by feeding the cats a canned food, compared to cats maintained on dry food. Consumption of dry food has since been
implicated as a risk factor for lower urinary tract disease.
New commercial dry diets for the treatment
and prevention of struvite crystals are formulated to contain low magnesium levels and are acidified to reduce urinary pH.
A low dietary magnesium intake as well as excessive intake of acidifiers, such as ascorbic acid, however, interfere with proper
calcium distribution in the body and result in calcium deposits in soft tissue in the form of calcium oxalate containing stones.
These stones usually accumulate in the heart and upper urinary tract including the kidneys and, if not surgically removed,
will cause death. The occurrence of oxalate containing crystals is now equal to the occurrence of struvite crystals.
overlooked is the significance of protein in the acid formation in the body. A high protein diet will assure natural acid
levels in the body and a low urinary pH. Contrary to common belief, a diet high in protein does not cause kidney disorders
or lead to renal failure, whereas dehydration is damaging to the kidneys and, as a result of feeding an all dry diet, the
long term dehydration is a possible cause of chronic renal failure in cats.
rely on the integrity of the company which they certify,
stating that the ingredients are not below the minimum standards set. Of all the pet food sold in Canada, 85-90% is manufactured
by the multi-nationals in the U.S., and neither the CVMA nor PFAC have any control over the ingredients used in these foods.
sad scenario is that it is our pets who are suffering the ills of these inferior ingredients, the lack of a nutritious diet.
We have been brainwashed by the industry and some veterinarians, that in order to keep our pets healthy we must feed them
a diet formulated for dogs and cats. NO TABLE SCRAPS! We have pets suffering from cancer, skin problems, allergies, hypertension,
kidney and liver failure, heart disease, numerous dental problems, to name but a few. These same individuals can find a myriad
of reasons why our pets are inflicted with these problems, the environment, lack of exercise and stress, but never is it attributed
to the inferior commercial foods we are feeding. Before the pet food industry began to prosper, our pets ate what we did and
lived long, happy lives. Most died of old age.
So, if you love and care about your pet, take a few extra minutes when
preparing your meal, add a little more meat, toss in a few more vegetables, cook a little more brown rice or oatmeal, even
a piece of toast. At least you'll know what your pet is eating and I am sure you will see an end to the escalating veterinary
bills and have a happier, healthier pet.
The Pet Food Industry, a billion dollar unregulated industry, has evolved
from the garbage which should otherwise be disposed of at a landfill site, buried or processed into fertilizer. Our pets are
ingesting this stuff on a daily basis. Garbage, laced with additives, preservatives (of a questionable nature), chemicals,
excess amounts of sugar and sodium (nearly three teaspoons of salt per kg. of food), and according to the AAFCO Ingredient
definitions, "Urea Formaldehyde".
I suggest that one addition be made to the labeling of pet foods, a skull
and crossbones insignia on the package.
(1) The AAFCO: Official Publication 1993.
(2) The Ontario
Dead Animal Disposal Act.
(3) The Minister of Agriculture, Quebec. (letter stating how dogs and cats are rendered).
(4) The Quebec Inedible Boned Meat Act.
(5) Pet Food Certification Program, CVMA
(6) Letters from the FDA, Center
for Veterinary Medicine.
In Canada, charcoal is always used to "denature" meat which is sold by "receiving
plants". Apparently some people were buying it not realizing the condition of the animal it came from, and eating it.
The reason that charcoal is used is that it deters people from eating it but it won't harm the animal that is ingesting the
Natural Pet Editors Note: Charcoal is an antidote and is used by many meat packers when there is a question of
a friend to
man's best friend.
Treat your pet
to good health.
Cancer Loves Carbs
By Charlotte Peltz
According to Greg Ogilvie, DVM, Dip. ACVIM, a top expert in canine cancer in the United States, there is a "dramatic
metabolic change" when a dog contracts cancer. According to Ogilvie, the most dramatic change involves carbohydrates.
Cancer cells metabolize glucose from carbohydrates and, with the changes, lactate is a byproduct. Dogs must then convert that
lactate into a usable form requiring lots of energy. What this means is "the tumor gains energy from carbohydrates while
the dog suffers a dramatic energy loss".
on a proper diet show definite signs of improved health and even tolerate the invasiveness of treatments such as surgery and
radiation better than dogs not given the proper dietary changes. He points out that the "ideal" cancer diet is not
known, but he and his associates are very pleased with their basic plan which is: relatively low amounts of simple carbohydrates,
modest amounts of fats (which do not feed the tumor!) and highly bio-available proteins. The amounts that Dr. Ogilvie recommends
are: 35 to 48 percent protein, 27 to 35 percent fat with 5 percent of the total food comprised of omega-3 fatty acids and
about 25 percent carbohydrate. Compare this to the dog food you buy for your canine buddy! And, please understand that when
you read protein percentage on your dog food bag that almost all of that protein has a grain as its source, not animal protein.
