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Dysbiosis: The Root Cause of Many Other Pet Health Problems

Story at-a-glance
  • Dysbiosis, or “leaky gut,” is a bacterial imbalance that leads to inflammation of the intestinal mucosa. Once inflamed, the intestinal lining is compromised and allows undigested food particles and other potential toxins to enter the bloodstream.
  • The most common cause of dysbiosis in today’s dogs and cats is, hands down, antibiotic overuse. Antibiotics, other drugs including vaccines, highly processed diets, and stress all contribute to development of dysbiosis in pets.
  • Typical signs of a leaky gut include gas, bloating and diarrhea. But dysbiosis can also cause or worsen a wide variety of other disorders and diseases – everything from bad breath to certain types of cancer.
  • Every case of dysbiosis is unique, so a customized healing protocol must be designed for each patient based on a specific set of conditions. There is no one-size-fits-all remedy for every leaky gut.
  • In most cases, replacing a highly processed diet with balanced, species-appropriate nutrition, and adding appropriate supplements to address inflammation and support the organs of digestion, will relieve symptoms and resolve the root cause of the leaky gut.

Video: Dr. Becker on Dysbiosis in Pets

By Dr. Becker

Dysbiosis and “leaky gut” are two names for the same disorder. However, definitions for each are somewhat different, which makes things unnecessarily confusing.

Dysbiosis is often defined as an imbalance of gut bacteria – too few friendly bacteria and too many opportunistic or pathogenic (bad) bacteria. Leaky gut syndrome is defined as the inability of the intestinal lining to prevent undigested food particles or potentially toxic organisms from passing into the bloodstream.

I think it’s simpler to look at the situation this way: the imbalance of bacteria is what causes the problem – inadequate supplies of good bacteria, plus an overgrowth of bad bacteria, and sometimes yeast. This bacterial imbalance leads to inflammation of the membranes of the intestine, which results in the condition known as dysbiosis or leaky gut.

Dysbiosis in pets is more often acknowledged by holistic veterinarians than by the traditional veterinary community. Holistic and integrative vets believe the consequences of dysbiosis in the pet population are just as significant and devastating as in humans.

Causes of Dysbiosis

The most common cause of dysbiosis in veterinary medicine is absolutely the use of antibiotics. Antibiotics kill both the good bacteria and the bad bacteria, which upsets the natural balance of bugs and depletes the supply of friendly bacteria that keep the GI immune defenses strong and resilient.

Other drugs also known to have the same effect are corticosteroids and the NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

Additional factors include highly processed diets; biologically inappropriate foods containing a large amount of grains; food additives such as dyes, preservatives, surfactants, emulsifiers and flavor enhancers; stress; ingestion of toxins; vaccines (vaccines actually stimulate gut-associated lymphoid tissue or GALT); and parasite infections.

Symptoms of a Leaky Gut

Typical symptoms of a leaky gut are gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

But dysbiosis can also cause or exacerbate a wide variety of other conditions, many of which may appear to have nothing to do with digestion. These include:

Hyperactivity
Nutritional deficiencies
Certain types of cancer
Dry eye

Immune system disorders; autoimmune disease
Respiratory difficulties, including asthma
Liver, gallbladder and pancreatic disorders
Weight fluctuations

Behavioral abnormalities
Seizure disorders
Bladder inflammation (cystitis)
Gum disease

Joint pain
Allergies
Heart disease
Bad breath

How Your Pet Digests Food

The food your dog or cat eats begins to be digested in the mouth as it’s chewed.

When the food gets to the stomach, it mixes with very acidic hydrochloric acid and gastric juices. Then this mixture enters the small intestine where the pancreas secretes digestive enzymes and the gallbladder secretes bile to further assist in the process of digestion.

The chemical digestive process continues into the small intestine, where bacterial degradation takes place. Once the food is adequately broken down, the membranes of the intestinal mucosa absorb the smaller, simpler nutrients. The remaining food is either further digested and absorbed, or moves into the large intestine where it’s ultimately passed out of your pet as poop.

In order for this complex process to work efficiently, the environment of the GI tract must be healthy and functioning well.

The entire length of your pet’s digestive tract, when healthy, is coated with a near-perfect balance of bacteria that protects against foreign invaders, undigested food particles, toxins, and parasites.

If gut bacteria is out of balance, the environment of the GI tract becomes unstable, which alters the process of digestion. The intestinal mucosa becomes inflamed and begins to leak the larger, partially digested substances from food particles into the bloodstream.

