Tag Archives: herbal

5 Steps to a Healthy Pet

Painted pup

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?

Avoid These Dangerous “Natural” Supplements

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On a daily basis, clients come to me with bottles of supplements (sometimes bags full of them), and ask me if I think they are any good. In almost every case my answer is, “I don’t know.” Sure, I can look at the label and see what it says is in there. But there is absolutely no way for any of us to know if what is listed on the label is what is actually in the capsules. News last week proves my point.

On Monday, Feb 2, 2015 the New York State Attorney General’s office announced the results of their investigation into popular supplements. They tested top-selling store brand herbal supplements from GNC, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart. Four out of five of the products tested did not contain any of the herbs listed on their labels!

Not only that, many of the supplements contained contaminants or fillers that were not listed on the label. For example, Walmart’s ginkgo biloba contained powdered radish, houseplants, and wheat. Mind you, the label specifically claimed the product was wheat- and gluten-free. Can you imagine the problems this could cause a person or animals with a wheat or gluten allergy? Who would suspect the supplement?

The New York State Attorney General’s investigation was inspired by a previous study by researcher from the University of Guelph. In October of 2013, they published the results of their analysis of 44 herbal products sold by 12 companies. Only two of the companies provided authentic products without substitutions, contaminants, or fillers.

Almost 60% of the herbal products contained plant species not listed on the label. They discovered product substitution in 32% of the samples. More than 20% of the products included fillers such as rice, soybeans, and wheat not listed on the label. The researchers stated, “We found contamination in several products with plants that have known toxicity, side effects, and/or negatively interact with other herbs, supplements, and medications.”

When it comes to supplements, I have no way of knowing/recommending supplements that have been obtained from outside sources. On the other hand, I do fully trust the supplements that I carry.

  1. I have meticulously researched all of the companies.
  2. I have visited the manufacturing facilities of some of them.
  3. I have been using most of them for over 20 years on my patients.
  4. I have been using most of them for over 20 years on myself and my pets.
  5. I have seen and personally experienced their effectiveness.

Ultimately, choosing a supplement comes down to trust. None of us can oversee the harvesting of the herbs, their processing, or their packaging. But, how do you know which company to trust? For me it all comes down to my experience with the company and their products.

Do you trust the supplements you give your pets? Why?

 

Help Your pet Beat the Itch with These 4 Natural Remedies

keeter

Fall allergies are in full swing and we no doubt have several weeks left. If your pet is suffering from an itchy rash here are four more helpful remedies (on top of the four from last week).

1.      Give Fish Oil – Another factor regarding pet allergies is the balance of essential fatty acids in their food. Omega-6 fatty acids increase the inflammatory processes of the body while omega-3s dampen inflammation. Processed pet foods are often lacking in omega-3 fatty acids and high in omega-6 fatty acids which means that they promote inflammation.

A recent study concluded that 45 percent of dogs with seasonal allergies respond favorably to increasing the level of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet. The best source of omega-3s for pets is fish oil as opposed to flax seed oil. Allergic pets often benefit from daily supplementation of 1000 mg. of fish oil per 20 pounds of body weight.

2.      Give Digestive Enzymes – Another supplement that can be helpful when treating allergies is digestive enzymes. Digestive enzymes can increase the absorption of fatty acids in the diet by 71 percent. Adding them to a pet’s treatment will help the animal get more bang for the buck out of the fish oil.

3.      Give Herbal Licorice – From a Western herbal perspective, licorice root can be helpful in reducing allergy inflammation. Licorice has been shown to increase blood levels of the cortisol that the body naturally produces. This is much better than giving the pet cortisone pills or shots. Plus, licorice has a sweet taste that dogs usually tolerate well. As safe as this herb is, I do not recommend giving it to pets suffering from heart, liver, or kidney disease unless prescribed by a veterinary herbalist. Be sure to only use herbs from reputable companies. Here’s some basic herbal dosing info.

4.      Get TCVM Treatment – For me, Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) is invaluable in the treatment of skin allergies. There are several conditions from the Chinese perspective that can cause allergy symptoms. Seasonal allergies are often the result of an invasion of “wind.” Sometimes there is “heat” or “dampness” associated with the condition. Other times allergies are the result of a “blood deficiency.” These Chinese disease entities require the special skills of veterinarian trained in Chinese herbal medicine to determine and treat effectively.

Allergies can take time to bring under control. Because there are many issues that contribute to the problem, it takes a multi-pronged approach to solve it.

What natural remedies have you found that work?