So, what is in an anti-cancer diet?
In an article in The Whole Dog
Journal this is what is recommended:
1. All ingredients should be fresh, highly bio-available, easily digested
and highly palatable, with a good taste and smell.
2. Organic foods to avoid additional stress to the dog's body
that is caused by pesticides, antibiotics, preservatives, food colorings, etc.
3. Fresh, organic meats, either
raw or cooked.
4. Fish-oil supplements. These are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which have been linked to tumor
inhibition and strengthening of the immune system.
5. Vitamin C, known and used for its antioxidant properties
and for neutralization of free radicals. Antioxidants must be supplemented whenever omega-3 supplements are given. And it
is my understanding that Vitamin E should be part of this combination.
6. Fresh vegetables such as broccoli and
dark-green leafy vegetables are good for all dogs but especially cancer patients. According to the National Institutes of
Health and the American Institute for Cancer Research, diets high in cruciferous vegetables "broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage,
watercress, bok choy, etc." are definitely on the list for prevention of various forms of cancer.
8. Garlic, as much as a clove a day, is an effective inhibitor of the cancer process according to The
National Cancer Institute.
9. Safflower oil
10. Limited carbohydrates
What I find so incredibly interesting
is that a well-known cancer specialist and many of his colleagues can spend so much time addressing the treatment of cancer,
yet not suggest that just such a diet should be fed in the first place! Dogs did not evolve eating carbohydrates in any quantity,
do not have the digestive system geared to deal with them, and yet most vets will swear to you that the "stuff"
in bags, almost totally based on grain (read carbohydrates!) is good for your dog. It simply cannot be true, can it?
* * * * * * * * *
Vitamin C - When and Why
by Charlotte Peltz
Since dogs naturally manufacture Vitamin C, a reasonable question
is, "Why supplement it?" The major reason to do so is that dogs do not manufacture enough to meet their requirements
in many circumstances. There are adequate studies to support the use of Vitamin C (along with Vitamin E!) in the battle to
control "free radicals." While the body may do a good job in its battle against free radicals when all is normal,
any form of bodily stress or physiological disturbance can dramatically increase the free radical burden. Those stresses may
be something as simple as dietary substances found in kibble; (specifically high-fat kibble and poor quality kibble,) infections;
injuries or surgery; arthritic conditions including canine hip dysplasia; over-exercised dogs, (long hikes for unfit animals;)
and even vaccinations.
Vitamin C -- to the rescue!
The studies that have produced the most profound results have
been done with the product known as Ester-C. That is a trademarked form Vitamin C with ascorbic acid combined with calcium
to neutralize it so that there is no upset to the gastro-intestinal track. There are other forms of Vitamin C known as calcium
ascorbate, which function just as well at considerably less cost. While plain old ascorbic acid is useful, it can and does
upset the stomach and leaves the system much more rapidly than calcium ascorbate.
One study (in Utah) showed that 78
percent of the dogs suffering from chronic arthritic conditions receiving Ester C showed improved mobility within four to
five days. Those results parallel studies done in Norway and presented in the Norwegian Veterinary Journal, Volume 102, August-September,
The amount to be given to the dog varies with individual tolerance and the sure-fire way to determine when the
dose is too great is a soft stool! That is referred to as "stool tolerance level." Carol Schwartz, DVM, offers this
guide: give Vitamin C to dogs with a variety of illnesses, including upper respiratory conditions, "small dogs, 125-500
mg. twice daily; medium dogs 250-1,500 mg. twice daily; large dogs, 500-1,500 mg. twice daily; skin allergies, small dogs
125 mg. twice daily, medium and large dogs, up to 750 mg. twice daily." It is a good idea to begin with smaller amounts
and build up to the levels suggested.
From my own personal experience, I gave my Giant Schnauzer up to 7000 mg. daily,
divided in two doses, when his hip dysplasia gave him the most discomfort. His maintenance level was about 4000 mg. daily.
He received lots of other help for his progressive disease but there is no doubt in my mind that the calcium ascorbate acid
that he received contributed to his well-being.
Help your dogs live healthier lives -- feed the best diet possible and
start giving them calcium ascorbate acid!
Allergies: The Natural Approach
Allen M. Schoen, D.V.M., M.S.
Food allergies are simply defined as an allergic reaction caused by the ingestion of particular food
substances. Food allergies can be a significant cause of a wide range of symptoms in both people and animals. Some experts
estimate that at least 60% of Americans suffer from negative reactions to foods or chemicals on foods. Veterinary experts
estimate that 5% of all skin disease and 10-15% of all allergic skin disease in dogs and cats may be caused by food hypersensitivity.
It appears to be the second most common cause of pruritic (itchy skin) skin disease in cats and the third most common cause
in dogs according to Dr.'s Tilley and Smith in "The Five Minute Veterinary Consult". Along with food allergies,
one has to also consider allergic reactions to medications such as medications for heartworm prevention, flea prevention,
antibiotics as well as additives to the foods such as preservatives, artificial food colors and flavors etc.