These large complex substances are antigenic and allergenic, meaning they stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies against them. This is what sets the stage for the occurrence of one or more of the disorders listed above.

Why So Many Pets Today Have Dysbiosis

Many pets these days – very early in life – are unfortunately given antibiotics. These are either topical or oral antibiotics prescribed for really minor, insignificant things, most of which could be resolved with natural substances. But many traditional veterinarians just want to send pet owners home with something, and unfortunately that something is very often an antibiotic.

To make matters worse, often additional medications like corticosteroids such as prednisone, or NSAIDs are administered along with antibiotics. These drugs exacerbate the gut problems created by the antibiotics.

Many of these same pets are also fed highly processed commercial diets containing a long list of preservatives and additives. The simple meat proteins in most of these diets have been altered by the extreme processing that pet food undergoes. They are usually combined with plant proteins and grains. So, the resulting mix is a brew of chemically altered proteins that are very difficult to digest, process, and assimilate.

Combine these high-stress foods with environmental stressors such as poor water quality and excessive chemical and drug exposure, and we’ve set the stage for many of the diseases seen in veterinary medicine today.

Healing a Leaky Gut

Holistic vets will tell you they see animals every day in their practice suffering from chronic debilitating diseases that have been caused or made worse by diet and digestive dysfunction.

This is why holistic veterinarians like me always start with the diet when setting up a treatment protocol for most of the sick pets we see.

Each case of dysbiosis is unique, so a customized healing protocol must be designed for each patient based on the animal’s specific set of conditions. It’s important to note there is no one cookie-cutter approach to healing every dysbiotic pet.

Most importantly, owners must recognize their dysbiotic pets have very fragile immune and digestive systems. A sudden change in diet or a harsh GI detox protocol could make these animals worse instead of better.

Sometimes holistic vets choose to address diet first, and then begin working to heal the gut. Other times a better approach is to provide GI support before making any dietary changes. And then there are some pets who require a leaky gut protocol and a dietary change simultaneously.

Dysbiosis treatment involves addressing food allergies and intolerances, as well as any underlying nutritional deficiencies caused by malabsorption or inefficient digestion. Appropriate probiotics, enzymes, and nutraceuticals must be prescribed to help reduce inflammation in the GI tract.

Probiotics are an extremely important part in the treatment of dysbiosis. They reseed your pet’s gut with good bacteria and prevent an overgrowth of bad bacteria, which returns the intestine and mucosal lining to good health.

However, there are many different types of probiotics, each having its own merit and benefit. Some animals can’t tolerate milk-based probiotics. Some animals can’t tolerate probiotics derived from yeast cultures or even certain strains of non-dairy organisms — hence the importance of working with a veterinarian that understands all of these different facets of dysbiosis.

In general, removing highly processed, high-stress foods from a sick pet’s diet in favor of a balanced species-appropriate, low-stress diet, plus appropriate supplements to address inflammation and yeast, if necessary, and support of other organ systems including the liver and pancreas, can relieve symptoms, address the root cause of the leaky gut, and get the pet on the road to recovery.

August 30, 2012 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, animals, Just One More Pet, Pet Health, Pets | , , , , , | 8 Comments

Cockatoo Snowball Dances to Queen

Video:  Snowball Dances to Queen – Another One Bites the Dust…

Snowball is one famous cockatoo. He’s also one of Dr. Becker’s patients. You can learn more about him at Bird Lovers Only.

August 29, 2012 Posted by | animal behavior, animals, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, pet fun, Pets | , , | 1 Comment

Pet Asylum in French Quarter – Hope They Survive Issac!

Great little shop in the French Quarter.  Let’s hope they survive Issac!!

Pet Asylum French Quarter - 05-19-12 - 1

Pet Asylum French Quarter - 05-19-12 - 2

Pet Asylum French Quarter - 05-19-12 - 3

Pet Asylum French Quarter - 05-19-12 - 4

Photos by TLA

Sending our prayers for all the two-legged, four-legged and feathered & scaled creatures in the path of Isaac.

August 28, 2012 Posted by | Animal and Pet Photos, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Just One More Pet, pet fun, pet products, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , | Leave a comment

Boston Terrier Sing-Along!

Video:  Boston Terrier Sing-Along!

Who knew "Happy Birthday to You" could be so inspirational!

