Monthly Archives: August 2015

Is Your Pet Prone to Chronic Kidney Disease?


Chronic renal failure, aka chronic kidney disease (CKD), can affect dogs or cats but is more common in cats. Over their lifetime, 1 in 3 cats and 1 in 10 dogs could develop CKD. It is typically seen in elderly animals and is usually caused by the wear and tear of aging, although I believe that diet plays a role. How do you know if your pet has it and what is the best treatment plan? To understand CKD we must first explore how normal kidneys function.

Mammals have 2 kidneys on either side of the abdomen, just under the spine and behind the rib cage. These organs have lots of duties and play a role in maintaining red blood cell levels, maintaining appropriate blood pressure and removing toxins and waste products from the body. While kicking waste and toxins out of the body, the kidneys are also tasked with holding on to as much water as they can.

The good news about the kidneys is that under normal circumstances, animals have a lot of reserves in kidney function. Think about it; a person can donate a kidney (which represents ½ of total function) and do just fine. The bad news is that kidneys do not easily regenerate. Once the function is lost, we can’t seem to get it back. You just can’t un-cook a hardboiled egg.

As the kidneys start to fail, they start to leak protein into the urine and lose the ability to hold on to water. This causes the pet to produce more urine – a condition called polyuria or PU. The loss of water causes the pet to have to drink more – a condition called polydipsia or PD. Usually the first signs of CKD are what doctors call PU/PD.

It is important to realize that the loss of water in the urine is causing the animal to drink more and not vice versa. If you think your pet is drinking too much, and take away his water, you may cause dehydration which adversely affects the kidneys. It is imperative that pets with CKD have unlimited access to water.

As CKD progresses, the animal will often lose his appetite and may vomit frequently. This leads to weight loss and weakness. Complicating issues, in the final stages of kidney disease, the pet may become anemic (low red blood cell count). If left to run its course, CKD basically leads to death by starvation.

Until recently, the test result to indicate CKD the earliest was an elevation in the urine protein level. This typically happens when 2/3 of the kidney function is lost. When ¾ of the kidney function is lost, the blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and Creatinine start to elevate.

In the past year, a new test has been made available. It can detect CKD up to 1 ½ years before the BUN and Creatinine tests elevate. The new blood test measures symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA) which is a bodily waste product that is almost exclusively excreted by the kidneys.

Unfortunately, conventional vets don’t know what to do with this new test. If an otherwise normal pet has an elevated SDMA, we don’t know if it will necessarily lead to CKD. From a holistic point of view, if the kidneys are starting to have problems, there are things we can do.

If you’re concerned about CKD, read next week’s blog for further insight into prevention and treatment. ***Hint – prescription kidney diets are not usually appropriate.

Titan’s Pain in the Butt


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.

Has your pet benefited from chiropractic care?

6 Gross Things Hidden in Your Pet’s Food


Did you ever wonder what’s really in your pet’s processed kibble or canned food? Most pet caregivers really do not want to know – but I’m going to spill the beans anyway. Just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, there is no way to know what’s in pet food by reading the label. Here are the top 5 gross things that may be lurking in the food your pet eats every day.

  1. Preservatives – Any food that can sit on a store shelf for months without spoiling must be loaded with preservatives. Some companies use relatively “natural” antioxidants to preserve their foods but many others use nasty chemicals. These chemicals may or may not be listed on the pet food label. If the pet food company adds the preservative it must be on the label. But, if the company buys an ingredient that already has the preservative in it, then that chemical does not have to be listed on the label.
  2. Phyto-estrogens – Many dog and cat foods include soy. Soy contains phyto-estroges (plant compounds that mimic estrogen in the body). This study on dog food showed that foods containing soy can have biological effects. This study on cats showed that soy-containing foods may cause hyperthyroidism.
  3. BPA – Bisphenol A is a known disruptor of the endocrine system and has been found specifically in pull-top cat food. This study links BPA in cat food to hyperthyroidism.
  4. Carcinogens – Yes, processing meat-containing foods at high temperatures creates cancer-causing chemicals. Yum, yum!
  5. Food that’s unfit for human consumption – You may have noticed that large human food conglomerates have been buying up pet food companies. The reason for this is so they can dump the waste from human food production into pet foods. I’m talking about the garbage that even junk food junkies won’t go near.
  6. DEAD PETS – Yes, it is a dog-eat-dog world. These 2 studies (here and here) found traces of the euthanasia drug, pentobarbital, in pet foods. In a 1997 TV interview, the then president of AAFCO Hersch Pendell said, “If the ingredient says ‘meat and bone meal,’ you don’t know if it is cattle, or sheep, or horse, or Fluffy.”

You won’t find any of this yucky stuff listed on your pet’s food label but that does not mean it isn’t in there. Does your pet’s food contain “mystery meat?”