Food allergies can show up at any time and can mimic other hypersensitivity reactions.
It is easy to differentiate from seasonal allergies, because food allergies occur all year round, as long as your pet is on
the offending food. There does not appear to be any sex or breed predilection, though German shepherds and Labrador retrievers
seem to have a high incidence of food allergies in my practice.
allergies can not only affect the skin, but they can also affect the gastrointestinal system and rarely the nervous system.
Typical skin symptoms include severe pruritis (itching), hairless, redness (erythema), skin infections and ear infections.
Gastrointestinal signs include vomiting, diarrhea, sometimes bloody diarrhea and straining and increased frequency of bowel
movements. Rarely, seizures have been associated with food hypersensitivity. In people, food allergies have also been associated
with irritable bowel syndrome, hyperactivity, depression, headaches, irritability, arthritis and joint pain, asthma, chronic
bronchitis, hypoglycemia and sinusitis. Occasionally I feel like I have seen some of these symptoms in dogs and cats associated
with food allergies, but that is difficult to document.
How do you know if your pet has food allergies? If your furry
friend has any of the above symptoms, you should check with your veterinarian. Sometimes, you can figure it out just by doing
a bit of simple detective work. Check when the itching or other symptoms began to show up. Was it right after you changed
your dog or cat foods? If so, that is easy enough to figure; change back to the former food and see if your pet stops itching
or whatever the problem was. If it clears up, you have a very simple answer.
Food trials are actually probably the easiest
way to figure out food allergies. I usually recommend a food elimination diet as our first attempt to diagnose food allergies.
The ideal way to do it is to limit your pet to one protein source and one carbohydrate source that they have had none or limited
exposure to previously. For instance, if your pet was on a basic generic dog or cat food and it had wheat and corn and beef
as its main ingredients, you might want to choose either a homemade diet of fish and potatoes or one of the prepared hypoallergenic
diets of prepared fish and potatoes. The challenge with these trials is being patient. Ideally, you should see some improvement
of the problems within four weeks. However, sometimes it may take as long as three months and there have been reports of food
elimination trials where symptoms did not improve for six months.
Most of the time though, I see improvement within
a few weeks. Once you have realized that your pet is allergic to a particular pet food, then the question is what product
in it is causing the allergies. Is it the carbohydrate source such as wheat or corn, or the protein source such as beef or
chicken? Could it be something else entirely like the artificial colors, flavors or preservatives? All of these are possible.
One can simply add one food source back at a time, which is commonly known as a food provocation trial. For instance, if you
add back wheat and the symptoms reoccur, you know that that is the offending allergen. The most common food allergens for
pets include: beef, chicken, pork, wheat, corn, soybeans, eggs and dairy products. During this avoidance trial, you will also
want to avoid antibiotics and steroids, heartworm medications and any other potential offending substances. Also be aware
that certain toys and snacks such as bones or other chewables may have offending substances in them as well and, therefore,
need to be removed during food elimination trials. There are blood tests for food allergies, but there is still some controversy
about how reliable they actually are. Food allergies can also mimic other diseases including other allergies such as inhalant
or contact allergies, flea allergies as well as parasitic infections.
Once you have diagnosed that your pet has a food
allergy, what can you do about it? The easiest thing of course is to avoid the offending allergen. That is definitely what
you want to do. Normally, to make life simple, you can find a particular brand of dog or cat food that they do not react to.
However, sometimes, this can be easier said than done with all the different foods and chemicals that are in a pet food. Some
people choose to cook a homemade diet for their pet and figure out which individual foods they are allergic to. Though this
can be quite time consuming, I have seen the most improvement with pets that are cooked a homemade balanced natural diet,
avoiding the offending substances. These pets seem to thrive much more, as long as it is a well balanced homemade diet. Balanced
homemade diet recipes can be found in books such as Dr. Pitcairn's Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats as well as a
number of homemade diet books published by dog breeders and owners as well as in my book "Love, Miracles and Animal Healing".
simple nutritional supplements may also benefit a pet with food allergies. Supplements that I recommend include a good essential
fatty acid supplement such as organic refrigerated flax seed oil or black currant oil or evening primrose oil at a dose of
about one teaspoon daily for a 50 lb. dog. In addition, I will use digestive enzymes and supplements such as quercetin (a
bioflavonoid ) and bromelain (pineapple source digestive enzymes) combined. They actually help prevent the release of histamines
in the gastrointestinal tract. There are other natural supplements I prescribe for more challenging patients.
you some examples of food allergies, I once treated a cat that had been on all sorts of medications for chronic itching including
cortisone, hormones, antibiotics, and it was still itching and getting worse. When I first saw the cat, I suggested stopping
all medications and just trying a simple balanced diet. The itching and skin problems resolved within two weeks and we had
a happy kitty! One time I saw a German shepherd with a history of all sorts of skin and gastrointestinal problems, including
itching, loss of hair, ear infections, skin infections, diarrhea and straining to defecate. He too had been on all sorts of
medications. Three weeks after we put the dog on a natural diet, all the symptoms resolved and we had another happy camper!
