Monthly Archives: January 2016

Answers Pet Food Beats FDA

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I believe that probiotic bacteria are a missing nutrient in the diets of our pets. Think about it, the ancestors of dogs and cats were regularly exposed to bacteria in their food from the intestines of their prey. Here’s more information on the benefits of probiotics. With all the health benefits of probiotics, it makes sense that pets need them as a regular part of their diets.

The Answers Raw Pet Food Company has recently proven the benefits of probiotics. In the past few years the FDA has been policing the pet food industry to be sure they are free of disease-causing bacteria. (You may have noticed the recent uptick in pet food recalls.) Since food made with raw meat is prone to bacterial contamination, the raw pet food industry has been a favorite target of the FDA.

For this reason, raw pet food companies have been forced clean up their foods. For many this has meant resorting to High Pressure Pasteurization (HPP). HPP basically is the use of very high pressures to kill the bad bacteria. The concern I have about that strategy is that if there is enough pressure to kill bacteria then there may be enough to damage nutrients.

Answers has taken a different strategy to fight disease-causing bacteria. They use fermentation to culture probiotic bacteria in their foods. These good bacteria compete with the bad bacteria for resources and overwhelm them. That sounds good in theory, but does it work?

Recently the FDA cultured salmonella from a batch of Answers’ food. (The culture technique the FDA used killed off all the probiotic bacteria). The agency then tried to force Answers to do a recall on their food. But Answers fought back.

Answers took a sample of the supposedly contaminated food and incubated it at 80o F for 48 hours. This would cause the bad bacteria to greatly multiply in any other raw food. But just the opposite happened. As the people at Answers anticipated, the “spoiled” food tested negative for salmonella. The good guys won. The mighty FDA was forced to back down.

Does your pet get probiotics?

Holistic Treatment of an Allergic Reaction

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Any emergency brings to light the importance of being prepared for any pet emergency. The time to prepare for an emergency is NOT while in the midst of one. Every pet caregiver should have an emergency kit nearby at all times. You also need to have the phone number for, and directions to, the nearest 24-hour pet care facility.

A severe allergic reaction can cause death in a matter of minutes. Swelling of the face and eyes as well as hives all over the body can quickly evolve into swelling of the throat, respiratory distress, and death. Any home care for a pet suffering from a severe allergic reaction is just a stopgap measure until you can rush the animal to the nearest veterinary emergency facility.

I have seen animals have acute allergic reactions from something they ate but that is rare. In my experience, the most severe allergic reactions are caused by insects (bee stings or spider bites) or from vaccines and other injections. In general, the faster the onset of signs, the more severe the reaction will be. A pet that develops hives a couple of hours after a vaccine or bee sting is much less likely to get seriously sick than an animal that reacts within minutes of an incident.

In my experience, the most effective holistic mode of treatment for an allergic reaction is homeopathy. Choosing the correct homeopathic remedy requires matching the specific signs the pet is showing to those the remedy treats. Not every acute allergic reaction manifests exactly the same way in every pet.

The homeopathic remedy Apis mellifica (commonly shortened to Apis) is the main treatment for facial swelling and respiratory difficulty. This remedy is made from the venom of the honey bee.

Arsenicum album (Arsenicum), which is actually made from arsenic, may be helpful if the pet is restless and weak, with or without hives.

Rhus toxicodendron (Rhus tox) comes from poison ivy and is best for hives with severe itching that is relieved by warm applications and accompanied by great restlessness.

Urtica urens (Urtica) is made from the plant stinging nettle and is great for hives accompanied by red patches of skin and an increase in urinations.

For an allergic reaction I would suggest using the 30C potency of the homeopathic remedy of choice and giving a dose every 2-5 minutes until the signs begin to resolve. As soon as you notice improvement, stop giving the remedy and watch the pet closely. If the signs start to come back, give another dose of the remedy. If the remedy has no effect after 2-3 doses then choose another remedy that more closely matches your pet’s signs.

Any situation that causes extreme emotional upset can be helped by a dropper full of the Bach Flower Remedy Rescue Remedy given orally. However, in my experience, this general treatment is too mild to alleviate any severe situation. It actually may be more helpful for the pet caregiver to treat themselves with this remedy so they can maintain their wits while helping their pet.

If the animal loses consciousness from the allergic reaction, the acupressure point GV 26 may help. I talk about its use here.

Have you ever seen an allergic reaction?

What are Vaccine Titers?

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I have written many times about the use of vaccine titers to see if a pet needs a particular vaccine. Just to be sure we’re all on the same page I thought I’d take this opportunity to explain titers in more detail.

A titer is a blood test that measures the amount of antibodies for a specific disease that’s in an animal’s bloodstream. Antibodies are proteins produced by cells of the immune system that help to fight off infection. If a dog or cat has an adequate level of antibodies for a disease such as distemper, it shows that the pet’s immune system has the ability to fight that disease and the vaccine is not needed.

There are a few of shortcomings of vaccine titers. The first is that titers tend to fade over time. While a vaccine protects a pet into the future, a titer gives his immune status at this moment. A pet that has an adequate titer today may have a low titer in 2 weeks or 2 months or 2 years. For this reason, titers need to be monitored periodically. I recommend yearly vaccine titers.

Another shortcoming of titers is that a low titer does not mean that the pet’s immune system cannot fight off the disease. Antibodies do not remain in the blood stream forever. They are produced by the immune system when the body is challenged by the disease (either by infection or vaccination). It is possible that a pet can fight off the disease even though he has a low titer. However, we can never be certain that a pet with a low titer can fight the disease so in this case I recommend giving the vaccine.

A third shortcoming of vaccine titers is that the US government does not recognize the rabies titer. In other words, even though your pet has a high rabies titer, the law says he must be vaccinated every 3 years. For this reason, I do not find Rabies titers to be very helpful.

A final deterrent for getting titers done on pets is that they can be expensive – certainly more expensive than just getting the shot. On this issue I have good news for local pet caregivers. At Beaver Animal Clinic we have taken advantage of an offer made available by the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association to have vaccine titers done at Kansas State University (the gold standard) for a very reduced rate of only $61.00 total. We are making it more affordable to keep your pet healthy, holistically.

Have you had your pet titer tested?