Monthly Archives: May 2014

Does Your Pet Need Laser Therapy?

Daisy Aloi 1

Veterinary medicine is ever improving with the help of advanced technologies. Many veterinary clinics have equipment to run blood work in-office for fast results. Digital X-rays are making it easier to accurately diagnose certain diseases. Another recent addition to our treatment toolbox is low-level therapeutic lasers.

Therapeutic lasers are sometimes called “cold” lasers to differentiate them from surgical, cutting lasers that burn through tissue. Although therapeutic lasers share the same basic technology as surgical lasers, low-level lasers do not generate anywhere near the same level of heat.

Lasers generate a very special form of light energy. The light emitted by lasers is organized so that the light waves are synchronized. This allows the energy to be focused in a way that it can penetrate the tissues of the body, allowing the effects to infiltrate deeply. Laser therapy is sometimes called photomedicine because it treats the body by delivering light energy.

Laser therapy is considered alternative medicine because the research into how it works is in its infancy. We know that lasers deliver photons to the mitochondria of the cells. The mitochondria are the power stations of the cell which produce ATP, the universal cellular energy currency. As the light energy is absorbed by the mitochondria, energy production is enhanced which allows the cell to function better, encouraging tissue health.

Cold lasers dilate blood vessels which improves blood circulation to injured tissue. This brings in more oxygen and flushes out waste and debris which speeds healing. Laser light activates skin cells and connective tissue to replicate and regenerate. It can help draw in new blood and lymphatic vessels and decrease inflammation and pain.

There is a wide range of uses for therapeutic lasers. They speed the healing of skin wounds and surgical incisions. They can greatly improve lick granulomas, AKA hot spots. Lasers are great for any kind of soft tissue injuries such as sprains, strains and partial ligament tears. They can speed recovery from disc disease and other back issues as well as musculoskeletal pain such as arthritis. Hard to treat inflammatory problems like severe ear infections in dogs and stomatitis in cats benefit from laser therapy. A special laser probe can even be used in place of needles to treat acupuncture points.

Therapeutic lasers are differentiated into classes based on the level of energy they produce; the higher the energy output, the higher the class. Class 3B and Class 4 lasers put out a level of energy that may require those in the treatment room, including the pet, to wear special protective glasses due to the potential for eye damage if the laser beam strikes the retina. Some of these lasers produce heat in the tissue being treated requiring the laser operator to have the skill and knowledge to do no harm.

Class 3R and lower lasers do not require these precautions. All therapeutic lasers penetrate the tissue equally and have the same healing effects. The only difference is that the higher class lasers require less treatment time.

Depending on the type of laser and the size of the treatment area, the therapy session may last from 3-15 minutes per treatment site. The frequency and total number of treatments needed depends on the condition being treated. Some problems require every-other-day treatments for a few days to weeks while others may necessitate weekly treatments for a several months. The wonderful thing about laser therapy is the rarity of any side effects when used properly, with overheating of the tissue being the only concern.

If your pet has any kind of injury or inflammatory problem, consider laser therapy. You have nothing to lose but your pet’s pain. This treatment is becoming more widely available which means that very soon it will no longer be considered “alternative medicine.”

Has your pet benefited from laser therapy?

The Truth About Vaccines

Katy

Some in the holistic community are against all vaccines. I am not one of them. I worked at a humane society for five years and witnessed firsthand the deadly consequences when animals were not vaccinated properly. Vaccinations are an important part of pet healthcare. The incidence of certain deadly diseases such as distemper, parvovirus, and rabies has been greatly reduced thanks to the widespread use of vaccines in US pets.

At the same time, this medical procedure needs to be applied prudently. Like any other medical intervention, there can be adverse events associated with vaccination. Therefore, pets should be vaccinated according to their risk of exposure. Every animal does not need to be vaccinated against every disease. Also, booster vaccines should be given only as needed by the individual pet. In other words, it is best if vaccine protocols are individualized for each pet.

The Dark Side of Vaccines

Because vaccinations are routine procedures for pets, some people take their safety for granted and are unaware of possible complications. Many pets experience a few days of achiness and sluggishness after vaccination. This common side effect demonstrates the powerful systemic repercussions of this procedure. Vaccines contain components called adjuvants that stimulate the animal’s immune system. This unnatural immune system excitation can stir up allergies and possibly cancer.