Not all are that easy, but it is surprising what a proper balanced change of diet can do! Eat naturally and be well till next
Many Varied Natural Options
my Arthritic Dog!
Allen M. Schoen, D.V.M., M.S.
It is amazing to see how many dogs suffer from arthritis. A recent study sponsored by Pfizer Animal Health showed
that approximately 20% of adult dogs may be affected by arthritis. The old belief systems that all one could do for arthritis
for dogs was to give them aspirin or cortisone is obsolete. There are many different approaches to help animals suffering
from the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis. Before we look at the different approaches and how to develop a comprehensive
holistic approach to keeping your arthritic pet as healthy, happy and pain free as possible, let's make sure we know what
to look for to see if they are arthritic. They don't just come up to you and say "hey, I am stiff and in pain in my back
or in my legs. Or do they?
Animals talk to us in many ways other
than English. There is a vast amount of nonverbal and physical communication that we can be aware of to know if our pet is
beginning to be arthritic. Some of the first signs include a decrease in their activity level or not wanting to be touched
or handled as much or being a bit grouchy or aggressive when being touched. Other mild signs include : slight stiffness or
lameness when walking, mild pain around the affected joint, painful yelping when putting weight on an affected leg or when
touched there, difficulty going up and down stairs and stiffness when trying to get up and down. Now mind you, these symptoms
can also be due to other problems including other types of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis as well as Lyme Disease
and others possibly even cancer. If your furry companion shows any of these symptoms, you should take them to your veterinarian
for a diagnosis. Make sure they see how they walk and how they get up and down. Murphy's law may happen and due to their excitement
at the veterinarian, they may do better there, but then describe to your veterinarian what they are or are not doing and for
how long and if it is progressive or not.
So, let us say that your
veterinarian has taken x-rays and performed appropriate blood tests and you have a diagnosis of arthritis. What are the options?
In the past, if surgery was not appropriate, your veterinarian would probably recommend cortisone or aspirin or other nonsteroid
medications. Most steroidal and nonsteroid antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) will help relieve the pain and inflammation, but
while doing that, they can actually make the long term deterioration of the joints worse as well as causing other problems.
NSAIDs do not treat the underlying condition. Though cortisone may appear to be a miracle drug initially, it has a multitude
of potential side effects long term. These include suppression of the immune system, predisposition to bladder infections
and infections elsewhere as well as liver and kidney disease and gastrointestinal bleeding. These are serious potential side
effects. Nowadays there are some nonsteroidal medications that have fewer side effects, but they do appear to still have some
side effects. One of these new nonsteroidal medications is called carprofen or rimadyl (tm) by Pfizer. It helps many animals
with fewer side effects. However, recent research suggests that it still may have the potential to cause some long term mild
joint deterioration. The verdict is still out on that. But, I have seen some dogs where nothing else has worked without side
effects and this medication really works well in relieving pain. It is certainly worth consideration.
Occasionally I still recommend surgery when the condition is very severe or localized to one area
and has a good chance of success with minimal side effects. This is the key question when considering surgery; are the advantages
and chance of success much greater than the potential for complications or side effects. All surgery requires anesthesia and
if your dog is older or has other significant problems, then anesthesia and surgery may be a significant risk factor. Discuss
the percentage success rate, potential for complications and any personal risk factors for your pet with your veterinarian.
For instance, if your dog has a sudden rupture of its anterior cruciate ligament in its knee, this often times requires surgery.
There are potential complications and your pet may still develop arthritis in the knee, but surgery is the only way to stabilize
that knee. However, if someone is recommending a total hip replacement for hip dysplasia and arthritis in a thirteen year
old dog, you may want to consult with a holistically oriented veterinarian to explore other options.
What else can we do for our furry friends besides medicine and surgery? Actually, there is so much
we can do. Let's start off with which nutritional supplements may be helpful. Two new nutritional supplements, glucosamine
and chondroitin, have been found to not only help control pain, but also improve joint mobility and improve the damage to
the cartilage that is part of the arthritic process. These two products work together to block the action of cartilage destroying
enzymes as well as increase the activity of cartilage producing cells and improve the nutrition to the cartilage. These supplements
are available at many veterinary hospitals as well as health food stores and even some drug stores. The general dosage recommendation
is 1,000 mg. of glucosamine and 800mg of chondroitin per 50lbs. Combination products are available through your veterinarian.
Some products have additional Vitamin C added as well. I am currently evaluating other nutritional products for arthritis
as well and will keep you informed about those.
also be extremely beneficial in the treatment of arthritis. Antioxidants are helpful by controlling free radicals which are
associated with cartilage damage. The most readily available antioxidants include Vitamins A, C, and E and the mineral Selenium.