Singing for Fun June 2010-2

We like to sing too!

August 27, 2012 Posted by | Chihuahua, Chiweenie, Dogs, Dogs, Holidays With Pets, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, pet fun | , , , | Leave a comment

Laser Therapy is Good Medicine for Humans and Their Companion Animals… Any Animals

Story at-a-glance
  • Laser TreatmentUse of lasers in veterinary medicine is steadily increasing, with impressive results, yet there are still those who believe laser therapy is just a gimmick employed primarily by the holistic veterinary community.
  • Most of the usual criticisms of laser therapy are being discredited by clinical studies, systematic reviews and meta-analyses demonstrating its many applications in both human and veterinary medicine.
  • High-quality research on the use of laser therapy exists. Guidelines for use of lasers are in place. And the science behind how lasers work to relieve pain and produce beneficial changes at the cellular level is available.

By Dr. Becker

Laser is actually an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.” Laser beams are different from other light sources in that they provide focused energy that produces small points of intense power.

The light from a laser can cauterize (burn), cut and destroy tissue in a very precise manner. Used at lower power, called low-level laser therapy, lasers have the ability to alter the function of cells without heat and without destroying those cells. This is known as biostimulation, and it can be used to treat a variety of conditions affecting the joints, nerves and soft tissue in animals.

In recent years, use of lasers in both human and veterinary medicine has increased in the treatment of conditions that were once managed only with drugs and surgery. In many situations, laser procedures are much less invasive than the traditional therapies they replace. They can also reduce or eliminate the need for drugs in certain cases.

So when it comes to laser therapy for animals, why is a perfectly legitimate healing modality still considered by some to be trickery perpetrated primarily by the holistic veterinary community on gullible pet owners and animal caretakers?

Misconception #1: There’s a lack of reliable research on the effectiveness of laser therapy

One reason for this mistaken belief is a history of negative published studies on laser therapy since its discovery over 50 years ago. This is primarily due to the incorrect use of laser equipment affecting study outcomes. Several parameters, including dosing and laser output testing, have significant bearing on the results achieved.

Fortunately, the World Association for Laser Therapy now provides standards for the design and execution of clinical studies, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses. A systematic review is an examination of all available high-quality research evidence relevant to a specific research question. Systematic reviews of high-quality randomized controlled trials are essential to the advancement of evidence-based medicine.

Meta-analysis is a statistical technique used to combine findings from independent studies, for example, combining data from two or more randomized controlled trials to evaluate the effectiveness of a particular healthcare technique. The purpose of meta-analyses is to provide an accurate estimate of the effect of a specific treatment.

Another criticism of laser research is that it is of poor quality and can’t be used to establish the effectiveness of laser therapy.

This may have been the case at one time, but no longer. A number of systematic reviews and meta-analyses have demonstrated the benefit of laser treatment for a variety of conditions. These include pain and stiffness caused by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis1, neck2 and shoulder3 pain, tennis elbow4, Achilles tendinitis5, and inflammation/ulceration of the lining of the digestive tract caused by chemotherapy.

Misconception #2: No guidelines exist on how to perform laser treatments

Along with the misperception that there’s a lack of credible research on the use of lasers, another criticism is that no guidelines are in place for treatment, making it a guessing game to determine the right laser dose.

The World Association of Laser Therapy has published a list of recommended treatment doses for a number of pain problems. And while the recommended treatments are for humans, they are derived from clinical trials and studies on animals with similar pathologies.

The recommendations for veterinary use of lasers are closely aligned with these guidelines.

In addition, laser therapy clinical trials are being conducted at some veterinary schools. Colorado State University is conducting a randomized, controlled clinical trial on laser treatment for snake bites in dogs.

At the University of Florida, researchers completed a study on laser therapy for dogs with intervertebral disk disease. Study results showed that after a spinal cord injury and surgery, dogs who received laser therapy walked sooner, had no medical complications, and were discharged earlier. In fact, the results were so dramatic they are now using lasers with every dog presenting with that condition.

Misconception #3: Laser treatment is nothing more than expensive heat therapy

Another argument against laser treatments is that they are nothing more than very expensive heat therapy. This is simply incorrect.

Not all lasers warm the tissue and perceptions of heat being applied depend on equipment settings. In any event, heat isn’t how lasers heal. They heal by creating a photochemical reaction in tissue known as photobiomodulation. Photobiomodulation describes the changes that occur after light enters mitochondria and triggers beneficial physiologic changes.