Vaccines have also been linked to the development of autoimmune disease in pets. Autoimmune disease includes a group of illnesses brought about when the immune system becomes deranged and starts attacking various cells of its own body, leading to life threatening consequences. In addition, certain cancers in pets have been linked to vaccinations. These more serious vaccine adverse reactions are rare but their incidence increases with every vaccine dose, so it makes sense to use this tool wisely.

Try Titers Instead

There is a blood test, called a blood titer, which can be done to see if your pet has immunity against distemper and parvovirus in dogs and distemper in cats. I recommend that this test be done instead of having your pet vaccinated on a regular basis. This will spare your pet from unnecessary vaccines.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Healthcare for pets is changing from the outdated, one-size-fits-all method to a more holistic, individualized system. Medicine works best when each patient receives care that is tailored to her unique needs. This approach is especially helpful when it comes to pet vaccine protocols. Pet owners need to pay close attention to all medical procedures being applied to their pets and take an active role in the decisions being made. The potential benefits need to be balanced by a consideration of possible side effects. When it comes to vaccines, sometimes less is more.

Katy’s Story

I personally have decided to put vaccines to the test. I have to confess that I’m running an experiment on my own dog. I do not suggest that others follow my experimental vaccine protocol without doing the extensive testing that I am doing.

I have a Maltese named Katy. Her last distemper-parvo combination vaccine was given when she was 12 weeks of age. At that time I gave her ½ the recommended volume of the vaccine. (Another issue I have with vaccines is that the same dose is given to any sized dog from a half pound Chihuahua pup to a 200 pound Great Dane). I have been doing blood titers every year since then which show that her vaccine immunity has lasted 10 years and counting. If I had been following the vaccine label, my little Katy would have gotten 20 times more vaccine in her life so far! Who knows what damage that may have done?

How often does your pet get vaccinated?

Does Your Pet’s Food Cause Cancer?

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Pet caregivers rely on government oversight to protect their four-legged family members from pet foods that contain potentially harmful ingredients. We assume pet foods are nutritious, and more importantly, safe. Unfortunately, neither of these assumptions is true.

I have already written about nutritional issues with processed pet foods. Here we will explore a safety issue – namely the potential for pet foods to contribute to the pet cancer epidemic.

A recent study done by the Consumer Council of Hong Kong found that some dry dog and cat foods sold in the USA contain aflatoxin B1. This pet food contaminant is produced by molds that are commonly found in poor quality grains – just the type that end up in pet food.

Grain is the perfect growth media for mold. (If you don’t believe me just check the loaf of bread that’s been in the drawer for a week). There have been several pet food recalls in the past few years because of high levels of aflatoxin. At these high levels, this poison causes liver failure and death. Even the pet food industry frowns on this blatant carnage.

However, low levels of aflatoxin are acceptable by the pet food industry even though these small amounts are known to be carcinogenic (cancer causing). In fact, a Purina representative told the South China Morning Post that aflatoxin B1 was an “unavoidable natural contaminant” found in grains such as corn, barley, and rice.

Hey, I know a way to avoid this carcinogen – DON’T FEED YOUR PET PROCESSED FOOD! Dogs and cats were not designed to eat grains or other sources of starch for that matter.

Aflatoxin is only a small part of the connection between pet food and cancer. It is well known that heating meat and carbohydrates at high temperatures (as happens with the processing of pet food) creates heterocyclic amines which are a type of carcinogen.

A 2003 study found carcinogenic activity in 24 out of 25 commercial pet foods. The authors concluded, “From these findings it is hypothesized that there is a connection between dietary heterocyclic amines and cancer in animals consuming these foods.”

A more recent study found carcinogenic compounds from processed foods (specifically one called PhIP) in the systems of 14 out of 16 healthy dogs. These researchers concluded, “A potential role for PhIP in the etiology of canine cancer should be considered.”

It is time for pet caregivers to wake up to the fact that processed diets are not healthy for our pets. As a pet vet, I see cancer all too frequently. Some would have us believe that the reason cancer is on the rise in pets is because they are living longer. The fact is that I’m seeing cancer in younger and younger animals. I believe, and research agrees, that processed pet food is a major factor in pet cancer.

I am not suggesting that you start feeding some outlandish anti-cancer diet. I’m simply asking that you stop feeding a cancer promoting diet. In other words, go RAW!

Raw feeders out there – help me encourage conventional-feeding pet caregivers. Comment on your experiences with your pets.