Dosage suggestions vary, I usually recommend 2,000 IU of Vitamin per 50lb. dog per day as well as 1000mg Vitamin C twice a
day (buffered Vit C), 400 I.U. of Vitamin E and 25-50 micrograms of Selenium.
Bioflavonoids may also be beneficial since they help make collagen which is a primary component of cartilage. There
are many herbs that appear to be beneficial for arthritis as well. This is a whole other story. A few of these herbs include
yucca, devils claw, alfalfa as well as various Chinese herbal formulas. One Chinese herbal formula for arthritis for dogs
is currently being evaluated at the University of Guelph Veterinary School in Ontario Canada. I'll let you know the results
when that is completed. Regular exercise is extremely beneficial also. Exercise helps keep muscles, tendons and ligaments
strong and in condition and improves mobility and range of motion. You want to be careful to give enough exercise but not
too much. A good general rule of thumb is to do enough that your dog enjoys it and is out frequently but not too much that
they are stiff and ache all over afterwards. Shorter more frequent walks and play time or swimming throughout the day are
better than one long one. In addition, acupuncture, and chiropractic can be very beneficial for arthritic dogs, not only in
relieving pain but in increasing circulation to the muscles and joints and improving overall health.
Daily massages can also be beneficial and also gives you another great chance to bond with your buddies
through the magic of touch! So a comprehensive holistic approach usually works well in keeping our friends healthy and comfortable!
We will review more options in another article. Enjoy and be well!
Poisons, Poisons, Everywhere!
By Deb M. Eldredge, DVM
February 19, 2007
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center
recently released a list of the ten most common poisons that dogs ingest. What is immediately striking about the list is how
ordinary each of the poisons is—most of us have these compounds in our homes or garages. The list is a reminder that
it is important to keep medications and potentially toxic items locked up or stored safely away from our pets.
Here is a list of the toxins that you need to keep out of your pet’s reach:
Ibuprofen is a widely used human non-steroidal anti-inflammatory
drug. In dogs, this medication can cause stomach and kidney problems and even impact the nervous system causing symptoms such
as depression and seizures. If you drop a pill, be very careful to find it before your dog does. Labs and Beagles are notorious
for snarfing up dropped drugs. If this happens in your household, be sure to make your dog vomit, if you can, as soon as you
suspect he ate any pills, and then call your veterinarian. Never give your dog ibuprofen for pain or discomfort.
Chocolate has two potent substances – theobromine
and caffeine. The amount of these compounds present in chocolate varies greatly depending upon the type and brand of chocolate.
The dog who indulges in chocolate with large amounts of theobromine or caffeine may show increased heart rate and excitability
leading to possible seizures. If you can make your dog vomit close to the time of ingestion, do so. Then head to your veterinarian.
It may take up to three days for the theobromine effects to wear off, and this can be dangerous for your dog’s heart.
Ant and Roach Baits
Ant and roach baits may be found in motels
when you travel, as well as in areas around your home. Luckily the toxic substances are generally present in small amounts,
but they are often mixed in with tasty treats like peanut butter that your dog may find irresistible. If your dog ingests
the bait, he is more likely to have a problem with the parts of the container he eats than with the ingredients, but take
him into your veterinarian just the same. Better to be safe than sorry.
People often rely on rodenticides to remove mice and rats when they don’t have a good cat or a skilled terrier
to do the dirty work. Most of these products contain anticoagulants that stimulate fatal bleeding in rodents. They can also
stimulate bleeding in dogs that eat the treated blocks. Paralysis, seizures, and kidney failure are all possible effects of
these potent drugs. Induce vomiting if you can, but then head directly to your veterinarian. Your dog may need fluids, blood
tests to follow the progression of treatment, vitamin K injections, and possibly even a blood transfusion. Some versions of
rodenticides have cholecalciferol that can cause elevated blood calcium and phosphorus levels, which lead to renal failure.
This may require a much different course of action for your pet. If possible, bring the container for the poison into your
vet’s office, so they can determine exactly what your dog is up against.
Acetaminophen is an extremely common pain medication for people. Unfortunately,
this drug can cause liver failure, swelling of the face and paws, a problem with oxygen transport in the blood, and even a
decrease in tear production for dogs. N-acetylcysteine is an antidote to the problem, but it needs to be repeated until all
signs of poisoning are cleared. Supportive treatment for the liver and dry eyes is recommended. If your dog ingests acetaminophen,
he will probably need to be hospitalized.
Numerous over the counter cold medications contain pseudoephedrine. In dogs, this drug causes
panting, excitement, increased temperature, and increased heart rate. Sedation and even general anesthesia may be required
to settle your dog down, while fluid therapy will help to flush this substance from your dog’s system.
Thyroid hormones are used to treat both people
and dogs with low thyroid levels. Luckily, most dogs handle an overdose of these medications quite well. An increased heart
rate and a hyperactive dog that is bouncing off the walls are common signs that your dog has eaten something he shouldn’t.