Laser therapy affects a variety of tissues in the body, including neurons. Studies in the use of lasers to promote nerve regeneration6 have shown exciting results in bringing a return of function after acute spinal cord injury in rats.

Misconception #4: There is no science to explain how laser therapy works

Finally, perhaps the weakest criticism of laser therapy is that many people, including vets who use it regularly in their practices, can’t explain the science behind it.

Many practitioners can’t explain the scientific rationale behind treatments used in traditional veterinary medicine, either — for example, corticosteroid therapy. Yet steroids, which can have significant long-term side effects, are prescribed every day by MD’s and DVM’s.

The science of laser therapy is available. It’s just difficult for some to grasp – especially when the drugs-and-surgery medical model is all that is taught in the majority of vet schools.

As more veterinary schools expand their curriculums to include laser therapy training, more DVM’s will come around. Lasers, properly applied and dosed, provide significant benefits and expand veterinarians’ options for treating patients effectively, often eliminating or reducing the need for surgery or drugs.

August 25, 2012 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Dogs, Dogs, Holistic Pet Health, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, Pets | , , , , | 4 Comments

Is Your Short-Muzzled Dog Having Breathing Problems?

Story at-a-glance
  • A recent study conducted in the UK revealed owners of brachycephalic breeds (dogs with short muzzles) often don’t realize their pet is struggling to breathe.
  • A problem common in these dogs is brachycephalic airway syndrome, which includes a number of upper respiratory problems affecting the nose, mouth and/or throat of pets with “pushed in” faces.
  • “Brachys” have constricted upper jaws, which causes the soft tissue to be crammed within the skull. Symptoms of brachycephalic airway syndrome include noisy or labored breathing, gagging, choking, problems breathing during physical exertion, and overheating.
  • Breathing problems can prevent your dog from enjoying the simplest things in life, like eating, sleeping, play and exercise. In dogs with severe airway obstruction, the struggle to breathe can be continuous. Left untreated, the situation gets progressively worse, as do the symptoms.
  • It’s important for owners of brachycephalic breeds to understand the difference between normal and abnormal breathing sounds in their dog, and to see the vet if they notice any unusual breathing or other signs of respiratory distress.

By Dr. Becker

A recent study points to the possibility that owners of brachycephalic breeds (dogs with “pushed in” faces) mistake significant breathing difficulties in their pets for normal respiratory sounds.

The Royal Veterinary College at the University of London conducted a survey of the owners of 285 dogs who brought their pets to the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals for various reasons during a five-month period.

Thirty-one of the 285 dogs, including Boston terriers, bulldogs, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, French bulldogs, Pekingese and pugs, had been diagnosed with brachycephalic airway syndrome.

Brachycephalic airway syndrome describes a number of upper respiratory problems affecting the nose, mouth and throat of dogs (and some cats) as a result of abnormal skull structure.

What surprised the Royal Veterinary College researchers was the fact that despite the dogs’ owners reporting significant respiratory symptoms, they did not believe their pets had breathing problems.

Breathing Difficulties Assumed to Be Normal

Short-muzzled dogs, or “brachys,” have constricted upper jaws, which causes the soft tissue to be compressed within the skull. Many of these dogs develop brachycephalic airway syndrome. Signs of the condition include noisy or labored breathing, gagging, choking, problems breathing with even minor physical exertion, and a tendency to overheat.

Every owner of a brachy said their dog snored – some even while awake – compared with fewer than two percent of non-brachycephalic dogs. But well over half the owners did not believe their pet had breathing difficulties, even though the majority of dogs had problems during exercise.

According to researchers, this indicates many owners of pets with brachycephalic airway syndrome don’t realize a problem exists and don’t seek help from a veterinarian. According to Rowena Packer of the Royal Veterinary College and one of the study researchers:

"Our study clearly shows that owners of brachycephalic dogs often dismiss the signs of this potentially severe breathing disorder as normal and are prepared to tolerate a high degree of respiratory compromise in their pets before seeking help. It may require a particularly acute attack, such as the dog losing consciousness, for owners to perceive a problem."

Many owners who were surveyed seemed to believe breathing difficulties aren’t really a problem if the dog is short-muzzled. One owner’s comment: “No to breathing problem – other than being a Bulldog.”

