I would like to start 2016 by keeping it simple. Over the years I’ve written about research and my own experience that informs my views on pet health care. I’ve been working in the veterinary field for over 30 years with more than 20 years of holistic/integrative practice. I would like to sum it up with 4 simple ideas that I think will give every pet the best chance for a long, healthy life.
DIET – Nutrition is the basis for health. We simply cannot expect any animal to be healthy if they are not provided the raw materials needed to build a healthy body. Our pets evolved eating raw food. They retain the genetic programming for diets that are high in protein and low in carbs (the opposite profile of conventional diets). The high-heat processing of commercial pet foods destroys micronutrients and creates carcinogens. Pets benefit from a species-appropriate, balanced, raw diet.
Healthy Weight – Speaking of diet, keeping your pet at a healthy weight will help him live a longer life with fewer chronic disease issues like arthritis. You should be able to feel your pet’s ribs along the side of the body and there should be a narrowing at the waist.
VACCINES – Wile I am not against all vaccines I have found that the mainstream veterinary community tends to over-do it. Every pet does not need every vaccine every year. It is important to be sure your pet has immunity to distemper and parvo. Blood titers can be done to see if a pet needs the vaccine. Giving more vaccines than are needed does not increase immunity; it just screws up the immune system. The rabies vaccine is mandated by law and in my experience a healthy animal can handle a vaccine every 3 years. Other vaccines such as leptospirosis, lyme, and bordetella should be given on an as needed basis. DO NOT give more than one vaccine at a time.
MEDICAL INTERVENTIONS – Whenever possible, natural/holistic therapies such as herbs, supplements, acupuncture, chiropractic, and homeopathy should be used over conventional medications. My main concern with Western medicine is that there are often side effects from such medicines that can be avoided by using more natural treatments.
SPAY/NEUTER – Recent research shows that sterilizing a pet before it is fully mature causes changes in bone growth. These alterations throw off the biomechanics of the joints and predispose the pet to hip dysplasia and cruciate ligament rupture. Spaying and neutering at any age appears to promote cancer. (Find research on this here) Depending on a pet caregiver’s lifestyle and tolerances and the pet’s behavior, it appears that it is best to hold off on spaying and neutering any pet until it is 2-3 years old. Consider Zeutering male dogs.
There you have it, pet health in a nutshell: feed raw, limit vaccines, go holistic, delay spay/neuter.
What have you found the most helpful for your pets?
Titan is a 3-year-old, lab mix. His caregiver adopted him two months ago. She noticed right away that he had trouble passing stool. He would cry and act as if in pain. Sometimes he held his stool in for a day or two to avoid the pain of pooping.
Titan’s caregiver took him to her local veterinarian who thought the problem must be an anal sac issue. It is not uncommon for dogs to get their anal sacs clogged which can cause pain when defecating. Titan had his anal sacs expressed and treated for 2 months with no relief of his pain.
Titan came to me and his exam was unremarkable. His anal sacs were not full and his rectal exam was normal. I got him off processed food and on a homemade diet. I also put him on probiotics for intestinal health.
But the key was that I did a chiropractic exam and found subluxations in his lumbar spine. I corrected these with a couple of quick adjustments. When I saw him back the next week for a follow up treatment, his caregiver told me that after his first adjustment, Titan went home and had 4 BMs! He’s been pooping on schedule ever since.
Veterinary medicine is tricky. Our patients cannot tell us where they hurt. Anal sac problems are a common cause of rear end pain. It made sense to treat the anal sacs at first. But, if the treatment did not fix the problem, it was time to think outside the sac. One definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect to get different results.
The problem for conventional vets is that they have fewer tools in their tool kit than an integrative vet. If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Unfortunately, if a doctor does not understand chiropractic, they will never think of chiropractic as a solution to a problem.
The job of the animal chiropractor is to locate and correct spinal misalignments. Several techniques exist for adjusting animals. Fortunately, none of them involve laying the dog down, belly up, on a chiropractic table and wrenching his neck from side to side. Most commonly the animal is adjusted while standing. The doctor gently presses on one vertebra at a time to locate any joints that are not moving appropriately. When a subluxation is located, a quick, accurate thrust is delivered to correct the problem.
Subluxations have numerous causes. Trauma is the most obvious. This includes not only severe trauma but also more subtle disturbances such as slips, falls and missteps — basically living life. In fact, birth itself sometimes causes damage to the spine, starting the poor pet off on the wrong foot. Plus, some pets have been bred for traits, such as long backs and short legs, which predispose them to back problems. Finally, performance dogs are especially prone to back-jarring incidences. Jumping, racing, and lead jerks can all knock the neck and back out of whack.
Here are 8 reasons your pet needs chiropractic.
Back Pain – Many animals suffer in silence with mild to moderate back pain. I commonly get reports from clients that their pet seemed happier after a chiropractic adjustment, even if they were not having an obvious problem.
Head Ache – Does your pet have a head ache? How would you know? Misalignment of vertebrae in the neck can cause such pain. Regular spinal adjustments can prevent and treat it.
Lameness – Spinal subluxations can cause compression of nerves that cause pain to radiate down the limb resulting in lameness.
Organ Dysfunction – The restriction of nerves that serve internal organs can cause those organs to malfunction. Chiropractic can help.
Rehab – Whatever the musculoskeletal issue your pet may be battling, the spine is inevitably involved. Adjustments can speed recovery.
Prehab – Regular chiropractic adjustments can help the body resist injury, avoiding the need for rehab.
Recovery – Animals who get regular chiropractic treatments often recover faster from trauma.
Health Maintenance – Keeping your pet’s spine aligned with regular chiropractic treatments keeps her healthy!
When taking your pet for a chiropractic treatment, be sure to seek a professional with proper training. Your chiropractor may do a great job on you, but because of anatomical differences between people and dogs, without special training a chiropractor is not the ideal candidate to treat your dog. America Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA) certification assures education and skill in the specialized field of animal chiropractic. For a list of local, certified animal chiropractors log on to www.animalchiropractic.org.