Most bleach products used at home are fairly dilute. Commercial
bleaches, however, can be very strong and cause irritation to your dog’s eyes or skin. A quick bath is ideal if bleach
is on your dog’s skin or coat. If your dog inhales bleach, especially any bleach mixed with ammonia products, she could
develop a deadly chemical pneumonitis. This can affect you too, so don’t breathe deeply yourself. Get your dog out into
fresh air as quickly as possible and then to your veterinarian.
Including Plant “Foods”
Fertilizer can be very attractive to dogs. Additives such as bone meal are
enticing. While the basic fertilizer formulas of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus are generally not highly toxic, additives
such as fungicides can be. Most dogs that ingest fertilizer show gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting and/or diarrhea,
but they do recover on their own. In some cases, however, they need fluids for hydration and medications to settle and soothe
the stomach and intestines. Consult with your veterinarian for the best course of treatment when your dog ingests fertilizer.
Hydrocarbons Including Paints, Polishes, and Fuel Oils
out the list is hydrocarbons. These products can be found in paints, polishes, and fuel oils—including kerosene, acetone,
and gasoline. Dogs that swallow these products tend to have gastrointestinal upsets. The skin can also be irritated from contact.
If your dog simply breathes in fumes or aspirates these products, he may suffer from depression or hyperexcitability along
with secondary pneumonia and liver or kidney damage. Dogs that have breathed or ingested hydrocarbons should not be made to
vomit as the risk of aspiration is too high. Instead, they need symptomatic treatment and supportive care such as fluids to
flush their systems, baths to remove any residue, and saline flushing of the eyes if any residue splashed into them.
All of the products on the ASPCA list can be found in
most of our households. To keep your pet safe, be proactive. Store goods safely in locked cupboards, use secure, non-breakable
containers, and always keep careful track of all medications in the household. Taking some basic precautions can go a long
way toward avoiding a catastrophe for your dog.
If you have questions
about the safety of a substance or you suspect your pet may have ingested something he shouldn’t have, don’t wait--call
the National Animal Poison Control Center at: 888-426-4435.
Eldredge, DVM graduated from Cornell University as the first recipient of the Gentle Doctor Award. She has been in private
practice and is active in virtually all dog sports. She is also an award winning writer - most recently co-authoring a book
with her 15 yr old daughter - Head of the Class.
Bladder Problems in Cats: An Integrated Approach
Allen M. Schoen, D.V.M., M.S.
Bladder problems are not as uncommon in cats as one might think,
unfortunately. The incidence is estimated at about 1-6% of the cat population. There is great debate on their causes and their
treatment. Bladder problems may be caused by either infectious agents such as viruses, bacteria, mycoplasma or fungi, crystals
in the urine, noninfectious conditions such as interstitial cystitis, as well as from trauma such as being hit by a car or
falling out of a tall building and injuring their back. Many of these conditions are often clumped together as "FUS"
or feline urologic syndrome, but actually, as you can see, there are many different causes. It affects both male and females,
though it can become a much more serious condition in males since crystals can form a plug that will block their urethra and
prevent them from urinating.
The most common signs you see include
seeing your cat spending a lot of time in the litter box, often straining to urinate. Sometimes when you check the litter
box, there will be blood in the urine, at other times there may be just tiny spots of urine even though they were in the litter
box for a long time. Sometimes, they will associate the litter box with pain and actually urinate elsewhere. Sometimes you
will here them cry, moan or move about uncomfortably in the litter box due to pain and discomfort.
Sometimes, you will
not see any urine and this can be very serious and life threatening because they may be blocked and unable to urinate and
become toxic. This is an emergency and you should take your cat to your veterinarian immediately. Any of these signs warrant
a visit to your veterinarian.
Your veterinarian will conduct a complete physical examination. Sometimes they may palpate
a greatly enlarged bladder if they are blocked; sometimes a tiny thick walled bladder from irritation and straining. Depending
on the severity of the condition, they may perform some laboratory tests including a urinalysis, blood chemistry profile and
perhaps some x-rays. Thorough evaluation of the urinalysis may reveal evidence of either bacteria, crystals or inflammatory
cells suggestive of a possible cause. Though sometimes, no obvious cause is revealed and one must be suspicious of a viral
or unknown origin.
If your kitty is not completely blocked and is still urinating, they may go home with appropriate
medications and dietary changes, but must be closely observed for a while to make sure they do not become blocked. If your
cat is blocked, they must be hospitalized, anaesthetized and the blockage removed in order that they may urinate freely. If
crystals are the cause, dietary changes such as special prescription diets are in order. If bacteria are the cause, antibiotics
are your initial approach of choice. However, sometimes there appear to be chronic reoccurring problems. This is when a more
natural approach is very appropriate, combining nutritional supplements, herbal remedies or homeopathy. The first step is
to try to find a cause if this is possible and remove the cause or treat it appropriately.