Dr. Charlotte Burn, lead researcher, warns that while short muzzles may be appealing-looking, owners of brachy breeds need to be aware the cute appearance often comes at a serious price to the dog. “Just because a problem is common, that doesn’t make it less of a problem for the individuals who suffer it,” says Burn.

Helping Your Brachy Breathe Better

Breathing difficulties can prevent your pet from being able to enjoy the very simplest things dogs naturally love to do, like eating, sleeping, play and exercise.

Dogs with severe brachycephalic airway syndrome can have almost continuous difficulty getting enough air. It’s not unusual for these dogs to collapse from lack of oxygen.

Left untreated, the problems tend to progress over time, with worsening symptoms.

The Royal Veterinary College researchers encourage parents of brachycephalic breeds to learn the difference between normal and abnormal breathing sounds in their dogs, and to make an appointment with a vet if they notice any unusual breathing or other signs of respiratory distress.

Unfortunately, surgery is often the only option to resolve significant breathing difficulties resulting from brachycephalic airway syndrome. The treatment goal is to surgically remove the tissues or structures causing airway obstruction.

Things you can do as the owner of a brachy include keeping your dog fit and trim. Overweight and obese dogs have much more serious respiratory difficulties than pets who are kept at an ideal weight.

Keeping your dog out of hot, humid environments is also important to support normal respiration and prevent overheating.

And since stress exacerbates virtually every health problem, especially breathing difficulties, keeping your dog’s life as stress-free as possible is also recommended to support your pet’s health and quality of life.

Related:

Reverse Sneezing, Chihuahua Honks or Mechanosensitive Aspiration Reflex

Collar to Keep Track of Dogs’ Temperature is in the Works

K-9 dies after being left in hot patrol car

See: Temperatures Are Rising: Be a Dog Defender: Help Save Animals This Summer! Cool Ideas for Hot Dogs – Please be proactive and vocal… you could be saving a life and definitely saving animals of a lot of suffering!!

August 24, 2012 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Chiweenie, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, responsible pet ownership | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Love on the High Seas

Video: Love on the High Seas

Watch as this affectionate dolphin plants a kiss on the dog, then jumps for joy!

August 22, 2012 Posted by | Animal and Pet Photos, animal behavior, Animal Related Education, animals, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Pet Friendship and Love, Pets, Unusual Stories, We Are All God's Creatures | , , | Leave a comment

Detroit Has No Horses But Pays $56K for Horseshoer — Union Boss Says It‘s ’Not Possible’ to Eliminate Positions

Posted Aug 20, 2012 at the BlazeNo Horses But Detroit Pays Horseshoer More Than $56,000 in Salary and BenefitsOriginal Source: Michigan Capitol Confidential

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) pays a “horseshoer” $29,245 in salary and roughly $27,000 in benefits. There’s only one problem — Detroit has no horses for the horseshoer to shoe.

Some critics argue that the department has been turned into some sort of a government jobs program. Meanwhile, the local union president says it is “not possible” to eliminate positions, the Michigan Capitol Confidential reports.

The horseshoer’s job description, which was last updated in 1967 (Lyndon B. Johnson was president), is “to shoe horses and to do general blacksmith work… and to preform related work as required,” according to the department’s website.

With a large amount of debt, DWSD has struggled with rising water prices and inefficient services. They use roughly twice the number of employees per gallon as comparable cities like Chicago.

The Michigan Capitol Confidential has more details:

A recent independent report about the DWSD recommends that the city trim more than 80 percent of the department’s workforce. The consultant who wrote the report found 257 job descriptions, including a horseshoer. Capitol Confidential sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the department for the salary, benefits and job description of the horseshoer position.

In response to the report, John Riehl, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 207, which represents many of the DWSD employees, told the Detroit Free Press that the department needs more workers.

“They don’t have enough people as it is right now,” Riehl said. “They are just dreaming to think they can operate that plant with less.”

But critics say this is just another example of city departments operating as a jobs program for union employees.

“They have said for years that they don’t have enough people,” said Roi Chinn, a former city administrator and 2013 mayoral candidate for Detroit. “As the bureaucracy thickens and union power grows, there is always a built in reflex … to want more.

“Whenever you think you’ve heard the bad about the city of Detroit, it gets worse.”

Chinn said if he was mayor he would sell the water department.

