Tag Archives: cancer

5 Steps to a Healthy Pet

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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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. MEDICAL INTERVENTIONSWhenever 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.
  5. 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?

Could Vitamin D Save Your Pet?

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Vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin) is a critical nutrient. It regulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the bowel and is involved with its mobilization from bone. It works with other hormones to balance the calcium levels in the body. Too little vitamin D is associated with many problems discussed below. Too much Vitamin D can be toxic and may result in high blood calcium levels.

Many people do not get enough Vitamin D. There has been a lot of research on the human side linking low Vitamin D levels to many problems, but especially cancer. Even conventional human physicians have now realized the importance of this nutrient and are measuring blood levels and recommending supplementation as needed.

One problem with Vitamin D in dogs and cats is that the research in this area is just beginning. Just last year a study was done to establish the desirable range of Vitamin D in the blood of pets. It found that Vitamin D should be 100-120 ng/ml. Some experts think we should be shooting a little higher (120-150 ng/ml). At the same time, it is certain that blood levels above 300 lead to toxicity.

This study showed that low levels of Vitamin D cause an increase in inflammation in the body. Vitamin D acts as an anti-inflammatory. Another study found that a low Vitamin D level is a risk factor for heart failure in dogs. Vitamin D protects the heart. Still another study found that the lower the level of vitamin D, the more severe the heart condition.

This study found a correlation between low Vitamin D and cancer in dogs. It further found that Vitamin D has a potent positive effect on the immune system. This study and this study found that dogs with low Vitamin D levels are prone to more serious chronic intestinal disease. This study found that lower blood levels of Vitamin D correlated with more serious disease in hospitalized cats.

Humans can get Vitamin D from their food, from supplements and by making it in their skin when exposed to sunlight. Dogs and cats are unable to make Vitamin D in their skin so they depend on getting all they need from their food and supplements. Unfortunately, many pet diets (including raw) may be deficient.

This study looked at the blood levels of Vitamin D in 320 dogs. Most of the dogs (292) were being fed processed dog food from 40 different manufacturers, 18 were on homemade diets, and 10 were on a combination of the two. The blood levels of vitamin D ranged from 9.5-249.2 ng/ml. (The 9.5 level was from a dog on a homemade diet).

The importance of Vitamin D for pets is irrefutable. The only way to know that your pet is getting the right amount is to check blood levels. Beaver Animal Clinic is now offering testing for blood levels of Vitamin D. If you want to be sure your pet has a reduced risk of inflammation, cancer and other serious diseases, call my office for this important test.

Have you had your own Vitamin D levels checked?

Probiotics Can Help Pets Lose Weight

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A recent study found that children who were given antibiotics were more likely to be overweight. The more antibiotics the kids got, the fatter they got. If this is true for people then it is most likely true for pets as well. But what’s the connection between taking antibiotics and weight gain? I can answer that with one word: probiotics!

I have written here about the many benefits of these friendly bacteria that live in the GI tract. We have 10 times more bacterial cells in our bodies than we have body cells. That means that from a cellular perspective, we are more bacterial than we are human. No doubt pets are similar to us in this respect. One of the many effects of probiotic bacteria is that they seem to regulate the body’s weight.

Antibiotics kill bacteria. In fact, the word “antibiotic” comes from the words “against life.” If a pet is infected with disease-causing bacteria, then antibiotics can help. Unfortunately, while they’re helping, they’re also hurting. Antibiotics kill the good gut bacteria along with the bad bacteria. Antibiotics give with one hand and take away with the other.

I have written here about the health problems linked to being overweight. My biggest concern is that being overweight promotes inflammation and predisposes to cancer. Keeping pets at their ideal weight has been shown to delay the onset of chronic disease and lengthen lifespan.

There are times when antibiotics are needed. When your pet gets a course of antibiotics, be sure to follow that ups with a 2-3 week course of probiotics. I’m not talking about the Purina or Iams probiotics. Those only contain one strain of bacteria. The best probiotics have a full spectrum of bacteria and are from natural sources – like Answers fermented goat’s milk.

Do you give your pet probiotics?