Let us now look at what you
can do at home to help prevent reoccurrences. My cat had a bout of cystitis a few years ago. After a comprehensive physical
examination and evaluating the urinalysis, I decided to treat him conservatively since he was still urinating well. We just
treated him at home with herbs, supplements and added water to his canned cat food and he has not had another reoccurrence
since. First of all, you want to make sure you are feeding your kitty a quality, natural as possible, diet with minimum ash
content. I prefer canned cat foods in cats that are prone to cystitis and I always like to make them a bit mushier, adding
some water to increase their water intake. I also make sure that they have plenty of fresh clean water easily available. Make
sure to keep the litter box clean so that they do not associate the litter box with pain associated with urinating while they
have the condition. Some cats appear to be more particular as well when they have a urinary tract problem and do not like
a dirty litter box.
Some nutritional supplements may be helpful in prevention. Some holistic practitioners recommend
vitamin C at 125 up to 500 mg. of vitamin c per day along with 100 I.U. of Vitamin E. I find that a super concentrated cranberry
juice capsules have been very beneficial in preventing reoccurrences in many cases. There is one made specifically for cats
called "carpon" which is available through holistic veterinarians. If your cat has been on antibiotics for an infection,
you may want to give them some acidophilus to reinstall normal bacteria into their digestive tract. Sometimes the healthy
bacteria may be killed off from antibiotic use and then it is important to reinstill those bacteria in the gastrointestinal
Different herbs may also be helpful for urinary problems in cats. Dr. Cheryl Schwartz in her book "Chinese
Medicine for Dogs and Cats" suggests actually a western herbal combination of tinctures of Plantain (6 drops), agrimony
(2 drops) and Cleavers (4 drops) dissolved in one ounce of distilled water and given 1 droppers three times daily. My favorite
herbal formula for bladder problems in cats is actually a Chinese herbal formula known as polyporous combination. I have had
great success in resolving chronic reoccurring bladder problems with this formula as well as with carpon. I had one cat that
belonged to one of my horse clients who was a physician and somewhat skeptical of Chinese herbal formulas. However, his cat
had chronic reoccurring cystitis and their regular small animal veterinarian had recommended surgery.
the Chinese herbal formula, polyporous combination, and it resolved immediately and never reoccurred. I discuss this formula
in my book "Love, Miracles and Animal Healing". My results with this formula over the last fifteen years has been
just great! It has herbs in it to treat for both infections and crystals. You must consult with your veterinarian before
considering the use of a Chinese herb or any other complementary therapy.
Acupuncture can also be beneficial for chronic
reoccurring bladder problems, though most patients respond well to either supplements, herbs or homeopathy. Though Homeopathy
is more controversial and lacks the scientific research that other complementary therapies have, sometimes, it can work
quite well for certain patients with cystitis. One should consult with a veterinarian trained in homeopathy to figure out
the appropriate remedy. In acute cases, if one is familiar with homeopathy, one may consider using homeopathic Apis mellifica,
Causticum or Cantharis, depending upon the symptoms , in a 30C potency, 3 granules every three hours if it is not an acute
emergency. If your cat is blocked, cannot urinate or is straining excessively, do not hesitate, go directly to your veterinarian
to have your cat examined! This is an emergency!
If your cat is unable to urinate due to a traumatic injury with damage
to the nerves that innervate the bladder, acupuncture may be beneficial. In addition, acupuncture may be helpful for chronic
cystitis as well. Make sure to see your veterinarian and explore all conventional therapeutic approaches before considering
complementary therapies. Bladder problems in cats can be an acute emergency. Give them quality foods with
low ash count, plenty of fresh water and lots of love, hugs and purrs and enjoy each other till our next column where we will
discuss some more interesting natural options! Be well till then!
is Low Ash Important?
Ash is the non-combustible,
or non-burning, portion of pet food. High ash levels in pet foods are not only a reflection of how much bone is in the product
but also the quality of the pet food. Since the greater part of ash is not absorbed it lowers the digestibility of the food—which
means more waste—and adversely affects palatability.
phosphorus, and other minerals make up a large part of ash which means high ash pet foods usually contain higher levels of
calcium and phosphorus. While calcium and phosphorus are important for the health and maintenance of the skeletal system,
they also have very important roles throughout the body including: blood coagulation, energy metabolism, transmission of nerve
impulses, and cell membrane integrity to name a few.
foods contain two-to-three times the levels of calcium and phosphorus required by dogs and cats, so calcium and phosphorus
deficiencies are not seen in pets fed commercial pet food. But, medical problems due to excess calcium and phosphorus do occur.
Phosphorus is a large factor in kidney disease.
When kidney function begins
to decrease—due to trauma, toxins, old age, disease, or other factors—excess phosphorus promotes further kidney
damage. More than 70% of kidney function has to be lost before a dog or cat begins to show signs of kidney disease, so high
phosphorus diets may be harming a healthy kidney—and you would not know.