Daniel Edwards, a construction contracts manager with the DWSD, said the so-called horseshoer was transferred from the Detroit Police Department five years ago. And even though the police department does currently have horses, the DWSD employee doesn’t work with the animals. So the question is: what exactly does the horseshoer do?

“DWSD has a blacksmith shop in our Central Services Facility,” Edwards explained, attempting to justify the position. The shop “also … repairs equipment and works with various metals and welding for the department when needed.”

Detroit Free Press editorial editor Stephen Henderson recently described the “intolerable waste” in Detroit’s water and sewage department. He writes:

“For unions and the whole idea of collective bargaining, this is the kind of report that just makes any sort of future very, very hard to negotiate,” he wrote. “It suggests that collective bargaining turns government into a provider of jobs instead of public services.”

(H/T: Drudge)

August 21, 2012 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Just One More Pet, Unusual Stories | , , , , | Leave a comment

An Alternative to Surgery to Sterilize Male Dogs

Story at-a-glance

sterilized-dog

  • An injectable chemical sterilization drug will be available for use in the U.S. by the end of this year. It is currently FDA-approved only for dogs from 3 to 10 months, but the manufacturer believes it will be approved as safe for all dogs 3 months and older by the time it is released.
  • The drug, brand name Zeuterin, contains zinc gluconate neutralized by arginine. It acts as a spermicide and causes irreversible fibrosis of the testicles, which eventually atrophy and shrink in size, but remain visible.
  • Upon its initial release, Zeuterin will be made available primarily to shelters and spay-neuter clinics. The drug can only be sold to licensed veterinarians who have been trained in the injection procedure by the manufacturer.
  • The drug is highly effective at sterilizing male dogs with a single injection in each testicle. There are some side effects which seem primarily related to the injection technique.
  • It’s important to understand no sterilization procedure is completely risk-free, short or long-term. Once Zeuterin is widely available to private veterinary practitioners, we encourage dog owners to discuss with their vet the pros and cons of the procedure vs. traditional spaying or neutering.

By Dr. Becker

An injectable sterilization product for male dogs containing zinc gluconate neutralized with arginine is scheduled for release in the U.S. by the end of this year under the brand name Zeuterin ("zinc neutering"). The product is already in use in Bolivia, Columbia, Mexico and Panama under another name.

The drug is effective for permanent sterilization of male dogs at least three months of age. Zeuterin has been approved by the FDA for use in dogs three to ten months of age and can be obtained only by licensed veterinarians who have received training from the drug’s manufacturer, Ark Sciences, in how to perform the injections. The manufacturer believes the drug will be approved for use in dogs of any age over three months before the U.S. release date.

The drug functions as a spermicide and causes irreversible fibrosis of the testicles, which eventually atrophy and shrink in size, but remain visible. Dogs receiving the injection are tattooed in the groin area as proof they are sterile.

Product Launch Aimed at Shelters and Spay-Neuter Clinics Across the U.S.

Many shelters and spay-neuter facilities don’t have the recovery space for animals after sterilization surgery. For those organizations, Zeuterin should save time, money and space.

The injections are done on an outpatient basis, no anesthesia is involved, and dogs can be released relatively quickly after the procedure. Shelters and spay-neuter programs can then transfer some of the resources formerly committed to neutering male dogs toward spaying females and other outreach programs.

Proponents of Zeuterin believe it is unlikely individual veterinary practitioners will immediately embrace the sterilization drug, simply because they are already equipped and trained to do surgical spays and neuters. In addition, at this time Ark Sciences is training only a limited number of private veterinarians to inject Zeuterin.

Pet owners who want to have their male puppy chemically sterilized can add their names to a waiting list, which will at some point trigger Ark Sciences to send an offer to their vet to get certified to inject Zeuterin. According to Ark Sciences, the waiting list will be worked on a first-come first-served basis when the product becomes available.

It’s impossible to predict when Zeuterin might be widely available as an option for private vet practices and individual pet owners. Whenever that time comes, I think it’s important to understand the potential risks and benefits of this method of sterilizing male dogs.

Technology Approved by FDA in 2003

The formulation of zinc gluconate neutralized by arginine was actually approved by the FDA in 20031. That same year the drug was produced by Pet Healthcare International and distributed in the U.S. by Addison Laboratories under the name Neutersol.

According to Ark Sciences, Addison Labs overestimated the demand for the drug and created too much inventory. Excess inventory expired in two years, Pet Healthcare International went unpaid, and production shut down. Addison Labs and Pet Healthcare ended their relationship in 2005.

Ark Sciences subsequently acquired all rights to the Neutersol technology and has been distributing the product in Mexico and three other countries under the name Esterilsol for the last four years. They have used the drug extensively in Mexico in dogs three months and older to further evaluate its effectiveness as a sterilization agent, as well as to refine and improve the injection technique.

How the Drug Works as a Sterilization Agent

According to the Alliance for Contraception in Cats and Dogs (ACC&D) in their April 2012 Product Profile and Position Paper2 on Zeuterin:

As with any medical intervention, safety and effectiveness depend upon proper administration. The exact mechanism of action is not known. The following is based on a description provided by Ark Sciences. The product should be administered as an intratesticular injection into the center of the testicle via the dorsal cranial portion of testicle, parallel to the longitudinal axis. After injection the compound diffuses in all directions from the center of the testis. In the concentration used, zinc gluconate acts as a spermicide and destroys spermatozoa in all stages of development and maturation. It results in permanent and irreversible fibrosis in the seminiferous tubules, rete testis and epididymis. This produces a reduction in the size and texture of the testicles and permanent sterilization. Testosterone production is reduced by 41-52%, and the endocrine feedback system remains intact. Zinc gluconate is absorbed and metabolized by the body within 72 hours after the injection.

Also, from the Ark Sciences FAQ web page3:

How is testosterone lowered by Zinc Gluconate neutralized with Arginine?

The dosage and concentration is designed to ensure Leydig Cells in the interstitial space of the testes survive the procedure. Stimulated by Luteinizing Hormone (LH) produced in the pituitary gland, the Leydig Cells continue to support testosterone-related metabolic activity and growth. In the absence of spermatogenesis, Sertoli cells stop communicating the need for testosterone to mature sperm cells. The pituitary gland detects this lowered demand and lowers the LH levels. Since LH levels determine how much testosterone is produced by the Leydig cells, overall testosterone levels are reduced by 41-52% for all dogs permanently.

Zeuterin Adverse Reactions

The 2003 FDA drug approval document includes a study of 270 male puppies injected with the chemical sterilant. The puppies were a combination of shelter animals and family pets.

The following reactions were noted:

Reactions Upon Injection
Local Reactions

Reaction
Dogs Affected
Reaction
Dogs Affected

Vocalization
6
Scrotal Pain
17

Kicking
1
Scrotal Irritation
3

Biting and Licking
2

General Reactions
Scrotal Swelling
2

Reaction
Dogs Affected
Scrotal Dermatitis
2

Leukocytosis
2
Scrotal Ulceration
1

Neutrophilia
17
Scrotal Infection
1

Vomiting
12
Dry Scrotal Skin
1

Anorexia
11
Scrotal Bruising
1

Lethargy
6
Preputial Swelling
1

Diarrhea
5
Scrotal Sore
1

Another zinc gluconate sterilization study was done in the Galápagos Islands and published in 2008. It was conducted in a cooperative effort by the University of Florida, the ASPCA, and Animal Balance of San Francisco, and titled "Comparison of intratesticular injection of zinc gluconate versus surgical castration to sterilize male dogs."4 The following observation was made by the researchers:

Although the complication rate was similar for surgical and zinc-gluconate castration, the zinc-gluconate reactions were more severe. Surgical wound complications were treated by superficial wound debridement and resuturing. In contrast, zinc-gluconate reactions required antimicrobial treatment, orchiectomy, and extensive surgical debridement and reconstruction, including scrotal ablation in 2 dogs. These reactions occurred following administration by both experienced and novice individuals. All dogs made a full recovery following treatment of zinc-gluconate reactions and incisional dehiscences.

The authors of this study determined that proper injection technique is critical because injection or leakage into surrounding tissues can result in severe tissue damage. And while scrotal swelling and tenderness are common in the first days after injection, a more serious reaction is the development of scrotal ulcers or draining tracts in the scrotal or preputial area. The self-trauma that follows can be severe.

The researchers also observed that lesions aren’t always restricted to the injection site, which could indicate the solution may spread beyond the target area.

Long-Term Side Effects

According to Ark Sciences, since 1999 when the initial clinical studies were performed, there have been no reports of long-term side effects.

I would just add here that whenever we manipulate nature sufficiently to stop procreation, there WILL be long-term side effects. This is true for spay/neuter, and any other method. We are just beginning to understand the lifelong implications of surgical removal of ovaries and testicles, yet spaying and neutering of cats and dogs has been a common practice for decades.