* * * * * * * * *
Apple Cider Vinegar for Dogs
Updated: January 25, 2008 9:45 PM EST
home with dogs should have apple cider vinegar. It's a remedy with multiple uses for dogs: alleviating allergies, arthritis,
establishing correct pH balance. You can also give apple cider vinegar to cats and horses.
As written in an excellent,
1997 article by Wendy Volhard:
"...If your dog has itchy skin, the beginnings of a hot spot, incessantly washes
its feet, has smelly ears, or is picky about his food, the application of ACV may change things around. For poor appetite,
use it in the food - 1 tablespoon, two times a day for a 50 lb. dog. For itchy skin or beginning hot spots, put ACV into a
spray bottle, part the hair and spray on. Any skin eruption will dry up in 24 hours and will save you having to shave the
dog. If the skin is already broken, dilute ACV with an equal amount of water and spray on.
Taken internally, ACV is
credited with maintaining the acid/alkaline balance of the digestive tract. To check your dog's pH balance, pick up some pH
strips at the drug store, and first thing in the morning test the dog's urine. If it reads anywhere from 6.2 - 6.5, your dog's
system is exactly where it should be. If it is 7.5 or higher, the diet you are feeding is too alkaline, and ACV will re-establish
the correct balance.
If you have a dog that has clear, watery discharge from the eyes, a runny nose, or coughs with
a liquid sound, use ACV in his or her food. One teaspoon twice a day for a 50 lb. dog will do the job.
After your weekly
grooming sessions, use a few drops in his or her ears after cleaning them to avoid ear infections. Other uses for ACV are
the prevention of muscle weakness, cramps, feeling the cold, calluses on elbows and hock joints, constipation, bruising too
easily, pimples on skin surfaces, twitching of facial muscles, sore joints, arthritis and pus in the urine. There are also
reports that it is useful in the prevention of bladder and kidney stones.
Fleas, flies, ticks and bacteria, external
parasites, ring worm, fungus, staphylococcus, streptococcus, pneumococcus, mange, etc., are unlikely to inhabit a dog whose
system is acidic inside and out. Should you ever experience any of these with your dog, bathe with a nice gentle herbal shampoo
-- one that you would use on your own hair -- rinse thoroughly, and then sponge on ACV diluted with equal amounts of warm
water. Allow your dog to drip dry. It is not necessary to use harsh chemicals for minor flea infestations. All fleas drown
in soapy water and the ACV rinse makes the skin too acidic for a re-infestation. If you are worried about picking up fleas
when you take your dog away from home, keep some ACV in a spray bottle, and spray your dog before you leave home, and when
you get back. Take some with you and keep it in the car, just in case you need it any time. Obviously for major infestations,
more drastic measures are necessary. ACV normalizes the pH levels of the skin, makes your dog unpalatable to even the nastiest
of bacteria and you have a dog that smells like a salad, a small price to pay! "
* * * * * * * * *
Why Does Your Pet Need Enzymes?
Enzymes are catalysts for every process in the body. Whether
it is weight loss, eliminating high cholesterol, breaking down excess protein in tumors, or treating digestive problems, enzymes
come to the rescue!
Benefits of Enzymes:
Increases T-Cell (cancer fighting cell) production
and activity within a short period after digestion.
Raises white cell blood count.
over 77 Ionic minerals.
Promotes weight loss.
Strengthens the immune system.
nutritional absorption and energy level.
Reduces hunger cravings, the risk of degenerative disease, cholesterol,
plaque build up and toxins in the body.
Enables the body to obtain nutrients from food.
without digestive enzymes, even the most nutritious foods will not be of any use to the body. Pets’ diets (full of processed
food and foods unnatural to them) strain the digestive system, making the addition of digestive enzymes even more important.
* * * * * * * * *
What Does “Essential Fatty Acid” Mean?
An essential fatty acid is one that must be supplied in the diet because it cannot be manufactured by the body.
The essential fatty acid for dogs is linoleic acid. Essential fatty acids for cats are linoleic acid and arachadonic acid
What Are The Best Sources of The Essential Omega 3 Fatty Acid, Alpha-Linolenic Acid?
seed is 50% alpha-linolenic acid. Chia and Kukui (candlenut) oils are 30%. Hemp seed oil, 20%. Pumpkin seed oil, from 0-15%.
Canola oil, 10%. Walnut oil, 3-11%. Soybean oil, 5-7%. These products contain Omega 3 fatty acid: 1-800-PetMeds Brite Coat
XS, Missing Link, Derm Caps, 3V Caps, and Lipiderm.
Dogs and Cats – Fatty Acid Differences
cannot convert flax oil or alpha linolenic acid to EPA and DHA; they require fish oils that already contain EPA and DHA. Dogs
can convert linolenic acid to EPA and DHA, but this conversion becomes inefficient with age. It benefits all cats and older,
or sick, dogs to have EPA and DHA supplied directly with fish oils.