I’m certainly not against the sterilization of pets. I’m a proponent of assessing the risks and benefits of everything we do as guardians of the animals in our care.

You can read more about Zeuterin on the Ark Sciences FAQ page as well as the other documents linked in the references, below.

Once the product is widely available to private veterinary practitioners, if you’re considering it, I recommend talking with your vet about the pros and cons of the procedure for your own dog.

Related:

Pet Sterilization Laws Raise Health Concerns

Caring for Pets Before, During and After Anesthesia

New methods of pet ‘pampering’ include fake testicles and facials

August 17, 2012 Posted by | Adopt Just One More Pet, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Are Surfing Dogs Really Happy… or Horrified?

Video:  Are Surfing Dogs Really Happy… or Horrified?

Story at-a-glance

  • If you’ve ever wondered if those dogs you see surfing the waves off the California coast or elsewhere are actually enjoying themselves, you’re not alone.
  • According to surfing dog instructors and owners, only pets who like being in the water and show aptitude for the sport are trainable. Dogs who fear or dislike the water can’t be trained to surf.
  • Safety is of principal importance for canine surfers. Dogs should be healthy enough to participate in such a physically demanding activity — often in cold ocean temperatures — and they should always wear life vests while in the water.

By Dr. Becker

Most of us have seen videos or pictures of dogs surfing. Have you ever wondered if the dogs are really having fun, or just hanging on for dear life until they reach dry ground?

It’s hard to read every doggy expression, but it’s easy to imagine not every pup on a surfboard is enjoying himself.

However, according to the folks who train canines to surf, the dogs actually like the sport:

"You only attempt surfing with dogs that really love the beach and water," says Rob Kuty, animal trainer at the Helen Woodward Animal Center in San Diego. "Dogs who fear or dislike either are almost impossible to train to surf, so you won’t find those dogs at these types of competitions."

Kuty conducts surf clinics for dogs during the summer months in the waters off San Diego.

How Dogs Learn to Surf

The first step in teaching a dog to surf is desensitizing her to the board. This involves getting her accustomed to standing on the board while it’s on the sand. Liberal praise is given while a dog is on the board, which tends to reinforce the behavior. Dogs off their boards are ignored.

So the desensitization phase of the training is about not only getting the dogs comfortable on their surfboards, but also positively reinforcing the behavior.

Once a pup is at ease standing on a surfboard on the sand, the next step is to put him on it out in the water. The trainer holds the board with his four-legged student standing on it so the dog can begin to experience the feel of being on the water.

According to Kuty, this is the time when most dogs display their individual approach to surfing. Some like to face forward on the board, others face backwards, some position themselves sideways, and many bulldogs (a breed that isn’t known for its swimming prowess, by the way) prefer to lie down on the board.

In Kuty’s experience, “… the dogs that do a lot of surfing are water and beach loving beings who have developed a positive association with their boards and have found a comfortable way to hang ten."

If a dog shows an aptitude for being on a surfboard in the water and is healthy, she’s a good candidate to enjoy the sport, according to Kuty. This makes perfect sense, because let’s face it … no matter how much your dog may want to please you, it would not be an easy task to “force” an unwilling canine to surf. There are many things an unenthusiastic dog can be compelled to do, but riding the ocean waves on a surfboard isn’t one of them.

Believe it or not, there are surfing competitions for canines. The dogs are judged on the length of their ride, their confidence level, and fashion. “Fashion” apparently refers not only to the dogs’ surfing attire, but also to the way they move on their boards.

Safety Must Always Be the Priority

Dog surfers should always wear life vests while hanging ten.

And they should be checked out by a veterinarian ahead of time to insure they are healthy enough to participate in a physically demanding activity that often takes place in cold water.

Owners and trainers of surfing dogs should take care not to allow them to overexert themselves.

Related:

Goat Surfing

Sun Valley pet resort pampers pooches

Huntington Dog Beach

Doggie Beach – Dogs on-leash only until after Labor Day

Stress in Dogs (Pets)

Take the Stress Out of Car Trips with Your Dog

With Pets Travel Series: Have Dog, Will Travel: Tips For Taking Your Pet On The Road – Part II

August 16, 2012 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal Related Education, animals, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet and Animal Training, Pet Events, Pet Friendship and Love, pet fun, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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